In cities like Boston, Newton, and Brookline, many home owners are tempted to leverage their resources into an investing portfolio of real estate. But often, those same people forget that landlords are proud members of the customer service industry. You are providing a product that you ultimately have to "sell" to a prospective tenant, and you will have to manage relationships with your renters. Having great customer service skills is a must for landlords who wish to be successful. The most professional and successful landlords will have the following traits in common.
Proactive. One of the best things you can do as a landlord is address issues before they become problems. Fix outdated or underperforming items before they break, and you can control the timeline, the cost, and ultimately take the emotion out of needing to fix something that breaks with tenants in the property. It will save you time, energy, and money, and will keep your tenants happier in the long run. Remember that old proverb: a stitch in time saves nine.
Attentive. You need to pay attention to what a renter is actually saying. Truly listen to each and every word, without letting your focus waver. You must be willing to pay attention to the details. You may assume you know someone's questions, concerns, or motivations without even hearing them, but people will surprise you. This is another thing that will save you time and money in the long run, and keep your renters happy.
Personable. As a landlord, you must be able to put yourself in another person’s shoes so that you can better understand and respond to unique situations. Everyone is from a different background; however, you need to be able to relate to your renters on a one-to-one basis. Most likely you’ve rented in the past or are currently renting—as a starting point, think about how you would like to be treated by your own landlord....but remember to be attentive, not everyone is the same!
Calm. You often will not hear fro tenants until there is an emergency and they are in distress. When these instances occur, you must be able to respond calmly to stressful situations. It will instill confidence that you are able to handle the problem and will likely give you more breathing room to do so.
Organized. This is a MUST for landlords. In this role, you have to pay attention to local, state, and national regulations regarding Fair Housing, Lead Compliance, and financial compliance, and you need to be organized in every way. You should have a repository of all paperwork for a property, preferably with a hard-copy back up. Programs like dotloop are awesome for transaction management!
If you’re thinking about property ownership as a source of income, ask yourself if you embody these traits. You might have to work hard to keep your stress level down or may not be a naturally amicable person. That’s OK, you may have to work on one or two of these traits, but when you master all five, you will see a boost in resident retention and good-will from your tenants.