How to Reduce Expenses on Your Rental Properties
January 7, 2021
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There are a handful of practical ways to modify your business practices to minimize your rental expenses wherever you can. Each of these opportunities is tied to becoming more involved in your properties, so they offer auxiliary benefits beyond reducing spending that will increase the overall health of your business. The overarching advice: start getting your hands dirty and think about your business as a business.
Minimizing Maintenance Costs
If you do go the route of self-management, you’ll have more control over your maintenance processes and as a result, your maintenance expenses.
Learn the Maintenance Basics
Youtube has truly revolutionized the accessibility of becoming a DIY landlord. You can now find a video explaining how to handle just about any maintenance task or renovation. If you’ve got the motivation, chances are high you can fix it yourself.
Providing actionable how-to advice is a bit beyond the scope of this eBook, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help you identify places you can save. There are a handful of basic tasks you can start taking on right away, and as you get more confident, you’ll start feeling more adventurous (and save even more money!). Below are just a few of the places you can start.
Fixing, Patching, or Replacing Flooring
Hardwood, tile, laminate, etc. – they all get banged up sometimes. Whether it’s a careless tenant or something truly out of anyone’s control, you’ll probably encounter a situation in which your floors need some love. It may seem daunting, but chances are high you can patch the floor yourself.
Depending on the material, you may need little more than a razor blade and the property adhesive. This is also a great reminder to hang onto extra flooring when a project is completed. You never know when you’ll need it for a patch or replace!
Install New Fixtures
Toilets, bathtubs, vanities, faucets, etc. – all of these are incredibly easy to install. The manufacturer wants to make setup as simple as possible and you’re the beneficiary. Because you’re saving so much in labor on these projects, don’t feel bad about investing in high quality tools. Make sure you have the right stuff to get the job done correctly. Don’t cut corners or try to jury-rig a solution from scratch.
Caulking, Painting, and Sealing
If you’re not already painting your units yourself, this is a really simple way to offset some of the cost of turning a lease. Oftentimes, you don’t need to paint the entire thing, just touch up wherever there were dings or scratches on the wall. Likewise, if you install any new carpentry, finishes, etc., you’ll likely need to do some caulking and sealing. This is an incredibly easy task that just takes a bit of time. Throw on a podcast and knock it out in an evening.
Plumbing and Electrical
If you’re a novice, we don’t recommend doing much in the way of electrical wiring or installing new plumbing, but most repairs in either of those categories tend to be less extensive. Here’s a list of common plumbing fixes you should be able to handle yourself:
- Tightening and resealing leaking pipes and valves around faucets, toilets, showers, etc.
- Unclogging slow drains
- Drain your water heater and maintain appliances
Similarly, there are some basic electrical tasks you should feel confident handling yourself:
- Update sockets and switches
- Maintaining and replacing breakers
- Hook into existing wiring
As we mentioned, there are a truly startling number of videos and tutorials online for just about any task you can imagine. When it comes to electrical and plumbing, just be sure the video or resource you’re using is credible and that you’re actually following it step-by-step. This is not a place where you should skim or skimp. Be extra cautious the first handful of times you do it yourself and you’ll be in great shape moving forward.
And if you don’t feel confident, don’t do it! Hire a professional, but ask them questions, watch what they do, and learn so that in the future, you will feel confident and can handle the task yourself.
Touch Up Instead of Replace
Just because something isn’t working doesn’t mean it needs replacing. And just because something is used doesn’t mean it can’t look brand new. Especially when renovating or rehabbing a property, finding ways to touch up and repair instead of replacing can save you plenty.
Extending the life of your property (and the property in it) is also important. A small investment overtime can help you fend off a big investment that comes earlier than it should. For example, if don’t change your HVAC system’s air filter every 3 months, it has to work harder to keep your property at your tenant’s desired temperature, reducing its lifespan. Bringing a technician in to give your AC and furnace a tune-up once or twice a year can also make a big difference.
Take this same approach with all your property. Finding ways to tune up, touch up, and maintain will keep your bottom line healthy.
Other Ways to Save
There are plenty of other great ways to reduce rental expenses and save money. Below are a few oft forgotten options to keep in mind.
Coupons & Discounts
Work the angles! Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts or see what’s out there. Particularly in real estate, everything is a negotiation. Don’t rely on the same vendor because it’s familiar. Shop around and see what’s out there.
If you’re working with a contractor on a rehab or a new build, see what kinds of discounts they can get on materials. Check with big box stores to see if they have any new models coming in that will push their old models out and provide you with some clearance opportunities.
There are also plenty of aggregator sites that collect as many discount codes as they can find. These don’t have the best success rate, so they can be a bit discouraging to use, but if you’ve got the patience, you can find some hidden gems. Automated web browser plugins like Honey and Rakuten can check for coupons and codes instantly as you check-out and apply those discounts for you. The very oddly named Camel Camel Camel and similar sites can help you compare prices over time on marketplaces like Amazon.
Spend some time getting savvy of the potential deals in your area. And if you’re going to be making regular purchases of materials, see if you can strike up a relationship with a vendor. It’s not just familiarity that’s keeping you coming back if they’re giving you a special below-market price for your loyalty.
If you want to increase profit, don’t forget to control rental expenses. Above, we’ve listed just some of the ways to help reduce the amount of cash outgoing from your bank account. But ultimately, it comes down to being diligent and persistent in more effectively managing your business.