How I Manage My Long Distance Rental Property With No Stress
My rental property is a great investment. But I’m far away from it, and effectively managing it from a distance became a challenge.
After all, I wanted tenants, but how could I find them? Screen them? Sign a lease with them? Or even collect rent?
I considered using a property manager from one of the real estate firms close to my rental property, but the delay in communication, not to mention their existing high volume of work with multiple clients and properties, made me hesitate. I wanted a cloud based rental software solution that would be easy to learn and use.
Fortunately, I was introduced to an excellent property manager that allowed me the proximity that I wanted to the process without physically being there.
Zillow Rental Manager, an online service offered by Zillow Inc., provides an online portal and toolkit for managing my property long distance.
Keep reading to see how Zillow Rental Manager has significantly improved my ability to manage my rental property from a distance with little stress.
I was so busy getting my rental together for prospective tenants that I realized, “Hey, how am I going to find any tenants in the first place?”
Finding tenants has come a long way from pinning flyers on community boards inside coffee shops and putting an ad in the paper. Nowadays, everything’s online. But buried under many other properties, listing your property online doesn’t guarantee people will see.
That’s where Zillow Rental Manager comes in handy. They have a network of 34 million visitors each month, with around 1 million+ visitors per day.
Listing your property is very easy as well. Using their online portal, all you do is write in the details, upload pictures, and post. Plus, if your tenants move out, you won’t have to worry about creating the same profile twice—Zillow saves your profile so you can easily activate it again.
Not sure how to price your rental? Zillow has a handy pricing tool that can integrate into your listing and show you price comparisons for the area. It helped me avoid calling around to different real estate agencies, asking about area rates—saving me time and needless stress.
Once your listing is created on Zillow, it’s automatically listed on Zillow’s syndicated sites: HotPads and Trulia. That means your property isn’t just listed on one website—it’s listed on three.
The first property listing is free for 30 days, then $9.99 per week afterward. But with so many people online, plus automatic listing on two additional sites, the price is well worth it. Plus, it’s backed by Zillow’s Lead Guarantee—if you don’t get a lead within the first week of a paid listing, renewals are free until you get one (up to 8 weeks).
One of my favorite features of the Zillow Rental Manager is its ease of use and reduced financial burden on property owners.
I can screen prospective tenants through the online portal, run reports and checks, and communicate with them, all without traveling to them and scrambling with different background check websites.
Zillow allows you to enable an ‘Apply Now’ button on your listing, which lets prospective tenants submit rental applications through the web portal. Applications are submitted, credit and background checks are run, all without additional payment by the landlord. Instead, the cost is passed onto the applicant.
Does the prospective tenant have a question? They can easily reach out to you through the portal and vice-versa.
Finding a potential tenant is only the beginning. After screening them and running the appropriate checks, you can complete the onboarding process and send a lease agreement to them—all through the Zillow Rental Manager.
A fee for document signing is included in the listing fee. All I had to do was upload my completed lease agreement, enable electronic signing, and the tenant signed on their end. That saves me the back and forth of meeting with a tenant.
As I have a lawyer I regularly use for lease agreements, I like using my own agreement with the requirements specific to my property. But if your property is located in one of these states, you can utilize the Lease Builder Tool. This tool is excellent for first-time landlords or property managers.
The Lease Builder Tool guides you through the lease drafting process, ensuring all terms, needs, and requirements are covered. Month-to-month? Long-term? Pet deposit? No smoking requirement? You can make sure all of that information is covered under their creator wizard tool. Lease agreement templates are also available and created with law firms local to the state your property is in.
Best of all, the Lease Builder Tool is free for landlords.
After the tenants are screened and the lease is signed, collecting rent is the most important task. Checks get lost in the mail, and I’m unable to travel the distance to collect rent in person.
Yet again, Zillow Rental Manager comes in handy with rent and utility collection tools that are free to use.
Setting up online payments is quick and easy. First, I connected my bank account and confirmed my identity. Then through the portal, I sent an invitation to my tenants, inviting them to accept and complete the process. They can use ACH, credit, or debit. Once the invitation is accepted, I could begin receiving payments online.
Tenants pay a small fee for credit and debit payments through the secure payment portal. A tenant can manually send their payment through the portal or set up auto-draft. I’m partial to auto-draft since I can see when the tenant will pay me every month.
I love having rental properties in my portfolio. Because of Rental Zillow Manager, I can look for and include properties beyond my area and diversify where my investments are.
The online rental management software makes it easy to find tenants with its high volume of traffic. Plus, I have one online portal to collect all the rental applications I receive and perform credit and background checks. Then leases are easily signed and submitted, which cuts downtime on manual back and forth.
Best of all, I can collect rent without going the distance to get it.
If you’re a property owner with a long-distance property, I highly recommend utilizing Zillow Rental Manager and all the features that help bring peace-of-mind to the property management experience.