3 Key Investment Property Management Tasks For This Summer
Managing investment properties in the Pacific Northwest is like nowhere else on earth. With an average annual rainfall of more than four feet (!!!) here in Olympia each year, property and asset managers need to take full advantage of those dry days. When the rain finally stops in March, I mean April, ok let’s be honest, June, we’ve got to have our contractors lined up well in advance in order to capitalize on the limited window of gorgeous weather. Here are my three top weather dependent preventative maintenance tasks that I focus on accomplishing each summer:
1. Parking Lots
Mmmmm just look at that nice sealcoat & stripe job!
48+ inches of rain per year can be really hard on your paved surfaces. Add in a couple inches of snow, some salt and plows, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster if you don’t stay on top of your asphalt maintenance. When your parking lot starts showing the aggregate (the small rocks which, along with oils make up the asphalt), you’re already in trouble. I find that most parking lots need to be treated to a fresh seal coat and crack-fill at least every other year. Consider your parking lot like your skin. When it gets dry, it starts to crack, and if you don’t “moisturize” regularly, the problem only gets worse. Parking lots and other asphalt surfaces work the exact same way. With regular filling of cracks and application of quality seal coat material, you can extend the life of your parking lot indefinitely. Not to mention the added visual appeal a freshly coated parking lot adds to your property. It’s the first thing tenants see when they pull into your building, and shows that you’re the kind of Landlord (or manager) who strives to maintain your property in top quality condition. It saves you money in the long run, and keeps your tenants happy… What more could you ask for in a parking lot?
2. Roof Maintenance
A vendor and I checking out a section of torch down roofing in need of attention.
You ever trying using a blow torch in the rain? Me either. And I know my roofers don’t like to either. Although the trend in PNW roofing is moving away from torch down to single play material, using the short summer window to properly inspect and repair your roof is of utmost importance. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? The difference is tenfold when it comes to your roof. If your property manager isn’t walking your roof at least once per year with a good roofing contractor, you’re opening yourself up to leaks which are much more difficult to find and repair in the winter. Do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with your roof. How the water flows, where the scuppers and drains are, and come up with an aggressive maintenance (and yes, even replacement) plan. Even a perfectly maintained roof will fail eventually, so it’s always a smart move to set aside reserves each year to plan for major capital improvements like roof replacement. Doing so can insure that when the time does come, you’ve got the funds set aside to cover that expense without eating into your cash flow from operations. Check your 2019 budget… Do you have a line item for reserves? If not, talk to your asset manager about protecting yourself from large unforeseen capital improvement expenditures that can cripple an investment property in any given year.
3. HVAC Maintenance
I managed investment buildings for 15 years in Las Vegas, and let me tell you one thing I learned in that god-forsaken desert: A hot tenant is a grumpy tenant, and grumpy tenants don’t like paying rent. Now we usually don’t cross that 100º marker too often here in Olympia (part of our reason for moving to the PNW), but that doesn’t matter to an office or medical worker whose air conditioning isn’t working. So when the thermometer starts climbing, one of the first things I do is have all my HVAC units inspected by a qualified, professional HVAC vendor. Filter changes are a no-brainer, but what about your fan belts, compressors, and other components? Most HVAC pros will perform a relatively low cost PM inspection of your units looking not just for things that are broken now, but for items that could go wrong when the unit is working overtime come July/August. Knowing what to expect from your system, and again, planning in advance for replacement of aging units can save you and your tenants time, money, and most importantly, phone calls from angry tenants.
Our summer season is short, which means as investment property owners and managers, we have to plan well in advance to accomplish as much as possible when the weather is favorable. By scheduling these three services/inspections in the early spring, I know that my vendors will have me first in line when the weather breaks. And that’s one of the ways I keep my tenants happy, my buildings full, and my investors’ cash flows steady throughout the year. One of these days it will stop raining (I hope) – are you and your vendors ready to tackle these issues when it does?
Submitted by Cameron Wilson, CCIM
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