Top 10 Tips for Buying Rental Properties

buying rental property

Thinking about buying a rental property? Investing in rental real estate can be profitable, but you should do thorough research before deciding. 

With rising inflation and millennials preferring to rent, the trend of buying rental properties has increased in recent years. 

Before investing in a rental property, you need to understand how leases work, mortgage loans, relationships between tenants and landlords, and how to manage the property. 

10 Tips for Buying Rental Property 

If you are considering buying a rental property as an investment, it is crucial to approach the process with careful planning and research. Here are the tips to guide you through buying and managing a rental property successfully: 

1. Assess if Investing in Rental Property is Right for You 

To succeed with a rental property, you need to pay attention to details like an accountant, understand landlord-tenant laws like a lawyer, anticipate future issues, and, if you manage it yourself, have a firm yet friendly approach. 

Before you invest, consider whether you have the time, willingness, and skills to manage a rental property. While it is considered a passive investment, it still requires active management. 

Real estate investments can be as profitable as stocks over the long term, but success depends on factors like location and the property’s specifics. Consider if you can increase rent over time and if the local economy will support it. Financing terms can also significantly affect your return. 

If managing a rental property seems too demanding but you are still interested in real estate, consider investing in a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). REITs are publicly traded and invest in real estate, often paying substantial dividends to investors. This way, you can invest in real estate without the hassle of property management. 

2. Buy or Finance? Analyze Which is Best for You 

One of the first decisions to make when considering rental property investment is whether to purchase the property outright or finance it through a mortgage. Each option comes with its own set of pros and cons, and the choice depends on your financial situation, risk tolerance, and investment objectives. 

Paying cash upfront for a rental property eliminates mortgage interest payments and provides immediate ownership. However, it ties up a significant amount of capital, limiting your ability to diversify your investment portfolio. On the other hand, financing the purchase with a mortgage allows you to leverage your investment, potentially increasing returns. However, it also introduces additional risks, such as mortgage interest rates and debt obligations. 

Before making a decision, carefully analyze your financial position, including available funds, borrowing capacity, and long-term investment goals.  

3. Find the Right Location 

Location is a critical factor in the success of a rental property investment. Choosing the right location can significantly impact rental demand, property appreciation, and overall investment returns. When evaluating potential locations, consider factors such as: 

  • Look for areas with strong job growth, low unemployment rates, and a diverse economy. 
  • Research the local rental market to determine demand for housing and rental rates. 
  • Proximity to schools, parks, shopping centers, and public transportation, as well as neighborhood safety and quality of life 
  • Any planned infrastructure projects or developments that could affect property values and rental demand

By selecting a desirable location with high rental demand and strong economic fundamentals, you can enhance the potential for long-term investment success. 

4. Success Requires a Long-term Outlook 

Investing in rental property requires long-term commitment and patience. While rental income can provide a steady stream of cash flow, property appreciation and wealth accumulation usually occur over time. It is essential to adopt a long-term outlook and be prepared for market fluctuations and economic downturns. 

Additionally, successful rental property investment requires ongoing management and maintenance. From screening tenants and collecting rent to handling maintenance requests and addressing tenant issues, being a landlord requires time, effort, and dedication.  

5. Make Sure You’re Landlord Material 

Being a landlord involves more than just collecting rent checks; it requires strong communication, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills. Additionally, landlords must be prepared to handle various responsibilities, including: 

  • Tenant screening and selection 
  • Lease negotiations and enforcement 
  • Property maintenance and repairs 
  • Rent collection and financial management 
  • Conflict resolution and legal compliance 

If you feel confident in managing these responsibilities and embracing the challenges of being a landlord, rental property investment could be an excellent fit for you. Alternatively, you might explore the option of hiring a property management company to efficiently handle day-to-day operations for you. 

6. Budget for the Unexpected 

Owning rental property comes with inherent risks and uncertainties, and it is essential to budget for the unexpected. From sudden maintenance issues and property damage to tenant turnover and economic downturns, unforeseen expenses can arise at any time. To protect your investment and maintain financial stability, it is crucial to set aside a reserve fund for emergencies and unexpected costs. 

Additionally, consider factors such as vacancy rates, property taxes, insurance premiums, and legal fees when calculating your budget. By planning for the unexpected and maintaining a healthy reserve fund, you can mitigate financial risks and safeguard your investment against unforeseen challenges. 

7. Remember to Renew Your Leases 

One aspect of successful rental property management is maintaining stable occupancy and minimizing tenant turnover. To minimize turnover and maximize tenant retention, it is essential to renew leases promptly and maintain positive relationships with your tenants. 

Proactive communication and responsive property management can help foster a sense of trust and loyalty among tenants, encouraging them to renew their leases and remain in the property long-term. Additionally, you can consider implementing lease renewal incentives, such as rent discounts or property upgrades, to incentivize tenants to stay. 

8. Want Long-term Tenants? Consider Section 8 

Section 8 housing, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, provides rental assistance to low-income individuals and families, making it an attractive option for landlords seeking long-term, guaranteed rental income. Participating in the Section 8 program offers several benefits for landlords, including: 

  • The government pays a portion of the tenant’s rent directly to the landlord, providing a steady stream of income. 
  • Section 8 tenants undergo strict eligibility criteria and ongoing inspections, reducing the risk of late payments or property damage. 

While participating in the Section 8 program requires compliance with specific regulations and guidelines, it can be a valuable option for landlords looking to maintain stable occupancy and secure reliable rental income. 

9. Don’t Forget Rental Property at Tax Time 

Owning rental property offers various tax benefits and deductions that can help minimize your tax liability and maximize your investment returns. Some common tax deductions for rental property owners include: 

  • Mortgage interest 
  • Property taxes 
  • Depreciation 
  • Repairs and maintenance 
  • Property management fees 
  • Insurance premiums 
  • Utilities 

It is essential to keep accurate records of your rental income and expenses throughout the year and consult with a tax professional to maximize your tax deductions and ensure compliance with IRS regulations. 

10. Understand How Rental Law Works 

It is crucial for rental property investors to have a thorough understanding of landlord-tenant laws and regulations to protect their rights and avoid potential legal disputes. Landlord-tenant laws vary by state and locality and cover various aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship, including: 

  • Rental agreements and lease terms 
  • Rent collection and late fees 
  • Security deposits and refund procedures 
  • Property maintenance and repair obligations 
  • Eviction procedures and tenant rights 

By understanding local rental laws and consulting with legal professionals, when necessary, you can ensure compliance with regulations and maintain a positive landlord-tenant relationship. 

The Bottom Line 

Investing in rental property can provide a passive, steady income for the investor. However, as with any investment, thorough research is essential. Understanding tenant and landlord laws, leasing practices, mortgage policies, and property management issues is crucial before diving in. While rental property offers the allure of generating passive monthly income, it is important to approach it in a business-like manner and fully comprehend the commitment involved.  

Despite the potential for profit, maintaining a successful rental property often requires substantial effort and diligence to ensure a continuous flow of income. 

Contact BFPM for any queries related to buying or managing properties. 

Trevor Henson

Trevor Henson is an experienced entrepreneur (10+ highly-successful start-ups) and property investor with a demonstrated history of building and leading teams in investment property management environments, maximizing returns for property owners, and optimizing properties through construction management and re-positioning. He…
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Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

The 2% rule suggests that the monthly rent you expect to receive from a property should be at least 2% of what you paid for it. For instance, if you bought a rental property for $200,000, the rent you charge each month should be $4,000 or more.

Buying rental properties can be a viable way to generate income, offering a potential for regular cash flow and long-term appreciation. However, success depends on factors like location, market conditions, property management, and financial planning.

To prepare for buying an investment property, research the market thoroughly, assess your financial readiness, and develop a solid investment strategy. Additionally, consider seeking advice from real estate professionals or financial advisors to ensure informed decision-making.