In down markets, investors need to find a way to increase the value of their investment, while still maintain competitive rents. Many investors turn to reducing their costs by deferring or eliminating important maintenance items. During down times investors need to stay focused on the long-term and continue to perform maintenance capital expenditures at a minimum.
Maximize Revenues or Minimize Costs
Investors seek to maximize value in two ways, increasing rents and decreasing expenses. In down markets, they only have one tool available to them, decrease expenses. As investors seek to do this, many make the mistake of eliminating important maintenance capital expenditure items. Novice investors especially fall prey to this temptation.
Investments like cleaning gutters, changing filters, trimming trees, inspecting furnaces, etc. represent relatively small expense items in the budget. Deferring or omitting these types of expenses will hurt the long run value of the property. Additionally, investors can expect to need to put additional dollars into larger repairs at a later date. The short-term savings will cause investors long-term pain.
Watch the Competition
Another consideration investor need to factor into their investment decision is the look of comparable properties. In down markets it is even more important to keep pace with competitors. If a competitor property has additional capital improvements, then deferring these improvements in a down market could mean significant vacancies.
As competition heats up, the investor with the best property and service with competitive rents will win every time. A lack of spending at this point will lead to increased vacancy, which will further decrease the income coming from and going into the property. At some point, the investor must break this cycle and inject additional cash to stabilize the property and make it more competitive in the market.
Involve the Tenant
Investors should consider more creative ways to cut costs. Consider writing leases where tenants pay the first $200 of any repairs. This will prevent tenants from worrying the landlord for small repairs and might make them more responsible about the treatment of their property. Additionally, an investor might consider sharing the total property budget with the tenants and awarding the tenant some percentage of any cost savings at the end of the year.
These creative ways of keeping costs down enroll the tenant in the process and serve to get them more invested in the property. In the long run this will be the best way to keep costs low and tenants happy. This allows investors to maximize revenues and minimize costs.