What Qualities Should You Look for in a Property?

Think about it this way: a problematic tenant can be evicted, but it would be almost impossible to "evict" a problematic property. Unless you inherited your rental property, you always have a choice. Therefore, it’s crucial to screen out money pits and homes with faulty construction or other serious problems, just as landlords want to screen out tenants with spotty credit, serious criminal records, and poor rental histories.

Consider the following list of key qualities you should always pay attention to while looking for a property:

  • Age of the building: Older buildings, especially if not maintained, usually mean more repair and replacement costs. Set some age parameters that are reasonable in your desired area. For example, in newer suburbs, you may want to exclude houses that are more than 10 to 20 years old. In the older city centers, properties past 50 years may be too old. However, older homes may be a good option if they have recently been upgraded on all major systems and brought up to code.

  • Geographical area: Some areas, such as vulnerable low-lying or coastal areas, may face building problems. Certain types of soils may be prone to settling, or there may be steep slopes that create problematic structures.

  • A low-maintenance entryway: Your floors will not last long if you have to step through gravel, dirt, or grass every time you want to enter the unit. For this reason, many investors prefer properties equipped with concrete or wooden decks at the entrance. Having paved parking lots and sidewalks can also help. A low-maintenance entryway should also include good lighting, plenty of street parking, and easy landscaping.

  • A solid structure: You should be able to discover critical structural problems and illegal modifications immediately. Pay attention to drooping buildings, sunken roofs, crumbling foundations, and similar problems that cannot be easily repaired.

  • Signs of pests: Watch out for termites, wood ants, cockroaches, rodents, raccoons and any other signs of pests that leave subtle yet detectable clues inside and outside the building. Professional pest testing can also provide specific information about all the potentially destructive insects and rodents in your area.

  • The condition of windows: Modern windows are important for safety, energy efficiency, and convenience. If the actual installation date is unknown, look at the building’s overall upkeep and renovation history to get an idea about the state of the windows. Recent upgrades may have included the windows—a definite advantage because window replacement can run up to thousands of dollars.

  • Water and moisture: Water and moisture can cause mold and rot if the house is not properly drained. This can damage the building structure and even cause habitability problems. Landlords should pay close attention to the excess of water around the building, a poorly functioning drainpipe, or a sloped yard that will allow water to enter the building.

  • Builder’s reputation: Different builders, regardless of the size of their company, develop their respective reputations for quality. Although this information is sometimes more difficult to find, don’t buy homes made by builders known for lower-quality work and construction defects.

  • Materials and General Condition: Ask what type of common building problems exist in your area. Common problems can usually be traced to certain materials or a poorly conceived design. You can also set some standards about the age of certain systems and screen out properties that are outside your set range.

  • For example, you can choose to avoid properties built more than 50 years ago that have multiple layers of shingles or flat roofs. You can also screen out those without upgraded electric, plumbing, and HVAC systems, and let go of those located in a flood zone.