My name is Dr. Candice Williams. I’m a wife, mother of 3, physician and musician living in Los Angeles. My life is busy, as you can imagine, but aren’t we all running on the hamster wheel in some way? Here are 5 Real Estate Tips from Wife, Mother, Doctor, and Musician.
A few years ago, I found myself in a situation where my work did not sustain my financial needs. I was working part-time, expecting my third child and waiting on a full-time position to open at a large healthcare entity.
By the time I had my child, the offer still didn’t materialize, even though I had a good rapport with the staff and my boss. I was wondering just what to do when a friend contacted me about a job in another city on the outskirts of town.
I was hesitant to take this job given the distance and the fact this place had problems in the past. I also recently purchased my first home and was in a dilemma about what I would do in case I moved.
The offer came from the new job and I had no other choice at the time but to accept. The money was right and at least I had an ally there already. My main question at the time was, “What should I do about my house? Sell it?” I felt a resounding “NO!” come from inside, as my house is in an area where a stadium is being built and things are growing.
I asked around and finally decided to have a broker and longtime friend manage our property for us and find us tenants to rent out our home while we figure out whether this job was a good fit. I wasn’t too excited to become a landlord, but I figured that was the best decision.
OK, long story short it wasn’t a good fit but a disaster. I had to learn how to shift and adjust quickly. I was stressed, mistreated, disillusioned and needed a change quickly. I realized that I rented my home out and there may be a way to go home. My tenants at the time initially said they wanted to stay an additional year and I was petrified as to how we would find another place to rent in my home-town for an affordable price. LA is expensive!!! We already signed the lease and were considering options and looking around at rentals costing 3k-4k for a small home.
Then we received a call that they wanted to break their lease and move! I was so relieved and took this as my time to make a career move that has benefited my peace of mind, pocketbook and my family. It bought my time back by helping me preserve an investment and a place to live that we loved. Our children could be with their grandparents again.
We could do the things we enjoyed and not drive 1.5 hours to do them. We serve in our church playing music and administration and now we didn’t have to drive 1 hour to get there and back. Our time and our sanity would be salvaged and I could move on to greener pastures.
So, how did I do it and what did I learn from this experience?
1. Go With Trusted Sources
I had prior experience with my broker, who helped us purchase our home. She built trust, credibility, and friendship and this helped the decision to have her find tenants and manage our rental effortless. If you do not know someone to help you, I recommend going with a friend of a friend or a property management company. If you do not have the time or band-with to do it yourself, do not go at it alone. There is a lot that goes into being a landlord and there is a learning curve. Get help when you need it!!!
2. Do Your Homework
Look up laws and rules regarding renting property and make sure you are in compliance Doing #1 helps greatly and will keep you from having to keep tabs on everything, but its best to look at it yourself. Trust but always verify.
3. Shift Your Mindset
When you become a landlord, your home is now an investment property and no longer your “home”. In order to be a good landlord, I had to separate myself from the concept of it being my home to being a rental property. This meant deferring certain upgrades or saving money on certain things because my home was being rented. Also having a property manager helps as this is a layer of separation between you and the tenant. This helps with business decisions and contract negotiations. A good resource is Buying Real Estate for Passive Income. It might help bring some perspective to it all.
4. Being Handy Helps
If you have handyman or woman skills – more power to you! It helps save time and money if you can work on projects in the home you are renting out. We had a handyman that we knew and he promptly responded to our tenants’ requests for repairs.
5. Be Flexible
This entire experience showed me that in life, I have to be flexible if I want to make choices that serve my values and goals. If I entirely cut ties and sold my home, I’d be stuck, or worse, COMMUTING!!!! Those in LA know what I speak of. It’s the worst traffic in the nation for a reason. Long commutes steal your time, although to buy it back you can always listen to books on tape and get educated and/or inspired. ☺
I hope my story helps some of you who feel stuck or that you are giving up your time for someone else’s dime. We are all doing that in some way, but making choices that serve you and your household first allows you to buy some of that time back.
Candice Williams, MD, D. ABA
President, Premed Consultants