I Can’t Invest in Real Estate, Because I’m Not Handy

A common, and unfortunate, misconception about owning investment properties is that you have to be handy as it relates to home maintenance.

I, Angelo, didn’t grow up in a family that was handy. We did some projects here and there but these were mostly cosmetic type projects that did not require any complex tasks.

When I bought my first property at 19, I can confidently say that I did not know how to fix anything in the house. The truth is, most real estate investors feel that way when they get into their first home. Most first-time homeowners feel that way because why would you know about specific home maintenance without having ever owned a home?

So, to get straight to the matter, it is completely normal to have a hesitation about the unknowns of home maintenance. This fear of the unknown is enough to stop most people in their tracks but I'm going to shed some light into how I can fix almost anything that I run into now with just a few simple tips.

1. YouTube

YouTube is one of the greatest teachers out there. Anything that you need to learn you can find there, I'm not kidding. Aren’t sure how to install new locks on your door? You can find it on YouTube. Toilet keeps running after you flush? Search the symptoms on YouTube and start testing the different solutions (probably a simple float install.) Oven not heating up? Google the exact make and model of your oven and I will almost guarantee that you will find a step-by-step diagnostic video followed by the install video with specific part numbers. This one actually happened to me and I was able to buy a new $12 heating element and install that into an oven that wouldn't heat up (again, this $12 install I learned on YouTube!)

Are you catching my drift? YouTube is the best thing ever. Once you start to hammer out a few projects you will realize that you can take on most things in the home your self. Ask anyone who owns real estate, YouTube is a gold mine of information that will help you solve any household issue.

2. Family & friends

Now, what happens when the job is a little outside of your pay grade or a little more involved? Replacing a sink, changing outlets or adding dimmers, installing ceiling fans, framing in a room or hanging drywall are all things YouTube can teach you to do. However, it is often worth your time to have an extra person involved and usually someone who is an expert in that area. It takes bringing in an expert who can keep things moving when you run into something unexpected.

So, I figure out which of my friends and family know how to do the task and I either pay them for a side project or we do a trade. Both options are excellent, but I prefer the latter. This allows me to learn a skill while working closely with someone who is well-versed in the task at hand. We Frabonis are all about people. We love spending time with others, learning from others experiences, and deepening friendship by working shoulder-to-shoulder. 

3. Mindset

As much as people talk about real estate as being "Passive Income," investing in real estate isn’t for the passive. It’s for the people who want to rise up and do something incredible, and that takes work. People’s mindsets can often be discouragingly negative, and this can be a bad downward spiral. When you start owning rentals, choosing a victorious entrepreneurial mentality is best. The simple fact is that unexpected things are going to happen. If you at least adopt this mindset going in, you shouldn't be surprised when something doesn't go according to plan. Most people act as if nothing will ever go wrong and let themselves get upset or flustered when something happens. There are many times when a random rental problem could get you down and it could detour you from buying future properties, but this is the time to embrace the opportunity to problem solve and learn something new. 

Maintenance and repair needs will happen in your investing career. I suppose some of you are going to point out that I did overlook one of the easiest ways to get something taken care of--paying someone. This is definitely an option and one that we have leaned on in our nine-plus years of investing. Yes, it was worth paying someone $300 to come and clean a basement after the main sewer line backed up. Sometimes it can even save you time and money by paying someone who is an expert in a specific field. Yes, the task might not be complicated, but it might require you to purchase a specific set of tools that you may never need again. More often than not though, it is worth it, in the long run, to learn and execute on the simple maintenance tasks that come up.

One thing that we didn't address is anticipating maintenance costs while evaluating a property as an investment opportunity. There can, and will, be an entire post on this but generally speaking most people skim right over this part of the analysis and it can turn out very poorly.

Maintenance should not be intimidating. Things will come up and with the right attitude, a good YouTube search, and reaching into your network will help you take on most anything that will come up!