Posted in Blog  
  on Jul 17, 2015

Tools of the Trade: How Landlords Research Everything From Cities to Tenants

As technology evolved, so did the tools that landlords used to be successful in their jobs. If you've been renting out properties for any length of time, you know that many of the most imperative tools are focused on researching potential tenants or new communities to invest in. Fortunately, there is no shortage of creative research methods, and if you can utilize the following, you'll already be a step ahead of the game.


Mobile Apps
They say that there's an app for everything, and the growing variety of landlord and property management apps prove it. With everything from home listings to landlord networking apps available, there's really no level of research you can't pull off using mobile apps.
When it comes to researching a community, though, you may want to check out an app like Trulia. It provides pricing information that can help you decide whether to invest in a new property and gives you information on local restaurants, schools and amenities. Even if you're not looking to expand your rental offerings, apps like these can help you monitor the pulse of the surrounding market.

Real Estate Websites
Although the aforementioned mobile apps can go a long way in giving you community information, nothing quite beats sitting down on your computer and delving deep into what a locale is really like. After all, if you invest in a new rental property in an area that's not appealing to people, you won't likely see a quick return on investment.
Fortunately, you can check out home listing prices on a variety of websites, and although there are national Web pages that do this, it never hurts to see what a local real estate company has listed. This will give you an idea of how much you should spend on a property.
Websites like Sperling's Best Places give you a wealth of information on nearly every city in America, including home prices, vacancy rates, property taxes and even average rental prices. All of this information can make your investment decision easier.


Crime Statistics Websites
While it's good to know what a community has to offer before investing in property, it's also essential to check out crime statistics in the area. After all, tenants looking to live in nice areas always check the crime rate in a neighborhood before even contemplating a move. In fact, articles that list the best and worst places to live give special focus to crime statistics.
Fortunately, this isn't something you need to pay for. The City-Data website has crime statistics on most American cities, and if you want to go back to the mobile research tools, you can download the CrimeReports app which provides the same data, ensuring you're investing in a community where people feel safe.


Online Background Checks
Communities definitely aren't the only thing that landlords need to investigate. On the contrary, they need to examine every potential tenant that comes their way. One of the best ways to do this is to run a criminal background check. There was once a time when this meant visiting the local courthouse and filling out paperwork. Fortunately, that time has passed.
There are now online resources, such as property management software, that allow you to perform background checks on prospective tenants without ever leaving your home. These checks let you know if an individual damaged property at a former rental or has been convicted of a serious crime.


Online Credit Checks
It's always a good sign if rental applicants have no serious criminal record, but this doesn't necessarily mean they're good tenants. The simple fact is that, if someone doesn't handle debt or paying his bills responsibly, beginning a tenant-landlord relationship may not be the best idea.
Fortunately, just as is the case with background checks, you can now easily perform credit checks via the Internet. The report you get back may contain information on open credit accounts, foreclosures, unpaid bills, previous employers, and even evictions. Combined with the criminal background check, this online resource can tell you nearly everything you need to know about a potential renter.

Research is one of the most important parts of being a landlord, and these tools mean it doesn't have to be the hardest. Simply knowing what tools to utilize can go a long way towards making the right decisions.


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