Property management can offer peace of mind when moving overseas
Although many people decide to sell their home when relocating to a new city, this might not be the best solution for everyone. In fact, there are certain situations in which keeping the home might be the most practical option.
Employees who get sent on international work-related assignments, and plan on being away from Houston for a couple of years, often prefer to keep their home rather than selling it.
Whether they decide to lease it out or keep it vacant until they return, it is important to have someone who can look after the property in their absence. For many homeowners, property management can be an attractive solution.
Property management companies and property managers offer an array of services and advantages for homeowners, the most obvious of which is peace of mind. Basic property management services typically include: tenant procurement, credit checks, employment verification, rent collection, periodic property visits, facilitation of maintenance and repairs, and other services as determined.
According to Suzie Davis, property manager for Bernstein Realty, many of her clients are homeowners who move overseas or out-of-state, and don’t have the time or inclination to handle the day-to-day needs of property ownership from afar.
“Sometimes people buy a property, and then a year or two later they get transferred with their job, but they don’t have a lot of equity built up in the house, and it hasn’t appreciated as much as they wanted it to, so they lease it,” Davis said. “Most of our clients who move out of Houston are hoping that they will be coming back and want to come back to their house.”
And while most of her clients prefer to have their homes leased while they are away, she said that there are also a few who prefer to keep them unoccupied. This is because they anticipate coming back to Houston for periodic visits, and want to be able to stay in their own home during those trips.
Due to the somewhat fluid nature of relocation assignments, Davis pointed out that sometimes homeowners need to return to Houston sooner than expected.
“When we handle leases for any of our clients who are going overseas for more than a year, we recommend including a diplomatic clause in the lease. This typically means that if the tenant or landlord is relocated after the first year, that they can terminate the lease with usually a 30- or 60-day notice without penalty,” said Davis.
In terms of the peace of mind that property management can bring to homeowners, Davis said that the best example was when Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area.
“We had two properties that were affected during Harvey, and we visited them as soon as we could get there. We were in touch with the tenants and homeowners on a regular basis. So, homeowners who were halfway across the world had peace of mind just knowing that we were handling it, and that we had access to contractors to get the cleanup done,” Davis said.
Graeme Farr is a homeowner who utilized Bernstein Realty’s property management services when he was transferred overseas, and has retained their services since his return.
“I went to Saudi Arabia for pretty much the whole of 2013 and 2014, and I knew that I would be coming back to Houston,” Farr said. “So, I decided that I wanted to keep the house so that it would be available for me when I came back, but I didn’t want to leave it empty.”
So, he engaged Davis to find a tenant for the property and to manage it for him while he was away.
“It was absolute peace of mind, because I did not want to be managing my house from Saudi Arabia. And, there were some things that happened. The washing machine broke, so Suzie sent me some quotes, recommended which one I should take, and she had a new one installed. The dishwasher sprung a leak, so she had that repaired, too,” said Farr.
In his case, he didn’t want to be contacted for every little thing concerning the property. He just wanted to know that it was bringing him money, and that it would still be in good condition when he came back.
“I didn’t have to go backwards and forwards with the tenant about the rent, which was something I didn’t want to do. I also didn’t want to be the owner talking to the renter, because I have too much emotional investment in the house. It was much easier to have Suzie do it, so I didn’t have to get involved. I could just say yes or no and approve big expenditures,” Farr said.
Michelle Sandlin is an award-winning writer, journalist and global mobility industry expert. Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMichelleSandlin and on Twitter: @MichelleSandlin. Also visit “On the Move” at blog.chron.com/onthemove.