Too many people, unfamiliar with the investing community, think you need to be a handyman to be able to flip properties. While having a particular skill is certainly a plus, it is far from a necessity. There are many investors who thrive in rehabbing properties without fully knowing how to hang drywall or install a countertop. The key is to know your strengths and weaknesses. Having a base of knowledge in home repair is a plus, but it is not necessary for flipping real estate.
If you can’t put together an IKEA dresser, you may have a tough time rehabbing a property on your own. Before you dive in the real estate world, you should be comfortable in knowing what you do well and what you would have to sub out. Just because you have helped a buddy install a cabinet doesn’t make you an expert. One of the things you are judged on with you rehab is the quality of work you put forth. It is not enough to simply get the task done and move on. There is a big difference in getting it done and getting it done right. If you are handy in one area, let that be the place where you save some money. You can certainly soak up as much knowledge about other things as possible, but don’t experiment with your investment property. Stick to what you are good at and let everyone else focus on what they do best.
One of the things you can do, if you still want to be active with rehabs, is to find a good working partner. If you have the money and limited rehab skills, you can look to partner up with a contractor that covers where you are weak. There are many good contractors or handy people in general that are interested in the real estate business but for a myriad of reasons haven’t gotten started. Perhaps they don’t think their credit is strong enough or don’t have the capital to cover all of the work needed. Whatever the reason, there are many more of these types of people looking to get into the real estate business than you may think. Between your realtor, Craigslist, investment clubs and your local network, all it takes is one phone call to get the ball rolling. If you have capital, you should clearly define what you are looking for and what your share of work will be. A good rehabbing partner will help you close more deals throughout the year and make more than you would have otherwise.
One of the main detractors from owning rental property is the constant calls for work to be done. Everything from changing a door handle to fixing a dryer can be a real challenge if you are not handy. The first way to combat this is to explore the option of a property manager. If there is not a great amount of excess monthly cash flow, this may be an unrealistic option. In reality, these types of properties are the ones that really need a property manager. There are many instances where a landlord will try to save a buck by fixing a clogged toilet themselves and end up making the problem worse. There is nothing wrong with giving things a try, but you should know your limitations. A quality property manager will handle all of the little things that pop up with a rental property and can increase the useful life of the home. Ideally, you should factor this into your criteria when looking for a rental if you aren’t handy.
Not being handy is only a problem if you let it. In addition to surrounding yourself with a good team, there are many skills you can acquire on your own. Home Depot and Lowes offer “how to” sessions on different do it yourself tasks. Additionally, there are many good local classes where you can pick up a skill in your spare time. You may not ever use any of this information but the more you know, the more you will save on future projects.
Every rehab you do will be a learning experience. If you have little to no handy skills you should make it a point to spend as much time on your rehabs as possible. The more you see, the more you will learn. Being handy is a plus, but if you are not, it doesn’t mean you can’t own or rehab real estate.