Why you need a top shelf real estate team
You have friends and family involved in real estate. I almost guarantee it. Maybe an aunt who was a broker. Maybe your sister's husband who is an attorney. Maybe a close friend who manages a couple of their own properties.
Don't use them unless you have to. Simple.
There's only a low chance they're top 10% at what they do. And try firing your sister's husband. I dare you. It's hard to turn down your aunt when she first offers 'to take you round a few properties'. It's going to be much harder eight weeks from now.
Even with your first rental property, build the team you need for the long term. You're building a business. Treat it like that. You're the CEO. Even if it is a modest size for a while.
Who do you need on your team? These people. In this order.
Property manager and broker (in one)
There's an entire post on choosing your property manager. It's that important. I won't say any more other than go here:
A great home inspector is like the friend who will say without hesitation that you've spinach stuck in your teeth. They will tell you the truth, no matter how much it hurts. A home inspection is going to run you $300 to $1,200+ depending on the complexity of the property. And they're a sunk cost. They're going to charge you whether or not you close on a place.
A great home inspector will find everything - big or small - wrong with a property. They'll give you a detailed list of things to fix. They'll be direct about major risks (structural, flooding etc.).
To identify an 'A' grade home inspector ask them the following. How many inspections do they do in a day? Could they send a recent home inspection report they've completed? What building crawl spaces would they not enter?
Go with your home inspector to the property you're considering. Don't just wait for the written report. Ask questions on your tour. Get estimates - and 'severity' - for everything. A loose cupboard handle is not the same as a floor-to-ceiling crack in the foundation.
A great mortgage lender is your champion to the bank. They work in your interest. They know what objections the underwriters (the people who approve the loan) will have and can anticipate them. They know how to get 'exceptions' made by the bank management. They help prepare and complete the tedious forms so you don't have to. They're responsive on evenings and weekends.
Some of these things sound trivial. They are. But they matter when you're trying to close on a property without burning too much time. Time is important if you're going to build a real estate business and manage your day job.
To identify an 'A' grade mortgage loan officer ask them the following. How long have they worked in that role? What was the last major exception they got on a mortgage?
A great bookkeeper is organized and precise. They get the numbers right first time and every time.
What's most important is to have an online bookkeeper. Read this post about why that's important.
To identify an 'A' grade bookkeeper ask them the following. Which software or platform do you use with current clients? Have you kept the books for real estate before? When was the last time you made a bookkeeping mistake with a client? How often to you reconcile expenses for your clients?
Some of the online software/platform used to connect to a bank can be tricky. Make sure your bookkeeper understands the nuances of whichever system you plan to use. You can search bookkeepers by their knowledge areas on upwork.com.
A great insurance agent acts in your interest first. Not the insurance providers'. Insurance agents have relationships with many different providers. Different agents have different providers. Insurance agents should be finding the right coverage and service for the lowest price to you. Unfortunately you have no view into what commission the agent makes from each provider.
To identify an 'A' grade insurance agent as them the following. How do you decide the right level of coverage for my property? How often do you proactively check my insurance coverage against the market?
Insurance agents prefer it if you 'set it and forget it'. Insurance can run you thousands of dollars a year. The same policy coverage can be half the cost as the next cheapest. You need an insurance agent who wants to see those savings in your pocket.
Your attorney and accountant are, of course, key players. They're doing black-and-white roles. They need to be competent. Unless your transactions are complex, there won't be a radically different outcome.
You likely won't need your own contractor or bank manager. They can be helpful. A great property manager should have their own bench of contractors (and project managers for large jobs). Your property management fees pay for this access. A great bank manager can be helpful to open accounts, sort wire transfers, dispute charges. But nothing different from what almost anyone else at the bank can do.
Go build your 'A' team. Don't wait to do it. You'll thank your future self for putting the right team together on day 1.