Today marks the 2 year anniversery of the sale of our Crossland Real Estate property management company. Sylvia and I started Crossland Real Estate in Austin in January 1993. By 2004 we were ready to take a break. The kids were 8 and 11 years old and I fugured it was time for a real family vacation. One of those long road trips with camping and exploring that I so fondly remember from my childhood. I thought, if I’m not careful, we’ll work another 10 years and the next thing you know the kids are grown up and we will never have done much more than a few short trips here and there, during which I was returning calls half the time and keeping up with the business via email.
A trip like this was never going to be possible while owning the property management company (at least not the way I ran it with no office help), and we were burned out from our years in the trenches – at one time managing just under 250 rentals in Austin with just us and a full time leasing agent. So we sold the business turnkey, name and all. Two weeks later, July 15, 2004, we hit the raod in the minivan for 6 weeks of travel and fun. It was the first time in more than 10 years that I didn’t have to carry a pager or worry about checking voicemail or email every day. If someone’s toilet overflowed or their roof leaked, someone else would get the call at midnight, not me.
We started in Texas of course, up to Lake Texoma to see my brother and let the kids visit cousins, then to Santa Fe, Toas, Durango, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, down Highway 1 on the California coast to Santa Cruz, Monterey, Los Angeles (Disneyland and Venice Beach) finally ending up in San Diego (where I grew up). Then up to Arizona for a week – Sedona, Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. Then a day at Carlsbad Caverns on the way back to Austin. We had many detours and side trips in between. We boated in Texas, white-water rafted in Toas, took in a melodrama in Durango, camped in a tent for 5 days in Lake Tahoe, explored San Francisco, went whale watching in Monetrey and visited the aquarium, spent 5 days at Disneyland, swam in the Ocean, and a lot more. It was everything I hoped it would be and we and the kids have a family vacation to remember for the rest of our lives.
After that we laid back for a year. Thought about getting out of real estate altogether, but did some deals just to keep tuned up. Explored some other business ideas, but by the following summer, were back in full swing doing sales with Keller Williams.
Now, on this 2 year anniversery of disengaging from a life filled with tenants, I moved in my first tenants in two years. Last month we decided to start doing lease-only services again, where the owner self-manages the home but wants help finding a good tenant. So they hire us. We’ve been lucky not to have a turnover in more than two years on our own rentals, so it was a bit strange putting up a rent sign again, taking the leasing calls, doing the showings, and finally taking an application, checking out the tenants, getting the lease written, and moving the tenants in. Then there is accounting work to do on the back end as well.
Whew! It’s almost easier selling a house than leasing one. There is actually more paperwork for a lease than a sale. I had forgotten how much work it is to lease a home. But I enjoy talking to tenant prospects and quizing them about what they are looking for, which areas they like and why, what other properties they’ve seen, etc. Leasing is pretty much a break-even endeavor when you factor in all the time and driving required, but the contact with tenants is very valuable for our investment sales efforts. It will help us to stay plugged in to the rental market in a more direct way than simply looking at leasing stats and talking to property managers.