Unexpected Costs of Turnkey Rental Properties

Investing in turnkey rental properties is often touted, as having far fewer property repairs (since everything is new). Rental property owners often feel that they get to defer the property maintenance for several years, but Philadelphia property management company owner, Joe White has a warning for rental property owners.

Welcome back to the Grow Real Estate Investing Podcast, your go-to source for genuine insights into the world of real estate investment, particularly when it involves the bustling and vibrant market of Philadelphia. Today, I’m excited to dive into a topic that’s incredibly close to my heart and pivotal for anyone considering stepping into the realm of rental properties, especially through the lens of a Philadelphia property management company.

I recently had the pleasure (and eye-opening experience) of walking through a new property that we, as a leading Philadelphia property management company, are taking under our wing. The scenario was unique—the owners, residing in Hawaii, purchased this gem sight unseen. On paper, and perhaps through the lens of their digital files, this property embodied perfection. Newly renovated with every modern amenity you could think of, it promised the dream of hassle-free property management and ownership.

However, the reality was starkly different. This visit was a vivid reminder of a recurring theme we encounter with so-called TurnKey properties. Despite its apparent perfection, the property was far from problem-free. An issue as basic as a toilet leak, cascading through kitchen lights, was just the tip of the iceberg. It underscored a vital point that many overlook: even the most pristine-looking properties undergo a "stabilization period," a phase where they reveal their hidden flaws, necessitating unexpected repairs and investments.

This episode made me reflect on a broader misconception perpetuated by many in the real estate investing podcast sphere—that brand new or fully renovated properties are synonymous with zero maintenance. As someone deeply embedded in the world of Philadelphia real estate, I can assert that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Each property, irrespective of its initial glamour, has its quirks and challenges, often becoming evident through the first or even the second tenant's tenure.

The issue isn’t just with minor inconveniences but with fundamental problems—plumbing not properly connected, showers leaking into hallways, unpowered outlets. These aren’t rare anomalies but a common thread running through many properties we manage. It brings to light a critical aspect of real estate investment, especially for those entranced by the allure of "newness" in rental properties.

Understanding the implications of this can significantly impact how you, as an ethical, moral, and educated landlord, approach your investment. The journey of a property from a mere shell to a tenant-ready home is fraught with unexpected challenges and expenses. From the seemingly innocuous act of tile guys dumping grout down the drains to more significant oversights during renovation, each step requires meticulous attention and an allocation for unforeseen costs.

This reality brings me to the core message I wish to share with fellow investors, especially those looking at Philadelphia rental properties through the lens of investment and management. The path of investing in real estate, be it new construction or renovation, is not one devoid of bumps. However, being forearmed with this knowledge allows you to plan better, set realistic expectations, and ultimately, stabilize your investment more efficiently.

As a seasoned entity in Philadelphia property management, our experiences have taught us the importance of expecting and planning for such eventualities. It’s not just about managing properties but managing expectations—both yours and those of your tenants. In doing so, you not only safeguard your investment but also enhance your reputation as a landlord who is prepared, responsive, and, above all, committed to providing a quality living experience.

In closing, while the allure of a turnkey, newly renovated, or newly constructed rental property is undeniable, it’s crucial to peel back the layers and understand what such an investment truly entails. The key to successful real estate investing, especially in a market as dynamic as Philadelphia's, lies in knowledge, preparation, and a realistic approach to the challenges that come with property ownership and management.

Thank you for tuning into the Grow Real Estate Investing Podcast. I hope this discussion sheds light on the nuanced realities of managing rental properties in Philadelphia and empowers you to make informed decisions in your investing journey. Here’s to ethical investing, thorough preparation, and, as always, happy investing.


Joe White

Joe White is a Philadelphia Property Manager and Real Estate Broker. He is the owner of Grow Property Management and has been involved in the management, sales and purchases of Philadelphia area rental investment properties since 2008. He is an author and works as a real estate investment consultant and construction manager.

View all posts by Joe White