Avail is a full-service property management system that helps both landlords and tenants. Avail helps landlords find and screen tenants, sign leases, collect rent, and manage maintenance online from desktop and mobile devices. Avail’s online education center is also a top resource for landlords and provides guides, tools, state law guidance documents, and articles to help landlords manage properties efficiently.
We sat down with Avail (formerly Rentalutions) CEO and Co-founder Ryan Coon to learn more about his company and their recently released survey on the State of Independent Landlords for 2018. We also discussed what trends he expects over the next three years in the real estate rental market.
Ryan Coon, CEO & Co-founder, Avail
Ryan Coon co-founded Avail (formerly Rentalutions) in 2011 when he and a colleague, both of whom owned rental property, noticed a need for an efficient property management system to help landlords with fewer than 10 units. Both Coon and his partner felt that it was a challenge working 50 to 60 hours each week to manage their units with limited resources like spreadsheets and paper documents. This system was also inefficient for both them and their tenants. They knew large property managers had access to online tools, and they wanted to make these types of resources available for all. Not long after, they left the financial industry to focus on solving this problem, and began developing tools specifically for landlords like them. They now offer an all-in-one solution that’s utilized by more than 200,000 landlords and tenants.
Coon has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Business. He is a member of the Forbes Real Estate Council and an RE200 Mentor at MetaProp NYC. Avail has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, Associated Press, and MSN. RedEye Chicago recently named it one of the 25 Coolest New Businesses in Chicago.
We based our questions on Avail’s State of Independent Landlords survey for 2018, which Avail recently conducted to gain insights into landlords’ backgrounds and experiences. The survey covers what property owners think, feel, fear, and value. It also explores how landlords use technology and how the property management landscape has changed over the past year.
Questions we asked Coon about landlords and rental property management include:
People Become Landlords to Build Wealth
FSB: According to your recent State of the Independent Landlord for 2018 survey, most landlords buy rental property to build wealth and save for retirement. What role do you see rental property playing in supplementing retirement for today’s millennials?
Ryan Coon: Rental properties have historically been one of the best ways for individuals to build wealth and to save for retirement. As you mentioned, our survey highlights this, and we don’t see it changing anytime soon. The one shift we do see is how individuals, beginning with the millennial generation, are using technology to efficiently buy and manage rental properties. Several startups have emerged that help individuals purchase properties, and companies like Avail help make ongoing management as simple as possible.
Most Landlords Are 30 – 69 Years Old
FSB: With the largest group of landlords being between 30 and 39 years old, what key advice would you give to landlords with less than five years of experience?
Ryan Coon: It is crucial for new landlords to treat their rental property as a business. As a business, new landlords should focus on things that maximize income and lower their risks. To accomplish these goals, it’s important that landlords focus on finding high-quality tenants who will pay rent on time and respect their property. The best way for landlords to find the best tenants is to comprehensively screen all applicants. A proper tenant screen should include rental history checks, income verification, a credit report, and a background check.
Landlords Have Careers Outside of Their Rental Business
FSB: According to your survey, two out of three landlords have outside careers. What tools can landlords use to keep their asset as turnkey as possible?
Ryan Coon: DIY landlords with outside careers need tools that enable them to easily handle all aspects of the landlord process from one central place. Avail was built to solve this need and is the only software for DIY landlords with services for every step in the rental cycle: finding and screening tenants, signing leases, collecting rent, and managing maintenance.
Rental Property Maintenance Is Time-consuming
FSB: One of the biggest pain points for landlords is the time required for handling property maintenance. What advice would you give new landlords regarding handling maintenance in the most efficient manner?
Ryan Coon: Maintenance is a large pain point for landlords for a number of reasons. A large one is that many landlords don’t have existing relationships with contractors, which means they have to research, prospect, and negotiate every time they need a fix. To avoid this, landlords should proactively establish a relationship with a contractor they trust before they have any maintenance issues in play. From there, landlords should fix issues as soon as they arise, since waiting can turn small issues into more serious, costly issues.
Landlords Need Resources
FSB: The trend toward managing property online seems to be most popular with younger landlords. How can more mature landlords take advantage of these tools and what is the learning curve?
Ryan Coon: While it’s true that younger landlords are more likely to use Avail today, we see this shifting going forward. The benefits of simplifying the time-consuming processes of being a landlord apply to everyone regardless of age. We built Avail for everyone—every renter and every landlord.
The easiest way for mature landlords to get started is with all of our educational content. In addition to providing world-class landlording tools, we put a lot of time and effort into building valuable resources that help landlords through all aspects of being a landlord. At Avail, we have over 300 free articles on the landlord experience in addition to hundreds of helpful articles that break down how to use the Avail platform.
Landlords Want to Expand Their Portfolios
FSB: Your survey notes successful landlords often want to expand their rental portfolios. What are some key steps in your opinion regarding making this possible?
Ryan Coon: Naturally, landlords who are finding success in their rental businesses want to expand their portfolios. Like any business, rental expansion should be thoroughly planned, taking into consideration things such as cash flow, market conditions, financial projections, the availability of financing and corresponding interest rates, the diversification of investment assets, and more. When a landlord has done their due diligence, it not only makes the execution easier, but it also improves the odds of finding a desirable property and securing funding at favorable rates.
Where the Rental Market Is Headed
FSB: As CEO of Avail, where do you see the real estate rental market heading in the next three years in terms of growth, inventory, and available financing?
Ryan Coon: Macroeconomic conditions over the past decade have led to more renters than ever before, which has been beneficial to landlords. I do not expect this trend to stop any time soon, specifically in dense urban areas. This macrotrend is leading to inventory scarcity in certain markets, driving up property values and rent prices. Additionally, landlords are also facing higher interest rates, making it more expensive to get financing and expand their portfolios. However, increased scarcity is making it more profitable for landlords in the space.
What Avail Does for Small Businesses
Avail is an online property management service that makes it easy for landlords to manage portfolios of small properties. Using Avail, landlords can market their properties, attract and screen potential tenants, and collect rent online. Landlords can also manage their first property for free with Avail and get access to resources to help them grow their portfolio or manage properties more efficiently.
Avail was founded as Rentalutions in 2011, and has since developed into one of the fastest-growing rental property management companies in the country. After recently completing a $2 million round of funding, Avail remains poised to continue its massive growth and help landlords all across the country.