Property Management vs. Self Management vs. Lease Only: Which is Best For You?

There are a few key factors when determining if you should manage your own property, hire a property management group, or hire someone for help with leasing only. We’re here to break down those factors and help you decide which one will be the best fit for you.

Renting out a property can be an overwhelming task for many people, especially if you have never done it before. Do you hire a property manager or a real estate agent? What does it take to do it yourself? Figuring out who will manage your property is the first step to successfully renting your property.

There are a few key factors when determining if you should manage your own property, hire a property management group, or hire someone for help with leasing only. We’re here to break down those factors and help you decide which one will be the best fit for you.

Good Life is a property management company, and we believe that we relieve a lot of the stress that comes with managing a rental, but we do recognize that self-managing or leasing assistance could be a better fit for you.

Today we’ll compare self-managing, a property management company, and a leasing-only agent against the following factors:

  1. Time
  2. Liability
  3. Results
  4. Headache-Factor
  5. Cost

1. Time


Managing your own property is going to be the most time-consuming. You’ll be the one that’s responsible for preparing the property, hiring vendors for any repairs, selecting the tenant, managing the tenant, and attending to all issues that may come up. You’ll need to be available 24/7 because you are the tenant’s first point of contact when something goes wrong.

If you already have some experience with these tasks, it will move a bit quicker for you. If this is your first time managing, you’ll want to spend extra time reviewing landlord webinars, local and state landlord/tenant laws, and other useful educational materials.

If you prefer to be more involved in the management process, self-managing might be a good fit. You will have total control of any and all decisions involving the tenant and vendors. As long as you are familiar with the laws and marketing tactics, you could be your own manager.

Property Management

Property managers are a great option if you are concerned with self-managing taking up too much time. If you already have a job or are looking to spend more time with the family, you likely won’t have as much time for property management.

A property manager is going to take on the majority of the tasks required. Typically you’ll only spend 3-6 hours per year doing landlord duties. This includes conversations with your manager and reviewing pay statements.


Hiring someone to assist you with the leasing process will take less time than doing everything yourself, but more time than working with a property management group. They will handle the difficult parts of leasing–recommended repairs and upgrades, marketing, etc. Once the property is rented, their job ends.

This means that you will then be the one to manage the tenant, repairs, and disputes. On one hand, this option is a time-saver, especially if you need help with promoting your property. On the other hand, tenant disputes and maintenance issues are still time-consuming and difficult to navigate without prior experience doing so.

2. Liability


Your liability level is high if you choose to self-manage. A key element of successful self-management is knowing the landlord and tenant laws (state and local). You will be the one held responsible for any maintenance mistakes and law violations. It’s your job to know what is allowed and what isn’t.

If you have experience with managing a property (or even real estate experience), this task won’t be as daunting for you. You’ll likely already know reliable vendors and have a basic understanding of the laws.

Property Management

If you hire a property manager, your liability is going to be low. Property managers will require you to get insurance that they will be included on. This protects both you and the management company should an issue arise.

They’re also experts in their field. They have likely encountered a number of issues before and have learned from those experiences and trained to handle them in the best possible way.

They have an in-depth knowledge of local and state laws and will likely be able to avoid any serious issues or disputes.

Leasing Only

You’ll have a moderate level of liability here. Because you’ll have assistance with the leasing process, you’ll most likely have a good tenant.

However, your agent is primarily incentivized to get the property leased quickly. They won’t be working with you long term, so there’s a chance they won’t dig too deep when selecting a tenant. This could result in you having to deal with a problematic tenant later on.

Leasing only would also mean that you’re still stuck with the majority of the work. Once the papers are signed, you’ll be in charge of everything from there on out. This includes maintenance orders, tenant disputes, evictions, and more.

3. Results

Self Manage

The results you get are going to depend on the experience you have. If you’re a first-time landlord and blindly navigating through the process, you won’t have the same results as someone who has managed previously.

The results you get will also depend on the level of communication you have with your tenants. If you talk to them only when absolutely necessary, you could find yourself with bigger issues at the end of their tenancy. You might not be aware if the tenants are damaging the home until it’s too late.

You also run the risk of spending money you don’t need to. You might accidentally invest in aspects of your home that don’t have a high return on investment, resulting in wasted money and no improvement in vacancy periods.  

Property Management

If you work with an experienced property management group, you should be getting excellent results. They have trained in how to rent a property quickly, develop good relationships with tenants (and owners), and how to effectively handle maintenance issues.

Their job is to be the buffer between the owner and the tenant. Because of this, they usually strive to keep both sides happy and keep the property in great condition.

They will have an established process in place that makes finding a tenant, renting the home, and managing it much easier. They’ll have multiple people involved that are responsible for taking care of your property and selecting good tenants that will treat your home right.

Leasing Only

Using a leasing-only agent will likely get you better results when it comes to renting out the property. They will have access to the MLS database and knowledge of the area your home is in. They will be able to do this much quicker than you could.

They will also be in charge of selecting the tenant. This is beneficial for the owner as they know the law and will be selecting the tenant based on business factors, not personal ones.

However, because the agent doesn’t assist with any management, you’ll be the one responsible for maintenance, tenant disputes, etc. If you’re not familiar with hiring vendors and negotiating with tenants, you could run into trouble.

4. Headache Factor


Your headache factor will likely be the highest if you choose to self-manage. The level of responsibility when self-managing can cause a lot of stress, especially if you have never managed before.

You could be receiving phone calls in the middle of the night from tenants, have to manage tenant disputes, and deal with lease breaks and roommate changes.

If you have managed before, you’ll be more accustomed to these things. Make sure that you are aware of housing laws to avoid any legal disputes.

Property Manager

Hiring a property manager typically has the lowest headache factor (if it is a reputable company). You’ll receive updates about any important issues, but the property manager will be handling everything.

When a tenant moves out, the property manager will do a walkthrough of your property and inform you of any necessary repairs or cosmetic changes. Their job is to help you rent your home quickly and attract tenants that will have respect for your home.

If you prefer to be more involved in every step of their process, a property manager may not be your best option. You’ll start to feel like you’re micromanaging and they’ll feel like they can’t do their job with you hovering over them. In this scenario, self-managing or lease-only might be better for you.

Leasing Only

This option has a moderate headache factor. Getting the home leased can be one of the toughest aspects if you don’t know what you’re doing. A leasing agent will take away this stress.

Your agent will be able to price your home adequately and then show it when ready. They will have an expedited process that allows them to minimize vacancy periods and market your home effectively.

Once the home is leased, you will then take ownership of the process. If you like to be more hands-on when it comes to maintenance and tenant issues, this option would be the best for you, so long as you are familiar with the law and don’t mind being on call 24/7.

5. Cost


On the surface, self-managing is the cheapest option because you aren’t paying anyone to do work for you. You won’t have any monthly fees to pay to an agent or management company.

You will want to set aside money each month-every couple of months for routine maintenance. The best way to prevent hefty maintenance repairs is to routinely check for minor issues.

Something to consider when determining if self-managing is right for you is how much your time is worth. If you already have another part or full-time job and you want to spend more time with your family, self-managing will likely take a big toll on you.

Property Management

Most property management companies charge between 6-12% of the monthly rent along with a flat leasing fee. You can expect a management company to collect roughly $1800-$2500 per year from you.

Occasionally you might have extra maintenance fees for bigger repairs. When it comes time to prepare your property for a new tenant, a property manager will recommend upgrades to help your home rent to a wider array of people. This will cost extra as well, depending on the extent of repairs/improvements.

However, property management is tax deductible. You should consult with your financial advisor or CPA to further examine how hiring a PM can save you on taxes.

Leasing Only

These agents charge a flat fee, typically half of one month’s rent to a full month. This is a great option if you want to pay a one-time fee for leasing assistance. Many people don’t know how to effectively market their home and a leasing agent will take that weight off of your shoulders for a flat fee.

On the other hand, spending that much for one service might not be worth it when compared to a property manager. For just a couple hundred dollars more per year, you could be getting full-service management.

To Summarize

We hope that this article helped clarify what these three options are and which one will work for you. When it comes down to it, you need to decide if you prefer to be involved in the management process or if you prefer to save yourself time and hire a professional.

Managing your own property can be a big task if you aren’t experienced. If you live in the greater San Diego area and think a property management team would be a good fit for you, give us a call today at (619) 374-8733.

For information about us, check out our client guide

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So you decided to rent out your property, but do you want to be a landlord and manage it yourself? Do you want to have someone lease it out for you and find your tenant or do you want to be a hands-off and hire a property management company? Hi, I’m Olivia with GoodLivePropertyManagement and I’m here to discuss the different options that you have when deciding to rent your home. Being a landlord is a very time-consuming process and some people love doing it and love having tenants and managing themselves, but some people would prefer to have it all handled by a property management company. I’m preferring in between where they find a tenant for you, but then you take over management from there. There’s a lot of different things to consider when deciding what is the best option for you in your home and I’m here to go over those today. The first thing you want to consider when renting out your property is how much time you have on your hands. Managing your own property or properties if you have more than one can be very time consuming. You’ll have to find and select a tenant, manage the tenant, manage maintenance requests, hire vendors, do you move in and move out tasks, it’s a lot of work and if you’re not prepared for it and you struggle to keep up with the ever-changing laws that affect your rental properties, it can be too much for one to handle. If doing all those tasks yourself doesn’t sound like a good time, maybe you want to hire a property manager. They’ll handle all of that stuff for you but keep you in the loop about what work needs to be done at the property and what issues need to be handled. If you want more of an in-between, maybe lease only is the best option for you. This is where you hire a management company to find, screen and select a tenant for you and then once that tenant is moved in, you’ll take care of the rest of the management. This is a great option for you if you don’t have an issue with managing the property but you’re not the best at marketing the property and you don’t want to deal with having to find and screen tenant. The next thing we’re going to talk about is your liability. Your liability is pretty high if you’re self-managing. It’s on you to learn all the laws, rules, regulations, fair housing, anything that has to do with tenant screening and managing a property effectively. That’s all your responsibility. So if something goes wrong or a tenant makes a complaint or anything of that sort, it’s going to fall on you. If trying to stay on top of new laws and fair housing and all of those kinds of things doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, a property manager is probably the best fit for you. It then becomes their responsibility to make sure that your property is abiding by laws that your tenant screening isn’t contradicting with any fair housing laws or anything like that. Again, they’ll keep you in the loop with any issues or new law updates or things like that but they’ll be the ones that are taking care of it for the most part. They usually also have some kind of lawyer attorney on retainer or that they can contact when these new laws come up. We still only is an in between for the liability issues here. Basically, that property manager will take on the responsibility of screening, selecting and approving that tenant, but then you’ll take over once the management starts. So that means that any laws affecting your property during management, such as rent control or just cause evictions, anything like that is now going to be your responsibility to know and make sure you’re adhering to. So the next thing we’re going to talk about is your results with these three options. For self-managing, being a landlord, your results can be really all over the place, depending on how much time, effort and energy you put into being a landlord. If you are really passionate about knowing all the laws, about knowing the rental market, how to price your home properly, you’re going to have great results because you’ve done the research on how to get there. If being a landlord is more of a side hobby or something you inherited from a family member and maybe you just aren’t as concerned, then your results will vary. Not knowing the market conditions or how to get your property ready for rent or how to attract the best tenants might mean that you have worse results than using a property manager. Now theoretically, using a property manager will give you excellent results because they’re an established business that’s an expert in the industry. You’re entrusting the agents there to know the market, to price your home for the best it can get, but also rent it quickly so it’s not sitting vacant. Another great thing about using a property manager is that you can vet them first. So if you want someone that’s really experienced, check out their Yelp and Google reviews and compare against other companies. Now with lease only, your results will vary as well. Eventually, it’s the property manager’s job to not only market your property, but to find you a good tenant. That is half the battle, but the other half is managing the property. So once they hand off the property and that tenant to you, your results are going to vary dependent on how you work with the tenant, how you handle maintenance and things like that. So you’re a little bit better off than if you were to do the whole process yourself, but the management is where things can get tricky. The next thing we’re going to talk about is something we call headache factor. How many headaches are you going to get by managing your own property? Well again, if you’re passionate about being a great landlord and you want to spend that time doing the research on the market and the laws and things like that, then maybe it won’t be a problem for you. But even if you are passionate about having a successful rental, doing all that work, especially if you have a family, another job or a lot of other obligations, might give you more headaches than it’s worth. Now on the flip side, property managers can reduce your headaches because you’re not doing that day to day management yourself. You’re not doing the tenant screening, maintenance, which is always a big pain point for a lot of owners and managers. All of that is off your plate. But if you get a property manager that isn’t a good fit for you and your home, that might increase your headache factor as well. So you want to be sure to vet them properly and make sure that they know what your concerns are. Least only has a moderate headache factor. Having the property and finding a tenant can often be stressful for first time landlords. So getting that off your plate will likely be a big relief to you. But as mentioned previously, another big pain point for property owners is maintenance. When maintenance issues come up, having the communication triangle between you, the vendor that’s doing the work and a tenant can often be very stressful if you don’t have a process in place to handle it. The biggest thing you can do here to decrease that headache, both for self management and for lease only, is to have great communication with your tenants. This is going to be highly important for maintenance issues, but any other issues or law updates that may affect them as well. So long as you keep them in the loop, things tend to go a lot smoother. Now onto the last point, and possibly the most important for a lot of people out there that are looking at their homes is the cost. Now off the bat, it seems that self management is cheaper because you’re not paying a management fee, leasing fee, walk through fee, or any other of those fees to a property management company. So you’re able to keep that for yourself. But keep in mind that you’ll still have other expenses, such as when you have to turn over the property for a new tenant, maintenance, and anything else like that that will go into the property or tenant screening. So while you’re not paying that fee, you’re still taking on those expenses and you’ll have more time dedicated to doing so. Now with the property manager, there are fees, and they tend to range anywhere from 6 to 6,000, with the most common in San Diego being around 8%. Some companies have a flat leasing fee for each time the property is leased, and some have a fee for walkthroughs or other additional fees they may charge for extra services. So not only will you have the fees that go directly to the manager, but you’ll still have to pay for things like maintenance issues, turnover costs, etc. So just keep that in mind. It goes back to how much your time is worth. If you have the expenses on hand to pay a property manager, you might find that your time is more valuable and it’s worth that extra cost to pay the manager. When it comes to lease only, typically how they price it is half a month to a month rent for that leasing process. So again, that includes marketing the property, screening, and selecting and placing a tenant for you. For some people, spending that much money just to have a tenant placed isn’t really worth it, but for some, if that’s the biggest stressor of marketing their property, then they’re happy to pay that month’s rent to get a tenant in there. So we’ve reached the end of the video. And now we’ve gone over five important things to consider when you’re deciding if you want to manage your own home, hire someone to lease it for you, or hire a full service property management company. Everyone is different and it’s important to remember how much your time is worth to you if you have those extra funds to pay a property manager in which part of this process would be the most stressful for you or if all of it is. We’re happy to answer any additional questions that you may have to leave us a comment and don’t forget to subscribe for more content like this.