How being completely incapable of fixing anything can make you a great landlord

If you think that being a landlord is mostly about fixing things that break at your property, you’re wrong.

Well, I mean, you can do that, if you want. You can learn how plumbing works, how to fix electrical sockets when they blow out, how to fix a leeky roof and on and on. You can have a real sense of pride in seeing the results of your labor. The downside is, you have signed yourself up for what is effectively a low-paying, second job.

This is why my dad, whom I love dearly and who is 1,000 times more physically competent than I am, is still monkeying around with furnaces when they break.

I am not capable of fixing anything. At Casa Kagan, when something breaks, my wife fixes it. And yet I own and manage a LOT of apartments. How can this be?

If you’re a reasonably capable, smart person who is interested in real estate, you can make a lot of money. But you don’t make it by hiring yourself as a second-rate handyman. You do it by learning about the business, looking for a building to buy, and then doing the hard work necessary to buy it.

Then, when something breaks at the building, you hire someone to fix it. Maybe the first time you overpay or hire someone who does a bad job. So what? The next time you’re smarter. Slowly, over time, you learn who does good work and charges a fair price.

And while the people you pay are doing a decent job maintaining your building, you’re spending your valuable time figuring out how to get the capital together to buy your next building and the one after that. It’s about curiosity and educating yourself and being organized and being willing to tolerate a little risk.

It’s not about fixing toilets. If it were, I’d be sunk.