Documenting, or keeping records, is not a marvelous and uplifting event. It's usually quite the opposite. It takes up your valuable time and it can be flat out boring. It can be difficult to figure out how to document some things and you really don't feel like doing that after all the work is done and you're tired.
Will the fruits of your labor be worth it? Will it give you protections and time savings? Can it provide insights into your past? Your future? Will it help when selling a property? When taxes are due?
Yes, to all of the above.
To Be Honest
You can get by with very little documentation. You'll figure it out. You'll find a way. You'll say "I wish I had ____ in writing" (or in a photo, or written down, or saved, or backed up), then you'll move on.
But on the other hand, when you have good documentation things go much smoother. You have the resources you need to back yourself up, to find the reference to get the job done quicker, to look at your records and make better decisions.
Good Documentation is Amazing
When you are at the store and need to know what paint you use. When you're traveling and an appliance breaks and you need to order a part (you know walking the tenant though how to find the make/model is going to be stressful or impossible). When you need to quickly pull up a lease or agreement you made, or see photos of something when you're on-site. When you have a dispute and you need to find your records to win your case. Or maybe you're curiosity just wants to look something up, or see how your business is doing.
You Need a Good System.
A system removes the guess work, it stream lines the process. It turns the agony and pain of record keeping into something you can quickly do and feel good about it. It empowers you to take control and secure tools for your future.
People very commonly design their own systems, and this is great exercise starting out. It lets you explore what's important for you. It lets you do things in a way that makes sense for you. But it's not uncommon to run into problems.
People waste a lot of time redesigning their spreadsheets when they find out it doesn't work the way they wanted it to. Same thing with folders and file systems. Seems simple at first, but as you collect and generate more records things start to get complicated.
This is the problem we ran into and why I created GovernRent. It is a superb record keeping system that can handle a huge majority of the things you need to document. We've spend years designing it. It allows you to get going more quickly with a proven system.
You Need A Habit
Not a bad one haha. If you want to be successful with documentation and record keeping for your properties and all your real estate investment activities, you need to develop a habit so you can be consistent.
Set aside time: every evening or Saturday (or whatever works best for your schedule and the amount of records you generate) and document. Reflect. Analyze. Think. Not only will you be generating great documentation for your future self, you'll give yourself time to process things you might not otherwise.
Make a date out of it: if you and your spouse both work on your rentals, either together or on different parts, getting together and documenting what you've done and what has happened is a great way to spend time together and share knowledge. Communication strengthens relationships and this could be a great way to make working together work better.
When it happens: It's much easier to input data and document things when you have a keyboard and a larger screen but sometimes it's worth it to do without those luxuries and document on-site when it happens. GovernRent, for example, was designed so you can add or update any of your information from your mobile phone or tablet.