Don't let sneaky expenses wipe out your profit

When it comes to buy-and-hold real estate, some expenses are obvious: mortgage payments, routine maintenance, occasionally replacing fixtures or appliances, and paying your property manager. Other expenses may be forgotten until after you’ve blown your budget. Here are some common expenses of buy-and-hold rental properties to keep in mind so that they don’t sneak up on you!

City/HOA Fines

If you own a property in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, you’re more than likely aware of their rules. But what if you don’t visit the property in a while and your maintenance person or tenant lets their responsibilities slip? You could be looking at fines for something as simple and preventable as too-long grass, overgrown bushes, or a failure to shovel snow from the sidewalk. Make sure to know your city’s and HOA’s rules and work to stay on top of them at all times.

Permits and Fees

Does your city charge rental license fees, and do they require regular inspections that you have to pay for? Are permits required for vacant buildings? If you aren’t sure, it’s in your best interest to find out and take care of those permits before you end up getting charged a fine. If your city doesn’t require rental licenses or vacant building permits, you’re in luck, but be prepared for that to change in the future. It seems that more and more cities are beginning to charge these types of fees. Fees may range from $50/year to several hundred dollars.


Depending on how far you live from your rentals and whether you’re handling management tasks yourself, you may end up spending time and gas money traveling back and forth to your properties. If the properties are in town, you might not think much of it, but that time and money can add up!

Bank Charges

Many banks charge fees to businesses. Depending on your bank’s policies, you may have to pay account fees, check printing fees, cash deposit fees, and more. While these are usually small fees, they are another one of those things that can add up over time and often go unnoticed. If you’re really getting gouged by bank fees, you may even want to consider switching banks.

Office Supplies & Technology

Small office supply expenses are often overlooked: paper and envelopes, stamps, etc. And if you need to purchase a new printer or computer, those costs are often not so small. Make sure to add this into your budget.

Accounting & Legal

Accountants aren’t just for tax purposes! As your business grows and expands, an accountant will be worth their weight in gold. They will pay for themselves in saving you from sticky situations, but they are an expense that you’ll have to figure into your budget. The same with legal help. It’s always good idea to have an attorney on hand when you need them, but you will have to pay them for their work.

Have you ever overlooked any fees or expenses that come along with owning real estate properties? How do you combat these fees? Let us know in the comments section!


  1. This article brings up several great points. I would not have thought of vacant building fees. Unexpected expenses can derail your profit. But if you plan ahead like this article recommends- it can help minimize the damage. An account and attorney definitely makes sense to have at your disposal as well. Especially for tax breaks and making sure you’re following all the proper laws and procedures.