Longtime readers know that while I live near San Francisco, my wife and I own rental properties in Boston. We didn’t set out to buy them as an income stream. She owned her place before she met me. I bought my place soon after we started dating. While neither one of us intended to move to San Francisco, my wife’s career stood to significantly benefit from relocation.
As you may have heard, it’s not a good time to sell homes. Having bought out homes in 4 and 7 years ago at near market highs, there wasn’t a lot of money to be made by selling. In fact, my condo would sell for about $20,000 less than what I paid for it. As such, we decided to keep the properties and instead rent them out. My theory is that in 30 years, we’ll have no mortgage and a nice income stream – even if things look “break even” today.
Unfortunately being a landlord 3000 miles away isn’t easy. While we’ve been blessed with good tenants, the place is going to need maintenance from time to time. Bath tubs don’t caulk themselves. It’s not very economical for me to fly back, so I’m in the search of a good handyman in the Boston Metro West area.
This is when I saw an ad for Angie’s List. I’m already a huge fan of Craig’s List, so why not give Angie a shot? When I got to Angie’s website, though, there was a surprise. It wasn’t a free service like say 1-800-Dentist as I suspected. You have to pay monthly fees to be a member and find a handyman. The first month they even hit you with set-up/activation fee. I’ve joined a lot of websites in my time, and I can’t imagine what set-up/activation they have to do. It seems clear to me that this is a way to get someone to spend around $25 up front when they just want the name of a handyman (as in my case).
I’m not against paying for something, but give me a demo or something so I can see what the service does and how it works. Let me know how many handymen are in the area that I want. My wife’s place is close to Worcester, MA which is a good hour from Boston. Angie’s List’s Boston community may or may not be helpful in that case. They should at least tell me that up front.
To Angie’s List credit, they offer a 110% price protection… if you are not satisfied you get your money back… and then 10% on top of that. However, I’m always skeptical of those deals. It seems like there would be a lot of hoops to go through and if they decide not give you your money back, are you going to hire a lawyer to recoup your $25? Of course not. It’s much easier to keep the $25 in your wallet until you know what you are buying.
I’m starting to think that Angie’s List isn’t very helpful and that I should look other places for my handyman. Before I give up, I thought I’d put the question out here. Do you use Angie’s List? Where do you find a good handyman if word of mouth fails (as it has for me)? Perhaps Craig’s List is the answer for this too?