It takes great management to run a successful rental property. One of the most important aspects of rental property management is avoiding vacancies. Every month that rental income is not coming in directly costs you money. In most cases these vacancies can be avoided with proper marketing. There are several little things that you can do that will generate interest to your property. If you wait until the last minute to find tenants you are playing with fire. Here are seven simple steps you can take to keep your property occupied.
- Start marketing early. It is never too early to find your next tenant. You should always keep your ears open for who may be looking for a rental down the road. Stay in contact with local real estate agents and mortgage brokers. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they may have someone looking for a rental. In addition you should give yourself plenty of time to find someone. Once you are under two months you should start making posts on social media and placing bandit signs in your yard. You can also focus on Craigslist, Zillow and any other website that has worked in the past. The longer you wait to get started the more likely you will be forced to pick the best available tenant.
- Price right. Regardless of your property or the location price is important. It is often the first item that potential tenants look at. Even if you made improvements you need to look at other rentals on the market. A new dishwasher may look great but it probably won’t add the value you are looking for. You need to price your rent according to how it compares to what else is on the market. If the amenities are close tenants will usually opt for the rental that is less expensive. Do some homework on your market and price your rental accordingly.
- Highlight positives. With whatever kind of marketing you do you control the narrative. A prospective tenant doesn’t know anything about your property other than what you choose to present. It is up to you to put the property in the best possible light. Start by highlighting all of the positives. If you are one of the few rentals in your market with a third or fourth bedroom make that easily known. The same should be done with any amenities. Focus on items that you think a tenant would find appealing. A deck, garage, driveway, fireplace or new appliances should all be highlighted. Think about what makes your property stand out and drive that home throughout your marketing.
- Pictures/video. Positive features may generate interest but you need to support those with pictures or videos. We live in a visual day and age. It is not enough to simply say something we need to support it with images. You need to do more than just snap off a couple of pictures and put them on a website. The quality of the pictures is important. Start with a picture of the front of your property. This is the first impression they will have. From there you need to include pictures of all the rooms in the house. The angle of which you take these pictures can make the room like big or small. If you don’t have experience with these or don’t have the right camera it is important enough to consider hiring someone that does. If the pictures are poor the response will be equally as bad.
- Bonus features. Are there any features that make your property stand out? Do you include heat and hot water with the rental? Is snow removal and lawn maintenance included? Are there a washer & dryer on site? These are the seemingly small items that can be put your property to the top of the list. These may not seem like a big deal to you but they need to be mentioned. Something as simple as basement storage can be a big factor. Anything that you can think of that may be considered a bonus should be included.
- Create action. The closer you are to the end of your current lease the less leverage you have. If you are in this situation you need to create action. One way you can do this is by offering something of value if they act within a certain timeframe. Free cable for a month can be a good way to get your phone to ring. Even if you don’t want to give up anything of value you need to create a sense of urgency. Phrases like “property won’t last long” or “act now” may give you the little push that you need.
- Contact info. Dealing with tenant phone calls constantly can get annoying at times. This is nothing compared to dealing with a vacancy. On every ad you place either in print or on a website you need to include multiple contact options. Leaving an email address is not enough. You need to include your name and phone number as well. People are more likely to call if they are interested than send an email. When you get incoming calls you need to answer them. You never know who will be the call that turns into a tenant. You can’t wait for a tenant to leave a message and call back when you feel like it. By the time you call they may have already spoken with three other landlords.
Finding a tenant usually does not happen on its own. You need to put some work in to keep your property occupied. Following these seven steps will greatly improve your chances of never having to face a vacancy again.