As a real estate investor, you know that time is of the essence. Typically, most investors I know are highly leveraged. They have a mortgage to pay every single month, and the bank doesn’t accept any excuses as to why you’re late or a month behind. Renting out your Chico or Redding rental property fast is important, and it’s something not every investor thinks about with a new investment.
Working in the property management world I’ve had owners come to me after their rental home sat vacant for four months in the middle of the Summer – the prime time to rent. Most of you know, four months of a vacancy can absolutely destroy all your profit projections and set you back a year or two of profits. So, I want to share a few tips that we have come to employ to ensure your property gets rented as quickly as possible.
Market your property in the right places
If you’re a property owner, not only are you a manager and leasing agent, you also have the role of rental marketing expert. If you want to compete you must become an expert in marketing your property. Throwing up some iPhone photos on Craigslist as a marketing strategy doesn’t work anymore – and that site is more susceptible to scammers. Too many people have been burned and its reputation has been somewhat tarnished in recent years.
I just read a report that said only 6% of renters are now checking Craigslist.org as their primary source of rental information. The birth of Apartments.com, Zillow.com (the rental side), rent.com, Trulia.com, hotpads.com etc. has completely changed the game. Just do a Google search in your area and see what comes up first.
These companies are spending millions of dollars on ad space on Google as well as TV commercials and other marketing efforts all to drive renters to their sites first. If you don’t post your property where most renters are looking, you’re missing out on potential renters, and the odds of your space staying vacant goes way up.
At the Hignell companies we spend tons of time developing SEO strategies for our area as well as posting our properties to over seven different rental websites.
Improve your photos and videos
I mentioned the property that sat empty for four months in the middle of Summer. Well, we went out to the property and took photos with a DSLR camera with an upgraded lens. We posted it on our standard portfolio of rental websites and within a couple weeks had the place rented.
The combination of knowing where renters are and providing high quality media is a one two punch that will get major results. You can get DSLR cameras inexpensively (and write it off) and it will pay off. Even just borrow a friend’s if possible. Cell phone cameras are okay, but to stand out you need something with a little more firepower.
Don’t just show your property, SELL your property
This is an huge topic I’ve discussed in a previous blog The #1 Question to Ask Yourself to Fill Your Rental Property. Believe in your property, ask questions to understand your potential residents, and then show them how your property will benefit them. Being able to truly sell your property will turn looky-loos into lease signers.
Accept pets with restrictions
If you really want to lease your property out faster, accept pets. You open yourself up to a larger market and gain the advantage over other non-pet friendly properties. If you’re afraid of the pet damaging your rental property develop a move in packet where you take pictures of everything. Document exactly how the unit looked and have the resident sign off on it.
Request an additional pet deposit for any additional damages (not to exceed 2x the monthly rent or 3x the monthly rent in a fully furnished unit). If any damages take place just charge it to the resident. If there are any disputes, you’ll have all the pictures to prove the damages.
Make sure your unit is clean
Not just clean, but something Mr. Clean would approve of. Clean it, and then hire a professional cleaner to deep clean it. Get the Pine Sol out, put out some air fresheners. You want people to walk in there and say, “Wow, it looks clean and smells clean.” Cleanliness will go a long way in helping you close that potential resident.
If you need to, offer rent concessions
Try all the aforementioned tips before just giving people money, but if you’re going to include price into your strategy, think about offering a rent concession. Sometimes it’s hard for renters to come up with the first month’s rent and the deposit all at the same time. Offering half-off the first month’s rent might cause you to eat $600 dollars, but it could be better than lowering the rent in the long term. Typically, most people are motivated by instant satisfaction rather than long-term savings.
Hire a residential property manager
Obviously, you may not have time to do all of this. A professional property manager has all the economies of scale to take care of leasing out your property quickly. Not all property managers are created equal though, so you need to shop around.
Some property managers will take your property on, but may not have the capacity to act quickly and give your property the attention it needs to rent it quickly. I wrote a blog on how to find a good manager here and the key benefits they can offer here.
It may cost you $100 a month, but how much will it cost you to have your property sit vacant for a month? Two months? Sometimes this is the best bet because not only can a manager rent it quickly to make you money, but you’ll get all the benefits of professional accounting and a 24 hour maintenance emergency hotline – as well as other benefits too.