As a landlord, have you ever felt like you are doing everything right and, yet, you are still unable to fill a rental vacancy? It can feel as if you are hitting your head against and impermeable wall when a vacant unit doesn’t seem to garner any qualified interest.
If you are facing an immovable rental property, check out the seven P’s of filling vacancies and see if you are failing in any of these important areas.
When you are having trouble filling a vacancy, there are a variety of factors that could be at play. The first place to begin is by looking at the price of your property. Is the amount you are asking for rent reasonable? Do your research and check out price comparisons in the area. It might be worth pulling a rent estimate report if you are struggling with the specific rental price for your neighborhood.
Some factors to consider when pricing your property include the following:
- The specific location of your property: Some areas are in higher demand than others. Just because you see a comparable property in the same city priced for a higher rent amount doesn’t mean you can price yours the same way. For example, in Fort Collins, Colorado, rentals near Old Town are coveted and can be priced much higher than rentals in the southeastern portion of the city.
- The condition of your property: When you are looking at rent comparisons make sure you take into consideration the condition your property is in. If your property is in poor condition, you will not be able to garner the same interest as a property that has been cared for.
- Extra features of your property: If you are offering extra features that other rentals nearby are not providing, you can charge a bit more in your rent pricing. Conversely, if everyone around you provides appliances that your property does not have, you might need to lower your price to compensate.
If your pricing seems to be on track, it is time to take a look at how you are promoting your property. Often a lack of interest in a property is simply due to a lack of knowledge that your property even exists. Gone are the days that putting a sign up in the front lawn or placing an ad in the paper is enough.
The vast majority of renters are part of the Millennial generation and millennials have taken the rental search online. If you are not listing your property online, start doing so right away. If you are listing your property online, make sure you are listing it across a myriad of channels.
Not only do you need to promote it in a variety of places, you need to ensure your property listing includes valuable information and is engaging. Take the time to learn how to write an outstanding listing.
Promoting your property across the web doesn’t need to be a time-consuming effort. Use a free online marketing platform that allows you to syndicate your listing across the web. This will mean you simply type up your property listing once and then that one listing will be shared on dozens of applicable listing sites.
If your price is right and you are promoting your property across the web and, yet, you are still not seeing enough interest in your property, it might be time to take a look at your policies. If you have extremely strict policies in a market where others are listing with better policies, you could be losing interest. Take a look at some of the following items:
- Pet Policy: Do you allow pets? If so, make sure you include that in your property listing as it is often a huge selling point. With an increasing number of renters owning pets, having a pet-friendly rental can help set you apart in any market.
- Length Of Lease: If you are operating in a market where students reside or other short-term renters, the length of your lease could be holding you back. Take a look at what most properties in your area are requiring for the length of the lease.
- Smoking Policy: Many landlords do not want smokers to permanently damage their property through the lingering odor smoke can leave behind. If you have a no-smoking policy, consider creating a policy that prohibits smoking indoors but allows for it in a designated outdoor area.
When you are revisiting your property’s policies, be sure you are following all the guidelines of the Fair Housing Act. Keep in mind that it is never ok to advertise your property with discriminatory language.
A factor to consider when you are having trouble filling a vacancy is the property itself. Is your rental unit in poor condition? Depending on the rental market you are in, the condition of your property could play a huge role in how much interest you see.
Consider the curb appeal. Does the home need a quick coat of paint to help it shine again? Has maintenance been performed, or are there some simple items like cleaning out the gutters you could do to help make the unit look more inviting. A property that is not well maintained will not attract high-quality tenants. Those who will take good care of your property want to see that you have taken good care of it as well. Make sure you take care of any maintenance or repairs so that the property will not deter responsible tenants.
You also need to consider what kind of features and amenities your property offers. If every property in the local area comes equipped with a stove, fridge, and dishwasher, but your property doesn’t, you might be losing out on potential renters because of this. You can either choose to upgrade your property with new amenities or offer a lower price point to compensate for what your property is missing.
Another factor that could be making it difficult to fill your vacant property is simply a lack of people in search of a rental. Depending on where you are located, the peak times for renting could affect how much interest you garner.
Get to know the demand and cycles of rentals in your area. If for example, you are in a college town, you will probably see a much higher demand before school starts then midwinter. While you cannot control the demand, you can try to create a leasing structure that helps mitigate the problem. For example, try to sign people onto a lease that ends at the beginning of peak season rather than in the middle of the slowest times.
In the world of real estate, the number one rule is always said to be location, location, location. This emphasis on location stems from the fact that where your property is located will play a huge role in the value of the property. This isn’t just the case for selling or buying a property, it is also the case when you are renting out the property.
While there isn’t much you can do about the location of a property once you have purchased it, it’s a factor to consider when setting your price point and gauging how much interest you will be able to create in the property. It will also dictate what kind of interest you will garner.
Location doesn’t just mean what part of town you are in, location also includes
- What school district the property is in
- What the crime rates are like in the neighborhood
- What the neighbors are like
- How noisy the street is
- How close the rental is to restaurants, stores, and amenities
The final tip for filling a vacant unit that doesn’t seem to be moving is to ensure you have high-quality pictures included with your property listing. Photos can make a big difference in the number of people who reach out to you for a property showing or to apply.
Check out our guide to taking good rental property photos here. If you feel like you cannot take quality photos, consider hiring someone to help. Once you have quality photos of your property, you will be able to save these and reuse them every time you need to list your property again.
Focusing On What You Can
Some things on this list are easy to change, while others are difficult or impossible. The following chart demonstrates which items are easiest to tweak as needed and which items are set in stone. Work with what you can and prioritize according to your rental market’s specific needs.
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