Tight low vacancy markets come and go.
We all need to adjust to a tougher rental market when the supply of quality rental properties outweighs the demand by quality tenants.
This can happen seasonally, or if there is simply too much new ‘stock’ on the market in the area. Sometimes the main industry (employer) in the area has suffered a downturn resulting in a lesser demand for rental properties by tenants as laid-off workers now seek employment further afield. Of course, it could be a number of these factors at the same time.
In any case, you must be able to adjust and know how to survive and rent your property to the right tenant.
These tips resulted from responses to our Facebook post. Thanks to everyone for participating and for all of your ideas and input. There is no way I can come up with these tips on my own!
1. Educate your owners – Accept that price adjustment may be necessary and point out other similar properties on the market that are also competing for that same tenant.
2. Pet-friendly – being pet-friendly opens up a larger pool of available tenants.
3. Listed for sale – no one wants to rent a property that is listed for sale!
4. Great photos – ensure you have quality photos for the property and scrutinise what’s in the photos. No taking pictures of toilets, passages and inside built-in robes, as an example!
5. Feature the property on-line – make the property a feature property online so that it gets more exposure.
6. Improve the presentation – ensure that the letterbox is kept clear, the lawns and gardens are kept neat and the inside of the house is kept looking fresh.
7. Utilise social media for marketing – not just your own Facebook page but also geographically specific community and ‘buy-sell-swap’ pages. This is where people are. Go to them.
8. Prospective tenant database – Keep a list of all prospective tenants and call them when a property becomes available and allow for private appointments as well as scheduled opens.
9. Don’t compromise – don’t take a bad or risky applicant just because you’re desperate!
10. Be flexible with showing times – private appointments during the week and after hours allow you to spend more time with prospective tenants so you can highlight the positives of your property and make them feel important.
11. Do your research on comparable properties – monitor what’s being leased and what isn’t. Get the price right and be realistic about it.
12. Identify the address – have the address on all websites so prospective tenants can drive past and see if the property is suitable to them for schools, shops and neighbouring properties.
13. Feature points in photos – Provide good clear photos of kitchens, bathrooms, living and entertainment areas, whether they are a feature point or not!
14. Be quick to respond to enquiries – reply quickly to online and phone inquiries. Don’t keep people waiting as they will think you are unprofessional and you don’t care!
15. After hours home opens by appointment – such as after work and weekends. Works a treat!
16. Photos of suburb features – include photos of suburb features with the photos of the home for rent such as shopping centres, bus stop etc. and let the photos tell the story!
17. Sell the property to tenants – don’t just open the door and let them in. Use a more personal approach. Sell the property to them and ask questions about their lives and interests. Always ask them to give their opinion on the property before they leave and pass relevant feedback on to the owner.
18. Prepare opens early – Arrive at inspections ten minutes early to open windows and curtains and maybe even light a candle. Get the property looking, smelling and feeling great!
19. Get serious with all enquiries – treat qualified and serious enquiries like gold! They are your bread and butter.
20. Qualify applicants better – qualify applicants prior to making personal appointments for them to view the property. If they don’t qualify, showing them through has wasted the time you could be using to secure the right tenant.
21. Change your mindset – changing your approach from “find a tenant for the landlord” to “find a home for this prospective tenant” and drastically reduce the amount of vacant homes on the rent roll.
22. Record details at opens – record the names and contact details of every person who views the house, and keep in touch with them. They are your first point of call when another property is available.
23. Cross promote other properties – recommend similar houses in your rent roll and open properties in a planned order so they can see your other options after the first open home.
24. Be truthful with your photos – don’t be deceitful with the marketing. Using weird angled or fisheye lenses to make it appear like a mansion, using photos taken ten years ago or using marketing gimmicks to make it sound better only wastes your time and the tenant’s time.
25. Treat tenants well – don’t treat tenants like paupers! Some of your rental clients earn more than you, but choose not to buy and instead rent!
26. Move quick on applications – process applications immediately. Don’t keep people waiting or they will move on. People love same day answers.
27. Retain your current tenants – do all you can do to keep the good tenants that you have. If there is a big choice out there, they may be browsing around for something better. What can you do to make them want to stay? Highlighting the costs of moving: cleaning, moving companies, another upfront bond, the time cost of finding a new place and the stress of moving can all be enough to keep a tenant from straying to ‘greener pastures’.
28. Include some perks – the owner might be willing to include perks such as a gardener or a monthly clean of appliances to sweeten the deal to either get or keep a good tenant.
29. Listen to tenant feedback – get, listen to and act upon feedback from those viewing the property. This will help your owner client to present the best possible rental option.
30. Don’t be desperate! – be negotiable but not desperate when good candidates show an interest in your property.
31. Offer a deal of a weeks rent – offer one week rent free for moving in by a certain day. It will still cost less than not having a tenant for a month.
32. Give loss figures to your owner – hard and honest conversations with owners outlining the dollar amount of potential losses over a 12 month period if they were to reject an offer, say $20 per week cheaper than their asking price.
33. Use your other options first before price dropping – don’t use price reduction as your first option. Your first option should be to maximise exposure via print, online, social media and letterbox drops. Dropping the rent has to be the last resort – assuming the rent is already within market rates.
34. Know the property! – if your prospective tenant has questions, you should be ready with answers.
35. Use professional photographs – professional photographs are always more appealing to your prospective tenants when searching online.
36. Cross promote at enquiry stage – use every enquiry to its fullest potential. They may not take the property they enquire about initially but may take one of your others.
37. Use Gumtree! – utilise your network and don’t underestimate the power of ads on Gumtree.
38. Opens at different times – set open homes at different times to attract a larger range of applicants and be prepared to make private appointments for those who cannot attend at advertised times. Cater for everyone.
39. Don’t rush the tenant at viewings – invite clients to call with times they are available so you can maximise viewing. Don’t rush them at the viewing! Help them to see how their furnishings fit in the property. If not suitable have keys and a list of other properties with you.
40. Make every applicant a priority – every person that calls or walks into the office wanting to inspect a property is a priority. Making a time as soon as possible is important as that person could be the tenant you are looking for.
41. Gift baskets – give your new tenant’s gift baskets or vouchers upon signing.
42. Watch lease expiry dates – try to set your lease renewal periods to high demand months/seasons.
43. Great customer service with a smile – great, friendly, flexible customer service is important. The prospective tenant knows that if they sign with you, they will have to deal with you for the duration of their lease. Be likeable! I find tenants are just as selective with their agent as they are with the property.