It’s no secret that after Thanksgiving the rental market tends to slow down. There’s always a big rush for people to move before September to get their kids in the right schools for the upcoming school year and for people to move prior to the end of summer. Sometimes there is spill over into the fall, however for the most part it does slow down after that.
Finding tenants for your rental during the off-season isn’t easy, but there are certain tricks we’ve learned over time that can fill vacancies faster—even in the dead of winter.
It’s easier to rent 1- and 2-bedroom units than 3-bedroom units, however there is lots of competition for those. Find ways to differentiate yourself from the competition by focusing on your strengths and differences.
Host multiple showings per week
People are busy. If you want to lease an apartment quickly, consider hosting multiple showings per week. This gives you maximum exposure to your rental.
Make Easy Updates
A coat of paint, and new hardware in a kitchen would go a long way. Don’t be afraid to spend the money now to get yourself a better tenant. These are easy upgrades that can be made in just a few days, but will present the vacant unit so much better.
Give as much detail as possible in your listings
Include pertinent information in your listings, and be comprehensive. Are utilities included? Is there on-site parking? Don’t put it on the prospect to track down information, particularly if you’re looking to lease during the off-season.
Sweeten the Deal
Big apartment communities often throw in a few additional “sweeteners,” but it’s something that smaller landlords can do, too. At Welcome Home, we suggest to some investors that they offer a signing bonus of $100 gift card to incentivize tenants who may be on the fence. Sometimes this is enough to push them over the edge to make the move. And….it’s a tax write-off!
Focus on Customer Service
When the phone rings, answer. When someone emails you, respond quickly. If someone has questions about your rental, get back to them with answers as quickly as possible. It increases the chances that they’ll choose your rental over another. In addition, enhanced communication will show prospects that you’re a reliable landlord, which bodes well for the future.
Try an Open Lease
Some landlords get hung up on a standard 12-month lease. However, if you’re looking to fill a unit during the winter slowdown, consider offering more flexible lease terms. Perhaps someone is moving to the area on a short-term job assignment and needs a 6-month lease. Maybe a family is interested in moving to the area, and would feel more comfortable with an open lease. As a general rule of thumb, we like to stagger lease expirations and schedule them to end during peak leasing season (May through August). This will help you to avoid off-season leasing next time around.
Don’t Lower Your Standards
If you’re struggling to fill a vacant unit, it’s tempting to accept the first person who shows interest. This is a huge mistake that can be costly down the road. Keep your standards high when screening prospecting tenants.
These are just some of the many ways we at Welcome Home have worked with investors during the slower season. If you need some help finding great tenants for your rental property, our team and I would be happy to help.