Your off-season is a frustrating time if you have unoccupied properties. You don't want to deal with an empty rental for long, especially over the winter when you have to keep it heated. If you aren't getting much interest in your standard rental listings, consider adding incentives to set yourself apart from the competition and get prospective tenants through the door.
1. Lower Rent During Off-Season
Do you want to keep existing tenants past their normal leases if they expire during a slow period? Consider offering discounted rental rates to current tenants during the slow times, and provide a free month of rent or lower initial rent to a new tenant. Even if you give up one month of rent during the off-season, it's better than having your property sit vacant for several months.
2. Free Utility Periods
Do you handle utilities for your properties directly? Consider offering free heat or electricity during the first several months, particularly if you rent during the winter months. There's nothing that gets a prospective tenant's attention as much as offering something for free that competitors are charging for. If your tenants handle utilities themselves, and you want to offer a utility incentive, offer a rental reduction based on average bills.
3. Offering In-Demand Electronics
Do you need an impactful way to set yourself apart from other properties on the market during the off-season? Consider offering some particularly in-demand electronics, such as a streaming media player, a tablet computer, or another device. You may put out a few hundred dollars to buy the products, but you get thousands back by placing tenants in your properties.
4. Including Amenities
Does your rental property have nearby businesses that offer dry cleaning, spas, fitness classes, and other high-end amenities? As a first-time landlord, you don't always have the option to offer amenities like this on-site. However, that doesn't stop you from setting up local business partnerships to offer these kinds of amenities to give your tenants a luxury experience they would expect from high-end condos, setting yourself apart from other listings. It doesn't have to be a particularly expensive investment, especially if you set up long-term relationships with the local businesses.
5. Offering Furnished Rentals
Do you want to attract the attention of corporate tenants and other short-term rental options to cover the slow period? Consider setting up a property with furnishings so you can move tenants in right away. Corporate clients and vacation renters need furnished properties. If you have properties in an area that has strong seasonal rental trends, offering short-term rentals to business clients and vacation renters helps keep your cash flow solid. College towns that are empty during summer season are especially useful for vacation rentals.
The off-season is difficult, especially when you are a new landlord. You are dealing with a saturated market filled with other landlords facing the same issue as you. It's important to look for ways to set yourself apart from other properties, attracting attention from qualified tenants who stay throughout the year and get you through the slow seasons.
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