Have you ever taken just a few minutes to scroll through Trulia, Zillow, or any other listing site? If you have a rental that you're listing online you likely have, even if it was just to check to make sure everything uploaded correctly. What did you see? Depending on the filters that you used in your search you likely saw dozens upon dozens of listings in your general vicinity that are in competition with yours. If you don't stand out above the rest, that could be a real problem when it comes to finding the best tenant to rent from you.
Turnover time for an apartment unit or single-family home can be stressful enough without having to wonder if you'll be able to fill the unit quickly. The longer it sits vacant, the more money you lose. Not only are you not receiving an income for it, but you're still paying the mortgage, the insurance, you may need to pay utilities on it while it's vacant, and any number of things. If it's in a rougher neighborhood, you may need to worry about protecting it from vandals and even squatters while it sits vacant. That's a lot to deal with and at least some of those things could be bypassed by filling the unit with a renter. Obviously you can't take the first interested party that comes along without checking that they are who they say they are, so you'll want to reach out to a wide variety of people so that you'll have your choice of applicants to find the best one. There are a couple things you can do to market your property to stand out against the others in the area.
Make sure they see what you see in the rental.
If you've bought the property you likely had a reason as to why you chose that particular one. Make sure that your applicants see what you saw in it when you chose to buy that one. The first is to take plenty of pictures and show off the best qualities of the home. You'll want to take your time. Make sure the property is cleaned up and presented in a positive light. If workmen are there to spruce the place up, that's great, but don't put those pictures up until the maintenance and upgrades are done. Clear out any trash or clutter so that the potential applicants can see the rooms and features without being distracted by items that won't be coming with the unit anyway.
You'll want to take high-quality photos. This isn't to say that you need to hire a professional photographer, but anyone can snap a picture on a smartphone. Make sure your pictures stand out and show off all the great things about the property. Next will be how you advertise. Reach out to as many online, reputable listing sites as you can so that you can make sure to reach as many people as possible. You may wish to take advantage of programs that will push your listing out to a variety of places from one portal (such as LandlordStation's listing program). Just as you did with your photos, highlight the best parts of the rental with words. Did you recently upgrade the kitchen? Make note of that! Is the property located close to a popular shopping center or grocery store? These little details could sway a person looking at the property so that they take the time to reach out to you. Do your research for the surrounding area when you set your rental price to make sure you're not pricing your property too high or too low for the market value. If you price it to one extreme or the other, your listing could be flagged as a scam and you'll have to jump through hoops to re-list it and will lose valuable marketing time.
Streamline the process for efficiency.
Once you have the property listed you'll begin to receive a response. No one likes to wait, especially if they have fallen in love with your property and want to make it their home for the foreseeable future. While some applicants' excitement may set off alarms, some simply wish to secure a new place to live and you'll help both yourself and the applicant by handling the application process in the most efficient way possible.
Online tools make streamlining this process easy. You may wish to have an application already set up to send via email so that they may fill it out and get it back to you before you meet with them. If you have an open house to allow potential applicants to take a look at the property on-site, make sure to have a stack of applications ready for them.
You'll want all the information written down for your records, and you should screen every serious applicant, because if you don't and they skip out without paying the full lease's rent then you will have to begin this process all over again, sans the money used in getting them out.
Applying for a new rental is stressful for the renters just as it is for you as the landlord. If you keep things running smoothly they'll see that you're dedicated to your job and will have fewer worries going into the lease than they might otherwise. Keep every process that you go through as the landlord as efficient as possible and you'll attract tenants that appreciate it and are quick to follow through in return.
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