The biggest mistake that new landlords make is thinking that their property can run on autopilot. In a perfect world, you will have to do nothing more than make periodic visits to your property and wait for monthly checks to come in. This is often much more unlikely than the truth. You need to be on top of every expense you make and every new tenant that enters your home. The most important thing a landlord can do is to make sure their property is always rented with good tenants. Preventing vacancy is of the utmost importance. This will not happen by itself. You need to constantly take the following steps to ensure that your property never has a vacancy:
1. Start early enough. The process of finding a new tenant can take several weeks if you are not having any luck. To ensure that you find the best tenants, you need to give yourself enough time. If you start within 30 days of your lease ending, you may be forced to take the best applicant that comes your way. This can lead to either taking on a tenant that may not be as qualified as you like or bending your rules just to fill the vacancy. You need to give yourself at least a few months before the lease ends to start promoting your property and finding new tenants. This may seem like it is too far away, but you would be surprised in just how far ahead tenants are looking. Give yourself more than enough time, so you do not have to pick between the best of a few bad options.
2. Promote diligently. Making a few posts on social media and waiting for your phone to ring is not enough to find good tenants. You may have gotten lucky with your promotion in the past, but you can’t be sure the same methods will work again moving forward. Social media is a great start, but you need to get your property out there to as many channels as possible. There are many good real estate websites including: Postlets, Craigslist, Trulia and Realtor.com. Every week you should update them and see if there are things you can change or refresh. You need to take the approach that you have to find tenants and they will not find you. This means doing as many different things on different websites as you can. If websites and social media aren’t working, you can look at your local newspaper or other means to attract tenants. You can’t just wait for tenants to call. You need to constantly do things to find them.
3. Improve your copy. Many would be tenants and buyers are moving towards video tours as the preferred method of looking at properties. If you can add a video, it will certainly be a nice addition, but even if you don’t you need to focus on how you are promoting your rental. You need to put yourself in renter’s shoes and look at the ad through their eyes. Most websites your listing are on will have dozens of similar posts. If yours looks like everyone else’s, it will probably be passed over. Everything matters on your post, from the subject line to the description of the property. Adding pictures is not just a nice touch, but also a necessary step to finding tenants. Pictures alone will not do the trick. You need to have quality pictures that give a real feel of the property. If the pictures don’t excite the tenant, they will not want to see the property and you will be stuck waiting for your phone to ring. Putting your rental online should be more than something you do while sipping your morning coffee. If you take the time to improve your pictures and your copy, you will have much greater success attracting tenants.
4. Know everything about the property. Fielding calls and attracting interest is a great start, but you need to convert that interest into a real tenant. Ideally, your listing will cover every question that a prospective tenant has, but some items may have to be omitted. As the owner, you need to know everything about the property and its expenses. Even if you don’t pay the utilities, you should have an idea of what your current tenant pays so you can provide an estimate. Seemingly little things like parking rules or where the closest school is should be readily available. If you don’t know an answer and have to get back to them, they may have already moved on to another property. Before you list you need to create a cheat sheet of every possible question that a tenant would have. Not only will this put your tenant at ease, but it will show that you are a competent landlord. This can make all the difference in choosing your property over somewhere else.
There is currently an ample supply of properties in the rental market. You need to get out in front of finding new tenants as opposed to waiting for them to call you. Give yourself enough time and make sure any advertising you do is done to the fullest. Tenants are the backbone of any rental business. Don’t wait for tenants to find your property, go out and find them.