When reading the title of this blog, there is one word that is key: vacant.
Many times, rental property owners skirt around this crucial step of the process. They will attempt to advertise an occupied home to prospective tenants. The obvious issue with this is that the rental home isn't empty yet. It is still occupied, so how can you forecast when it will actually be vacated in some cases, and start preparing for a new tenant? You can’t, so don’t do it. Trying to coordinate showings, move outs/move ins, cleanliness, and deposit refunds becomes a tight rope to walk if everything goes hassle-free.
Imagine lining up a new tenant to move in and your current tenants request another two weeks because their new home isn’t ready. What would you do?
First steps for vacant rental properties
Once a property becomes vacant and cleaned/prepared for a new tenant, you can start trying to attract the best prospective tenant. The key to efficient rental property marketing is honesty. When potential tenants view a rental home in person, they want it to match up with the expectations you provided online. If it doesn't, you will have just wasted their time and yours!
Show imperfections in your ads and photos, because they promote honesty and will provide you prospective tenants that are the best match for your rental home. A good rule of thumb is to share between 18-24 photos for a property. Take photos of all of the rooms, storage areas, parking, laundry, common areas and exterior. This will give the prospective tenant a solid idea of your offering. If you only show one photo, you are leaving a huge void in the mind of the prospective tenant. The more details you provide, the more successful you will be.
Save time with video to market vacant properties
The next way to create an efficient listing is to perform a virtual walk through with a three to five minute video. With nothing more than your smartphone, take a stroll around the rental home and provide commentary. Explain the dimensions of the room, features offered and any restrictions (For example, “Please note a king bed will not fit in this bedroom").
Details like this will engage your audience and bring you closer to a qualified, high-caliber applicant. A short video will not give the prospective tenant a full picture, and a video that is too long will probably lose their attention span.
Stick to the facts and forget the fluff
When you post a rental home listing online, include as many details as possible. Avoid subjective words that are up for interpretation. For example, instead of describing a property as: “Beautiful, Charming, Sunny 1 Bedroom in Great Area!” try a title with explanatory terms, such as “1 Bed, Hardwoods, Granite, Parking, Laundry, Pets OK, No Storage." Factual titles provide clear information to prospective tenants.
Your definition of charming and beautiful may not be the same as someone else. Avoid terms that are debatable. In property management, it is not about glamour and prestige. Unlike the house sales market, renters tend to prefer the basics in amenities and folks are usually looking for a clean, affordable place to live.
Many property managers will also want to place “For Rent” signs outside the property. This will certainly attract phone calls, but the phone calls may be low quality. Most likely, prospective tenants won't have any information on the rental home, other than the area it is located in (and whatever you can squeeze on the sign with a marker).
If you follow these simple steps, you will find that your lead quality is much higher, and your time spent is boiled down to the minimum needed. In a world full of inefficient property managers, you can be ahead of the pack by light years—making you more savvy, respected and profitable!
Nick D'Agnillo is the CEO & Founder of Nexus Property Management™, a national property management franchise with offices in Pawtucket, RI, Fall River, MA, and Destin, FL. D'Agnillo's company manages all types of rental property—from single family homes or condos to large apartment buildings and complexes.