Careful! Investing in a property as a rental isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be–especially downtown. Not only are there few buildings that do not have a maximum cap of 15% on the number of units that can be rented at one time, but those that do allow more than 15% are often times difficult to get approved for financing based on lender’s guildelines.
Since our expertise lies within condominium sales, where did I get the following tips? From property concierge, Kass Rose. Not only am I a super fan of Kass Rose for just being extraordinarly beautiful (stand down guys! dibs-JB), but she has been running a pretty solid business based off rentals for years with over 500 closed transactions. This whole time she’s had the foresight to see where the market could have gone and what it has become leaving her business today as one of the premier solutions for investors looking to lease property. As a super fan, she gave us this as a guest post. We’re of course available to consult with you on potential investment purchases, but Kass is a preferred vendor for those looking to manage and lease your rental property.
11 Quick Steps to Lease-Up your Vacant Rental
- Inform tenants of your plan to advertise and show the rental. Your rental strategy should start as soon as you purchase your investment property or the day your tenants give notice. If occupied, gain your tenants cooperation, and even participation, in your marketing efforts. Inform your tenants of your plan to show, agree on the touring hours, and even offer them a letter of recommendation attesting to their good qualities for cooperating. The quicker you gain access the faster you can lease-up.
- Take quality pictures. Take pictures right after sun rise or an hour before sunset to capture the natural light coming through the windows. Illuminate any rooms that need extra light when possible. Be prepared to take a minimum of 6 pictures. Photograph the following: Front of the house, kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom and backyard. Try to shoot the corners so you can capture the essence of dimensions and multiple walls. Considering investing in an inexpensive point and shoot camera available at local electronic stores. Quality pictures will always pay for themselves.
- Have fun writing your description! Use descriptive words to create a mental picture of your property. Play with adjectives such as spacious, stunning and charming. Describe the neighborhood and local highlights such as playgrounds, shopping centers and public transportation.
- Learn how to effectively syndicate your listing. Syndication and automation is very important when maximizing your exposure. Post on sites that will automatically filter your property to multiple websites. Not all of these sites will result in major leads, but it will increase your chances of being seen online. Go to companies such as www.postlets.com for a decent start to syndication. Remember to repost on free sites such as Craiglist every 2-3 days to ensure you are at the top of the search. Be creative and find new ways to beat out the rest of the competition!
- Use social media marketing platforms to spread the word! Start talking to your friends, family members and co-workers about your vacancy. If you have a Facebook, Twitter or Linked-In account, mention your rental once or twice a week. If you don’t have a social media platform set up such as www.facebook.com, www.twitter.com or www.linkedin.com, find a family member who does and ask them to share your marketing with their network of people.
- Decide how and when you want to talk to potential renters. Once you launch your effective marketing campaign, be prepared to start talking. Keep in mind renters are looking in the morning when they wake up, while they are working and well into the night. Do you want to be contacted by phone, email or text? Will you answer your phone at 8 pm or let an unknown number go to voicemail? How often do you check your email? How fast have you committed to getting back to people? Set your own personal boundaries, rules and renting guidelines. Be consistant and stick to the plan. Make sure you respond! But, don’t let the general public consume all your free time.
- Show the property and be prepared to close. Bring a rental application with you to the showing. Assume that the person meeting you will want the property and encourage them to bring their checkbook. You will want to collect an application fee (unless you plan on picking up the cost) and the ability to accept a holding deposit.
- Verify the information submitted on the rental application. Use a good screening company such as Rentwatch provided by the Rental Housing Assocation of Puget Sound(www.rha-ps.com) to check your future tenants credit, criminal and eviction history. Ask for a current paycheck stub to verify income. (A good rule of thumb is that their combined gross household income should be at least 3 times the rent rate.) Call their previous landlord and ask 3 simple questions. How much rent where they paying before? Did they pay in a timely matter? Would you re-rent to them again? If you put a little personality behind this, most people will open up and tell exactly what they remember about the tenants. Listen to their stories and go with your gut feeling. (Note: be careful of “fake” landlords and distressed property owners that may tell you what you want to hear, but not the actual facts. If you understand people, this shouldn’t be hard to read.)
- Sign the lease and collect the checks. Now that you have picked your new tenant, it’s important that you sign an up to date lease contract (the copyright should be within the last 12 months). Make sure your first payments are made out in gauranteed funds such as cashier’s checks. Create an open dialogue with your tenants. Invite them to handle small items on their own, but encourage them always to report major repairs. Make sure it is clear that they do not alter your property without writen consent (email chains are an acceptable method and often work in court). Remember, you can be friendly, but this is a business.
- Do not forget your condition report. It is required in every lease that you document the security deposit. Make sure before you hand over the keys you do a complete walk through of each room in the property. Document any items that aren’t operating correctly, as well as any holes, dings and marks that you will not hold the tenant responsible for upon their departure.
- Keep your records clean, because you will need them. You are required to furnish all signing parties a copy of the documents. Scan the final documents and email to each person. File your hard copy and keep in a safe place. You will need to reference this 90 days before the new lease expires. Bring these documents with you to the move out inspection.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Kassandra Rose is the owner and operator of Property Concierges, a program of American Classic Homes. She and her team have succesfully closed over 500 sale and lease transactions in the Northwest. For quick turn around on your investment properties or more tips on how to move real estate through effective team building strategies, contact Kassandra direct from her website.