There’s a reason that real estate is seasonal; no one wants to move when it’s cold and snowy! And just like tenants don’t want to move during Fall and Winter, landlords don’t want to have to worry about filling their vacancy during the off-season. Unfortunately, it’s not always avoidable. Leases end or tenants vacate early. Whatever the circumstances are, the goal is to find new qualified tenants as quickly as possible. So here are a few tips for finding tenants during the off-season.
Nothing catches more attention than a move-in special or free rent during this time of the year. Think about it. Having a little extra cash for the holidays is never a bad thing in a tenant’s eye. To help fill your vacancy faster this Fall and Winter, consider offering a discount on the first month’s rent or any other move-in special. Just be sure to put a time stamp on it to drive the incentive, for example: “Sign a lease by December 1st and get the first month free!
Adjust Your Terms
Flexibility is key to finding tenants to fill your vacancy quickly. While it’s best to remain firm on things such as your approval criteria, there are a few terms you can adjust. Consider allowing pets if you don’t already do so. According to Zillow, almost half of all renters own some kind of pet, so allowing them will open your rental property up to a larger pool of prospects. Another good marketing strategy is offering flexible lease terms. A 6 or 18 month lease signed in the Fall and Winter benefits both landlords and tenants and is a great way to put your lease end date in a better time of year. And if you really want to sell a specific lease term, offer it at a better rate than the standard 12 month. Everyone loves a deal, after all!
Know the Highlights
The key to marketing your property appropriately is to mention the true highlights that will attract renters and make your property stand out above the rest. Is your rental in a popular neighborhood? Name it in your ad. Easy travel access? Mention which highways are nearby. School district? Name it! Anything that is worth mentioning should make it into your ad.
After taking note of all the highlights, the next step is to advertise appropriately. Place your ad online, as over 80% of renters conduct their search for a new home through online search engines. Make sure to market across all the popular sites, such as Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, etc. And along with spreading a wide advertising net, be sure to take quality photos to go with it. A picture’s worth a thousand words and often leaves the biggest first impression.
Update Your Listing
Another key part of finding tenants and filling your vacancy quickly during the off-season is to update your listing quickly and appropriately. If you’re not getting any interest in the first week, try lowering your price to reach more prospective tenants. Polish up your ad or try switching the main photo to feature the best highlights of the property, or try offering a move-in incentive to draw more attention.
And of course, the best solution to filling your vacancy during the off-season is to keep the tenants you already have. If you have good tenants who pay on time, focus on retaining them by keeping the property well maintained and addressing issues in a timely and efficient manner.