Vacancy management can make or break a property rental business. Whether you plan on a quick and simple turnover or a complete remodel, here are four things to consider when tackling your rental fixer-upper.
Know the Current Market
Many property owners have assumptions and market knowledge, but the people who have the best understanding of the quality of available rentals are the people who are out looking at properties. They make a real-time assessment of the fairness of rental rates based on the conditions and amenities offered at various properties.
Confirm your rental rate by taking a close look at the competition online or even in person. Do other units in your price range and location offer a washer/dryer, fireplace, hardwood floors or granite countertops? Is the square footage of your unit comparable to others in your rental range? Which outdoor or nearby amenities can serve as extra selling points?
Once you have thorough knowledge of the competition, you can confidently display your rental with an understanding of how renters will receive it in the overall marketplace. Additionally, you can counter objections with unique features that other properties may not have. If you offer a free rental application to your tenants, use this as an opportunity to get feedback on your unit in comparison to others: what did they like, what didn’t they like, and what could be reasonable for you to improve about your rental?
If you are in a competitive market, you might have to do something dramatic to make your rental stand out. Adding a pool or spa is one way to beat out the competition, so it’s a good idea to search for a swimming pool contractor in Totowa, NJ and get a free quote to find out how much this kind of work might set you back. If your property has a yard, landscaping with low maintenance dwarf shrubs and perennials and a patio/pergola area can add a touch of class to your unit.
In higher-end markets, renters place more importance on kitchens and bathrooms – after looking at other offerings in your area, you may find it will take a complete remodel in order to make your unit as attractive to renters as the other rentals they may have viewed. Again, you can typically get a quote for free after searching online for kitchen and bathroom remodeling in New Jersey. The more information you have, the more able you are to make an informed decision about what’s best for your rental property.
Even if you just own one rental property, you know you’re going to have to continually remodel it as tenants come and go. A few ways to cut recurring costs include applying for a contractor account at your local hardware store or a box store such as Lowe’s or Home Depot to enjoy savings and special offers. You can also watch the clearance section like a hawk on a weekly basis. Pick up sale and discontinued materials for pennies on the dollar and set them aside for your next turnover project. Also, consider becoming a YouTube DIY Expert, There are so many how-to videos available on to help you perform the tasks that don’t require a licensed professional. You can save money learning to do some things yourself instead of paying hefty installation fees.
When thinking about how to get the highest possible ROI, some landlords opt to do the least amount of work possible during a turnover to maintain profitability. In some cases, this can work to one’s detriment over time, resulting in diminishing returns as the quality of the property decreases and the vacancy rate increases. Long-term improvements like roof and siding replacements or lot repaving should be factored into every annual turnover and prepared for well in advance. Whenever possible, replace flooring and countertops with durable materials that have a reasonable lifespan of ten or more years. Such a move may seem pricey up front, but it will save you money over time and add to the equity value of the property.
Just Spray Some Windex on it!
First impressions are vital, both during the property viewing and on move-in day. A common complaint heard by property managers, especially during move-out, was that the initial condition of the rental was dirty and therefore the renters are not motivated to clean it themselves upon vacating. While this approach is no justification for renters’ behavior, the best alternative is to give the renter the impression that you take pride in your property right from the first day. Making sure the move-in process is positive is an important step in maintaining a great relationship with your renters throughout the life of the lease.
If you are not able to pay a cleaning service to professionally clean your unit, here are a few things to keep in mind. Odor is a big problem that can turn off potential renters or make leaseholders less satisfied with their unit. You can get things back on track with various odor-blockers or special filters for the HVAC system, or you can deodorize a carpet with a rental rug shampooer found in many grocery or hardware stores. Remember to thoroughly clean less noticed places to further give the renter a positive impression. Window sills, under sinks, around or under appliances, ceiling fans, and blinds take a bit of effort, but the payoff is in the details.
Customer Service is King
In today’s real estate market, reputations can be ruined in the time it takes for a disgruntled customer to write a scathing review on Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Customer reviews never need be a cause for fear if you strive to make every interaction with potential tenants, no matter how brief, a positive experience. Make sure you have access to your company’s reviews and you monitor them regularly so that you can thank people who gave you a glowing review, and courteously address those reviews which were less-than stellar. Remember that the moment you pick up the phone or reach to shake a person’s hand, you should have a smile on and show some kindness to everyone you meet, because one of these people might become your next tenant.
Being organized and helpful is a huge asset to your rental business. Many statistics say that moving is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life, so having a wealth of information to provide your tenant during the process can make them loyal, happy customers. Offering a free rental application is one helpful way to set yourself apart from other landlords. But going the extra step and providing a comprehensive list of everything from utility hookups numbers and websites to important local stores or office addresses, or even something as specific as the best moving company in Hamilton, NJ, for example, can turn a tenant into a raving fan.
With a little reconnaissance, thriftiness, attention to detail and top quality customer service, you can have that fixer-upper rented by a satisfied tenant in no time!