When you have a vacant property, you have multiple problems.
- You’re losing income
- You’re paying out of your pocket to support the property
- You insurance may go up if it’s vacant more than 30-60 days (did you realize you often need to report extended vacancies to your insurance company or your insurance is void?)
- No one is looking after your property (other than you)
- Vacant properties chew up your personal time (showings, inspections, phone calls)
None of these are fun and often they lead to resentment of being a property owner, an investor and a landlord as it suddenly has become work. Costly work!
Filling a Vacant Property Takes Work
I’m not going to lie to you, filling vacant properties does take work, but if you do the majority up front it can save a ton of costly work involved with extended vacancies!
One piece of that work is effective marketing. Or as it’s commonly called selling!
Yep, you need to be able to sell your property to prospective tenants. Because if you’re not, someone else down the line will and you’ll lose out on a potential great tenant.
Here’s my secret tip (it’s really not that secret, but I’m amazed how surprised many landlords are when they hear it), write an awesome ad for your property and use it over and over and over!
For each of my units I have an ad that I’ve written up that I have saved as a Word document. That original ad may have taken two or three hours of writing and research, but I use it over and over again so over the lifetime of a property that extra work in the beginning pays off multiple times over.
Often I will have two or three variations of the ad that I’ll have saved in that Word document so I have different versions for a vacancy in the spring, in the summer or perhaps the winter.
Sometimes I create a new version by cutting and pasting from my original versions as times and circumstances change or as I find more effective ways to attract tenants.
Selling Your Property in Conversation
But it doesn’t stop with the ad. The ad is just to get someone to call or email or text me.
Now that I’ve got a live person showing at least a bit of interest it’s time to start selling my property!
This does get into some crossover at this point though. There’s no sense selling someone on your property if you’re not going to be renting it to them which is why it’s important to start asking some screening questions right away as well. Questions like when will you be needing it? If they are just looking or it’s three months down the road you may not be interested in marketing as hard. If it’s in the next several weeks, well time to tighten that sales hat up a notch or two.
During those screening interview stages, you need to be able to promote the important parts that will add value for the tenant and put your property in the best light.
This could involve finding out your tenant works only a few blocks away, look at the money they will save on the commute! Or if you accept pets and they have a dog knowing that the dog park is just down the street increase the value and the importance of your property.
They have two elementary age kids? Well, were they aware one of the best schools in the district is only two blocks away? (Obviously you need to be aware whether the school is one of the better ones, but that’s part of your original homework, don’t be “that” landlord or “that” salesperson who makes up stuff just to get the deal closed!).
Selling Your Property in Person
Once you’ve confirmed the potential tenant is a qualified applicant, you need to get them to the property, and sell in person.
Now, if you’ve got a great property it should sell itself. Although it may still require you pointing out what’s so great about it.
If you have a “less great” property, you may want to step back and consider what you can do to change that.
When I’m showing my property to possible tenants I often ask them how long they’ve been looking for a place and what they are finding out there. You know what comes back?
Comments like “Everything I’ve looked at so far has been a dump”, “The last place we looked at hadn’t had a good cleaning in years” and “There was half an inch of dust on the baseboards, I wouldn’t let my pet live there”. If your property resembles any of these remarks you have an uphill battle when it comes to filling that vacant property.
95% of my tenants stay with me over a year. The majority are closer to three, so every time a tenant vacates a property and they have been there over a year, we repaint. We also typically bring in professional cleaners after painting and any repairs are done.
Just by doing these two strategies we end up getting comments like “The place is so much cleaner than everything else I’ve seen” and “Is this newly painted, it looks so nice!”
That’s the type of feedback that gets your vacant property rented quickly. And we all want to rent our property quickly when it’s vacant right?
Are we in agreement that having a vacant property is costing you money?
If so, then you need to take some steps to remedy that and let’s recap what we’ve talked about.
- You need a good ad!
- You need to sell to prospects when they contact you and
- You need to sell the benefits of your property when they see your property.
Can you do all that?
Bill Biko has become “the Educated Landlord” through both training and the school of life. With almost a decades experience of land lording Bill’s been mentoring and assisting landlords for the last five years and you can find more of his tips and articles to make your life as a landlord easier, more profitable and less stressful at www.TheEducatedLandlord.com.