This article was posted on Friday, Mar 01, 2013

What is it that gets good prospective residents to stop their cars and look at a rental property?  Most often, it is seeing something that would make them proud to make it their home.  They don’t want to be ashamed of where they live; rather they want to be proud to have their friends and families visit them.  The better their home looks, the prouder they will be.  So what do you do to set your properties apart?

Give the Rental Home “Curb Appeal”

Plant flowers, clean up the yard and trim the shrubs.  Define the edges by trimming lawns so you could snap a line on it.

Hang Mini-Blinds, Drapes or Curtains

They don’t have to be expensive.  Make them a neutral color, such as off-white or beige.  These colors don’t clash with people’s furniture.

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Detail the Front Entrance

Just outside the front door and at least the first room you see inside should sparkle from the extra attention.  Repainting the front door, polishing the door hardware, painting the front porch and fixing the screen door all give a perception of higher value.

Wax the Floors and Polish the Chrome

If anything is supposed to shine, make it shine.

Pick Up Trash

Make sure all trash that may blow onto the yard is picked up every day.

Mow the Neighbor’s Lawn

Believe it or not some prospective good ones will reject a rental home because the neighbor’s house looks awful.  Good residents don’t like to live next to bad neighbors.  It might be that the neighbors are just fine, really nice people, but they’re just a little untidy.   That’s why you not only mow your rental’s lawn, but you make sure to mow the neighbor’s too.  Oh, you should ask them first, sure.  Just say, “I was out here mowing my lawn, you don’t mind if I do yours at the same time, do you?”  If the neighbor says, “Okay, go ahead.  Thanks,” you’re in good shape.  But some people want to know why you would do a strange thing like mow somebody else’s lawn.  So you tell them.

No, you don’t say, “Because your yard looks awful and no self-respecting person would want to live next door to a slob like you.”  Rather, you are tactful and explain that you don’t want any potentials to get the wrong idea about the neighborhood.  “And, you know, good residents like to live in good-looking neighborhoods.  Everybody in the neighborhood here is great and I want good residents to move in.”  That might work if you say it right.  If it doesn’t, oh well, you tried.

Make a Professional-Looking Sign

Well of course!  If you haven’t already done this, do it now.  Many people find their new places to live by driving through neighborhoods looking for signs. 

Now, as to the type of the sign – your sign could be the first impression a prospective resident has of you and your property.  Crummy, beat up signs immediately suggest that the property reflects the same care and maintenance.  Solid, professional looking signs make prospects think, “professional landlord.”

Good residents like to rent from good, professional landlords.  Your sign can get you off on the right foot.  The opposite can happen with bad residents.  Cheap, crummy signs draw them like flies.  They immediately surmise, correctly or incorrectly, that the landlord of the property is lacking in professionalism and won’t check them out too carefully, if at all.

Do Your Own Survey

Drive down any street and look at the homes and apartments and make notes.  Make notes on what you like and don’t like about the different houses or apartment communities.  None of the good techniques are copyrighted or patented, so you can use them yourself if it’s appropriate.

The flip side is that if you package your property wrong, renters will also stop their cars, fill out rental applications and rent from you.  But these won’t be the type of renters that you want.  Bad residents have several characteristics that you don’t want.

First, they have no pride in themselves or where they live.  That means that when they see a rental property that looks bad or untidy, they can imagine themselves living there.  And because good residents won’t even stop to look at such a place, the only applicants you get are bad ones.

Second, they figure that the landlord won’t get too upset about a property that gets trashed if it looks kind of trashed already.

You don’t want of those people living in your properties.  So do the things that attract good residents, that tell them your property is a great place to live, that you are about it and that you value people who care about living in places they can be proud of.

 Robert Cain is a speaker and writer on property management issues.  For a free same copy of the Rental Property Reporter, call 800-654-5456 or visit


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