This article was posted on Friday, Mar 30, 2012

Once you’re in this business for several years, you’ll start seeing the cycles that are natural in real estate. The timing of the cycle will vary from area to area, but the cycle exists just the same. You’ll go from having all your rentals full and perhaps a waiting list of people wanting to rent from you, to having several empty apartments and not a good applicant in sight.
When you’re in that “down” cycle, times can get tough. I remember one such winter. It was cold and nobody wanted to move unless they absolutely had to. As you drove through my city, you would see For Rent signs on nearly every street. None of the landlords could fill their empty apartments. It was a renter’s dream because there were many more apartments than there were renters.

I had an exceptionally high number of vacancies myself. Some of my tenants had left due to job transfers, some had left due to relationship changes, and some probably left because they saw other rentals in the city for rent cheaper than what they were paying me. For me, the bottom line was that I had to get these empty places rented to cover my expenses. I had ads in the newspaper, I had canvassed some neighborhoods with flyers, and of course I had For Rent signs in front of the buildings that had vacancies.
Then one day I sent my handyman to do a number of tasks, one of which was to plant a For Rent sign in the lawn of a building. He ended up putting it at a different building that I owned (the wrong building). However, I started getting a lot of calls due to that sign. Of course, I had to explain to the callers that I didn’t actually have a vacancy in that building right now, but I did have several other available apartments close by. I actually ended up renting several apartments due to that sign on the wrong lawn. Over the years, I found that this particular location was my highest visibility spot – it was the front lawn with the most passing traffic out of all my buildings.

Lesson Learned: There’s no rule that says your For Rent sign has to be in front of the building with the vacancy. In retrospect it seems like common sense, but I learned to put signs in the busiest and most attractive locations and once you get the calls you can then give them the details about where the vacancies are. The first goal is to get the phone ringing. By Dan Arnold, author of Stupid Mistakes of a Self-Made Millionaire Landlord.

What Appliances Do You Include in Your Rental?
Landlords often ask the question, “What appliances should I include in my rental(s)?” Most often, the competition in the local area will help dictate what appliances landlords decide to include.
However, I’d like to offer a suggestion to rental owners. Even if you decide to have the appliances present in the rental when showing it to prospective residents, consider asking the following magic question on the application: “Are you able to provide one or more of your own appliances? If not, you can rent or purchase ours at a small additional cost.”  This opens up the conservation for discussion which you can then take in whatever direction you think is best.  If your state requires that you include a specific appliance, you can say that the question refers to appliances beyond the minimum requirement.

This question may help you generate additional income for appliance(s) that you did not think was possible. Even if you don’t charge extra, you may be able to rent your property faster, by saying, “You are currently offering a ‘Move-In Special’,” where for the next new resident, we can let the appliance(s) remain in the property and you are free to use them on loan and maintain them. Should they ever stop working or you wish to stop using them, we will be glad to remove them for you.”
You may also discover, that more prospective residents than you think volunteer that they have their own appliances, which allows you to use your appliances for another rental and not have to worry about the maintenance of their own appliances.
Again, by simply asking the magic question, it offers opportunity for you to “customize” your rental offer to best meet the needs of the prospective rental. The way you “present what you have to offer” can greatly affect your effectiveness in leasing your property and can increase your cash flow. How you present your rentals is often more important than what you actually offer.

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