This article was posted on Sunday, Apr 29, 2012

New government data in January 2012 showed that America is more and more becoming a nation of renters.
The Commerce Department reported that just 66% of was occupied by their owners in the fourth quarter of 2011.  That’s the lowest level of home ownership since 1998.
So, is the American Dream of owning a home fading away?  Maybe.  But it’s definitely being redefined. People are taking an extra hard look at the pros and cons of home ownership.  And for many, renting a place that really fits their needs is the dream.

This is an opportunity for landlords!  It means three things:

1) Attract the right tenants.  The most successful landlords and property managers know that most tenant problems can be avoided with proper screening upfront, particularly with background and credit checks.

2) Customer satisfaction is more important than ever.  Meeting the needs of your tenants pays off as they stay with you month-after-month, year-after-year.  Think like a tenant instead of a landlord, and you will start to see opportunities to generate more money from your renters.  Not just by raising the rent, but by being opportunistic about how you can better meet tenant needs.

3) Set a new goal – your rental units can be the last and only place your tenants need.  Strive to make your properties a place where they can truly settle in and call home.

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And a 2010 survey by found that of those renters who do hope to become homeowners, two thirds say they will wait two years or more.  So, start engaging with your tenants today to build a more successful landlord-tenant relationship.  ‘s a win-win for both of you!
But what does it mean to engage your tenants?
Well, start by communicating.  Call your tenants or drop by to see if they have any new needs.  You just might learn they are expecting a new baby, have bought a new car or recently started a new job.
Be opportunistic and think of how you can make money by responding to new and evolving needs.  Here are some examples:

¢ New baby?  Recommend a local babysitter or daycare provider.  And give them the opportunity to upgrade to a new unit or home with more space, nicer amenities, a yard for kids to play in, etc.

¢ Just bought a new car?  Give them a coupon for a free car wash.  And a great monthly rate to lease a carport or garage that will protect their new treasure.

¢ Started a new job?  Give them a popular audio book on CD or tape.  And do you own another property closer to their new work?  If so, help them cut their commute down with an offer for a free moving truck for the day and a discount on the first month’s rent at the new place.

These are ways the best landlords keep good tenants.  And keep them happy.  ‘s so rare in the rental industry to find a landlord who thinks from this perspective.  But you can be the first and gain a huge advantage in your market as many of your tenants live out their own American Dream in one of your properties!

Drew DeMasters is a landlord, author and award-winning marketing strategist with nearly two decades in the rental business.  Download your FREE report ’30 Ways to Fill Vacancies FAST’ at His book is also available on the Kindle, iPad and Nook.
Winner of a 2009 Echo Award from the Direct Marketing Association, DeMasters holds an MBA in Marketing from the University of Missouri “ Kansas City.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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