STEP 2: MY RENTAL PROPERTY IS READY TO ADVERTISE - NOW WHAT?
Take a deep breath. This is when owning a rental property gets really exciting and nerves tend to kick in. All your fears now imagine the worst possible tenant who will come in and undo all your hard work. What is the rent price isn't right? How will I know what to do? Remember, if this part worries you and is keeping you up at night, you may want to consider hiring a property manager to do tenant placement only or full-time management. Owning a rental should not keep you up at night for any reason.
This is a basic checklist of important steps for easy landlording when advertising a residential rental property:
- WHERE TO ADVERTISE - Plain and simple, advertise your property on the internet. Some websites to consider are: Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, Zumper, Craigslist, Facebook
- HOW TO SET THE RENT PRICE - Carefully evaluate the competing properties around. How long have they been on the market. Drive by the properties - do they look like the photos? What about your property is similar? What makes the property unique from other rentals? This is where a quality landlord stands above the rest. Well maintained properties attract awesome tenants and rents with much greater ease. Why would they rent the house down the street that needs paint and has overgrown landscaping when yours looks fresh and clean?
- Be realistic in your pricing and stay competitive.
- If you only get one response per day for three consecutive days, the price is likely too high and needs an adjustment. Sometimes an adjustment of $25 is sufficient to increase interest.
- If you are only getting calls from tenants with shaky histories, the price is likely too high.
- Properties considering pets can usually collect higher monthly rent.
- During the months of September through November, please be more conservative when setting rent prices.
- An extra bathroom, a garage, and a fenced yard often draw more attention.
- WRITING AN ATTRACTIVE RENTAL AD -
- Tenants want simple and easy to read descriptions. Imagine you are walking tenants through your property.
- What would you want them to notice? Are you supplying all appliances? Is there a vaulted ceiling? Is there a fenced yard? Is there a garage door with a garage door opener? Are the bedrooms larger than most homes that size? What makes your rental property special? Read some competing ads and pick them apart. What's good about their ad? What's not so good? Then, repeat what others are doing, just don't violate any fair housing laws in the process.
- This is not the time to get super creative or attempt to discourage any particular type of person from applying.
- PHOTOS TO INCLUDE IN EVERY AD - At a minimum, include photos of the front of the residence, kitchen, living room, entry, hallway, master bedroom, master bathroom, bedroom(s), bathroom(s), rear yard, rear of the residence, parking
- SHOWING OPTIONS -
- Are you going to show by request? Do you have set showing times due to your work schedule?
- Do not show properties when it's dark outside for your safety. Prospective tenants need to be able to explore the exterior as well as the interior to know what they are renting.
- Be prepared for what you will say and not say to tenants on the phone and in person. It is truly best to refer people to criteria you have in writing and not discuss hypothetical situations or answer a prospective tenant on the spot.
- LEASE LENGTH - Are you offering a one year lease? 6 month? Month-to-month? Any lease in Washington State over one year needs to be notarized, so we recommend keeping your agreements under one year. Also, a lease no longer than one year gives everyone time to decide what's the next best step on an annual basis. Your plans may change. The tenant plans may change. The relationship you create with the tenant may not be what either of you want. Take it year by year.
- ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS - Our recommendation is to review the first completed application submitted. I know you may have truly liked one applicant more than another based on your first encounter, but some people will say they love a place and they really hate it. A completed application is the first sign of commitment from a prospective tenant and that should be honored.
In the next part of the series, we will discuss screening prospective tenants.