When your rental property is vacant, you want it filled as soon as possible to keep the rent coming in. Vacant properties cost owners money, and the income you lose on an empty property is money you’ll never earn back.
Placing a tenant quickly is therefore important, but you also want the best possible tenant living in your home. You don’t want to rush the process and place the first person who applies without any screening or standards. The goal is to place the best possible tenant in the fastest amount of time and for the most money.
When a rental home is not ready to be shown, or the rent is set too high for the market, it delays the leasing process, turns off prospective tenants, and hurts your cash flow. It is critical that your property is ready to make a good impression. After more than 35 years in this business, Specialized Property Management understands the rent ready process.
When you are preparing your property for the rental market, make sure you follow these simple steps. When you do, prospective tenants are more likely to see your rental property as a place they can call home.
Create the Right Curb Appeal
Curb appeal is an excellent way to make a good first impression on prospective tenants. A home with good curb appeal will even get the attention of people who aren’t looking for rental homes themselves but might know someone in search of a home.
Assess the property’s curb appeal from the street as if you were a potential tenant. Consider whether you would be interested in seeing the inside of the home based on how it looks outside. An unattractive first impression can prevent prospective renters from ever viewing the home. They won’t bother going inside if the house doesn’t look appealing right away.
When you’re creating your curb appeal, walk around the property and take a look at your lawn, the landscaping, and the exterior lighting. You want to set a scene that is comfortable, inviting, and attractive. Give your prospects a reason to come in and see the rest of the house. Get them excited about living there before they even take a look around.
Fix Anything that’s Broken
Once you’ve made some improvements to your property’s curb appeal, walk through the home and make a detailed list of any needed repairs. You’ll want to start with all the safety and security items and then turn your attention towards the cosmetic issues. Take care of any running water – leaks can cause complex and expensive damage. Look under sinks and inspect faucets and pipes. You also want to look for broken windows and doors, and make sure the locks work. Be sure that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in place and functioning.
The goal is to ensure you’re providing a habitable property that’s free from anything that might put your tenants at risk. You want to make sure these things are fixed before you start showing the home. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re assuring prospective tenants that you will fix something before they move in. You want everything to be taken care of before you put the property on the rental market.
Once all of the functional issues are managed, consider any cosmetic updates or upgrades that you can make for just a small investment. New handles on the cabinets, for example, or updated lighting in the kitchen will have a huge impact on your property’s readiness for the market. It will also lead tenants to believe you’re offering a sleek and modern home.
Remember to Re-Key the Property
Another thing you’ll want to do before listing your home is to change the locks. When you re-key the property, you’re allowing your new tenants to feel safe in their new home. They’ll know that no one else has a copy of the key, and you’ll be able to protect yourself from liability. Tenants appreciate simple and secure access, so get a new lock and let your tenants know that you have re-keyed the home.
Review Your Property’s Appliances
As you’re checking on the condition of your home and ensuring it meets habitability standards and looks great, be sure to check appliances. You want to make sure that all the appliances you are providing to your tenants are in working order. A thorough inspection, while you’re getting your house ready for the rental market, will include looking at the water heater, all the kitchen appliances like the stove and refrigerator, the washer and dryer, and most importantly – your air conditioner and heater. Tenants in Orlando will not want to move into a home that doesn’t have great air conditioning.
If you are remodeling the home or making major repairs and renovations between tenants or before you put it on the market, make sure you get everything finished and cleaned up before you begin to market or show the property. Don’t let prospective tenants come through while the home is under construction. It is difficult for tenants to see what a home might look like, and they want to imagine themselves moving right in.
Remove any Personal Belongings
A lot of owners will leave things behind in a home, especially if they once lived there themselves. This isn’t a good idea; you want your rental property completely empty and available for new tenants to move all of their belongings into the space. Before you put the property on the market, remove any personal belongings that are anywhere on the property, including in any attics, crawl spaces, garages, and storage sheds. Don’t leave a lawnmower behind thinking that you’re helping a tenant with the yard work. Anything you leave behind can expose you to liability.
Provide a Fresh Coat of Paint
Fresh paint makes a property look new, clean, and ready to be inhabited. Don’t bother trying to touch up specific spots on a wall; paint the whole wall instead. You also need to think about colors. You might have loved the electric blue bedroom walls, but tenants will want a neutral base so they can match their own furnishings and décor. Paint any non-neutral walls a neutral color. Do not leave paint behind for tenants to use. If the house needs to be repainted at the end of a tenancy, you can handle that yourself rather than having the tenants do it. You want to ensure it’s done correctly and completely.
Manage Your Utility Accounts
Once you have your property listed on the rental market, you want to show tenants exactly what it will look like when they’re ready to move in. So, you’ll want to make sure the house is completely functional and the lights and water are turned on.
If you’re preparing this property between tenants, pay attention to the utilities. Remember to keep them on until the tenant moves in. The goal is to create a home the prospective tenant can happily imagine themselves living in. You do not want to leave them in the dark. Make sure the home is well lit and at a comfortable temperature when you’re conducting open houses or showings. Tenants may want to see the home towards the end of the day or even in the evenings, so ample lighting will be important. They may want to test the faucets or run the shower or flush the toilets. They’ll need the water on for those things to work.
Professionally Clean the Property
Cleaning is critical. Have the home professionally cleaned, and clean up after any handy person or maintenance crew has completed any work. No good tenants are going to want to move in when someone else’s dirt is all over the house. It’s important to have it thoroughly cleaned. Make sure every detail is noticed. Ceiling fans and baseboards should be dusted, sinks and tubs should sparkle, and you’ll want your cleaning crew to pull appliances away from the wall so they can dust and sweep behind and around them.
Keep the property clean and well-maintained throughout the vacancy and showing period. You may need to ensure the lawn care, landscaping, watering, and pest control are taken care of on a weekly basis. You can install a lockbox to allow leasing agents secure and easy access when they want to show the property to prospective tenants.
Determining the Proper Rental Value
Determine an appropriate rent amount based on the market, area, property condition, and size so you can quickly attract a sufficient number of interested applicants. A rent rate set too high will result in a longer vacancy time, and that will quickly eat away at the profit you are striving for. Make sure the rent is comparable to competing properties on your market. You want to attract good tenants with fair rent prices and outstanding homes.
Put simply, the more attractive the property, the easier it is to lease it quickly to the most reliable tenant possible. If you need assistance getting your rental property ready, contact us at Specialized Property Management, so our experts can help you with this. Put our experience and proven process to work for you.