By: John Wilhoit
The market research is complete, make-ready done, and now a vacancy is primed for amazing tenants to make a newly polished apartment their new home. The problem is; how do you find these amazing residents? Many property managers find themselves in this situation time and again when rental market competition is fierce.
Here are some of the most successful methods for eliminating vacancy:
1. Word of Mouth. Some of the most trustworthy Residents can come from those you know. Tell everyone you can about your vacancy through every channel at your disposal.
2.Use your phone, email and text to contact people who might know a potential applicant.
3. Use every social media network you have. Post the rental advertisement on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Craigslist. Be sure to include photos.
4. Incorporate vacancies into small talk conversations as you go about daily activities. A simple “. . . my day has been going well, I’ve been looking to fill a vacancy. . .” can open the door to finding a new Resident.
5. With any method you use remember the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Keep multiple photos of your rental property on your cell phone and share the photos any time you promote the vacancy online.
6. Know Your Target Audience. Is your property close to schools, malls, business parks or other areas of interest in the city? Look at this information and use it to your advantage to find high-quality applicants. If a
college is in the vicinity, post flyers on campus and highlight features attractive to renters who may not have much experience living on their own.
7. Mention close-by amenities such as shopping, medical offices and schools. You cannot “assume” everyone already knows this information about your property.
8. Find local business and share about the “short commute” from their job to your property.
9. Establish a set of clear, concise rental policies. Know your policies and be able to convey them to potential residents in writing. Educate yourself on jurisdictional rental laws. These documents are on-line referencing state government guides on fair housing. For example, California released an online guide to outline the responsibilities of property owner and tenants.
10. Make sure policies are compliant with Federal regulations set forth by the Fair Housing Act and local regulations. Have your rental policies available to all potential residents. Common elements of these criteria include a base credit score for acceptance; status of rental history (prior evictions, poor payment habits, etc.); a minimum provable income per month; and specific criminal convictions that will result in a denial.
If an applicant has found your property, they are interested in becoming a resident. The next step keeps all applicants on a level playing field; performing a background check that will provide the same type of non-biased search on all applicants. When a clear, concise and legally permissible rental policy is available for applicants, they can decide before they apply if your vacancy is a viable option. A subjective process can eliminate the greatest potential tenants. Always screen.
Finding great tenants can be a game of patience, but the more pre-planning that goes into it, the better you can expect the end result to be. There is more to filling a vacant rental than just finding someone to occupy it. The ultimate goal is to find well-qualified renters who will treat the property with care and pay their rent on time.
This article hopes to spark your thinking on best practices for finding new residents. Please add your comments and suggestions. I am always willing to update articles with thoughts, suggestions and new ideas from our loyal readers.