By Elizabeth Colegrove
As a landlord of eight rental properties, I can tell you that having vacant houses is scary. It doesn’t matter if you own one rental or eight, having vacant property is always super stressful. Carrying an additional mortgage is no one’s financial plan. Luckily, there are seven ways to rent your home out fast, so you never have to deal with the vacancy.
1. Price your house right
The market value of your house is what someone will pay for it. Not your expenses, not your perceived value, but what someone else will pay for it. Don’t hurt yourself by over-valuing your house. Look at the comps and then price it accordingly.
2. Reduce your price quickly
If your house is not renting, than you need to reduce the house quickly before you experience financial loss. By quickly lowering the price until you meet that sweet spot, you will not experience as much loss. In my experience with markets, you will know within a week or so if the house will rent. If you are not getting calls, showings, and applications within the second week, you are priced too high. I had a house listed for six weeks and wasn’t getting much traction. Two weeks before the house went vacant, I lowered it $100. I had two interested parties in two hours, two applications in one day, and a signed lease shortly afterward. The price is key.
3. Show your house quickly
The minute you get an inquiry, call them back. Don’t worry about looking too eager or waiting until your house is perfect. The reality is, people look until they find the first house that fits their family. I cannot tell you how many times a 3 PM appointment has been canceled because the potential renter found their perfect house at the noon appointment. Some of my best tenants have come from showing the house as an absolute pigsty. When we rented out our first house, I had a call at 5 PM while I was folding laundry in front of the fire. I showed the house as a mess, and had a lease signed before they left. Had I waited, they would have signed at the next house they liked.
4. Have your screening and lease program ready
Once your tenant finds a house they like, it is a race against time. The reality is that just because they love your house, it doesn’t mean they won’t keep looking at other places. I cannot tell you how many times I have had people fall through the process even after they paid the $40-per-person background and credit check fee. Once I have an interested applicant, I drop everything to make sure I get them my info. I never want them to wait on me. One of the ways I make sure I can be prompt is by completing my lease first and have the background and credit checks done ahead of time. This way I am ready to go and can start processing immediately.
5. Charge for background and credit checks
You want people who are serious and are really interested in your house because approving people is a pain. One of the reasons I love Cozy is because they charge applicants $40. This helps weed out those who are mildly interested and will waste my time from those who are ready to go.
6. Allow pets
Allowing pets has been the best decision that we have made. It allows us to attract higher quality of tenants, a higher market price, and much more interested clients. While animals have their moments in regards to damage, as a whole, allowing them in our rentals has made good business sense.
7. Join support groups
We spent the first five houses figuring out this crazy world on our own. We learned SO much the hard way, honestly it was super hard. Than I joined biggerpockets, and later the Military Landlord Facebook page. Honestly becoming apart of these groups were game changers. The reality is it’s hard to be your own council. You can’t look at things objectively and without emotion. I am the first one to be honest when I say, that our group has been priceless. From helping me look at situations in different light, to sharing lessons learned to looking at adds, and helping me figure out why a house is not renting. Becoming a part of a group that rallies with you as you go through this crazy life is a great way to make this easier.
At the end of the day, don’t give up because you are stressed and things aren’t going well. The reality is real estate is a long term game. You have to get through the down moments to get to the up moment. I hope this helps you on this crazy journey!