Knowing when to market your property is half the battle.
Profitably managing a rental property depends in large part on timing. First off – a landlord’s potentially largest variable expense is vacancy. I say ‘potential’ because the goal is to therefore have a vacancy rate approach zero. This is achievable by pricing a property correctly and understanding both the monthly and yearly rental cycles.
In the Seattle market, tenants that are leaving a month-to-month rental are required to give notice to their landlord around the 10th of a month. Few want to do that without already having secured new housing. This means there is a predictable drop-off of leasing activity each month around the 10th.
For instance, if a property were to be available July 1st, tenants wanting that move-in date will start looking around May 20th. They will be making most of their offers between May 25th and June 5th. Activity will quickly die down after June 10th. Landlord’s should therefore try and have their property listed on the market, in as many places as possible, by May 15th (asking the upper-end of the realistic rental rate initially), and they should adjust price based on results to find the market by June 10th at the latest.
As a rule of thumb, whatever the correct monthly rental rate for a property is in November, December, or January, it’s going to be about 10% higher in June, July, and August. September 1st is normally the busiest move-in date of the year. But then the market dramatically slows in the fall. If you priced too high in May and didn’t get it rented, the market may come up to that price in June. But if you priced too high in September, you might benefit from dropping the price quickly to get ahead of the downward curve that’s coming during the fall months.
Further – schedule leases to end in May, June, or July (regardless of whether that means a 6, 9, or, 18-month initial term to get on a summer rental cycle). Also, avoid month-to-month rentals as the landlord then loses control of what cycle their property will be on.