If your rental has been sitting on the market, vacant, for what seems like forever, you’re not alone. It’s that time of year and we’re not going to see it let up until March, when the busy season starts to pick back up. So, while you’re sitting with a vacant home, it’s time to think about what you’re going to do to make up for the lost income.
Here are some suggestions to get your brainstorm started:
Before you begin, check your local laws surrounding the controversial short-term rental market, then move forward as you see fit for your investment property.
With the holiday season coming up, make sure your property is marketed to visitors in town for the season. Implement minimum night stays and highlight the tourist attractions nearby. If your unit is perfect for hosting, or as a getaway from all the bustle, make sure to include those aspects in your description, and maybe even the title!
Use your social media to reach out and tell your connections about the opportunity. Especially if you know they need some extra space, or a decent oven, share your short-term rental link with them personally. Reach out to the groups and events that are relevant to the rental. Either local communities, or if you know there’s a vacancy over a weekend when there’s an event going on nearby. Make sure to cast a wide net to friends and strangers alike.
If you decide not to rent the property with a short-term service, make sure your insurance company knows that the property is vacant and will likely be for a couple of months while you find a new tenant. Your coverage is likely going to change if no one is in the unit.
If you’re in the position with some savings, take advantage of the vacancy to renovate something you’ve been meaning to update.
Update & Prevent Issues
Does that bathroom need new flooring around the tub? Maybe you need to get rid of that glass sliding door in there that’s really just a mold farm? Your last tenants complained that the washer made their clothes smell like mildew, maybe that’s something to fix for the next round of tenants. (psst – this is also a really great way to retain tenants once they’re in!)
Do you find that your tenants can’t take care of the yard the way you want? Fix it. Adding gravel is a great way to attract pet owners.
Do your locks need an upgrade? Look into coded door knobs and see if they’re right for your property to increase security and do away with the hassle of keys!
What about adding a plug for an electric car in the garage? Or a solar panel on the roof that takes care of the kitchen appliances? Even something as small as replacing all the bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs can be a selling point to eco-friendly Millennials.
An outdoor living space can also attract millennial tenants who want to socialize and host their friends in the summer.
Consider upgrading your rental system to something that’s more online based. Can tenants pay online? If not, can they wire directly to your account? Maybe you can try Venmo or another payment app that you feel comfortable working. You’ve got time to test a few out and see which is best for you and your business.
Don’t know what’s wrong with your property? Get a home inspector to come out and take a look. Use their report to make changes and upgrades to prevent future failures.
Check on the oil levels, the furnace filters, and dryer vents to prevent fires.
Look for signs of infestation, with no one living there, there’s no one to report the sound of scratching in the walls or seeing ants near the sink. If you’re not confident in your own abilities to spot a rodent or other pest, hire someone to give you a quote.
Take New Photos
The more recent the photos the better, so update those on your listings as often as you can. With a vacant listing, it’s always much easier to take great photos that show off the space.
When taking new photos make sure:
- Nothing is on the counters (just put that 409 bottle in the cabinet for a second)
- The floors and corners are swept and clean; carpets are vacuumed
- All the lightbulbs are on and working
- Windows are clean and have no finger prints on them
Get ready for new tenants!
These types of smaller projects can be done in the winter to maximize your rental value in the spring, when more tenants are looking, and especially if they’re looking for an upgrade.
Info for this blog post came from the following sources:
Rent Prep: Must Have Tenant Amenities for Millennials Link
AirBnb Support: What legal and regulatory issues should I consider before hosting on Airbnb? Link
VRBO Discovery Hub: Regulation Resource Link
Latter & Blum Property Management: 5 Ways to Attract Millennial Renters Link