Thanks to the recent housing bust in our area, thousands of unsold model homes and spec houses have transitioned into rental homes. Our area isn’t the only city that has experienced a housing bust, an over supply of unsold homes have affected much of the US as well. What this means for us landlords is tough competition and choosier tenants.
Convincing a prospective renter that your rental property is the Perfect Home takes a bit of creativity, glibness, and good salesmanship to close the deal. Here’s how it’s done.
Tackle maintenance issues before showing. No rental home should ever be shown to prospective tenants looking dingy and dirty. A dirty house sends the message that an owner lacks pride in his rental properties. Before opening the home up to renters, have the home professional cleaned, carpets shampooed, windows washed, dingy walls repainted, and interior and yard maintenance issues dealt with. These things can usually be completed in a couple of weeks or less.
Set out a sign with informational brochures. Once the house is almost ready to be shown, a “for rent” sign can be placed on the property along with informational brochures. Brochures containing details about the house & it’s features, and the rent & deposit required are very effective advertising tools. These brochures also weed out prospective tenants who are looking for something that costs less, has more bedrooms, has a built in washer/dryer, allows pets, or some other detail.
Stage the house for viewing. The good thing about having brochures is that prospective tenants who do call are usually serious about leasing the house. For these people, “staging” the house is a strategy that makes the house look inviting. To stage, the heat should raised to a comfortable setting (in the winter), blinds or curtains opened, fireplace turned on, closet & bathroom doors opened, and lights switched on in dark areas. I’ll also display some seasonal bric-a-brac on the fireplace mantels or kitchen counters to make things look friendly.
Other staging ideas might be to close a curtain or louvered blinds to screen a undesirable view, open windows to bring in fresh air in the spring & summer (unless it’s noisy outside), or place a radio set at low volume.
Closing the deal. Having been a Realtor for 20 plus years, one thing I learned about “closing a deal” is that tenants and home buyers make their decision on the type of information they gain during the home tour. Instead of letting my clients wander through the rental home alone, I’ll accompany them from room to room to point out special features that could go unnoticed (such as clever storage solutions) or the various ways a specific room can be used if it isn’t obvious to the viewer.
Other information that prospective tenants usually want to know include:
* What utilities are included in the rent
* The average cost of heat and electricity
* If there is cable hookup
* School districts
* Proximity of stores, schools, bus lines, and parks
* Exterior gas hookups
* Safety/Crime stats for the neighborhood, ie “How safe is the area?”
* Parking issues (if applicable)
* Who is responsible for yard maintenance
* Washer/dryer hookups or proximity to a laundromat
* How long the house has been for rent. If the sign just went up, tell prospective renters exactly how long the sign has been up and how you’ve been getting numerous calls. For house that’s been “For Rent” for a long time, it’s best to answer “Not too long.”
Once armed with all this information, prospective tenants will be in a good position to make a decision. And to “push” them closer towards a decision, it’s have rental applications and pens right at hand with and offer that you can be called at any time to answer additional questions. It’s important to remember that most house hunters aren’t looking just for a space to live in, but a certain lifestyle as well. By escorting prospective tenants through the house, answering questions, pointing out upgrades and hidden features, and giving them private time to reach a decision puts you on the right track to closing the deal.