Spring and summer are characterized by warm temperatures, beach vacations, and emerging plant and animal life. For landlords and property managers, the months of May-September are known by another name: leasing season. During this season, there’s a noticeable increase in the number of renters entering the market (and ending their current leases).
During peak rental season, the pool of potential tenants is large and includes: college students who wish to live off-campus; college graduates eager to start their careers; families with children on summer break; and anyone who put off moving during winter. Due to the high turnover in real estate during the leasing season, there tends to be more choices for aspiring applicants. Summer offers the best rental selection, while winter wins on price, per Investopedia.
As you might imagine, finding new tenants for a vacant apartment or family home is easier during leasing season. However, there is increased competition with other rental properties (including out-of-state properties for the work-from-home crowd). Before you list your property for rent, ensure you’re in position to maximize profit by reexamining your competitiveness and improving your marketing game.
Here are 10 ways to maximize profit during peak leasing season.
1). Prepare Yourself (or Your Team) to be Busier than Usual
When you have a vacancy during leasing season, expect to receive phone calls and email inquiries throughout the day, every day, until you sign on new tenants. Call maintenance and cleaning companies before showing the property, and schedule contractors as needed for repairs. If you’re responsible for filling the vacancy, make time to show the property to interested parties (or run an open house event). In the event you have a property management company in charge of finding tenants, ensure you provide any information requested in a timely manner to facilitate the process.
2). Review Your Screening Process
Compliance with Fair Housing Laws is essential. To ensure you’re on the right side of the law, determine an objective set of criteria for choosing a new tenant. You might receive multiple applications from suitable tenants, so you need to know and abide by an objective process. Will you choose the first tenant to meet all criteria or will you choose the tenant with the highest credit score regardless of whether they submitted their application first or last?
Your screening process should also take into account potential scams and how to identify them. There are tools that identify fraudulent bank statements, fake pay stubs, and stolen social security numbers. If you use a property management company, the staff may use tools during the screening process; it’s a good idea to learn what safeguards are in place as fraudulent renter applications grow.
3). Be Smart with Where You Market Your Apartment or Rental Property
You need to advertise where your audience is present. If certain mediums–such as newspaper listings or ads on specific social media sites–result in poor leads, don’t invest more money into them. Instead, focus on channels that are historically successful. If you don’t have this data or are interested in trying a new platform, research best practices for it and create a timeline for determining its success rate.
4). Provide Valuable Information in Your Lease Description
A strong rental listing results in high-quality leads, saving time, effort, and money. Consider what information is valuable to renters, and factor in which search filters exist on apartment listing websites. After posting, make sure your property appears when the appropriate filters are selected.
In the written description, provide valuable details, such as: the number of bathrooms; included utilities; included appliances; number of rooms; nearby areas of interest; parking availability; pet policy; and expectations on the security deposit and last month’s rent. Highlight anything of interest (recently renovated, stainless steel refrigerator, new carpet and tile; modern appearance). Finally, note your property’s proximity to local towns, cities, highways, schools/colleges, and parks.
5). Promote Your Rental Listing with Photos and a Virtual Walkthrough
Attractive listings receive more inquiries than listings without photos (or ones with poor-quality photographs). In addition to a written description, include photos and a virtual walkthrough of your rental property. Take high-resolution photos in good lighting with no clutter as a best practice.
Virtual walkthroughs are another way to showcase your apartment or home. A virtual walkthrough allows interested parties to take a 360-degree tour of your rental property from their living rooms–and may entice them to apply without seeing it in person. The Zumper 2021 Annual Report reports 16.2% of respondents signed a lease after a virtual tour alone in 2020. This is understandable considering social distancing concerns at the time; however, the number of virtual-only lease signers for 2021 is 16.9% of respondents, indicating this trend might be here to stay.
With increased competition during leasing season, it pays to find good tenants fast. There is time saving potential for landlords and property management companies to create attractive listings that attract high-quality applicants.
6). Make a Solid First Impression on Interested Renters
The longer you’re looking for new tenants, the longer you’re missing out on profit. One of the best ways to attract new renters during leasing season (and any season) is to make a good first impression. Your rental property should entice potential applicants inside and out. If your rental unit is vacant and you’re not receiving a flood of applications, review your property. Is it outdated? Are the neighbors adhering to noise level guidelines? Is the property vacuumed, swept, and cleaned? While leasing season welcomes a larger number of renters to the market, the competition is fierce.
7). Compare Your Rental Property to the Competition
To maximize profit during the leasing season, you need to ask for a fair rent. If you’re undercharging, now’s the time to attract tenants who will pay today’s going rate.
When looking at competitors, consider your rental property’s location, appearance, and complete offerings. Base the rent off similar properties to ensure you’re asking a fair price, and take into account any fixed costs you have. There are rent estimate tools that will help you, or your property management company, set competitive prices and achieve top dollar for everything your rental property includes.
8). Ensure the Application Process is Easy
Online applications save time for renters and landlords. When paired with other digital tools, landlords and property managers can streamline the entire process, from accepting applications and screening applicants to collecting rent and renewing leases. There’s another benefit to online rental applications: digital documents are easy to store and retrieve. Applications are also easier to update, so you can change any policies and wording as necessary to remain compliant with local, state, and federal laws.
9). Respond in 24 Hours or Less
Potential renters may gauge your response time as an indicator of what they can expect from you as a landlord. If you have solid applications in front of you, don’t ignore them. Per a Zillow study, 71% of applicants expect to hear back within 24 hours, but only 51% receive the timely response they expect. This is an opportunity to beat the competition and secure your new tenants during leasing season.
10). Retain Current Residents During Leasing Season
On average, tenant turnover costs between $1,000-$5,000. While you can’t prevent all tenants from leaving during peak rental season, it’s possible to retain those who have no incentive to move other than how they feel about their present home. Check on your residents throughout the year and respond in a timely manner to concerns. If you have a property management company in charge of maintenance and repairs, ask your tenants about their level of satisfaction.
Current renters are more likely to stay if they feel happy with the property and response times of the landlord or property management company.
Leasing Season is Frantic–Allow Us to Take Care of Vacancies During Summer and the Rest of the Year
Whether you’re a first-time landlord with a vacancy during spring and summer, or you have experience finding new tenants more than once, WILMOTH Group will give you back your valuable time and prevent headaches during one of the busiest seasons of the year. Our job is to locate high-quality tenants who match your renting criteria and ensure the application process is easy. We’ll discover if you’re renting under the market price and assist you in maximizing profit during leasing season (and any season).
Contact WILMOTH Group at (866) 945-6684.