By Kari Negri, CEO, SKY Property Management
Dear Kari, How can I rent out my vacant units faster? Alyssa C., Sherman Oaks
I think with all the options available to you, it is sometimes easy to overlook some very basic things that are essential to renting out your vacant homes. One of the most important things you can do to get your vacancies up for sale faster is answer the phone. If you love your building, answering phone calls is always positive and is one of the main reasons someone will rent to you – sometimes it’s just about how you handle incoming calls.
Answer the phone in person, be prepared to give great neighborhood reviews and talk about specific places, know your building and unit’s amenities and when it will be available. You should also let potential applicants know how long it normally takes for maintenance to be done on your property, as people often move house when maintenance is not done. Last but not least, be sure to establish and follow your rental criteria and send them to any prospect upfront so you don’t waste their time or yours. Bottom line: Be professional and train anyone showing your apartments to be professional in their communications, actions, and appearance.
Before we had the luxury of publishing everything online, your property had to speak for itself, and it still does today. How your building looks when a potential tenant stops by is key, as they can peek in and drive away. It is imperative that it is at least always neat and clean. Do a critical inspection of your property every 3 months and make small improvements or changes to keep your property relevant (important to neighborhood appeal) and visible. This can sometimes lead to a waiting list for any upcoming rentals.
Signaling: Be sure to put up brightly colored “For Rent” signs to catch the eye, banners, balloons, flags and open house signs. This is especially important for properties located in high traffic/pedestrian areas. Something special or different like balloons around a sign or even a bush trimmed to look like an animal can make a huge difference and bring attention to your rental sign for very little money.
Landscaping and exterior: Once your sign has caught the eye of a potential resident, look at the rest of the building’s exterior. This includes exterior paint, the condition of gates and ramps, landscaping and its maintenance, as well as the safety of the structure and all factors that may affect it. Don’t underestimate the importance of the first impression on a potential resident who may be driving by or in the neighborhood for one reason or another.
Word of mouth is now often referred to as an online review. Talking about a property no longer necessarily means a resident talking to a friend – we have the internet to thank for that. With online platforms, past, present and future residents or applicants can rate your services. Remember that potential tenants ALWAYS check reviews.
Bark!: We are all guilty of leaving good and bad reviews of our favorite places. As a property, you need to keep an eye on both. Occasionally, tenants feel their requests aren’t being met in a timely manner and approach Yelp before following up with management. Most of them can be resolved by being careful and reaching out immediately. Don’t respond negatively – it’s the worst thing you can do, but it’s important to always respond. Remember that you can’t make everyone happy, but you can at least take a positive approach that will hopefully get you more good reviews than bad ones.
Facebook: Like Yelp!, it’s another place where consumers can share their opinion, whether it’s correct/fair or not. More importantly, Facebook, along with other social media, gives your brand a chance to show off through campaigns and keep your profile up to date. Potential tenants are no longer just looking for a home, they are looking for a way of life. And let’s not forget all the online communities you can use to post your job vacancies such as “LA Housing and Rentals”. Once you submit a post, Facebook finds similar pages where you can post the same ad or Facebook Marketplace!
craigslist: One of the most popular and familiar places to shop online, especially for housing. It’s free. It’s simple for the person posting and the person viewing. With the filter options, you can filter out what you don’t want and quickly find what looks like the perfect apartment. To remember update your ads every 72 hours if your home is not rented right away and include lots of good photos. Dark, unattractive images and images showing an unfinished unit will hurt your traffic. Images should also be an accurate representation of what you are offering. It’s fine to use a different apartment that’s already been completed if you say so and the apartment you’re working on will basically look the same. Craigslist allows you to filter ads by whether they contain images or not and most people use this option
Zillow, Apartments.com and Rentpath are the main competitors for paid marketing and can sometimes make a big difference in how long a unit remains vacant – so don’t hesitate to ask for short-term advertising for smaller buildings and for the biggest. those who negotiate a longer term if necessary. SKY as a client of all three, we have experienced a surplus of applicants, especially through programs like lead mail. Unlike paying for a monthly place, this is a one-time emailing to potential residents and has proven itself with multiple leases. All platforms offer different monthly service packages through different websites, including popular ones such as Apartments.com, Rent.com, and Apartment Guide.
The property management software puts management and residents on the same platform, providing them with accounting tools, maintenance request forms, and management can communicate with tenants via SMS or email from their portal! No need to give your personal details! Many property management software options also provide marketing tools
Appfolio, Yardi and many more: Marketing is a great selling point for software. The dashboard can highlight upcoming moves and moves to keep your team on the same page. The job postings section lets you create ads from the marketing description, rental terms, and even images. Using a professional photographer and staging the unit will make a huge difference when posting an upcoming vacancy. Staging does not always require providing an entire unit. You can lightly stage a unit with around $100.00 at stores such as Ross and Marshall. They carry tons of faux plants, candles, towels, soaps, and knick-knacks to add a “pop of color” to your vacant kitchens and bathrooms. By clicking on “Publish on the Internet”, your ad will be uploaded to several web platforms as well as to your own real estate website. This helps cut out the middleman and reduce some work. Automatically and manually created guest cards help track traffic and build a list of potential tenants.
Kari Negri is the Managing Director of Sky Property Management and a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Los Angeles Apartment Association. If you have any questions, you can contact Kari at [email protected].