When your San Antonio rental property is vacant, you aren’t earning any rental income, and you don’t have tenants in place to help you maintain the home. Vacancies are expensive, and as a landlord and rental property owner, you should avoid long vacancy periods whenever possible.
Brief vacancies are a good time to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls, clean the carpets, and do a complete inspection so you can document the condition of the home. However, you don’t want your turnover or vacancy periods to be more than a few days.
There are a few things you can do to reduce your vacancy time. Working with a professional property manager always helps because property managers understand the market and have relationships in place with vendors. When one tenant moves out, your property manager will already have contractors scheduled to make repairs and do the required cleaning before your next tenant moves in. This saves time and money.
Prepare Your Rental Property for the San Antonio Market
Part of reducing your vacancy is getting a tenant in place quickly. Attracting great tenants means providing a great home.
Before you put your property on the market, there are a few things you should do to prepare it for tenants. If your home isn’t ready for tenants to see it, no one will want to apply for it, and you’ll be left with an empty home for days, weeks, even months. Get it ready for the market before you start advertising and showing it.
- Make all necessary repairs and take care of any maintenance. You cannot show a property that has problems or needs repairs. Tenants will not want to live in a home with torn up floors, missing drywall, or broken toilets. Even if you assure them you’re going to fix things before they move in, they will have a hard time imagining themselves in your property. Everything must be working, safe, and functional before you list the property.
- Consider minor updates to your rental home. Curb appeal is important to San Antonio tenants, and it will reduce your vacancy rate. Plant some pretty flowers in front of the door, and make sure the lawn is free of weeds, debris, and trash. Inside, consider small improvements such as new lighting and window coverings. Polished hardware on drawers and new faucets will get a prospective tenant’s attention, and you’ll rent the home faster.
- Make sure the property is clean. If you’ve been living in the property before renting it out, remove all your personal items. Clear out clutter from previous tenants. Have it professionally and thoroughly cleaned.
Make Sure You Have the Right Price
Proper pricing has a huge impact on your vacancy period. When your home is overpriced, you’ll have a hard time convincing good tenants to rent it. With technology and online resources, tenants are more educated than ever before. They understand the market as well as you do, and they won’t overpay for a property.
Consider your home’s location, size, and condition. Evaluate your amenities, and determine how everything you are offering compares to the other properties available. This will help you attach a reasonable rental value to your home.
Remember that vacancy is more expensive than a lower monthly rent. Check out this example:
- Let’s say you want to rent out your home for $1,500.
- But the market is really only going to support a rental rate of $1,400.
- That $100 difference per month adds up to $1,200 per year.
- But if you keep the $1,500 price tag and it takes you a full month to rent out your home, you’ve lost $1,500 over the course of that year. That’s $300 more than if you had listed it at $1,400. If it takes you a month and a half to rent out your home at $1,500, you’re losing $2,250.
- It makes more financial sense to charge $1,400 and have that property rented right away.
You can get a lot of conflicting information online about what properties are worth. Check sites like Zillow, Trulia, Rentals.com, and even Craigslist to find out what homes are listed for. But, what you really want to know is what they’re renting for. A property manager can help you access the data you need to properly price your home.
Rental Property Marketing and Advertising in San Antonio
Good marketing will help with lower vacancy rates. Tenants can’t rent your property until they know it’s available. So, get the word out and cast a wide net.
Today, you’ll need a strong online presence. Flood the internet with your rental property listing. But before you place your ad – take good photos.
Most prospective tenants won’t bother looking at an ad that doesn’t have photos. You need a large selection of pictures that provide an accurate and positive representation of the home. Take a good picture of the front of the property, any outdoor space, and all of the rooms you can possibly capture inside. Potential tenants will be especially interested in seeing the master bedroom and bathroom, the kitchen, and any specialty items like your new appliances, fireplace, or garden style bath tub.
Pictures must be high quality. There’s a lot that phones can do with photography now, but it doesn’t hurt to take professional photos with a wide angle lens. Make sure you have enough light coming into the room, and take pictures that are clean, crisp, and show an uncluttered home.
Once you have your photos, write an accurate and detailed description of the home. Remember to include whether you accept pets, how much rent is per month, where the property is located, and how to get in touch with you.
Finally, put your listing on all the sites that tenants are using. Getting the most exposure for your home will ensure that it rents quickly and keeps your number of vacant days to a minimum.
Respond to Inquiries and Show Up for Showings
If you don’t answer your phone and respond to emails, you’re going to have a longer vacancy.
Tenants will move quickly. If you don’t respond to their questions or their request for a showing appointment, they will not chase you down. Instead, they’ll move onto the next available rental, and you’ll lose a potentially great resident. Make yourself available for showings, or invest in a technology that allows tenants to let themselves into the property and see it for themselves.
You need to answer their questions, and you need to be prepared to follow up. Ask them if they’re interested in applying, and get the process moving. Vacancies will drag on if you aren’t proactive.
If keeping up with the inquiries and the showings is too challenging for your schedule, turn the leasing process over to a professional San Antonio property manager. The money you save in vacancy costs will more than make up for what you spend in leasing fees.
Screen Tenants Thoroughly and Efficiently
The screening process is extremely important. While you want to rent your property quickly, you don’t want to rent it to just anybody. You want tenants who will pay rent on time, take care of the home, follow the terms of the lease, and act responsibly.
When your screening process is consistent and automated, you’ll be able to conduct background checks on applicants within days. This is crucial, because you want to get good tenants approved right away. Don’t give them the chance to go looking for another property. Conduct your screening process and do everything that you need to do to protect your home and ensure you’re getting a good tenant. Then, collect a deposit and sign a lease.
Increase Tenant Retention
Another great way to avoid vacancy is to keep the high performing tenants you already have. When you have a good tenant in your property, it pays to keep that tenant there.
Tenant retention equals lower vacancy costs. Here’s what you can do:
- Be responsive with maintenance. This protects the condition of your investment and lets your tenants know that you care about them. One of the biggest reasons that tenants leave a property at the end of their lease term is the lack of response to maintenance and repair requests. Don’t be that landlord.
- Answer questions and address concerns. When tenants know you’re available, they’ll be more likely to stay in the property. Even if you cannot take care of what they need right away, acknowledge that you received their message, and tell them what you’re going to do about it.
- Be consistent and fair. Tenants want to know what to expect. Discuss the lease terms and their responsibilities. If there’s a dispute or a complaint, go back to the lease and talk about how to resolve the issue.
- Be fair with rental increases. Most tenants expect them, but make sure you can justify why the rent is going up. Give them plenty of notice, and don’t make extreme increases.
Reducing vacancy must be an important part of your investment strategy. If you need any help or have any questions about property management in San Antonio, contact us at Specialized Property Management.