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Are you struggling to fill your vacancies in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic? Filling vacancies in a slow economy isn’t impossible, but it does require strategy and persistence.
If you’ve tried everything you can think of to fill your vacancies and aren’t having any luck, try these six methods.
1. Streamline your rental application process
If your rental application process is too complex or difficult, prospects won’t complete their application. Sometimes a difficult application process makes people ditch the application or skip over questions and turn in an incomplete application.
If you’re like most investors, you probably pursue other applicants first to avoid having to chase down omitted information. Who has time for that?
Moving your rental application process online will solve many of these issues. For example, applicants won’t be able to submit their applications unless they fill in all required fields. Your prospects will also be automatically screened once they turn in their application, which saves you even more time.
A user-friendly, streamlined application process is the key to getting more applications in a slow economy. The easier the process, the more likely people are to follow through.
2. Match neighborhood rent rates
If you’re struggling to get applicants, your rent might be too high. Try searching around to find out what other landlords are charging in the area and then match those rates. You may need to lower the rent significantly.
According to data aggregated by World Population Review, most U.S. states saw rent declines caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, San Francisco’s rent dropped 27% at a rate of 3.4% per month from April to December 2020.
If your rent already matches the going rate in the neighborhood, you still have other options.
3. Upgrade your amenities
Certain amenities will attract more applicants, especially amenities like air conditioning in hot climates.
You probably won’t get more applicants by installing granite countertops – at least not in a slow economy. Although granite countertops are nice to have, that’s not a priority for people at the moment.
Make a list of all the amenities you can install as an upgrade and then choose the ones you think work best in your area. Amenities like:
- A hot tub
- Making your unit pet-friendly
- Parking (including paying for parking permits if necessary)
- A secure garage
- Bike storage
- A washer and dryer
- Online rent payments and maintenance requests
- A dishwasher
- A wood stove for cheaper heat
Some amenities will be more in-demand than others. For example, if your property is in a rural area that allows wood-burning stoves, tenants will love the option of using wood for heat rather than paying for electric heaters.
4. Offer better lease terms
Maybe you’ve got 6-month, 1-year, and 2-year lease options available, but the terms aren’t that great. Your terms may have been good several years ago, but in a slow economy, you’ll probably need to revamp.
Try offering better discounts on rent for longer lease terms. If you only offer long lease terms, try offering short lease terms as well. The point is to give people options for a short-term agreement and provide better incentives for long-term agreements.
5. Offer a good move-in deal
Move-in deals are tricky because if they’re too good, they’ll attract bad tenants. For example, you should never offer free rent. Free-rent is a magnet for professional tenants – people who move in for a good deal and then bail when the rent becomes due. Besides, tenants are starting to realize that free rent deals aren’t actually free.
A good move-in deal won’t shortchange you on rent. For example, you might offer $100 off the first month’s rent or allow the tenant to pay the security deposit in 2 installments with the rent.
You could also include utilities for the first two months or provide free high-speed internet for tenants who sign a 2-year lease.
6. Advertise your amenities and perks
If you’re doing your own marketing, it’s easy to forget about advertising amenities and perks. In your listings, tell people about the neighborhood, the schools, nearby restaurants, and what’s within walking distance. List the public transit systems close by and how far they are by foot.
Prospective tenants want to know if you have walk-in closets, covered parking, a washer and dryer, air conditioning, a pool, or a clubhouse. Tell people what you’ve got and you’ll get more applications.
It’s not impossible to fill vacancies in a slow economy if you have patience. It might take a little longer to fill, but by following the tips outlined in this article, you can shorten that time.