An investment property is a huge financial commitment. It can also set you firmly on the path to financial freedom, or added security in your golden years. But for an investment property to pay off, you need great tenants now.
Even in boom times, it’s worth putting in the effort to get the best tenants you can. An ideal tenant will take care of the property as if it’s their own, pay their rent promptly and be proactive about maintenance.
When the market gets tough, it’s even more important to make sure your property stands out from the crowd. Here are four ways to attract more tenants to your rental property.
1. Buy a place with your tenants in mind
Buying an investment property isn’t quite the same as buying a home to live in. While many people do successfully rent out their first home when they upgrade, buying with tenants in mind can give you a leg up. Here’s what should be on your shopping list:
Location. The perfect location depends on the type of property, and the tenant demographic you’re hoping to attract. A three bedroom family home will appeal to people with children, so pick one that’s close to a good school, playgrounds and public transport. If your rental is a one-bedroom apartment with concierge service, it’s more likely to appeal to young professionals who want a central city location.
Low maintenance. Tenants don’t want to do a lot of upkeep on the property, and you don’t want to spend your weekends keeping the garden in shape. A new or substantially renovated rental with an easy-core yard is ideal for landlords, who can rest easy in the knowledge that it is likely to stay in good repair.
Modern kitchen and bathroom. These are at the top of the wishlist for tenants and buyers alike. There’s no need to go overboard with marble bench tops or a state-of-the-art oven, but these areas should present in good condition with modern functional appliances.
Air conditioning and heating. Air conditioning is fast becoming a rental must-have. If the property you’re looking at doesn’t have climate control, consider adding a split system. It’s not very expensive, and it will set you apart from competitors without it.
2. Effective marketing
There’s no point having the best rental on the street if nobody knows about it. When you’re vetting a property manager, ask them what their plan is to market the property. Professional photography and copywriting cost a little extra, but they can make an enormous difference when it comes to grabbing the attention of tenants. Remember that the best tenants are attractive to many landlords, so they can afford to be a little choosy.
Professionals know how to make your home appear lighter and more spacious, and to highlight the features that set it apart. And while it can be difficult if you already have a tenant in place, ensure that the presentation is immaculate. The home should be spotlessly clean and tidy before your photographer turns up.
Make sure it’s advertised on the leading real estate portals, and that your property manager has a social media presence to extend their reach.
3. Make sure the price is right
Too high and you’ll scare people off. Too low and you’re leaving money on the table. But how do you know how much to ask? You can do your own research by looking at comparable properties, but your property manager is the real expert here. They’ll know how strong the market is, what demand is like, and whether your corner location or new kitchen justify bumping up the rent.
In a slow market, you might want to consider lowering the rent slightly to make the property competitive. The difference between $380 per week and $400 per week over 20 weeks is the equivalent of having your home empty for just one week. Once you’ve got tenants, you can raise the rent at the next lease renewal.
4. Retention is better than cure
It’s cheaper to keep the tenants you have than to advertise for new ones. Assuming they’ve been good tenants, it’s often worth going the extra mile to keep them. That means:
Regular maintenance. A common lament from tenants is that landlords are slow to fix problems or perform temporary fixes that don’t last. Keep the property in good working order and you’ll keep your tenants. As a bonus, it will help preserve the home’s value.
Give a little. If your tenant wants to put up a shelf or add some screening plants, it’s a sign that they’re making the place home. In some states, tenancy laws have been changed so that you can only refuse small modifications (or pets) with a good reason Even if that’s not the case where you are, these sorts of concussions can help build the relationship with your tenant for long term harmony.
Keep rental increases reasonable. You’re in it to make money, but don’t get too greedy. Implementing a rental increase when the market justifies it is fine, but too much, too often and you might find your property suddenly vacant. If you’re unsure, have a chat to your property manager – they’ll be able to advise you on current market conditions.
Maintain good communication. Whether you’re renting it out privately or using a professional, it’s important that your tenant feels heard. Repairs should be attended to promptly, and questions answered.
An excellent tenant is a huge asset and can make the difference between a good investment and a great one. Put in a little effort and you can secure someone who’ll love your place as much – or more! – than you do.