Writing to you from our car, driving down 95, somewhere in southern VA. I procrastinated on this week’s post…I’m sorry! But we got it done and that’s all that matters, right?! This week I want to talk about filling vacant rental units…virtually.
So as we do, let’s talk Real Estate, let’s talk TIPS FOR FILLING YOUR VACANT UNITS FROM AFAR…
For any new readers on here – I live in NYC but manage rental properties three hours away in Binghamton, NY!
Part of managing these properties includes finding new tenants.
How do we do it from 3 hours away?!
Well, we found a system that works for US! Developing a system that works for YOU is key. Once you find something that works for you… all you have to do is REPLICATE!
Luckily, we do not have vacant units often, but when we do, we typically do the following…Prepare Your Unit
1. Determine if any updates need to be made to the unit. If yes, coordinate those ASAP. You want any repairs / renovations to happen immediately after the current tenant moves
2. Determine the new rental rate. Is the current rate appropriate? Is it the market rate? Does it justify a raise? Make sure if you are raising the rent that the new rate abides by state and local laws. In NY, we have very strict rules on how much a landlord can raise rents.
Prepare your Marketing Material
PICTURES & VIDEOS! You are going to need to grab some snaps of the unit / property. We have gone about gathering photos a few different ways. Whether they come from our current tenant, personal photos from a closing or our property supervisor, we always try to get as many photos as possible! (BTW, you just read that right. Yes, we have a property supervisor, but no we manage the property ourselves. I can get into why and how in a later post!).
Market, Market, Market
Exposure is KEY!
We market our vacant units on a few different outlets.
-TurboTenant: this blasts the listing to Zillow, Trulia, Renthopper, realtor.com, rentpath.com and a TON more. Turbotenant will blast your listing to over a dozen different sites.
This may sound obvious but actually replying to your tenant inquiries is IMPORTANT. You would be surprised to know how many people out there are not responsive. We reply to EVERY inquiry. EVEN IF the unit is already taken, we let them know! It takes 20 seconds to reply to an email or a Facebook message.
Host an Open House
Okay, so up until this point, everything we have done has been virtual. While probably possible, it would be hard to host a virtual open house. This part of the process requires one of us to be there.
You can also have a property manager host the open house for you if you want, but under NY law, they should have a real estate license if they are hosting any open houses. Our property supervisor does not have a real estate license so we go up there and host them ourselves. This is totally fine though because it gives us an opportunity to check on the properties, look for new ones, and meet any potential tenants we may have!
We do an Open House format so that we can make our trip up there as efficient as possible. Every unit we have filled thus far has been done via Open House. At our last Open House we had over 20 people stop by in an hour! They work people!
We always have these printed out at our Open House with pens ready to go in case people would like to apply on the spot. We no longer collect application fees, because the state of NY is SUPER strict on these. Any fees associated with running an application are paid for by our LLC.
Screen Potential Tenants
Our policy is to run each application in the order in which we receive them. We will review their submission and then request a credit report via turbotenant.com. We make sure to confirm with the tenant that they are in fact serious about this unit before running any credit reports because we do not want to mark their score if they are not AND running credit scores costs us $$$.
If everything checks out, and meets our internal underwriting standards, we will reach out to the tenant, and inform them that their application has been approved and we are ready to move forward with the lease signing process.
We do this online via DocHub.
Once our lease is signed and the move in date is set, we coordinate with our property supervisor for key hand off!
I know that may sound too simple… but it can be!
And the good news is, if you don’t to go through the trouble, you can always hire a realtor!