Turning a unit quickly when a vacancy comes up is important to keep the rent coming in. If you have a property management company their leasing agent or onsite property manager will handle taking pictures and leasing the unit for you. For landlords, I have some advice for advertising and getting your unit rented quick- you will need to screen the applications you receive to make sure you select a good tenant.
My goal is always to fill a vacancy in a month or less. If the unit hasn’t leased after a month, you should consider lowering the price because you are probably too high. The reason you don’t want your unit sitting empty is because losing a whole month’s rent may be more expensive then lowering the rent. Consider your cost breakeven point: If you have a 2br unit that rents out for $1,750 a month and it sits vacant for 1 month, you lost $1,750 income. Divide that $1,750 by twelve and you see that each month of vacancy costs you the same as $150 each month over the year.
Lowering the rent to $1,600 and renting the unit immediately is probably better that stubbornly holding out for $1,750- especially if it means you will get more applications and end up renting to a better tenant. After two months vacancy, even if you did rent out for $1,750, it would be effectively the same as renting for $1,450 when you consider the lost income.
In tough rental markets, offering a move in special like “1 month free rent” can be a great incentive to get a vacancy filled. The rental market in Los Angeles is hot right now so landlords aren’t making any concessions these days. In fact, it is just the opposite, they are raising rents!
It is tempting when you are having a tough time renting a unit to loosen your screening requirements and rent to someone you normally wouldn’t rent to. Don’t do it- having a unit vacant is much better than having a bad tenant who will upset your good tenants, cause you headaches, and you may have to evict.
I recommend to start advertising an upcoming vacancy as soon as your tenant gives you their 30 day notice. I like to add a provision in my lease that says I can show units for lease with 48 hours notice to the tenant, which includes during the weekends between the hours of 11am-6pm. There is nothing better than having the unit re-rented before the current tenant has even left!
My marketing Budget for a vacancy is $500.
To begin your marketing efforts, you need GOOD PHOTOS of the unit and the building, and the amenities (if there are amenities). The photos do not have to be professionally done, I’d rather not spend any money- but take the pictures with your cell phone camera or digital camera is fine. The more photos the better. Get a couple different angles of the important rooms, like the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. The better the pictures, the more calls you will get from your online listings.
Next write a great description. Try to make it personal and not too technical. Talk about how great it is to live in the area, and explain why your unit is a great home.
The internet is the #1 way renters search for an apartment these days and the internet is your best place to advertise. With the world wide web- you can reach people moving to Los Angeles from Pittsburg! its amazing. Best of all, its free.
Here are Websites I would place the listing, ranked in order of importance:
#1. www.zillow.com (FREE)
#2. www.trulia.com (FREE)
#3. www.themls.com (Realtors only)
#4. www.appfolio.com (Professional Property Manager) $200 a month minimum- $1 per month per unit + 2 month Set up fee
#5. www.point2.com (Subscription service)
#6. www.westsiderentals.com (FREE, best for A and B rental areas)
#7. www.craigslist.org (FREE)
#10. Your Social Media – www.facebook.com
+100 units Advertisers:
For Large apartment communities www.Apartments.com (publishes to LA Times) is a great resource. Apartments.com has a minimuim 1 year subscription with a monthly charge of $99/month. They plan on introducing rental listings for small mom and pop landlords in the first quarter of 2015 but for now this site is only for big buildings.
www.ForRent.com Two packages for small landlords: $100 and $150 packages. The listings are posted for 90 days
Rent Path Network Sites:
www.rent.com -$49 for 30 days, list up to 10 units in 1 building. Guaranteed 15 leads in first 30 days or 2nd month free.
www.gosection8.com (section 8 only)
www.southbayrentals.com (Southbay Only)
www.airbnb.com (Short term rental)
www.vrbo.com (vacation rental)
www.homeaway.com (vacation rental)
www.flipkey.com (vacation rental)
For Rent Sign
Putting up a for rent sign is a classic and still one of the best ways to get the word out about a rental. Many prospective renters will be driving around in the neighborhoods they want to live and will write down numbers and call off for rent signs. You can choose a modest for rent sign that you can buy at a hardware store, or for bigger buildings get a Marquis or Banner. If you rent to Section 8 or speak Spanish “Habla espanol” or “Se Renta”, make sure you let renters know!
Ask your Current Tenants for Referrals
If you have great tenants, chances are they have friends, and their friends would be great tenants too. I like to offer a referral fee of $500 if a tenant in the building refers me a good tenant that I end up renting to. A good way to do this is to post a notice in a conspicuous place around the property, like a bulletin board or elevator, or send an email to your tenant’s announcing it.
Hold an Open House
Get some flags, or A frame signs and do like real estate agents do and hold an open house! People walking around the neighborhood or driving around will stop by and take a look. This is a great method in the spring and summer months when lots of people are out and about. I would hold the open house for 3 hours, anytime between 11am and 5pm. Make sure you have applications ready if anybody wants to fill one out!
Hire a Real Estate Agent or Management Company
Don’t want to do it yourself? Property Management Companies and Real Estate Agents can help you rent your unit. They usually have thier own website taht they can post on and have access to local mls: www.themls.com. Property Management Companies will want $500, and Real Estate Agents want 5%-10% of the 1st year’s rent.
The most expensive and my lease favorite method to get renter leads is print advertising. You will most likely spend your entire advertising budget on just one ad. Print Advertising is not cost effective for leases under $3,000 a month. Pick up your local paper and have them put something in there.