Let's face it: You probably don't have a monopoly on all the rental homes in your area. (If you do, please be kind enough to let us know where you live, so we can take some of that market share off your hands; you must be exhausted.) With so many other real estate investors competing for a limited pool of tenants, it's important to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Here in Memphis we are managing right over 1,800 properties and, while that may seem like a massive number of properties, we are still a fraction of the total number of rental properties in the city. Just this week, we have had several meetings to discuss stepping away from the "ordinary" and figuring out how to eliminate altogether properties that are vacant over 30 days. We have roughly 25 properties in our entire portfolio about 1.3% that have been vacant over 30 days and we have been asking ourselves the same question we posed to you above.
"But how do I make my properties stand out from the crowd" we all ask? Good question. One way is to put yourself in your prospective tenants' shoes and ask, "What would I want in a rental?" There are, of course, a number of different answers to that question, but one that's pretty universal is this: You'd want it to feel like home -- your home.
While it's true that a property can only feel as homey as the tenant makes it, there are certain things you can do to encourage the process. And if prospective renters can see themselves feeling at home in your property, there's a good chance you just gave yourself a leg up in the ever-raging battle for good tenants. Here are a few outside-the-box ideas from your Memphis real estate company on how to attract tenants by making them feel at home in your property.
1. Give Them Photo Opps
Sometimes it's the little things, right? Provide several photo frames throughout the house for your tenants. Pick frames that aren't completely run-of-the-mill (asymmetric multi-panel ones are great), but generic enough that they'll have universal appeal. (Not everybody is into winter sports, so let that curling-themed frame stay in the bargain bin.) If you have an eye for this sort of thing, you may even want to pre-mount a few frames on the wall. If the tenant is not a fan, it's just a nail in the wall, so it's no biggie to change the look. It's just a little way to encourage your tenants to personalize their space. If it feels like home, they're more likely to make it their home -- and keep it their home for longer. Bonus: It's just a few photo frames and some nails, which means…you guessed it: cheap.
2. Provide a Landscaping Budget
Yeah, yeah. I can already hear those jaws dropping. "He wants us to give THEM money?!" Bear with me here and think about this.
Let's say tenants want to have a few flowers. Or perhaps a vegetable garden. We're not talking about anything too elaborate -- just something to make the place their own. Assuming you make it clear that you'll need approval on the plans, I don't see a big downside here. At no cost to them, the tenant with the green thumb gets to personalize the space, and you get dirt-cheap landscaping done to your property. If tenants stay, well that's the idea, and if they don't, you have a garden or flower bed to attract the next ones.
3. Provide Security & Beauty Features!
When a tenant first pulls in front of a property, you want them to love the way it looks but also to feel safe and secure. Cut back bushes from in front of windows and doorways. Provide clear line of sight from the street to the front door. Remove bushes or at a minimum cut the back on the side of the house so a would be intruder cannot lurk on the side of houses in the dark. Provide lighting on the front porch and cut trees in the front yard to above the roof line.
On the inside, provide blinds on every window in the property. Not broken, old and dusty blinds. Spend a few bucks and replace the blinds with new ones --- that work! Allow the tenant to feel secure by being able to keep prying eyes on the outside. Put air fresheners int he kitchen and bathrooms that provide a nice homey kind of smell. Lemon fragrance works great for this. Lastly, make sure the place is clean. A dirty rental property is no place that is going to feel like home and if you have a prospective tenant who thinks it does, they may not be the right tenant!
These are three simple steps that you can take to provide a clean environment for your tenants. When they see a clean and safe property, considering that so many landlords and management companies never even think of these basic steps nor will they spend the money, you will see your properties rent faster and stay occupied longer.
As far as other steps we are taking, I will save that for another article very soon. We hope to have the 30-day vacancy whipped before the end of this year and have it so rare in our company that it becomes the type of embarrassment where everything stops until that property is rented. I think we have the staff and the determination to get it done an we certainly have the ideas that will set us apart from other management companies. No more with the "ordinary". Not if want to be extraordinary and that is our goal!
Can you think of other ways to attract tenants by making your rentals more homey? Please share them in the comments!