Usually at this time of year potential tenants have either found a home, are in a major rush to find one, or have postponed looking until after the holidays. This can make a rental owner particularly frustrated as the majority postpone. A few years ago, a particularly creative owner who uses our services, ended up with an unexpected vacancy on December 10. With a good cleaning, the home could be occupied quickly and he asked what could he offer that might get us a tenant, despite the holidays, by January 1. That exercise produced a list of options that made prospective tenants decide not to wait. We discussed this list with the owner and decided to advertise using a couple of these ideas. It worked! The home was occupied by January 1 and the actual cost to the owner was minimal!
What were the two offers that produced the tenant within days during the holidays?
Early Move In- Move in before the Christmas holiday and start paying rent in the new year! Sounds great because one of the biggest hurdles for people is they just do not like to go through moving during the end of year holidays. By offering an early move-in we made it easy for a tenant to transition from one residence to another.
Security deposit Installment Plan- Some would argue this is a little risky but the appeal is in the marketing. We allowed the tenant to pay half the security deposit at move in and the balance on February 1. This helped at a time when many folks are a little light on their reserves. The risk is pretty small and the offer mitigates another problem why tenants delay moves this time of year.
These two strategies combined worked. They don’t have to be saved just for the holidays. These offers could work any time. Our list contained some other ideas that I have shared with owners and have found to also be successful. These offers can stand alone or be combined with a different offer…they are programs to test and see based on the property.
-Reduce the security deposit. Risky but remember you still must approve the tenants. You can offer this but not approve a tenant who it appears could take advantage of the offer.
-Free rent. Offer any period of time. Most limit this to a month and most want to make it the last month of the lease. Logical practices BUT if we are trying to attract a tenant remember we live in a NOW world. And an initial waiver of rent will be much more appealing to a prospective tenant.
-Reduced rental rates for the first part of the lease. A plan to offer 25% off for three months might cost 75% of one months rent, but will it speed up occupancy by 22 days or more? If so, you are ahead! Tenants see the reduced rent and act!
-Flexible payment options. Pay weekly, twice a month..what helps the tenant? It might not fit perfectly in the owner’s cash flow model but it might be very appealing to some tenants.
These are not way out-of-the-box ideas. When you consider them against the cost of a vacancy, they are not expensive. They do address some of the objections that potential tenants have that keep them from making application.