Leasing Rental Property: How long does it take before my home is occupied?
This is one of the top questions we get from our clients. In this blog we will discuss leasing rental property, Landlords want to know when the MONEY is going to be coming in! At Access Property Management Group, each one of us are real estate investors. We get it. The shorter vacancy the better. But this questions requires a bit more explanation because the leasing process is vital to the success of your rental property.
The short answer to the question is it can be as short as a week or as long as 30-45 days. So the next obvious question is “why so long?” If you haven’t leased a rental before, you may not understand the different aspects involved during the leasing period.
Marketing a Rental
As we mentioned in the blog last week, you want to make sure the home is in rent-ready condition before marketing it. All repairs complete, paint and flooring done, and a thorough cleaning. If it’s not, your timeline will be longer. In the current West Michigan market, you will receive a lot of inquiries on your rental when it is posted. A large majority of these prospects will not qualify, even less will want a showing, and fewer will want to apply. Think of a funnel. Although it can seem frustrating sorting through the calls and emails and no shows, it is important to find the right tenant for your property.
Leasing Tip: A unit gets more traffic from prospects when it is priced at fair market rent and has great, but accurate pictures!
Approving an Application
You have an applicant! Now you need to do your due diligence to make sure they qualify for your rental. Once again, make sure to follow all fair housing rules when going through the leasing process. This process can take a day or it can take several depending on how motivated the applicant is to rent the unit. You will want to check credit, previous renting history, criminal background and income. Our full screening criteria is listed on our site here.
Leasing Tip: Don’t take your property off the market until you get a deposit. This motivates an applicant to get approved quickly so they don’t lose the unit.
Holding the Unit
Alright! You have an approved applicant and deposit. Now we wait… This is usually the longest part of the leasing process. Some people will be ready to move in immediately, but most will need time to pack and give notice at their current residence. At Access, we will hold a unit for 30 days with a full deposit. After the 30 days is up, the resident needs to start paying rent even if they don’t move in yet. Check out our blog on security deposit tips to learn more about deposits.
Leasing Tip: Make sure to include on your rental application that the applicant will forfeit their deposit if they don’t move in! Speak to your attorney for the correct wording.
So there is your leasing timeline. Each part will have some ebb and flow as you rent and re-rent your rental. One final tip: Start off on the right foot with your new resident. Moving is stressful and expensive! Be flexible and understanding on the items that you can be.
Next week we will give some real life examples of what happens when you DON’T do leasing right.
For the month of December we are going to be doing a series of blogs on the part of owning a rental that is time consuming, frustrating, but absolutely necessary for success: LEASING. After meeting with countless owners and being in the property management business for almost 10 years, we get a lot of the same questions about leasing. We will address those questions while also sharing our best leasing practices. We will finish up with a market update.
Here are the topics we will be covering in December:
What is so hard about Leasing? and Why isn’t my unit filled yet?
How long does it take before my home is occupied?
The biggest mistakes we have seen in leasing (& how you can avoid them)
Market Update – what are we seeing going on in the West Michigan rental market.
What is so Hard About Leasing?
You got your unit ready, hired a property manager, and handed over the keys. Now why isn’t it leased already? Slow down there! Leasing is one of the most complicated and detailed parts of owning an investment property. When you hear horror stories about rentals, it always involves the tenant, right? So doesn’t it make sense to lease the properly correctly and make sure the tenant is a good fit?
Unit Preparation BEFORE Listing
We can’t stress this enough. A prospective resident will NOT be able to envision future improvements in a unit. The home needs to be ready BEFORE you start showing.
If you have furnishing in your unit, here is a quick video tip that explains how to lease a unit with furnishings.
This includes all repairs done, lightbulbs replaced, painting and flooring completed, and a final cleaning completed. The unit should look like how it is going to be on move in day. This will allow your unit to rent faster and avoid miscommunications about expectations.
Marketing and Leads
If you list a unit on craigslist at fair market price, odds are, you will immediately get several inquiries about your unit. This is a great sign, but don’t think you are on the easy road yet! These leads need to be responded to, prescreened, showed and then thoroughly screened before acceptance.
Need help with finding the fair market rent price? Check out our video blog here.
Craigslist can be a great lead generator, but we have found that it does not provide the best quality leads. Using rental specific sites and SEO generated from our website allows us to bring in higher quality leads that save time and money.
Prescreening and Final Screening
To save yourself a ton of time and money, you will need to screen your applicants before showing and before accepting an applicant. Prescreening happens prior to a showing and is a shortened version of screening:
Start to build a rapport with a prospect.
Verify their name, email, number,
Verify they can financially afford the unit
Once the prospect is ready, willing and able to apply, we continue with a thorough screening of each applicant over the age of 18. Some parts of this screening can be quick, but some parts, like income verification can take some time to complete.
We can’t talk about leasing with out mentioning fair housing. Every time you list your unit for rent, you must:
Use the same criteria for each prospect
Treat all Individuals in the same manner from lead to move in
Do not discriminate against race, color, religion, national origin, gender, familial status, disability, marital status, and age, among others protected by local laws.
For more information about Fair Housing laws, visit the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan here.
To sum it up, there are a lot of different processes that need to happen before a prospect is accepted. Skip one of these processes and your risk for a bad tenant increases and you could set yourself up for a fair housing complaint. Take the time to do it right and put a tenant in your home that is going to save you time and make you money.
Stay tuned for next weeks blog on the timeline of leasing.
Hi, this is Jenny with Access Property Management Group, and I’m here today to tell you that…winter is coming! OK, I know it’s a little dramatic, but winter will be here before we know it. I know in some parts of the country people can get away with using freeze sensors and extra insulation but in the northern climates its a must to winterize rentals. I want to give you some tips on how to winterize a rental and get it ready for the freezing months.
At Access Property Management Group, the first thing that we do to winterize a rental is we send out an email blast to all of our residents and remind them to check their furnaces. This encourages residents to turn them on before it gets really cold. This does two things. One, it makes your resident happy because they don’t have to endure a freezing cold apartment or home. And two, it saves you as investor because you don’t have to send out an HVAC personnel as an after hours emergency call.
Fall Clean Up
The next thing that you want to do to winterize a rental is schedule your fall clean up. Landscape companies are starting to become very busy, so it’s good to do this as soon as possible to get on their schedule. You are going to want to check your gutters and make sure that they are cleaned out. This prevents ice damage and ice buildup from occurring. It can become very dangerous if you have a lot of ice buildup and can cause a lot of damage as well.
Stock up on Salt
Finally, to winterize a rental you will want to stock up on your salt and ice melt. You want to be ready when that first freeze happens because you don’t want anybody slipping on slippery walkways.
Today we are doing a short blog on a couple of do’s and don’ts (our opinion) regarding rental flooring, specifially on ceramic tile flooring and painted flooring when turning over a unit or even buying a rental.
Ceramic Tile Rental Flooring- Yes or No?
In Michigan, ceramic tile floors don’t go over really well in every room of the house. We find them great for entry ways or bathrooms but that is about it. In Arizona and Texas they are everywhere throughout the home. Here in West Michigan we just don’t see the same ceramic tiling throughout. This rental we are at today, for instance, was purchased with ceramic tile floors. As you can see in the video, the ceramic tile floors tend to crack and then you end up replacing certain tiles. The cracking may be due to poor craftsmanship during the install or the fact they were installed in a home built in the early 1900’s and the flooring has shifted. Trying to find a match over the years just doesn’t go over well either. We suggest not installing tile floors throughout and evaluating tile flooring before purchasing a rental. Especially in heavy traffic areas or areas as large as family rooms and dining rooms.
Want more tips for improving your rental? Here’s another post about cost effective kitchen improvements.
Painting Floors? Yes!
Painted flooring in a rental is our second topic for today. In this home we have a covered porch floor that was originally painted when it was purchase, but the wear and tear is really showing. Check out the first impression a prospective tenant will receive as they walk in the front door with the newly painted flooring! It shows the home is cared for and updated. Painting flooring is an easy and inexpensive way to quickly add value to a rental. In the video I’ll show you the area we have not painted yet, which is the steps. This gives you a good before and after idea.
These are just a couple of things to keep in mind regarding rental flooring. Remember to look out for these when turning over a unit or purchasing a new rental property. Thank you for reading or watching this blog,
Access Property Management Group.
Check out this blog to read more about property management problems and what to avoid.
Question: What are City Inspection Stickers on Furnaces and Water Heaters?
We get this question from many owners who have never been a part of a City Rental inspection. The City wants to see a “sticker” on appliances which is Grand Rapids term for a water heater or furnace. So today I just wanted to show you what those look like or describe them to you, so when you do have a city inspection you understand what to look for and what your HVAC technician is going to do.
Let’s take a look at this furnace here. This furnace is a little bit older, but it does have two stickers on it and that’s why I chose it. The first one is the old style and that would be the red sticker. That’s what they use to put on appliances. Stickers are good for 3 or 4 years. It shows the initials of the HVAC inspector that came and the date the inspection was performed. The updated stickers are these white ones. The city now has a new system in which they can go in and see that the appliance was looked at and meets code by a HVAC professional. They used to keep track by those serial numbers on the red stickers, but now they do it all online based on what the HVAC company reports.
Another good tip is writing down the filter size and the direction of airflow on the furnace, that way tenants know what size air filter to put in if by chance they threw the old one away without looking or there was no filter in it to begin with.
Moving over to the water heater, we see the city sticker on it. A few things they look for on water heaters is to make sure that the drip tube meets proper lengths and make sure the venting is good and has the correct amount of drop and rise so no carbon dioxide fills the basement.
Thank you, and let us know if you have any questions. Access Property Management Group.
Leasing Service Management – Want to do your own maintenance?
Landlords often ask us: “Can I do my own maintenance?”. Many Landlords do their own property maintenance to directly control the cost and quality of the work done at their properties.Equally important is the communication and response time to new work orders. A full-service Property Manager typically will not allow for an owner to perform maintenance under the management agreement due to the protections a Manager is required to have in place as an Agent to the Owner and the responsibilities assigned to the Manager in the Management Agreement.
Rental properties require the most attention during turnover and lease-up. To address this need, many Property Managers offer a Leasing Service which allows Landlords to continue doing their own maintenance and avoid the heavy administrative burden of finding a tenant.
A Leasing Service plan typically includes the following services:
Security Deposit and First Month’s Rent Collection
Managing phone calls and emails
Coordinate Utility Transfers
Pictures and Video Tours
The Property Manager’s responsibilities are complete once a qualified tenant moves into theproperty.The is Owner free to handle the maintenance and day-to-day decisions as they please.
A Leasing Service agreement is a good option for a Landlord who has good control over their occupied rental properties but does not have the time or resources to quickly fill a vacant unit with a well-qualified tenant.