Thats right, “Landlord” the best known ale in England, a pale bitter. Madonna stated in an interview that “Landlord” was her favorite beer. A landowner is also a commonly termed as a “Landlord” and has been since the Roman Empire. Now, I’m not sure that being a landlord has similarities to beer or Madonna, but I do know of a few landlords enjoy an ale or two and maybe even a Madonna tune.
There are many duties a landlord has that may justify a nice pale ale at the end of the day. From property repair, to maintenance, property upgrades, to signing leases and advertising vacancies – there are lots of things to keep you busy. If you choose to do your own property management, you will find that being a landlord isn’t just sitting back and collecting a rent payment each month. If you’re like me, you will appreciate any tools and resources that can make your job easier in the long run.
One resource that is often overlooked is the HUD Fair Market Rent valuations that are made public each year. While maybe not a true reflection of what the market is doing at the moment, it will tell you what HUD will allow for a rental with a certain number of bedrooms. For instance last year a 3 bedroom was shown at $992 per month and this year it has increased to $1023 for Walla Walla County. When Blue Mountain Rentals provides a free rental market analysis, I will usually include the amount shown on the current years table for Walla Walla county as a comparison tool.
By pricing your rental according to what the market is doing, you ensure that you are obtaining the maximum profit on your investment. This way, you aren’t pricing so low that you have every housing seeker on your doorstep, or so high that you never receive a call. There are many creative ways to gain renters as well. From offering signing discounts, refunding the screening fee if they move in and I’ve even seen some landlords give away Flatscreen TV’s for a specific lease term and rent amount. Just try to think outside the box if you feel you need to offer an incentive to drive the masses and get your phone ringing.
In the last month or two, I have heard from several landlords that the price that they’ve gotten for their rental this time around is the lowest they have ever been able to obtain. There are several factors playing into this. For one, the economy is still not in a very healthy state. In fact, from what I just read about the Shadow Housing market, it may continue to be this way for some time as far as housing is concerned. The increase in the number of foreclosures in our area plays a key role here. Often times, homeowners facing foreclosure will try to rent out the home to save it, while moving to a less expensive home themselves.
Recently, our local area was also hit with some layoffs from the State Penitentary. While some of the layoffs were merely numbers on paper, several were actual job positions that required transfers, or changes to current hours. If you add in the recent finalization of the cleanup in Oregon and the layoffs that occured from that as well, the amount of available housing as a result increased. Supply and demand play key roles in the rental housing market just as with any commodity.
Some recent clients also seemed to be concerned with the length of time it was taking to find a quality renter for their vacancy. The average rental in Walla Walla is vacant for 3-5 weeks. This means that if you wait for the unit to be 100% move-in ready before you list it, it could be vacant for a month or more before you find the right renter. I strongly encourage you to start listing the rental as soon as notice has been given.
In Washington state, you are only required to give 24 hours to show your rental property if it renter occupied. House hunters will understand packing boxes and clutter. They should be able to see past the disarray and view the home as their belongings will fill it, if they are able to connect with it. Now, if you’re rental is priced at $1000 per month and you wait to list it, that means you could potentially lose that income by waiting. I don’t know about you, but I’d hate to lose $1000 due to some packing boxes and clutter.
If you also take into consideration that a larger the rental property and a higher the rent amount may mean a longer the vacancy – you could have it sitting empty for 2 months or longer. That is a big sum of investment income to see go away. In fact, I was doing some research the other day and there have been some 3 bedroom rentals in the Walla Walla area available on the market for 120 to 200 days … Yikes!
While I cannot guarantee that by using Blue Mountain Rentals to promote your listings that you’ll have a renter overnight. I will say that the more exposure you have, the more likely you’ll find a renter for it. The more visible the listing, the more likely it will be seen by someone searching for or know of someone looking for housing that it may be a good fit for. Even if you choose to do your own advertising, I would strongly suggest listing it in as many places and getting it visible. From bulletin boards, to signs in the yard and with online listing sites. Be sure to include a photo or more. You will connect more emotionally with a house hunter by giving them an idea of what it is that they will be renting by adding a photo.
An article I read recently is that kitchens sell homes. I believe this. There is a common quote about feeding the heart through the stomach. If the kitchen is not the best selling feature of the home, or if you have a rental that has been sitting stagnant for a while, you may want to think about ways to make the kitchen the prominent feature of the rental. Can you make some appliance upgrades, install new cabinets or flooring? These all are great ways to make the kitchen the most inviting room in the home. Which brings us back to the location of the fridge. Is it time to crack open a pale ale, sit back and relax for a bit? Or, do you have a little work ahead of you still to get your rental ready for the ideal tenant?
Do you have a story about trying to get a vacancy filled? Maybe you have a creative incentive you used in the past to find the perfect renter. Let me know your ideas.
Lori Hartjoy is the owner of Blue Mountain Rentals, established in 2011. As well as being a devoted mother of 3 toddlers, she provides over 20 years of clerical experience to her clients.
Her background includes processing employment & tenant background checks, working as a property manager and payroll technician for a major telecommunications corporation.
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