Over the past six years I've worked with many estate agents looking to manage my rental properties. And whenever it took time to fill up an empty apartment they'd tell me “the market is slow this time of year”.
They weren't all lying to me. Considering the post-2008 property market it hasn't been smooth sailing for anyone.
South Africa's economy is struggling and people are finding it harder than ever to pay for things.
But after some investigation, and tweaking to my strategy I've found that NO rental property should stand empty for a month.
In fact, by fixing small issues you can find good tenants fast.
Here’s how I troubleshoot my properties for problems:
1. Are you getting phone calls from interested tenants?
I don’t respond to tenants that only email me. They need to phone me.
I’ve wasted a ton of time going back and forth over email answering questions from people who get an answer to a question only to have two more questions.
Getting a phone call from a tenant also tells me they’re serious and not just bulk mailing all the property managers they could find.
If an ad has been up for a week and you haven’t had at least 5 phone calls, there’s a problem with your ad.
Is the ad working properly?
I find that great pictures of a property make a massive difference. If you’re struggling to attract tenants, ensure you’ve got an ad with professional looking pictures.
Maybe your rental amount is too high?
If the ad and pictures look good, the most important aspect to consider is your rental amount.
I usually drop it by R100 – R300 at a time. When you’ve dropped the rental amount, give it two days – you should get at least one phone call. If not your rental is still too high.
2. They’re calling but not showing up for the viewing
One of the most important things is to act quickly. If you get phoned up by a prospective tenant today, don’t wait to make an appointment for a viewing a week or two weeks later.
That way you will risk them finding another property – and they won’t be interested in yours any longer.
When you’re on the phone with the person ask them to commit to coming to the showing and require them to take down your phone number. Have them confirm that they will call you if they can’t make it. If they don’t, never commit to rescheduling, if they mess around with you upfront, what will they be like as tenants?
3. Tenants come for a viewing, but you never hear from them again…
If your showing your property to tenants but do not get them to sign a contract you should look at your offering more critically.
Is the property in a good condition?
Is your rental rate a reflection of the condition of the property?
Making sure the inside looks good is important, but curb appeal is critical. If there is junk in the yard or the yard is not maintained, this can make potential renters walk away before they even look inside. A lot of renters find their new homes by walking or driving around an area they want to live and looking for signs. If they see a run-down exterior they probably won’t be too anxious to check out what’s inside! A new layer of paint outside or inside can do wonders when you’re struggling to find a tenant.
I’ve been through my fair share of finding new tenants over the years. But if there’s one thing I’ve come to avoid at all costs is a property standing empty for months on end.
This often means making one or two small tweaks to how you do things. But most importantly – you need to act quickly and not wait weeks to respond when the market tells you there’s no interest.
Here’s to unleashing real value