Photo taken by John Talbot. Flikr
People don’t like moving, especially in the winter. It’s cold, it’s wet, the sun sets before people get home, and the rental economy goes into hibernation in general. If you, a residential property owner or a management company, are at capacity, then the slow rental season is no problem for you. No one wants to move for 3 to 4 months and you’re collecting on a max capacity facility. For those who have a multitude of vacancies or dealing with late fall move outs heading into late November, you are starting to sweat.
But there are ways to avoid the heartache and anxiety of slow season. Through promotions, enhanced marketing, and a fine tuned lease strategy, you can stay high-and-dry while other management companies are left in the cold.
You walk into your local grocery store just for some simple groceries. Your list has eggs, milk, lettuce, cheese, deli meat, and cereal. But along the way, something catches your eye…
Buy One, Get One Free!
So your list adapts to eggs, milk, lettuce, cheese, deli meat, cereal, and that promotional offer that you just had to have. People love their special offer promos and rentals are no different. Giving prospective tenants something tangible like a free TV or gift cards will increase leads in low times. Losing the value of a full month’s rent in special offers doesn’t sound ideal, but having a paying tenant for the remainder of that lease is better than a unit sitting vacant for 3 to 4 months without the incentives.
In a time of higher vacancy or slow season, spending more money sounds counter-intuitive, but ramping up your marketing efforts will pay off. Using your standard advertising medium only reaches a certain demographic. By reaching out to new mediums, you are exposing your property to a whole new target audience that may be searching for what you’re offering.
Not too long ago, Graystone Properties was stuck in days long gone. The two advertising mediums used to advertise vacancies were local paper ads and Craigslist. We ditched the paper and have moved on to larger online mediums and are witnessing a significant uptick in prospective tenants compared to past winter seasons.
If the fish are not biting, don’t change the pole, change the bait. In other words, it may not be the property itself that isn’t catching renters’ eyes. It’s your advertisements that need to be adjusted. Sometimes all you need to attract interest is a change in your ad in a way that will captivate the viewer. You’ll limit the spectrum of possible renters if your ads have poorly lit rooms, blurry phone pictures or pictures taken a decade ago. Updating the pictures, freshen up the text, and/or reformatting the unit information can make a world of difference.
You know the winter months are an extremely slow time of year for leasing, so why shoot yourself in the foot? As you create leases, try negotiating the date terms. If a 12 month lease ends at the end of December, see if you can get them locked into a 13 or 14-month lease. If they decide to leave at the end of January or February instead, you’ll have the unit ready to rent as everyone starts their apartment/house search again and you won’t be left with a vacancy for multiple months.
Overall, the slow season is only as sluggish as you make it. Through creative strategies and enhanced marketing, you should have no problem filling up your space.