Is your property experiencing the winter blues? Colder weather is traditionally a time when real estate slows down. People don't want to go out into the nasty weather to look at properties, and only those who are forced to will relocate during the chilliest of days. If your property becomes vacant just before or during the winter season, you may need to turn to creative measures to get it rented.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that, each year, sales slow from about November through February, with January being the slowest month. When spring arrives, sales tick upward again.
February and March typically see a 34% increase in sales and a 3% increase in pricing. May, June, July and August are the busiest months and make up about 40% of the overall sales volume. For rentals, the peak moving season is August. People often start looking in June and July before school starts back up again.
Of course, a lot depends upon where your investment is located and the health of local markets. Even if rentals slump, they don't stop entirely. If you're trying to rent a property in the middle of winter, here are some ideas that might give you an edge.
1. Use Warm-Weather Photos
When you list your property, use warm-weather photos instead of winter ones. In wintertime, people don't want to see see how the place looks without any flowers in bloom or trees filled out. Showing them how the home looks when things are lush and green might entice them to come take a look at the inside.
2. Upgrade the Interior
If your house needs any type of repair or update, leave it empty for a month or two and do renovations. You may be able to rent the place for more money when warmer weather hits. Consider how much you might be able to raise the rent versus your investment. You don't want to overspend for the area you're in.
3. Consider Dropping the Rent
If you need to rent the place yesterday, drop the rent a bit. Taking $50 off the price might attract interested parties. Make sure you do all of your background screening and stick to your policies for renting. For example, you may require the person makes three times the rent price to guarantee it’s an affordable unit for them.
Just note that lower prices sometimes attract less-qualified candidates, and you won't save a penny if you wind up with a renter who doesn't pay on time or at all.
4. Edit Your Listing
Another idea is putting a bit more care into your listing. Write a longer description that shows the many benefits of renting from you. Take the time to snap photos of the inside and outside (again, use images taken in the summer when everything is green).
Remember to highlight any special features, too. Do you pay for utilities? That's attractive to renters, so include details about what you provide. Are there amenities or landmarks in the neighborhood? Show them off.
5. Keep the Tenants You Have
If you have excellent tenants, do your best to keep them there over the long term. Offer to do upgrades or cut their rent slightly. If they are house-hunting, let them transition to month-to-month (M2M) with a 30-day notice. Make sure you rewrite the lease to reflect any changes.
In the long run, they'll save you time and money seeking out someone new and your property won't sit vacant during the winter.
6. Offer Freebies
People love a good offer. Advertise a free television at move-in or offer to pay the first month's cable bill. It doesn't even have to be something big, but a small perk entices them to at least visit and consider your property.
Don't Underprice Yourself
Even though it's tempting to just get the place rented and get some money coming in, you shouldn't undervalue your property too much. Taking $50 off or adding an extra perk isn't much of a strain, but cutting the price too low may put you in a financial pinch later on. Instead, focus on these tips to get the most out of your property all year 'round.