Before you can effectively lease your California rental property, you need to make sure it’s ready for the rental market and the highly qualified tenants who are looking for a new home.
We’ve created blogs and videos before about the steps you need to take to rent out your property, and today we’re taking a deeper look at the requirements of making the home rent-ready.
Our focus is on pricing the home accurately, marketing the property to prospective tenants, and preparing it for showings and visits.
Establishing an Accurate Rental Value
When you’re ready to lease a property, you’ll have a long checklist of things to do. Before you do any of those things, however, you have to price the home. This is a lot more detailed than arbitrarily picking a rental amount. You also cannot base your rental value on your own expenses. Your mortgage might be $2,800 per month, but if the market is only going to demand $2,500 for your property, you’ll have to accept that. There are some serious dangers to pricing your property incorrectly.
If you price the home too low, you’ll obviously lose money on your rental income every month. Getting that home up to the market value will be even more difficult now that there’s rent control in place across the state. You’ll only be able to raise the rent so much every year, so you want to make sure you’re starting from a robust price point when you lease your property.
If you price the home too high, you’ll be looking at a long vacancy period. Vacancies are often one of your most expensive losses, and you can’t ever recover the rent you didn’t earn. Not only do you lose rental income on an unoccupied property, you also have to pay a lot of extra expenses while you’re waiting for a tenant. You’ll be responsible for utility payments, preventative maintenance, cleaning, landscaping, and other routine costs. An overpriced home will not get any attention from tenants. They know the market as well as most owners do, and they won’t pay more than they have to.
You’ll need to conduct a comparative rental analysis before you establish a rental value for your property. You need to know what your local market is asking for properties like yours. Take a look at homes in your area that have rented recently. Make sure you’re comparing your own property to those similar in size and features. You can look at listings online, but remember those are homes that are currently for rent. The best data comes from homes that have recently rented to tenants. You need to know what homes rented for, not what they listed for.
Effective Marketing Strategies for the California Rental Market
Unless you’ve been completely cut off from the world in the last couple of decades, you know that online advertising is where you need to be. The digital space is pretty standard across industries; it’s not unique to property management and real estate. You need to know how to effectively use online technology to market your property and attract the largest possible pool of tenants. When you have an effective marketing strategy, you will enjoy benefits such as:
- Shorter vacancy periods
- Higher response rates from prospective tenants
- Better-qualified residents
- Smart, engaged tenants who know how to communicate on a variety of platforms.
A good marketing plan starts with excellent photos.
The importance of professional-level photography cannot be overstated. The first thing that any prospective tenant will look at is your photo gallery. They’ll get around to reading the description and the requirements for rental, but after they’ve sorted potential properties according to filters like price, location, and size, they’ll take a look at the pictures. If there are no pictures or if the photos are dark and difficult to see, those tenants will move along to the next listing.
You don’t necessarily have to hire a professional photographer (although this isn’t a terrible idea, and would be a great investment). However, you do have to take some good pictures, and you have to take a lot of them. Pay attention to lighting. Make sure there isn’t a lot of debris or personal items laying around the property. Use the angles of every room to your advantage and highlight the property’s best features. Include the pictures that prospective tenants will want to see, such as the kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, and any outdoor space. Don’t forget to include a photo of the front of the property.
Once you have the best photos you can take, write an accurate and engaging description that really sells the property. Make sure you include all the pertinent information as well, including:
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Square footage
- Rental amount
- Date the property is available
- Your contact information
- Appropriate fair housing verbiage
Then, you’ll want to make sure you get your listing on all the popular rental websites. Most tenants are using Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, Rentals.com, Apartments.com, Craigslist, Zumper, and others. If you’re working with a property manager or a real estate partner, you can use the MLS as well.
Follow up when you start to get tenants showing interest. The best marketing plan in the world won’t matter if you’re not responding to phone calls and email inquiries. Be responsive and accessible, and schedule showings at times that are convenient for your prospective tenants.
Making Your California Rental Home Rent-Ready
To prepare your property for the rental market, the first thing you need to do is make sure everything in the home works. Start with safety and habitability issues. Make sure the windows and doors lock and are secure. Check the exterior lighting. Look for issues with your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Look for leaks, broken appliances, and any other potential problems that might turn off a potential tenant. Take care of all necessary repairs. Put new paint on the walls and install new flooring if it’s necessary.
Next, you’ll want to make sure the home is completely clean. This is important because good tenants are not going to be eager to move into someone else’s dirt and dust. Hire a professional cleaning crew to really do a deep clean of the entire property. You’ll want the ceiling fans and the baseboards dusted. Good cleaners will pull appliances away from the walls to dust and clean around and behind them. You’ll want the tubs and toilets to sparkle and shine.
Keep the home clean and free of debris or personal possessions throughout the vacancy period. Tenants want to walk through a clean, empty house that they can imagine living in themselves.
Curb appeal is also important, especially if you’re renting out a single-family home. Create a welcoming and inviting exterior space so prospective tenants will be eager to see the inside of the home. Mow the lawn and trim the bushes. Make sure your flower beds are free of weeds and dead leaves. Clean out the gutters and remove any cobwebs or blemishes from the front door. If you’re renting out a unit in a multi-family property, you want the front of the building to look nice. Check the common areas, including pools and courtyards. Does it look like a place that a good tenant would want to live?
These are the early requirements to preparing your house for the rental market and getting it leased to great tenants. We have a lot of experience preparing homes for the rental market. Contact us at Progressive Property Management if you have any questions or need more information.