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Tips for Finding Renters in Fall and Winter

There’s a reason that real estate is seasonal; no one wants to move when it’s cold and snowy! And just like tenants don’t want to move during Fall and Winter, landlords don’t want to have to worry about filling their vacancy during the off-season. Unfortunately, it’s not always avoidable. Leases end or tenants vacate early. Whatever the circumstances are, the goal is to find new qualified tenants as quickly as possible.

The key to filling vacancies in the off-season is to use effective marketing tactics that attract renters and shorten the time your property remains vacant. Here are a few tips for finding tenants during the off-season.

Offer incentives

Nothing catches more attention than a move-in special or free rent during this time of the year. Think about it. Having a little extra cash for the holidays is never a bad thing in a tenant’s eye. Doing so also helps make your property stand out amidst the competition, drawing more attention and more prospective tenants to your door. To help fill your vacancy faster this Fall and Winter, consider offering a discount on the first month’s rent or any other move-in special. Just be sure to put a time stamp on it to drive the incentive, for example: “Sign a lease by December 1st and get the first month free!”

Adjust Your Terms

Flexibility is key to finding tenants to fill your vacancy quickly. While it’s best to remain firm on things such as your approval criteria, there are a few terms you can adjust. Consider allowing pets if you don’t already do so. According to Zillow, almost half of all renters own some kind of pet, so allowing them will open your rental property up to a larger pool of prospects. Another good marketing strategy is offering flexible lease terms. A 6 or 18 month lease signed in the Fall and Winter benefits both landlords and tenants and is a great way to put your lease end date in a better time of year. And if you really want to sell a specific lease term, offer it at a better rate than the standard 12 month. Everyone loves a deal, after all!

Highlight your top features

If your rental is close to neighborhood amenities, highlight the area’s walkability. Close to a retirement community? Appeal to caretakers who might need a home off-site. Touting proximity to public transportation can draw prospective renters who have longer commutes.

High-quality photos along with immersive virtual tours go a long way toward drawing renters into your property and helping them imagine what it’s like to live there. Make sure your listing includes plenty of photos that show the rental at its best.

Advertise online

After taking note of all the highlights, the next step is to advertise appropriately. It’s not as easy as simply placing a sign in the front lawn. We live in a digital age, which means that if you’re not advertising online, you’re missing out on a huge pool of potential tenants. In fact, over 80% of renters conduct their search for a new home through online search engines. Make sure to market across all the popular sites, such as Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, etc. And along with spreading a wide advertising net, be sure to take quality photos to go with it. A picture is worth a thousand words and often leaves the biggest first impression.

Plan ahead

Advance preparation can help shorten the time your rental is vacant. Do an initial property inspection so you can schedule any needed repairs — or get your tenant to repair items they’re responsible for — to decrease the time your unit needs to remain vacant. If you know when a current renter will leave, plan to list your rental two months before their departure.

Increase retention

And of course, the best solution to filling your vacancy during the off-season is to keep the tenants you already have. If you have good tenants who pay on time, focus on retaining them by keeping the property well maintained and addressing issues in a timely and efficient manner.

Vacancies are often the most stressful and challenging part of owning a rental property. After all, an empty rental doesn’t produce income. Exactly the opposite, in fact! So if you’re facing a vacancy during the off season, follow these simple tips for finding tenants in Fall and Winter.

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