How long will it take you to find me a tenant?
This is a question that property managers get asked a lot, and the answer is, it depends.
There are so many factors that affect the desirability of a home, it can be difficult to give an exact time frame for how long it will take to find a tenant. If the property is "standard" it will typically rent much faster than a "unique" home such as a mountain home, a home in a new development or a home with an extremely large lot.
For a professional property manager, renting out a home in under 30 days should be standard and what happens 90% of the time.
For an owner renting out their own home for the first time, it isn't uncommon for the home to sit vacant for weeks or even months.
Here are 12 questions to ask to help you determine if your home is likely to rent in under 30 days or not.
Take the free quiz below to see where you stand, or just scroll on by to see how you need to be answering these 12 questions if you want to rent your home in under 30 days.
Do you know the going rates in your neighborhood?
Here's the biggest trap that rental property owners fall into: my expenses for the property are X amount therefore I need at least Y amount in rent every month to have positive cash flow or at least break even.
We've got tough news for you. This is a horrible way to price your home. Let's say you have your mortgage, property taxes, insurance and any special assessment taxes that total $3,000/month in expenses, but comparable properties in the area are renting for $2,500/month.
You may be tempted to say to yourself, well I need at least $3k/month to break even so that's what I'm going to list my property at. Good tenants that have good credit scores and rental history won't even consider your home. The reason that they have good credit scores and rental history is because they are smart with their money. They could care less what your monthly expenses on the home are. Why would they pay $500 over market to rent your home so you can cover your expenses?
You can go ahead and post your property over market, but be prepared to watch it sit for weeks with little interest. The only tenants you will attract are the ones that are now desperate because they have been turned down by multiple other property owners for their poor credit, rental history, income or employment.
And guess what?
You're desperate now too which means you are going to jump at the opportunity to rent to someone who is willing to pay over market for your home.
Now you're looking at potential late or missed payments and a potential eviction because of the weak tenant you placed. How are you going to cover those monthly expenses now?
If you can't cover your expenses by renting out your home, maybe selling is a better option.
Based on your research, is your property priced above, below or at the market for rentals in your neighborhood?
This question as very similar to question 1, but the keyword here is research.
How do you research going rental rates in your neighborhood? You've probably heard of and used Zillow's nifty tool called the "Rent Zestimate," but this is often way off. Sometimes Zillow shows the home as a different bed/bath count and square footage then what it actually is. Zillow's algorithm estimates based on what other "comparable" properties are listed for, so if it has these details wrong, it's going to give a wrong rental estimate.
You need to research what other properties in the area that are similar to yours have actually rented for or are listed for, as well as how long they've been on the market.
You may find that one home that's similar to yours and listed way above what other rentals in the area are and consider pricing yours similarly. Before you do that, check how long it's been listed for. You may be shocked to see over 60 or even 75 days on the market, and that's with a couple of price cuts. Don't make the same mistake that guy did!
We recommend listing slightly under market value. This will generate a ton of interest and you will collect multiple applications, giving you the ability to choose the most qualified applicant and place a tenant that's going to pay the rent on time every month and take care of your property.
Let's just do some quick math. If you price your home $100 below market and you rent it out immediately versus renting it right at market and letting it sit for 30 days, how long is it going to take you to make up that difference? Well if you listed it for $2,400 instead of $2,300 and it sat for 30 days, it will take you 2 years to make up the lost rent due to that 30 day extra vacancy.
It is for this reason that we are big advocates of the slightly under market approach and believe it to be the best method to give yourself the greatest chance to rent your home in under 30 days.
Have you rented out this property before?
First time landlords are much more prone to making rookie mistakes than seasoned landlords or investors who turn properties all the time.
If you've rented your home out before, you should have an idea for what the going rent is, what major issues tenants find with it and how you can fix it up or change it to make it more appealing to potential tenants.
If you haven't, you may end up pricing it too high, fail to make the necessary repairs prior to move in or advertise it poorly.
Every landlord once had to rent out a home for the first time, but if you've rented out that particular home in the past, you are much more likely to rent it in 30 days or less.
Is your property currently in move-in condition?
This may seem like another no brainer, but a lot of property owners will put their property on the market before they've made it move in ready. Move in ready means all of your stuff is out, all repairs have been made, carpet is new or clean and the paint is fresh.
If you don't do this and instead try and show the property with your stuff everywhere, dirty carpet, old paint with nail holes in the walls and obvious repairs needed, you will find yourself having to convince and assure the potential tenants that all of this will be taken care of before they were to move in.
What ends up happening is you take care of the stuff that you verbally promised the potential tenants, but they think you promised something else or more than you actually did. Now you have upset tenants calling you on your verbal "promise" to get the home up to their standards. Alternatively, they just won't believe you when you say you are going to make it move in ready and won't apply at all.
It is so much easier if you have the home move in ready when you start advertising and showing it so that you can inform everyone that it comes in an "as is" condition. That way, if there's something potential tenants don't like, they can go elsewhere instead of assuming you will take care of it before they move in.
Don't let yourself get caught up in a "he said she said" situation! Make the property move in ready before you start advertising it to give yourself the best chance of renting it out in less than 30 days.
Has your home had new carpet and paint in the last 3 years?
The easiest thing you can do to make your home more attractive to potential tenants is new clean carpet and fresh paint.
You don't have to change the carpet out and fully repaint every time a tenant moves out, but if it's more than 3 years old, it's probably a good idea. Worn and dirty carpet and peeling paint are great ways to cause potential tenants to lose interest.
You may have noticed, but not every landlord does this. What that means is that if you are willing to do this, you are going to have a much easier time attracting potential tenants than your competition and you will have the greatest chance of renting it out in less than 30 days.
Have your kitchen and bathrooms been updated in the last 10 years?
Want to turn off potential tenants as quickly as possible? Then go ahead and try and rent out your property with outdated bathrooms and a kitchen that look like they belong in their grandmother's house.
They certainly don't need to be brand new with the latest and most expensive appliances, but if the kitchen and bathrooms are clearly outdated, tenants will lose interest quickly and your property will sit on the market for weeks.
If you want to win at the 30 days or less game, make sure your kitchen and bathrooms look like they were redone sometime in the current century.
Has it taken you over 2 weeks to find a qualified tenant in the past?
If you answered yes to this question, wake up! You are probably doing at least one if not several things wrong when trying to rent out your home.
In the Summer of 2018 when this was written, the Southern California rental market is hot and homes are being rented out in a matter of days, not weeks.
If your home has been sitting for weeks with little to no interest, refer to the other questions in this guide and see what you could be doing differently to get it rented out in 30 days or less!
Will you allow pets in your home?
Most first time landlords don't even think of this as an issue, so this may be rather eye opening.
We process hundreds of applications every single month, and 3 out of 5 applicants have pets. That means that if you aren't willing to accept pets in your rental, you are turning down approximately 60% of potential applicants.
Pets can cause damage and are a liability, which is a big reason many landlords just don't want to deal with them. You can help protect yourself from this by asking for an additional deposit (up to 2x the monthly rent) to cover damage from the pet and requiring your renters to obtain renters insurance.
Be very careful in California! If you are going to try and ask for a non-refundable "pet fee," this is considered a security and it is illegal to collect an non-refundable security fee. If you take an extra pet deposit, that is perfectly legal as long as it does not exceed 2x the monthly rent for an unfurnished rental and is refundable if the pet doesn't cause any damage.
If you want to rent your home out in under 30 days, allowing pets is a must!
Are you available to show the property 7 days/week including evenings?
Unless you don't work, have an extremely flexible schedule or have no life, the answer to this question is probably no.
If you are very limited in your availability to show your home to potential tenants, it will take much longer to rent it out. Many potential tenants are looking to move right away. Perhaps they are relocating to the area for a new job or their current lease is ending and they want to find somewhere else quickly.
If you aren't available to show them the property right away, they are likely going to find someone who can and will end up renting out that home instead. If you want to rent out your home in under 30 days, you need to show it to lots of people and that means being available all the time.
Many property management companies will offer placement only services so they can do all the showings for you and help you lease it out, but don't actually manage the property after the tenant moves in. This may be a great option.
There are also companies that offer self showing options where you allow the potential tenants to access the property unattended. We actually tried that once. Check out this article to read about just exactly how that went down.
Do you have a system in place to thoroughly screen tenants (including criminal, credit, income and past evictions)?
How do you verify the information that tenants give you on their application? Do you just call the phone number that they gave you for their past landlords and employer?
Here's another interesting fact that we've learned processing hundreds of applications every week. About 20% of applicants lie in some way on their application. They put their friend's number down as their past landlord or employer. You call and what do you know, this potential applicant is an angel sent by God himself to apply for your property.
You need to have a better system in place that allows you to find the tenant's actual employer and past landlord without relying on the information that they give you. You also need to know the right questions to ask when you get a hold of them to make sure they're legit.
If all you're doing is running credit and choosing tenants based on their credit score, you are seriously rolling the dice. There are plenty of tenants with great credit scores that could turn out to be horrible tenants and there are also plenty with not so great credit scores that would make great tenants.
A credit score is just one small part of the whole picture and you need the whole picture to make a good decision about who you are going to let rent your home.
You also need to be able to do it quickly if you want to rent your home in 30 days or less.
Do you have accounts with all the major online listing services including Zillow, Hotpads, Truila, Rentals.com, etc, and time to manage all of them?
If people can't find your property, they won't rent it. You never know which platforms potential tenants will prefer, so it's best to list your property on all of them to give it the most exposure and ensure you can rent it in 30 days or less.
That being said, there are a ton of services out there! Do you have the time and ability to manage all of them to include uploading the pictures, writing a description and responding to all inquiries that come in?
If not, you may need to look for another solution on how to advertise your property effectively.
This step is crucial if you want to rent out your home in 30 days or less!
Can tenants apply for your property and pay the application fee online?
The same question can be asked about whether or not they will be able to pay their rent online should you accept their application. Tenants love convenience, just like you do, and they will be much more likely to apply if they can fill out the application and pay the fee online instead of mailing it or bringing it to you with a check.
Besides, who even has checks anymore?
If you have the ability to allow tenants to apply and pay the application fee online, you will receive way more than if you don't, meaning it will be much easier to rent out your home in 30 days or less.
There's a lot to renting out a home.
And we've just scratched the surface here.
Renting out a property to a good tenant is the number one most important part of managing a rental home. We didn't even talk about everything that has to happen after the tenant moves in and how to maintain the property for years to come.
If you have a good tenant that pays rent on time every month and takes care of the property, you are setting yourself up for a very pleasant experience owning investment property.
However, there's a lot that goes into it and most of it takes a lot of time.
This is where we come in.
If you are finding that you just don't want to deal with the headaches that can come with renting out your home, give us a call. We'd love to answer any questions you have and help you figure out if we would be a good fit for managing your rental property and taking all of this off your plate.