7 Easy Tips for Filling Vacancies in the Dreaded Winter

2 min read
Kevin Perk

Kevin Perk is a full-time buy and hold and fix and flip real estate investor with over 15 years of experience. He and his wife Terron operate Kevron Properties, LLC, a boutique real estate investing company in Memphis, Tenn.

Experience
Kevin was a past president and is a current board member of the Memphis Investors Group. He’s also a blogger and writer who has authored hundreds of real estate investing articles on BiggerPockets and his own blog, SmarterLandlording.com, some of which have been featured on The Motley Fool and MONEY: Personal Finance News & Advice.

Kevin is also host of the SmarterLandlording podcast.

Originally from the Washington D.C. area, Kevin moved to Memphis to attend graduate school at The University of Memphis. After receiving his master’s degree in City and Regional Planning, Kevin climbed the planning career ladder to eventually become planning director of a county in the Memphis metro area. He “retired” from planning in 2003 to pursue real estate investing full-time.

Since “retiring,” Kevin’s main real estate investment strategy has been to buy and hold, otherwise known as landlording. Generally working in historic Midtown Memphis, Kevin is also known to fix and flip grand, historic homes when the right opportunity presents itself. He and his wife Terron (who is the principal broker at Perk Realty) have participated in dozens of real estate transactions in the Memphis metro area.

Kevin has the heart of a teacher and believes in helping others through education. An instructor of college-level geography for over 25 years, Kevin also regularly participates in seminars and panel discussions at such forums as the Memphis Investor’s Group and the Single-Family Rental Summit.

In addition, Kevin has been interviewed in publications such as the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Memphis Daily News, and the Foreclosure News Report.

Education
Kevin earned a master’s in City and Regional Planning from The University of Memphis.

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Fall is already here.  Kids are back in school.  Halloween is right around the corner.  Christmas is less than 90 days away.

Part of me actually likes this time of year.  I look forward to the holidays and I’m finally going to get a break from the hot Memphis summer.  But part of me, along with every other landlord, dreads this time of year.

Why?

Because it is harder to fill vacancies during the winter.  The number of folks moving and looking for a place to live drops significantly in the winter.  Everyone is settled in to school or new jobs and who wants to move at Christmas?

These factors can make a vacancy in the winter difficult, but not impossible.  So here are some tips to help you through those lean, dark days of winter.

How to Fill Vacancies in the Slow Winter Months

Be Patient – Stick to your guns and especially your screening criteria.  It can be awfully tempting to relax a bit just to get that unit filled.  Don’t do it!  You will end up paying a lot more on the back end after a bad tenant than anything you collect in rent.  People still need to move during this time of year.  People switch jobs, make new years resolutions, get divorced, whatever.  The right tenant will come along.

Drop the Price, Not Your Criteria – If worse comes to worse and your place does not rent in a few weeks you may want to consider dropping the price a bit to generate some traffic.  But, I will say it again, stick to your guns and maintain your rental criteria.

Get Past the New Year – You may just have to wait it out until after the New Year.  Let’s face it. Nobody is going to be moving at Christmas (unless there are some extraordinary circumstances).  In fact, I would be extra cautious with anyone moving at Christmas time.  The New Year brings new jobs, new students, new everything.  Waiting until after January 1 may be a game changer.

Sweeten the Deal – Offer a few hundred off the first months rent.  Perhaps you can offer free cable or even a free TV.  Be creative and respond to what your market might desire.  That extra push might just get yours rented.  Plus, $200 or $300 is much cheaper than another month of lost rent.

Ramp Up the Customer Service – Be super responsive when the phone rings.  During this time of year you are the beggar, and beggars can’t be choosers.  Let your customer service skills shine.

Market Shorter Lease Terms – Offer a 6 month lease just to get you over the hump.  There are folks looking for just such a term at times.

Use Longer Lease Terms – Once you do get your places rented, why have the leases expire next winter potentially putting you back into the same boat.  If you can, use a 16 or 18 month lease set to expire in the spring and summer.

So don’t get the winter blues, just change your attitude a bit.  You may have to wait a while longer, but using these tips will help get your places rented.

Photo Credit: ansik

Fall is already here.  Kids are back in school.  Halloween is right around the corner.  Christmas is less than 90 days away. Part of me actually likes this time of […]