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.
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