What is the average length of time to fill vacancies?

7 Replies

There's something WAY wrong is it's taking you 3 months! I was sometimes lucky enough to have new tenants ready to move in once a place was vacant (usually took 3 DAYS for make-ready), but I probably averaged 2-3 WEEKS over the 22 years that I had rentals.

all cash

I don't think there is anything WAY Wrong here. While it seems like a long time, you're not the only person I've heard complain about this. Some markets are not as hot as others for rentals, and just take longer to fill vacancies.

I personally haven't had to wait longer then a month to a month and a half or so to fill any vacancies that I've had, to answer your question.

Well, 3 months is 25% of a YEAR, and that's one heck of a vacancy rate! IMO that's like a house FOR SALE for a YEAR. If a house sits for sale for a year with nothing we'd all say it is overpriced! So, how's the price on your rental?

all cash

If you're looking for market averages in your area, instead of what's the norm for you investors who particpate in this forum, then I would suggest looking for the statistics section of your local realtor's association website. Just google "[city/county/state name] realtor association" and you'll get it. If the stats aren't there or easily accessible, call the association. They have this information and can provide it to you. Then you will know how well your vacancy rate stacks up to local averages for comparable property.

I agree with ToneyJ in that every market is different. There is no absolute answer, but still, 3 months is not good. If you signed a listing agreement with a realtor or a property manager and your place is still vacant after three months, that's a pretty good indication that all they've done for their fee (which can be a hefty 1 month's rent in some places) is plop your listing into MLS and let it sit. As a realtor in Virginia and Massachusetts I can tell you that there isn't a whole lot of money as a realtor dealing with rentals, so many people don't work them very hard, aka they're not top priority to show/rent. That may vary, but that was my experience. You may want to try another PM or Realtor, or you can try these free or less expensive methods:

-#1 tell everyone you know that you have a place to rent. I schedule to start this 60 days out from the end of a lease and I mention it in every conversation I can remember. Everybody knows somebody who is going to move; they are amazingly helpful in getting the word out for you and this will often result in a 3-7 day vacancy just to clean and refurbish the property.
-Advertise on Craigslist.com (LOTS of hits but a very high % of flaky responses)
-Advertise in the local newspaper. May cost $150 but that's cheaper than another month's vacancy (pretty good response but one of the more expensive methods)
-Yahoo Real Estate (I've had little success here)
-Contact local university/grad school housing office and provide them your info
-Put up flyers at your local coffee shops, library, grocery store and any other hangout. I'd make them color and have tear away tabs with enough information on them for people to remember what they are. Pay $5 for paper and more for your time running around putting them up.
-Identify high-transient professions in the area and advertise flyers in their break rooms--I've done this with FANTASTIC results in the DC area, posting at the Department of State's schools, military bases, and grad schools. One day spent driving around the city to blanket it with flyers is cheaper than a month's vacancy.

Keep receipts for everything you are doing/printing, and all the miles you drive to put the flyers up--it's all deductible off your federal income taxes. Small price to pay to make $10,000-$25,000 in annual rents! :groovy:

At the most it will take about a month to fill a vacancy in my area. Again some months are harder to rent than others. For example, during the month of November,December and January - these are very difficult months to rent. Noboby wants to move around the holidays and incentives or not , the unit may stay vacant unit February.

I try and tell my tenant that getting out of the lease during the holiday is not an option.

purchasing without competition

I haven't had my property go vacant yet (fingers crossed). I've worked very hard to find renters while the property is still occupied. Aside from the income that I miss out on if the property goes vacant, I've also found that rentlal units show better when furnished -- rooms look much smaller without a couch or bed in them for scale.

I also have a clause in my lease that prevents tenants from moving out during the winter months, a time when it would be much more difficult to find new tenants quickly.

I advertise on Craig's list, the housing website for my local university, my local newspaper (print and online), and also have a sign out front with flyers. I've pasted flyers up around the neighborhood as well.

When I've been showing the property, if people aren't biting, I simply lower the price until it goes. If the unit rents for $1000 a month, missing a month's rent is the same as lowering the rent by $85, over the span of a year.

I've written an article about advertising and finding tenants on my website: http://www.iboughtaduplex.com/?p=13