Finding renters in November

28 Replies

Hello Everyone, My name is Mike and i have been reader on the site off and on for about a year. i am inthe process of finishing a rehab on a property that I will be renting out. It is my first rental property and was curious if anyone had some ideas to finding a renter in November. My house is ready but because it is starting to switch to colder weather is there anything I can do to help get a renter sooner then later?

Same as at any other time of year.  Sign in the yard.  Advertise it online (though this generates mostly spam for me.)  PRICE IT RIGHT.  This is key any time of year.  Being even a little overpriced vs. comparable properties in the same neighborhood will kill you.  Being a little below the competition will get you a tenant quickly.  Watch other for rent signs in the area and see how fast they come and go.  Call and get details on other properties and use that info to set your rent and terms.

I've rented properties in the dead of winter in NJ and in Nov/Dec in FL. Right now we have a vacancy in FL that we unfortunately overpriced in mid September. We kept lowering the rent until we got more interest, but still have a lot of tire kickers. @Jon Holdman is right. We also slightly lowered the security deposit, knowing that coming up with almost $4K at the holidays is not the most appealing thought for tenants. We'd rather take less now than face another month vacancy.

Last year we had a rental that was being rehabbed over Thanksgiving, and the tenant rented it for Dec. 1.

Thanks for the info. It is encouraging to know that with the right price it can be done. I was planning on having it ready earlier in the year but it took long then I thought to finish the rehab.

Yup, price it right and perhaps a "move in special" to make it more enticing. I had one vacancy left that I knew was priced right, but I kept getting tire kickers or awful applications that I couldn't be desperate enough to accept.

Last week, I updated the ad and offered $400 off the first month's rent. I had an open house on a Friday (I know, but I just could not find the time that weekend) and actually had more show up to that than past weekend open houses. Got two applications that were both wonderful...wish I could have taken both in. :-)

305-537-6252
Originally posted by @Jon Holdman :

Same as at any other time of year.  Sign in the yard.  Advertise it online (though this generates mostly spam for me.)  PRICE IT RIGHT.  This is key any time of year.  Being even a little overpriced vs. comparable properties in the same neighborhood will kill you.  Being a little below the competition will get you a tenant quickly.  Watch other for rent signs in the area and see how fast they come and go.  Call and get details on other properties and use that info to set your rent and terms.

In other words, you'll have to charge much less in rent if its listed in November and December than at any other time of the year.

I had a property that went up for rent in November but it  didn't get rented till January. I had a sign in the yard, and I posted it on Craigslist with photos. And, my rent was actually slightly below the competition and comps. For example, I knew that a comp had been vacant for three weeks at X price. So, I priced my place fifty dollars below that even though my place was better because it had newer, better updates.

Pricing it right in November and December meant that I should have slashed the rent hundreds of dollars from what my comps had been asking just a couple of months before. And, then in January, the inquires spiked up and I got it rented even though the price was the same.

But, keep in mind that if you slash the rent to get it rented in Nov and Dec, then that will also make it harder to increase the rent back to market prices after Nov and Dec passed. If you increase the rent hundreds of dollars because you had to slash it by hundreds of dollars, the renter will think that increase is excessive even if its the market price.

@Michael Bier  Generally, in colder climates time of year makes more of a difference than it does in temperate climates. We don't get the snow, so we rent up any time of year. 

Even though many people don't like to move during the holidays, there are also those who want to move during the holidays because that's when they have a vacation break and the time to do it. 

Many rental property owners time their leases to avoid vacancies during the holidays/winter and that reduces inventory. Reduced inventory means less competition. I once helped a friend and her family try to find a house to rent in Seattle in December and it was really tough. There was hardly anything on the market. I finally decided to help them buy a house instead. Even that was tough, because of lack of inventory, but we did it.

Dropping the rental price substantially is generally not necessary. Expanding your advertising base may help more. Or offering a move-in special. Just be competitive in what you are offering for the price.

In other words, you'll have to charge much less in rent if its listed in November and December than at any other time of the year.

I certainly did not mean to imply that.  And I don't believe it.  I've had good tenants move in all times of year.  What I was trying to say is that if you have a long vacancy and a reasonable rental market then you've overpriced your unit.  That's true at all times of the year.  You may have less lookers in cold months than in the prime months of early summer, but you will still have lookers.

Pricing rentals is not easy.  Comparing your property to one other is not sufficient research.  Drive the area.  Look online.  Call other listings.  Talk to other landlords.

It is important to know and check you market. I know my markets tend to go "cheaper" in the winter. Price around here makes all the different in the world. Even $50 will be the difference between 0 showings and 10

Advertise that you accept Section 8 renters ( those receiving some city vouchers to help them with their rent).  I find these, for the most part, to be good people who are for one reason or another  down on their luck.

Originally posted by @Jon Holdman :
What I was trying to say is that if you have a long vacancy and a reasonable rental market then you've overpriced your unit.  That's true at all times of the year.  You may have less lookers in cold months than in the prime months of early summer, but you will still have lookers.

But, I would argue that a Nov/Dec vacancy makes it an unreasonable rental market. As you have to agree, there's simply a lot less lookers in those two months compared to the rest of the year if you price it the same.

To get a place rented out, let's say you need to show the place to 6 applicants to get one interested enough to fill an application out. And, you might need to screen 5 applications before you find the a tenant who passes your screening criteria. So, it takes 30 applicants to find a qualified tenant.

During the rest of the year, it might only take two or three weeks to show it to 30 applicants. In Nov and Dec, however, you're dealing with a lot less people looking for a place, bad weather, holidays, etc.. With less lookers, you're not going to have enough lookers to show it to 30 applicants.

@Michael Bier   - If you've just rehabbed your property properly and it's in nice condition, that will give you an edge to begin with. If you keep your rent rates competitive or slightly lower than market rate, that will help. As others have said, there will be less good tenant's  looking to move during that time and that has been our experience as well. In addition, if your rental has room enough for families, and you're doing 1 year leases, you might consider having your leases start/end in the June-Sep period when kids are on summer vacation. All that being said, some find rental agreements ending in harsh winter months the best because it tends to keep tenants from moving when the weather is less desirable. Good luck.

Nothing wrong with lowering the rents a little bit when things start to slow down. Gotta keep the ball rolling.

I just lowered a house from 750 to 715 today. Put it up couple days ago only had a few calls none of them made it too the point of seeing the property. Had this been April I would have had 30 calls by now.

James Wise, Real Estate Agent in OH (#2015001161)
216-661-6633

I think renters and buyers take off from Thanksgiving to Super Bowl, snow, cold, ice, dark at 5 pm and all the holidays, gift buying and lots of parties.

There are still people that need to move at any time of the year. I just had a tenant who was leaving a live in relationship with his girlfriend. That got to be difficult, he wanted out, and he is moving in November. People's circumstances change and you can pick up that traffic. I agree with @James Wise , lowering rents doesn't hurt to gee up volume. A lot of tenants are only around for a year or two, you can bring the rent back up when the next tenant comes around.

Originally posted by @Stephen E. :

 I agree with @James Wise , lowering rents doesn't hurt to gee up volume. A lot of tenants are only around for a year or two, you can bring the rent back up when the next tenant comes around.

But, you're right back where you started if they only sign a year lease or renew that lease, where you have a vacany during Nov or Dec. You can't really bring the rent back up cause it'll still be Nov or Dec and you need to reduce your rent at that time of the year to find better tenants. 

Originally posted by @Sarah Lewis :
Originally posted by @Stephen E.:

 I agree with @James Wise , lowering rents doesn't hurt to gee up volume. A lot of tenants are only around for a year or two, you can bring the rent back up when the next tenant comes around.

But, you're right back where you started if they only sign a year lease or renew that lease, where you have a vacany during Nov or Dec. You can't really bring the rent back up cause it'll still be Nov or Dec and you need to reduce your rent at that time of the year to find better tenants. 

 You can do a 16-18 month lease. Demand is lower in the winter.  Gotta roll with it.

James Wise, Real Estate Agent in OH (#2015001161)
216-661-6633

@Michael Bier  One comment that I would make is to not lower your acceptance standards.  It will only cause more problems in the future.

Originally posted by @James Wise :
You can do a 16-18 month lease. Demand is lower in the winter.  Gotta roll with it.

Do you ever have problems with having the tenant reluctant to sign a 16-18 month lease when most tenants are used to a 12 month lease?

And, if you had to reduce your rents, aren't you locking yourself into an extra 4-6 months of that low rent? Or, do you have type of escalation clause where the rent increases after 12 months?

"Hello Everyone, My name is Mike I am in the process of finishing a rehab on a property that I will be renting out. It is my first rental property and was curious if anyone had some ideas to finding a renter in November. "

I am still rehabing my first Trenton, NJ property.  Very lucky I have a possible tenant couple anxious to move in ASAP.  Toured the property with the couples grand mother.  

Met with lawyer today for a lease, they loved my draft with new ideas.  Like "No water beds or aquariums."  yikes have carpeting todo, held up by painting.  Also have to register with city as landlord, plus get property inspected as well, not ready as we are still playing with outlets.  Luckily I think we are 80% of the way there!

Originally posted by @Josh L. :
Originally posted by @James Wise:
You can do a 16-18 month lease. Demand is lower in the winter.  Gotta roll with it.

Do you ever have problems with having the tenant reluctant to sign a 16-18 month lease when most tenants are used to a 12 month lease?

And, if you had to reduce your rents, aren't you locking yourself into an extra 4-6 months of that low rent? Or, do you have type of escalation clause where the rent increases after 12 months?

 Actually I don't do 16-18 month leases. Im saying one could do that if they wanted. 

For my PM clients who like to renew leases I renew after month 12 but on my own properties I've never actually renewed a lease. 

I go 12 month lease then let it roll month to month. Personally I'm not to worried about locking in tenants.

If they wanna leave they can leave. I'd much rather have a tenant leave without notice & keep their deposit then have a tenant who refuses to pay and won't leave. 

@Jon Holdman  is another guy who doesn't like being tied to tenants in long leases. I don't even think he does anything longer then a month to month. I'm sure he'll chime in with some good info.

Leases are great in that they lay down the rules in writing and if you go to court you have a leg up when the judge has to make a decision.

Other then that they don't really matter. An investor going into this thinking that just because it says it in the lease it will happen is in for a rude awakening. 

If a tenant wants to leave they will. & going after someone is rarely worth it.

Unless people are staying in my building without paying I'm almost never going to court. Juice just isn't worth the squeeze.

James Wise, Real Estate Agent in OH (#2015001161)
216-661-6633
Originally posted by @James Wise:
Originally posted by @Josh L.:
Originally posted by @James Wise:
You can do a 16-18 month lease. Demand is lower in the winter.  Gotta roll with it.

Do you ever have problems with having the tenant reluctant to sign a 16-18 month lease when most tenants are used to a 12 month lease?

And, if you had to reduce your rents, aren't you locking yourself into an extra 4-6 months of that low rent? Or, do you have type of escalation clause where the rent increases after 12 months?

 Actually I don't do 16-18 month leases. Im saying one could do that if they wanted. 

For my PM clients who like to renew leases I renew after month 12 but on my own properties I've never actually renewed a lease. 

I go 12 month lease then let it roll month to month. Personally I'm not to worried about locking in tenants.

If they wanna leave they can leave. I'd much rather have a tenant leave without notice & keep their deposit then have a tenant who refuses to pay and won't leave. 

@Jon Holdman  is another guy who doesn't like being tied to tenants in long leases. I don't even think he does anything longer then a month to month. I'm sure he'll chime in with some good info.

Leases are great in that they lay down the rules in writing and if you go to court you have a leg up when the judge has to make a decision.

Other then that they don't really matter. An investor going into this thinking that just because it says it in the lease it will happen is in for a rude awakening. 

If a tenant wants to leave they will. & going after someone is rarely worth it.

Unless people are staying in my building without paying I'm almost never going to court. Juice just isn't worth the squeeze.

 Also another thing to note. Tenants reduced desire to move during the winter is seen as a negative when you need to lease out a unit during that time.

But remember, 

even on a 12 month lease that goes month to month after the 12th month. The same tenants who don't wanna move into one of your units during the winter also don't wanna move out of your units & into someone elses during the winter.

James Wise, Real Estate Agent in OH (#2015001161)
216-661-6633

@Michael Bier  Hi Mike!

November and December are prime relocation months for work and school. I would definitely film a walk through of your house via your cellphone and post it on youtube. Link the walk through on your ads in Trulia, postlets, and craigslist. Also, download my floor plan creator for your android, make a floor plan and post it your real estate ads. 

This allows the long distance tenant to get a feel for the house before even stepping foot in it.

Happy hunting!

We don't use an escalation clause and tenants do like the longer lease almost always.  A shorter lease I find to be more of a problem.  If you have a hesitation about 18 months bring yourself out to spring and use 15 or 16 months, you are still in a better spot if they want to leave.

You are dealing in hypotheticals.  Find a tenant and find out what is important to them and negotiate with them on that point. It could be they are good with the longer lease. It could be there is something else that will entice them in your direction.  Price is important but it is better to have a good tenant then a vacant apartment. If the extra 3 months costs you $150 because of lower rent is the time you are not spending showing it worth to you.

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