Tips for filling vacancies during COVID?

7 Replies

Hey BP, how has it been filling vacancies during COVID? Any observations or tips on things that helped you fill vacancies with high quality tenants right now? 

I'm house hacking in West Oakland / Emeryville and about to have some vacancy.

@Eric Li I can't speak for your area, but in Central Texas where I am I'm including a number of things in the listing that I haven't before like a floorplan (I used and a video walkthrough. That lets potential tenants get a good feel for the property before coming to see it. I've also been using a screening survey to pre-qualify potential tenants before I set up any tours. This minimizes how often I'm showing the property and makes sure the folks looking are basically approved already.

Hope that helps!

Waive sec deposit

Lower rent for first 3 months

Include utility stipend of up to $75 per month

Moving assistance allowance of $300

etc... get creative and advertise the heck out of the specials. Tell them they can choose one with a value of up to "X"

Hey Eric,

Like @Danny Webber mentioned, moving assistance is a great incentive.

If the rental market in Oakland is dying down, I'd recommend shelling out good money for a top of the line photographer/Matterport to really showcase the place. 

Can you do anything to increase the curb appeal or upgrade any part of the property quickly & inexpensively?  Perhaps even a few flowers from Home Depot planted in front or new paint for the front door - something that will show up in your photos online & make the place inviting & memorable.

When I look at the competition on Craigslist I’m always surprised at how careless the listings photos are - and many don’t even bother using any images -  it’s fairly easy to make your place stand out.

@Eric Li

I had a property get listed to rent the same week the governor issued stay at home orders. I was fortunate because we were contacted by an insurance company looking to place a couple whose house had caught fire and needed a place to stay while repairs were taking place.

This arrangement worked great as the insurance company is paying a third more than market rates and sends the check a week early each month.

I was not aware of this possibility before , but there are services that apparently cater to insurance companies and placing their clients. You can get on their list when you have an opening.

Not sure what you mean by "high quality tenants"..........but I guarantee if you advertise on GoSection8    and screen the tenants properly you will have more high quality tenants than you know what to do with. I spent years advertising on CL and Zillow and found that 85-90% of the people didn't even read the ad....they just saw a unit was available that matched their price criteria and they called.........Just so I could explain to them that in the first two sentences of the ad it says, No smokers of any kind, no felonies or evictions ever, and your gross monthly income has to be 3.5x the rent.    

Most of those tenants moved out of the property in about a year and then the process started all over again.

With Section 8 tenants....about 85-90% do read the ad..........I still pre-screen them.....and tell them that I will do a background check that they will pay for....I have the same criteria.....except for the income requirement because the housing authority pays between 70 to 100% of their rent for them and it gets deposited like clockwork the first of the month. Works really well here in Oakland, Concord and Cleveland. IF they lose their job, or lose a lot of their hours they are working then the housing authority makes up the difference. As for who I ultimately select, it is not a coincidence that none of my Section 8 tenants have pit bulls or dangerous breed pets or animals, no "w%3d" smokers or "mar7jwtna" users either. I don't worry about turnover because they don't move. To me those are the qualities of a "high quality tenant" my man.