over 90 days of rental being vacant - any advice?

34 Replies | Dallas, Texas

Hi Everyone!

We have a 4 bedroom single family rental in Plano, TX that have been vacant now for 90 days (!). We haven’t had any issues renting it out in the past, therefore we do not understand why we struggling this time.

It has gone through make ready repairs and looks great, the only feedback we got from relatos who showed it is that people are saying that the street is narrow. The actions we took already to try and getting it rented include price reductions (twice), new photos and lower application fee. Any advice on other things we could do? And what could be a “hidden” reason for such a long vacancy period?

Thank you…

Elad and Keren

You could try staging it. Apartment complexes often have staged models to show to prospective clients.  It let's your client get a feel for how the home can look if they choose to rent it.

You're going to need to share more details.  Address?  East side or west side of 75?0 Photos?  What's your price point?  How's it stack up to the competition? Zestimate?  (It's stupid but tenants look at that and use it to see if you're overpriced.)   99 times out of 100, it's just a matter of  price.  I see you're out of state. When's the last time you physically visited the property?  

John,

I think there is an overall slowdown.  I posted a similar story about a condo in North Dallas.  Beautiful photos.  Well below competition listed on Zillow, Hotpads, etc.  Almost $100/month less than the RentOMeter average and more than $50/month less than the Zestimate.

Yet, we get no more than 4 or 5 inquiries per week.  Most are not serious.  Less than 5 showings over the course of 60 days.

The market is changing.

Originally posted by @John Chapman :

You're going to need to share more details.  Address?  East side or west side of 75?0 Photos?  What's your price point?  How's it stack up to the competition? Zestimate?  (It's stupid but tenants look at that and use it to see if you're overpriced.)   99 times out of 100, it's just a matter of  price.  I see you're out of state. When's the last time you physically visited the property?  

@James H. Yeah, I read your post last week and wasn't sure what to make of it since I don't own condos. I could definitely understand your experience if your main competition is other apartments. I'm an SFR guy, though. In that market, my perception/experience is that, while rental increases are slowing down, there is still red hot demand at the right price point.  If you've got a $1000-$1500 house that's not in the hood, nice, and at market rent, it will rent in a matter of hours/days.  When you go a lot above that price point, you've got a much smaller pool of renters.  I should say that I'm only in Dallas and Tarrant County now, though I used to have 2 in Plano until last year.  

That is also our recent experience with an SFR this summer.

I bet the Plano home is not in that price range, though.

Originally posted by @John Chapman :

@James H. Yeah, I read your post last week and wasn't sure what to make of it since I don't own condos. I could definitely understand your experience if your main competition is other apartments. I'm an SFR guy, though. In that market, my perception/experience is that, while rental increases are slowing down, there is still red hot demand at the right price point.  If you've got a $1000-$1500 house that's not in the hood, nice, and at market rent, it will rent in a matter of hours/days.  When you go a lot above that price point, you've got a much smaller pool of renters.  I should say that I'm only in Dallas and Tarrant County now, though I used to have 2 in Plano until last year.  

If it's the one I think it is, I don't see a kitchen or baths in the photos.  Something with those could be the issue.  Pricewise it doesn't seem out of line.  Is the 4th bed an actual bedroom or a conversion/hack?

App fee is still high at $75.....$40 is probably normal, but I've seen some lately that have no app fee.

Also $99 admin fee is unusual.  Not sure what that is about.

Tons of people have become investors in the past 4-5 years around here.  Just in your zip code there are about 40 homes currently for rent around your same price range.

You probably started out high, but I think now your pricing is probably more in the game.

There's always things you can do.....bump up your agent commission for 30 days.  Give some free rent for 2-weeks...become pet friendly....pro photos....more  extensive descriptions.

Yes.  I have seen apartments lower their rates within the past few days.


Originally posted by @Neil Aggarwal :

Its the law of supply and demand. There is now more supply for renters to choose from, including some nice new apartments.  Prices are coming down.

If it's the one I think it is, I don't see a kitchen or baths in the photos.


If there are no kitchen or bath pics in your ad, people are likely to assume the worst.

well when things get like this.. your better off giving the first months rent free.. and then get one month and the equal too in a deposit.. 

@Elad Messing I don't see a link to the listing. Maybe was deleted by the system? I have 2 rentals close to Plano, one in The Colony and other in Carrollton. I have furnished colony house for an AirBnB but also put on the market for 2000 rent per month. To my surprise no interest at all. I am running it as an AirBnB, though I prefer not to. Maybe this is the route you can take (run it as STR until demand picks up). Another option is to contact agencies that provide temporary housing for insurance claims and register your property.

In DFW area, I have noticed the pool of renters start decreasing rapidly at 1500 pm. 

Hi Bruce, where (as a potential renter) can I see the app fee and admin fee?
Thank you for the input!


Originally posted by @Bruce Lynn :

App fee is still high at $75.....$40 is probably normal, but I've seen some lately that have no app fee.

Also $99 admin fee is unusual.  Not sure what that is about.

Tons of people have become investors in the past 4-5 years around here.  Just in your zip code there are about 40 homes currently for rent around your same price range.

You probably started out high, but I think now your pricing is probably more in the game.

There's always things you can do.....bump up your agent commission for 30 days.  Give some free rent for 2-weeks...become pet friendly....pro photos....more  extensive descriptions.

@Elad   .....great question, but typically no.   They have to ask.   I do a fair amount of leases on both owner and tenant side....and those prices are high and unusual to me.  I think they would scare off some of my potential tenants.  That's just me.  Maybe your agent must have had success with these though or they wouldn't use them.

Originally posted by @Krishna Chava :

In DFW area, I have noticed the pool of renters start decreasing rapidly at 1500 pm. 

This is definitely true, and location matters.  Inside 635 it's a bit higher 1500-2000.  The farther out you go, it's just supply and demand.  And on the South side everything is cheaper (the subject house in the safe neighborhoods there might only get 1200).

Hi Elad,

I didn't see your rental posting but I would put a good shot of the front of the house, kitchen, living, and 1 bath.  I suggest looking at your competition on pricing.  Look for homes in the same area the same school and sqft. List yours $100 under everyone.  It usually comes down to price.  People are willing to sacrifice a few aesthetics for lower rent. 

I have SFR rentals in Arlington and Ft Worth. All my rentals found renters in less than a week. Its supply and demand. If there is more supply you gotta make a market adjustment. Get the renter before your competition does.

I am not familiar with your area but I hope that these may help you.

The things I did to find tenant for my properties:

1. post ads on craigslist. I was very skeptical at first but I'm actually surprised that some of my very good tenants were from craigslist after a friend told me about posting an ad there to advertise my home... I even had a very long term tenant in one of the properties for 4 years since its near a university and most stay for 1 year). - HOWEVER watch out for scams such as the nigerian check scam or people trying to pay you rent without even seeing the place.  They "accidentally" over pay the rent and ask for a  refund. Don't cash in the check. If people dont come to see the house, then I find that as a red flag. But since you never know who you are showing the home, always have a buddy or someone with you when doing a house tour to potential tenant. It's best to be safe. Your well-being is number one priority.

2. I am not sure how socially active you are on media platforms such as instagram, facebook, etc but I have found tenants through joining  groups like "Name of the university  Housing/Roommate Search" groups catered to university students or local housing/roommate shares group where its more catered to family/working professionals. Here you can actually have a preview of your potential tenant from their profile. Found decent students and non-student tenants just from facebook alone.

3.  Try finding other website platforms to advertise - other websites in your state that advertise rental properties

4. If you manage your own property, maybe go to a management company to list your property for a fee  (just advertising minus the management) 

5. Go to a real estate broker and ask them to post up your listing  for a fee. 

6. Last but not least, put a big sign in front of your house saying  "FOR RENT" - I actually did this and found people within few days.

Hope these help! Good luck!

You should call up those who viewed the property what they did not like and work from there.

If they can not agree on it, reduce the rent to 10-15% below the market value.

Here in SFBA area there are many no trouble found homes on the same boat. People rent out less than their mortgage all purchased in recent years with 20-25% down. Last two took 2 months. Even in Foster City, a brand new condo just sits there. All these are in good neighborhoods.

When you show the property to prospective tenants, have printouts of the zillow & rentometer reports (that they can take with them) showing that you are under market compared to their other options. I've seen this make a noticeable difference in my rentals. 

An associate of mine from California bought a nice SFR in north McKinney when comps were $2,100. They finally rented it out after a few months on market for $1,700. Why? Apparently a whole bunch of other Californian investors bought in the same neighborhood and all came on the market at the same time asking $2,100. Then they started a bidding war - down.

From anecdotal evidence I still think rents are falling here. A precursor to falling prices?

My advice, if your out of state - stay away. Ya'll saturating my market ya hear ;)

Stop wasting money on staging and loss of money due to vacancy. Give a no rent for the first month move in special.  That will get a lot more interest than any chart showing you’re cheaper. Besides you don’t want to be the cheapest. Cheapest gets the lowest qualified tenant. Charge the security deposit (do not discount that) Try to sign them up for a 16 month lease. You’re starting to go into the holiday season. 

I had a tenant who vacated in October last year. I had a vacant property for 5/6 months. Tons of interest but nobody could qualify for the  minimum  requirements. I wasn’t about to step on a renter landmine so it stayed empty.