Blog by Mitchell Sedgwick
Mitchell is a ‘take lead and sees it through’ team member.
New and existing clients can expect best techniques utilised on their investment properties to reduce vacancy, increased investment performance and new industry norms
Experience superior investment management, with Trust and Mitchell.
Wondering where all the tenants have gone?
Did interest drop off dramatically?
Double mortgage payments weighing heavily on you?
Ahh – I need a tenant, now!
Vacancy – It’s one of the most common frustrations advertising a property can cause landlords. Sometimes there are very valid reasons that you may struggle to find tenants and it’s important to take a step back and understand how you can reduce your vacancy and increase your marketing efforts.
We have created the below ‘Landlords how-to guide: Advertising in a quiet market’. In this, you can expect to receive our top tips and tricks to reduce your vacancy and increase your advertising impact.
We often see properties listed for rent that have sat vacant for weeks… and even months. In all due credit, we don’t know the background of every listing, even we have had clients who are comfortable to wait 6 months for the top dollar rather than an early asking rent adjustment. However, that’s not why you’re here and nor is it the norm.
For many, finding a tenant in a quiet market can be a draining task, both financially and mentally. So, how do you reduce your time on the market and increase your reach? Behold, our cheat sheet of best practices help you understand how to up your marketing reach and tenant interest.
1. How does your property compare to others in your suburb?
That’s right – who is your direct competition? How do other listings in your area compare to your property? When starting with this step, it’s important to take off your ‘Proud Homeowner’ hat and set down your rose-tinted glasses. It’s all too common to feel your property may be the best on the market, and perhaps it very well is or expecting the asking rent to be worth what your mortgage repayments are isn’t the best way to fairly value your property.
Being realistic will very quickly enable you to move forward with providing the best opportunity for renting.
When comparing your property to others, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does your property appear dated to others advertised?
- How good are your photos highlighting the key aspects and features of your property?
- Do you need to complete exterior or interior maintenance to match those around you?
- Do you have it listed under the right property type category?
- How is my property priced in comparison to similar properties?
Once you have a better idea of the answers to the above, you’ll start to understand the similar comparisons that tenants browsing will be making. You might come out with some of the below thoughts:
- Feeling the property looks dated in comparison to others on the market? Perhaps a refresh needs to be planned. Looking at maintenance upgrades such as carpets, curtains, painting, the exterior presentation can and will make a massive impact on the quality of your property and associated listing.
- Are your photos dark, of poor quality, perhaps even don’t showcase the features of your property – then new photos could be on the to-do list?
- Gardens looking overgrown? A gardening bee with friends or hiring a gardener to handle this during marketing is a better idea.
- Noticed that your property is listed under the house instead of flat? Then change this to ensure you are misleading prospective tenants. You are able to search via a category on most online platforms, and if your property isn’t detailed correctly then you will be overlooked.
- My property is overpriced compared with others. Perhaps other property owners have noticed the same thing and have already taken this decision. Adjusting the rent shouldn’t be the first option however it certainly will make an impact. Overpricing your property by listing it for peak season rents will not achieve you the results you’re after.
- Can my tenancy criteria be changed? If you are advertising with some strict criteria, such as no pets or 4 weeks bond, then perhaps loosening your policies could assist. Many tenants are always looking for pet-friendly accommodation and a 3-week bond can also be helpful. I would suggest one or the other and make sure to check your insurance policy for any requirements this may breach.
Once you have an idea of how you compare, it’s time to ensure your changes are targeted. We need to know the changes made will be noticed by the market we are advertising to. Next up, defining the target market.
2. Define your market and conditions/factors in that marketplace
If your property is a $1,400 per week, 5 bedroom home in Eastbourne, chances are, you aren’t advertising for a student attending university in Wellington. If it’s a 1 bedroom studio apartment, chances are you’re not advertising to a family. Understanding your target market based on your property type, character, design, features and local attractions will assist you in advertising and pricing correctly.
From the above scenarios, you would expect to be advertising for a family or company/consulate representative. Their expectations and timeline are going to be different to that of a working professional/student/yo-pro (young professional).
When advertising in a quieter market, it’s important to understand the reasons why it may be quiet. What factors are affecting the city/suburb at present?
This could be anything from seasonal conditions, mass fixed terms signed in your area, lack of economic growth, opportunities for work in that area, election year, commute to work/family, services in that area and so on.
Once you understand the reasons behind a slower market and why your target market may be skipping over your advertising, or perhaps not even looking, then you can answer the next part of the action plan: How to market to your target market in current conditions.
- Your Response Rates
- Market Respose Rates
3. Marketing Campaign
Slapping an advert on trademe and expecting the phone to ring isn’t going to improve things for you. If it’s worth doing, then do it right, the first time!
A property that has been available for a long time on the market will raise one question from prospective tenants looking at it: ‘What is wrong with it?” The longer your advert is up, the chances are that you’ll be overlooked for something fresh and new to the market.
Reviewing your advertising is the best action to change the interest level – similar to getting a snazzy new haircut or outfit, people will react to it! Let’s start from the top.
1. Your property description, does this match the style of advertisement you would reasonably expect your target audience to react to? For example, bullet point description for an executive level property wouldn’t be received as well as a full property write up. However, bullet point highlights for a 3 bedroom working professional home would be better suited.
2. Do your photos show the property in the best light? Photos are the first thing that will capture your tenants’ interest – don’t have your listing bypassed. Photos of bathrooms which show you in the mirror, a corner window, a dark and damp exterior photo are all big no’s in the world of advertising. Professional photos that have been edited will bring good light to a darker room, show the space better and highlight the right features of your property that will attract further interest. Setting your photos in a logical order will also help. Don’t have your cover photo as the toilet or garage! Use the best features of the property as the starting image. The new kitchen, perfectly manicured backyard on a nice day, your open plan lounge – make use of the best features! At the end of the day, paying a professional property photographer will do your property justice.
3. What other features can you offer? We often find that many families may struggle to make a viewing time, in between school pickups and childrens’ extracurricular activities. Providing other means to view is a great way to ensure you capture individuals that would otherwise struggle to view. 360 degree property tours, facetime walkthroughs, property video (video highlight of pictures and video imagery) and after hours viewings will help.
Once you’ve adjusted your advert, we suggest you relook at your listing position on your online platforms (Trademe.co.nz, Realestate.co.nz). Pull down that old listing and pop a new one up with the changes made. Don’t skip your reach, go for the top level of listing advert (ie Super feature). We want you to be seen, and the cost of one weeks vacancy vs what you will pay for this additional ranking and views is minor in comparison.
Now that you have your advert ready to take the market by storm, you need to be ready to handle every single enquiry you will have, and promptly.
4. Be flexible, be responsive and Follow Up!
Being prepared will save you heartache long term. Schedule viewings in your calendar and be able to record bookings (first names, surname, mobile and email address). When you receive a phone call it’s a good chance to book them into preset viewings rather than allowing them to wait for you to arrange your schedule.
Lets face it, we all forget things from time to time – remind prospective tenants of the booking a few hours beforehand to ensure you get a good turn out. If you expect limited parking to be available, advise them early on. If your property is difficult to locate, signage could be a good option for you to help people make the viewings on time.
Not all interested parties may be able to make your pre-booked viewings, and that’s okay! We need to react accordingly with the market environment we are operating in. Be flexible and get them to view as soon as possible. Strike while the iron is hot to ensure that you maximise any and all interest you have.
Follow up is going to be king here. Make sure you have an application form that is easy for them to complete and get back to you. After viewing the property give them a call to answer any questions they may have after the viewing and to discuss any issues with the application form. If you haven’t heard from them in more than 24 hours, then give them a quick text, call or email for a gentle reminder.
If you have followed the above, then you have given your property and yourself the best opportunity to rent, and quickly in the current environment. It’s important to remember that property investment isn’t an overnight result, this is a long term investment.
5. We are here to help
Struggling with any of the above, then you can always call in your trusted team here at Trust Property Management. We prefer to be involved early to ensure that your investment receives early and correct attention to avoid long term impact on your property investment goals. With over 13 years of experience we understand how to work with you, your property and tenants to get the best results.