Having been in the real estate business for over 30 years, I’ve come to learn a thing or two about doing property management right. Being affiliated with the largest residential property management company in the world tends to give one some perspective. After you become part of a company with 70,000+ residential units under management and 300+ offices in the U.S. and Canada, you learn how to grow. Here are some success tips from a top Sarasota property management company for anyone looking to improve the performance of their rental portfolio. While we primarily focus on the Sarasota, Venice, Bradenton, Nokomis, North Port, and Englewood, FL area, these tips can benefit landlords everywhere.
1. Dress Your Property for Success
Renting a property to a tenant prospect is no different from dating: you’ve got to spiffy it up and put its best foot forward for the world to see. Curb appeal is vitally important; the appearance should be impeccable as one drives up for a showing appointment. Grass cut, hedges trimmed, fresh mulch in the beds. Get that old, fingerprint-smudged door painted as well as those peeling fascia boards. A prospective tenant should get the immediate sense that you, as a landlord, take good care of your properties. This, in turn, will give them the impression that you will take care of them as tenants.
The inside needs to be spic-and-span clean, and it needs to smell fresh. There really shouldn’t be much difference between walking into your vacant rental for a showing and walking into a well-maintained hotel room for the first time. The expectation is that everything will be pristine; this includes walls, floors, ceilings, bathrooms, kitchens, doors, and appliances.
Absolutely nothing can be broken, and nothing can appear to be a “jury-rigged” fix. If it’s broken, it needs to be repaired. If it can’t be repaired, it needs to either be permanently removed or replaced. Pay special attention to potentially hazardous issues like faulty wiring. Make sure you have working smoke detectors in place.
2. Spread the Word Far and Wide
The days of placing a single classified ad in the local paper are long gone. Most professionals have forsaken newspapers entirely in favor of online rental ads. You have got to be where the prospective tenants are, and today’s tenants are doing their searching online. If you don’t know how to get your vacancy broadcast out on the top 300 rental sites, then you had better figure out how to do it. Without maximizing your online presence, you’ll be leaving money on the table.
3. Be Nice to People
It’s a sad fact that many do-it-yourself type landlords have somehow gotten it into their heads that there is the only way to be successful. With tenants, this means acting like a gruff, obstinate, hard-ball player. They think if they’re “soft,” they’ll be perceived as weak and tenants will take advantage of this. In my experience, I’ve found that nothing can be further from the truth! Good people won’t put up with having to deal with such behavior; they’ll move on. Playing hard-ball will likely leave you with the types of people you were trying to avoid with a “tough guy” persona.
These same landlords then wonder why they’re always getting stuck with the so-called “lousy” tenants. Life is a mirror that reflects what you show it! Be kind to tenants, and for the most part, they will be kind to you. They’re also more likely to take care of your property, pay their rent, and not give you a hard time.
4. Make Showings a Breeze for Prospective Tenants
So, you only want to show the property every seventh Wednesday, between 2:00 and 2:08 p.m.—and only if the wind is blowing from the southwest at less than 15 knots. Seriously? You are the one that needs to be flexible when it comes to showings. You are the one with a “product” who is looking for a “customer.” You have got to find a way to accommodate prospective tenants’ work and family schedules if you want to get your property rented quickly—and for top dollar.
5. Make It Simple and Easy to Rent Your Property
As a Sarasota property management company, we have automated systems where tenants can access our calendars. They can then schedule a showing during any open appointment slot, seven days a week. They can plan their showings straight from a link in our online ads without ever speaking with anyone—that is the ultimate in showing convenience! Once someone has viewed a property and decided they want it, they can apply online from the convenience of their home.
Once the application is processed and assuming the:
- National criminal database checks
- National eviction database checks
- Credit report check, and
- Income verification
Come back positive—they are notified of their approval. Lease documentation is prepared and emailed to them for completion, and a time is scheduled for them to come into the office. This is to drop off the paperwork along with a certified check for the security deposit.
Thorough, simple, automated, easy-peasy, and no-fuss. That’s how renting is done in 2019.
6. Always Do What You Say You Are Going to Do
This really shouldn’t need an explanation, but a reminder can’t hurt. As a landlord, you expect the tenant to do what they say they are going to; they abide by the lease. You then have an obligation to set an example by always doing what you say that you are going to do.
- You are committed to responding to tenant queries promptly.
- You are committed to making timely repairs.
- If the lease says there will be a late fee when the rent is late, then you charge the late fee and expect payment.
- If the lease says no parking on the grass, then you enforce no parking on the grass.
In all things relative to the lease, tenant, and property—do what you say you will. No doubt will remain in the tenant’s mind that they are expected to do the same.
7. Remember, It’s a 24/7/365 Obligation
Some way, somehow, you have got to make yourself available. This means every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year. This is one—but by no means the only—reason that many landlords choose to go with professional property management. Local support through a Sarasota property management company is the ideal way to do this.
All great landlords do these things:
- They “dress” their properties for success.
- They market their vacancies far and wide.
- They treat people courteously and with respect.
- They make it very easy for prospective tenants to view, apply for, and rent their properties.
- They always do what they say they are going to do.
Do these things, and you too will be a better landlord.
About the Author
John Michailidis, JD, is the Broker/Managing-Member of Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee, a Sarasota, FL based residential property management company. Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee provides both Full-Service and Lease-Only services to Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, and North Port area landlords. If you own residential investment real estate anywhere in Manatee or Sarasota counties, do feel free to reach out to our team at 941-216-0005, or through our website.
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