Author: Alex Delaney
Winter is a time of slow down in the housing market. People don’t want to move during the holidays or cold months and the extra holiday expenses impact budgets, making deposits and first month’s rent harder to pull together. But that doesn’t mean you can’t rent your property during the winter months. People still move during the winter due to job changes, family emergencies and other reasons. The trick is to capture that smaller rental market.
Don’t panic: Some landlords make the mistake of lowering their standards during the slow winter months and accept riskier tenants. Don’t do this. Filling a property now, at the risk of a lengthy eviction process later is not a smart solution and will lose money in the long run. There are other strategies to get your place filled.
1) Make your property stand out: Keep front porch lighting on to create a warm glow. Check your curb appeal. Is the front door an attractive contrasting color? Does the front offer year-round greenery give it warmth during the drab winter months? Highlight especially nice areas by keeping lights on in those rooms.
2) Use a picture of the property from summer months to contrast those drab winter marketing pictures and give prospects a sense of how the place will come alive in warmer seasons.
3) Keep the thermostat up. If a property is warm during viewing, a prospect will feel cozier, allowing them to more easily picture themselves living there. If it is cold, they will want to get out of there quickly.
4) Offer incentives: People love a bargain. Offering half off the first month’s rent will pique the interest of this smaller pool of applicants. Big screen T.V.s are also a hit, as is delaying the time required to get utilities switched over, although you will want to cap this cost.
5) Offer an upgrade of the prospect’s choice upon lease signing. Suggested options: 1. paint a room their choice of color, 2. install a ceiling fan, 3. install backyard security lighting, 4. Offer to shelve in the garage, 5. offer to replace a couple of older windows.
6) Change your lease structure for incoming winter tenants. By offering a 14-month lease, with a half month off special, you can move your property off the winter renewal/vacancy treadmill.
7) Use the time to improve your property: If your property is in an area that can command a higher rent, consider renovations that will increase its’ value, bringing it in line with nearby rentals. This will allow you to raise the rent.
The applicant pool is smaller during the winter months, but there are still people out there looking to move. Your task is to make your property the best option out there without busting your budget. Good luck!