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Investment Property Geeks of Charlotte is the podcast that will teach you everything you need to know about the most critical function of buy and hold real estate: management. We're your pros, Chris and Jesse. Join us as we roll up our sleeves and give you practical and powerful strategies and tips to maximize your property’s potential and build enduring wealth.

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Marketing Your Property

Chris Claflin - Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Marketing for the Masses

Now that you are ready to rent, learn how to market your property to attract the best tenants. At Sunnon Property Management one of our favorite things to do is help owners market their property. 

So, what really makes Sunnon Property Management the perfect partner? Go here to find out why you should work with Sunnon Property Management. 

Marketing for Rent

When it comes to marketing, you should always put yourself in the renters shoes. Things that you have grown to live with will need to be fixed. For example, a door that doesn’t latch or mismatched light bulbs. These may seem like trivial issues, but they are still important. Like we talked about in the last episode, keep your long-term vision in mind. This vision will direct how you market the property which determines what kind of tenant you will end up with. 

Importance of Marketing

There are many creative ways that you can market your home. For example: Chris saw a listing for a property near a graveyard and the description said that they had quiet neighbors. Marketing needs to grab someone's attention like this description did. Put yourself in your renter’s shoes –– what are the selling points? Does the property have a great backyard? What about a huge kitchen? You also want to keep in mind that unique features of your property could be a deterrent. 

Tune in to the episode to hear hilarious stories about owners with extremely unique properties. Here’s a sneak peak: a soundproofed bedroom with a glass door that was painted all black. 

While some unique features could get you a higher premium, most won’t. Marketing should be universally appealing to your renters. If you do want to highlight a certain feature of your home that may not be appealing to everyone, realize that you’ll have a higher premium but you’ll have more vacancy times. If you market to the masses then you’re more likely to have a consistent tenant base even if you don't get the “highest rent possible.” 

  1. When You Should Market

This is an important question to ask yourself as you are planning your timeline. There are two common investing opportunities that could change the answer to this question: 

  1. You are an investor living somewhere else, perhaps out of state.

  2. You are an owner that is presently living in your home. 

The first thing you should know is that you should not market your property until you have another roof over your head. This is regardless of how quickly you are vacating your property. If you are trying to move out while your property is listed, then you could create backlogs that will become a huge problem for you, your tenant and your tenants' current rental. Always remember that this is your business and the tenant is your customer. You want to treat your customer fairly and with respect, which means that you should have the property completely vacated before they move in. This philosophy should be applied to outstanding work as well. Things can go wrong, and they often do, but be thoughtful when planning and add a buffer period.

When you’re planning, try to think about what time of year you will be ready to put your property on the market. The best time of year for rentals is between May and October. This is because the school year is winding down and people typically have more free time to move. If you haven’t purchased a property yet, consider purchasing during the off-season. Because that’s when the market slows down, you can use that time to complete any necessary projects and renovations so that you are ready to put it on the market in May. 

Pro-Tip: If you have multiple properties, make sure that you dont end multiple leases in the same month. Not only does this guarantee a consistent cash flow, it also makes sure that you aren’t absolutely slammed with work for an entire month. 

  1. How To Market

How you market defines what kind of tenants apply. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Don't post on Craigslist –– it has become a hotbed for scams. 

  • Use Zillow instead, as that is the most popular rental site. 

  • If you can, try to put up a sign in the yard. You never know who will be driving through the neighborhood. 

  • Don’t waste your time with MLS, most people don’t rent properties with a real estate agent. 

  • Sometimes you get lucky with Facebook.

  • In the description, make sure you advertise recent remodels and selling points such as granite countertops or fenced yards. 

To avoid a lawsuit, you should also be wary of Fair Housing and Protected Classes in your description. There are seven protected classes that you cannot discriminate against:

  • Race

  • Color

  • Religion

  • Sex

  • National origin

  • Handicap

  • Familial status

As you can see, age is not a protected class. Where this most often comes up is when owners don’t want to rent to college kids. At Sunnon Property Management, we choose not to discriminate against age. You can, and should, discriminate against credit scores. If an applicant has a bad credit score, they will most likely be a bad tenant. 

Following Fair Housing regulations can be difficult. Even the wording of your description, whether you intentionally discriminated against a protected class or not, could become a potential lawsuit. Take a look at some examples where wording plays a big role in Fair Housing:

  • Around the corner from YMCA – illegal because the YMCA is a Christian-affiliated organization.

  • No animals of any kind permitted – illegal because of those who need a service or emotional support animal. You can write that no pets are allowed because service animals are not pets. 

  • Great bachelor pad – illegal on the basis of sex and potentially familial status. 

  • Walkable to local parks – legal, but contested in the past based on handicap. 

  • Playground across street, great for families – illegal because it discriminates against familial status.

If you are worried about unintentionally discriminating against a protected class, try to only focus on describing the property rather than who may be using the property.

Another important factor of marketability are property photographs. Most photos just don’t do the property justice. Here are a couple tips:

  • Take as many photos as possible. 

  • Get photos of: the front of the house, at least one of every bathroom and bedroom, laundry room, multiple of the kitchen, front and backyard. 

  • Take outdoor photos on a nice day with a blue sky if you can. 

  • Take photos from doorways as if you were walking through. 

  • Take photos of things that may dissuade people from renting, such as a pink bedroom or a green bathtub. This is so that you don’t waste your time showing the property to someone who wouldn’t have reached out if they had known about those features. 

  • Take photos as you go through the property and then go back in the reverse direction.

  • Don’t always take the photo at the height of your head. Sometimes, it's better to take it down on one knee halfway down the wall. Get as tight into a corner as you can when you take a picture. 

  • Be careful when you take pictures with windows. Make sure that you focus appropriately to make the lighting look good. 

  • Try to take pictures while the property is vacant or have it nicely furnished. Show the property after it was recently cleaned. 

Also try to take a video so that people know exactly what they are getting into. This will give you a leg up on the competition in your area. Make sure that you mute the video before you post it. You should also walk through the home in one clean motion, steer clear of mirrors and turn all lights on before you begin taping. 

Recently, there have been new developments in posting listings because of COVID-19. 360º photos are one of these new developments. If you have access to this equipment, you should definitely consider doing these. 360º photos allow prospective tenants to see a full view of the room. We have even had some tenants put in an application without a showing because of the 360º photos.

  1. Common Mistake

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when marketing is renting to the first person that matches the criteria. Be patient and wait for the best possible tenant. Here are the numbers, for a $1.2k - 1.5k property, on what it will take to find a tenant:

  •  Inquiries (when someone says they want more info): 109-260

  •  Leads (when someone signs up to look at the property or calls in): 31-68

  •  Showings: 13-30

  • Applications: 4-9

You also have to keep in mind how you will respond to leads in a timely manner. If you are still working a full-time job, consider outsourcing this work to a property management company. Otherwise you might be bombarded with emails and phone calls all day long. 

  1. Timeline

Now that you’ve done everything that we’ve described, you may be wondering how long is it all going to take? That depends on a couple of things:

  • Market demand

  • What you’ve done to the property

  • The set price

Make sure that you set reasonable expectations by looking at what similar houses in your neighborhood rented for. Take a look at our last episode for more information on how to set rent. To stay on track you should be receiving about 10-20 inquiries a day. If you've got the right price and are being realistic then we could estimate it will take about three weeks to get a great tenant. 

Another way to reduce that turnover time is to begin marketing the property before the current tenant leaves. Although, if you do this you really have to plan in advance and only begin marketing about four weeks before the current tenant leaves. Make sure that people understand that the property is not ready yet. You can word it on the listing like this: “This property will be ready soon, we are working on those finishing touches!” Never show a property until it has been professionally cleaned and is ready to be viewed. 

Review

Marketing is one of the most important steps in renting out your property. Today we talked about how, when and how long it will take to market your property. If you’d like to hear more stories and tips from us make sure to tune into our next episode! 

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