One of the best ways to guarantee that you'll get a good return on your investment home is finding quality tenants. Though this may sound simple, the discerning landlord will understand that there are a number of factors that go into ensuring that you've found the right people to occupy your home. You want someone who will, of course, pay the rent on time, but that is just one piece of the puzzle. Excellent tenants will have great rental references, steady sources of income and good credit, to name a few. But where do you find them, and how do you attract them to your home versus other homes in the area? With our decades of experience in the Wilmington rental market, Sweyer Property Management has a few tips for finding the best tenants possible for your investment home.
Is Your Property Attractive to High-Quality Tenants?
Many of today's renters are families and young professionals who are looking for sparkling clean homes with recent upgrades. If your property misses the mark on these simple items, it will likely be passed over by many qualified renters. It is wise to have your home professionally cleaned, have the carpet cleaned, touch up paint or repaint if needed and have necessary repairs made before putting it on the market. Does your home have outdated appliances, flooring or countertops? Consider investing in these improvements — things like solid-surface flooring and stainless-steel appliances can make a world of difference when it comes to attracting qualified tenants. If your investment property is a single-family home, have the lawn cleaned up and well-manicured for showings — small things like these make a home much more inviting and will bring the traffic you need to find the right renters.
What about your personal policies in regard to your home? For instance, do you allow pets? The millennial generation is the largest group of renters, and, you guessed it, are also more than likely pet owners. Opening your home up to pets will open your home up to a larger part of the rental market and thus increase your likelihood of finding qualified tenants. If you are worried about damages, you can always restrict the size or number of pets or ask for a larger security deposit. Plus, professional property management companies typically collect pet fees, most of which go straight to the property owner.
Is Your Property Being Advertised Properly?
These days, the vast majority of potential renters are searching for properties online. This means that you aren't so much finding the tenants as they are finding you. Therefore, you want to be sure that your property is the best product on the block and stands out as something they want to click on, learn more about and view in person. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, things like cleanliness, upgrades and a manicured lawn will all be evident in photos and will often determine whether they want to move forward scheduling a showing. You also want to make sure that your property is being advertised on the most popular home search websites; if it isn’t, how will home-seekers know about it? Experienced professional property management companies not only advertise available properties on their own websites but also syndicate listings out to popular sites like Zillow and Trulia to ensure that your home is receiving as much exposure as possible.
The most important thing when screening tenants is fairness — you must put every applicant through the same screening process and analyze their applications by the same criteria. This means having standard requirements for income, rental history and credit scores. If you fail to treat all applicants the same, you could find yourself in violation of Federal Fair Housing Laws, and thus in some big trouble.
That being said, checking income, rental history and credit scores are all good ways to verify a tenant's ability to pay the rent on time and assure yourself that they'll care for your home properly. It is advisable that you not consider just one or two of these factors but rather look at the big picture when considering applicants. For instance, an applicant could have a good credit score but no rental history and have only had the job providing the income for a month or two. Do you really have a good idea of how this person will care for your home and if they have a good history of paying rent or keeping a job?
There is, unfortunately, never a guarantee that even the best, most qualified tenants won't get laid off or have a family situation that requires them to suddenly move. However, if you have your property in good condition, advertise it properly and know what to look for on applications, you're setting yourself in the prime position to find the best tenants possible. Preparing a property for the rental market, advertising and screening tenants can turn into a full-time job, especially for those who already have one.
If you have questions about finding tenants for your rental home or have been considering professional management for your investment property, reach out to the experts at Sweyer Property Management to schedule your no-obligation rental analysis.