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Six Strategies for Filling Vacancies in the Off-Season

Blog Post10/13/2020
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As temperatures begin to cool in the fall, so do searches for residential rentals, according to a study by Apartment List. Come winter, moreover, vacancies may be even tougher to fill, resulting in lost income. Before the late fall and early winter months arrive, property managers should double down on their efforts to fill vacancies by following this advice to attract more — and higher quality — applicants.

#1. Seek high-quality renters

Reliable renters with a solid rental history are likely to stay longer, which reduces turnover, saving time, energy and resources spent searching for new renters. They’re also more likely to pay rent on time and leave your property in good condition. So, even if they end up paying a reduced rental rate, high-quality renters will net more returns in the long run. Tip: To place high-quality renters — and help prevent application fraud — use TransUnion ResidentScreening, which identifies qualified residents other scoring models miss, while mitigating risk.

By the way, are you reporting your residents’ rent payments via TransUnion ResidentCredit®? It’s a great way to stand out from the crowd, reward responsible renters and discourage late payments. In fact, a TransUnion survey shows that 7 in 10 renters (73%) would be more likely to make on-time rent payments if property managers reported rent payments to a credit bureau. Furthermore, when given a choice between two similar properties, two-thirds of renters (67%) in the survey said they would choose the rental unit with reporting already in place.

#2. Advertise a bedroom as an office

Three-bedroom apartments are typically more difficult to rent than one- or two-bedroom units. Try generating interest for a vacant three-bedroom apartment by listing it as a two-bedroom, plus an office. The revised listing may appeal to renters searching for a two-bedroom apartment who want the option of a bonus work-from-home space, playroom or fitness area.

#3. Offer a nonstandard lease

When there is less demand for rentals, offering flexible lease terms broadens the applicant pool. For example, a 6-month lease may attract someone relocating to the area for a temporary work assignment, and a longer 16- or 18-month lease might appeal to a family looking for more stability. This approach also helps avoid off-season leasing challenges the next time an apartment is vacant, since leases can be scheduled to end during peak rental season.

#4. Renovate or add amenities

To make a vacant apartment more attractive to prospective renters, consider renovating or adding amenities during the slow months. Prepare to list the apartment in the spring when demand picks up again, at an increased price. If a full renovation is out of budget, adding in-unit amenities like a dishwasher or stackable washer and dryer will also enhance value and appeal.

#5. Tap an industry expert

Industry professionals can help property managers gain a deeper understanding of the current rental market. A thorough competitive analysis and analytical overview of a unit or rental portfolio will make it easier to deliver what renters are looking for at your price points.

TransUnion ResidentVisionSM provides accurate and up-to-date demographic data on your residents to help you make informed decisions when acquiring, building or selling properties or competing for fee management.

#6. Reduce the price

If other strategies to rent a vacant apartment before the onset of winter aren’t working, try lowering the rent by a few hundred dollars a month. If you don’t want to be locked into lower rents, offer instead a one-time incentive, such as 25% off the first month or even a free month of rent. The lower price will appeal to prospective renters who may not have considered the unit previously due to budget constraints. While decreasing the price reduces income in the short term, it can be a more profitable approach than letting a unit sit vacant over the winter months.

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