What to Do Before Showing a Vacancy: Getting Your Property Ready

Getting your rental property ready to show to prospective tenants after a vacancy is about two basic things - presentation and protection. If you focus your efforts in these two areas, they will work together to make sure that you get the best overall result for your investment by attracting the quality tenants and ensuring the shortest amount of time the property is unoccupied.

PRESENTATION: You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression – Getting Your Rental Property Rent Ready

Happy tenants pay their rent on time and tend to stay longer, which is exactly what any property owner aims for. Developing happy tenants starts with a great first impression and is followed by a “no surprises” move-in experience, so it is important for the property to be 99% rent ready from the first showing. By putting in a bit of extra work on the front end to ensure your property presents well, it’s more likely that you’ll attract and retain quality tenants and reduce the amount of time that the property is vacant and failing to generate revenue for you.

Making your property rent ready involves three basic steps:

  • Clean: Your property should be “hotel” clean.

Pristine cleanliness is not just a basic requirement – it is also an advantage in a competitive rental market. It may seem obvious, but since it is the biggest part of a first impression, you will not want to skimp on this step. Bathrooms, countertops, and appliances should gleam. Windows and mirrors should be free of streaks. Paint should look fresh and millwork should be free of smudges and fingerprints. Floors and surfaces should be dust free. And the yard should look neat and tidy with newly cut grass, pruned shrubs, free of leaves and debris.

Hiring a professional cleaner to deep clean surfaces, carpets, bathrooms, and kitchens is a good idea. If your property looks clean and well-cared for, prospective renters will feel confident that they are in good hands, which makes this among the easiest and most affordable ways to attract great tenants.

  • Repair: Everything should be in good working order.

Everything should be functioning as intended. This includes all obvious functional elements like kitchen appliances, plumbing and electrical, heating and air conditioning, but it also includes less obvious things like blinds, lights, and locks on windows and doors. Anything that is not working needs to be repaired or replaced before showing. Very few things cause more preventable headaches for both property owners and tenants than the irksome annoyance of a faulty appliance, a broken blind, or a plumbing problem. As an added incentive it’s more cost effective to fix things upfront and at once, rather than having a series of repair requests trickle in over the first several weeks as issues arise requiring multiple trips by vendors to the property. Making sure that everything is functioning properly means a happy, “no surprises” experience for tenants.

  • Improve: Cosmetic changes can have a big impact on first impressions.

As you inspect your property between tenants, you may notice that there are some minor improvements that could have a dramatic impact on how desirable your property is to potential renters. A new coat of paint, fresh carpeting, up-to-date fixtures or appliances can contribute to the overall impression of quality, which is directly proportional to the quality of tenant you’re likely to attract.

It’s also important to make these types of changes before showing to potential tenants for a couple of reasons. First, people have a hard time imagining what’s not there and can be suspicious of promises that something will be done at some point in the future, so it’s always best to show the property as “what they see is what they get.” Second, it avoids the major inconvenience and hassle for both owner and tenant of having to replace a carpet, install a new appliance, or repaint a room after they’ve already moved in.

One of the benefits of hiring a property management specialist like Your Intown Home is that we handle all the tedious details of inspecting the property between tenants, applying our practiced eye to identify anything that may not be meet these standards and ensuring that anything amiss is remedied in a timely, expert, and cost-effective manner. Our experience allows us to advise you on any potential improvements so that you don’t over or under invest given current rental market conditions.

PROTECTION: Safety First – Rekeying Your Rental Property

Once a vacancy occurs, the first thing you’ll need to do is to rekey the property. This means having a locksmith changeout the keys used on all the home’s exterior locks. While tenants are required to return all keys received upon lease signing, there is no guarantee that they have not made and kept duplicate keys or may have lent duplicate keys to a friend, neighbor, or family member. If a previous tenant does gain access to your property after a new tenant has moved in, you could be held liable for any resulting liability issues. Rekeying protects your investment, your peace of mind, and your tenants’ security.

Having to arrange to be at the property when the locksmith arrives to rekey can certainly be an inconvenience. At Your Intown Home, this is one of the many tasks we handle for you in between tenants so there is one less thing for you to have to plan or worry about. 

In the end it’s important to remember that the details do matter. As the foundation of a great tenant experience, they in turn can deliver a long-term and rewarding relationship for the property owner.