Preparing your property for the rental market is the essential first step in becoming a landlord who earns rental income. You cannot advertise your house, show the unit to interested people, or place a tenant until the property is ready to be someone’s home.
To attract the right tenants and get your property rented quickly, it has to be move-in ready. Today, we’re sharing some of the things you must be sure to do before you begin to market your rental property to prospective tenants.
Pricing your Home to Rent Quickly
Everyone wants to earn as much rent as possible. But that doesn’t always mean charging the most every month.
To really increase your rental income and your long term ROI, you need to avoid vacancy and get a good tenant into your property quickly. Over-pricing your home will not help. You need to take a close look at the market, and price your home accordingly. Forget what it will take to cover your mortgage payment, expenses, and a little extra cash flow every month. Those things don’t matter when it comes to pricing your property correctly. What really matters is:
- Property condition and size.
- The market and how it’s performing.
Focus on your competition. Look for properties that are similar to yours, and make sure you aren’t pricing your home higher than they are. That will only give your prospective renters a reason to choose a house that isn’t yours.
Overpricing means extending your vacancy. If it takes you a month longer to rent out your home, you’ve lost an entire month’s rent. That’s going to hurt a lot more than reducing your rent by $25 or $50 or even $100 per month. Be smart. Overpricing will also attract the wrong tenants. Only people who are rejected by other landlords will be willing to pay more than the Dallas rental market will bear. Good tenants who pay rent on time and have excellent landlord references will know what they’re willing to pay. They will know your competition, and they will choose their next home wisely.
Take Care of Maintenance and Repairs
Your property isn’t ready for the rental market until everything is safe, functional, and habitable. Everything needs to be in perfect working order. That includes the closet door that sticks and the tubs that need caulk. You have to present a well-maintained home. It helps you in a number of different ways.
First, it preserves the condition and value of your asset. Deteriorating homes are always more expensive when it comes to upkeep. Any deferred maintenance will come back to haunt you.
Second, it shows the tenant that you are serious about the condition of your home, and it tells them what you expect in terms of maintenance during the tenancy. If you allow a tenant to move into a home that needs repairs and replacements, you’re basically telling the tenant that you don’t care much about the property.
Before you rent out your home, make sure all of the appliances work. Check every outlet and light switch. Flush every toilet, turn on every faucet, and open and close all drawers, cabinets, and closets. You want the tenants to move in with a clean slate. Promising that you’ll come back to fix something before a tenant has even unpacked is not the best way to begin your relationship.
Put together a checklist, and go through the property. Once everything on your list is checked off, you know that the maintenance needs have been met and it’s ready to be occupied by a responsible, proactive tenant.
Consider Upgrades and Improvements
It’s hard to pour extra money into your property before you’ve even begun earning any money on it, but investing in some small cosmetic upgrades can really help you earn more. You don’t have to do a complete renovation. Instead, make some small improvements that tenants will notice and appreciate.
For example, if you install new hardware on the drawers and cabinets in the kitchen, you’ll give the whole room a modern, updated look. Instead of replacing worn carpet, consider putting in some hard surfaces such as tile or laminate. New faucets will get attention and so will updated window coverings. A rental property that has something other than those plastic, white mini-blinds will really stand out.
Check the Texas Property Code
Before you can rent your home out to tenants, you need to make sure it’s compliant with the Texas Property Code. For example, all of your exterior doors must have a keyless deadbolt. You also need to re-key your property before new tenants move in. A door viewer, commonly called a peephole, is also required, so your tenants can see who is outside before they open the door.
If you have a sliding patio or balcony door, it needs to have a pin lock and either a locking handle or a security bar. These are not recommended features; these are things you are legally required to do. Make sure they are taken care of before you begin showing your property. Your home is not ready for the rental market without them.
Professional Cleaning for Your Dallas Rental Property
A clean property is absolutely critical. Do not put it on the market if it is still cluttered with your own personal property or with things that belonged to former tenants. It should be empty, fresh, and clean. Hire professionals who will clean every bit of the home. You want the appliances to be pulled out from the walls, ceiling fans to be relieved of their dust, and toilets sparkling like they’ve never been used before.
It’s important not to be stingy when it comes to cleaning. Good tenants will simply be unwilling to move into a property that isn’t totally clean. Would you want to live with someone else’s dirt?
Provide an outstanding home, and you’ll attract an outstanding tenant. Outstanding homes don’t have to be huge, perfect, or even ideally located. But, they do need to be clean. Cleanliness is never negotiable with a rental property. Clean it thoroughly and make sure the tenants understand that you’ll expect to have it returned in an equally clean condition.
Curb Appeal and Landscaping
First impressions are very important, and the way your property looks from the outside will help prospective tenants determine whether they even want to bother checking out the interior.
If you are renting out a single family home or a duplex with a yard, make sure the lawn is mowed and the bushes are trimmed back. Provide an outdoor space that is easy to maintain. Your tenants will not want to spend their weekends pulling weeds and watering lawns.
When you have a pool, you’ll want to ensure it is safe. Hire a professional to maintain it. You can include the cost in the rent, and you’ll be sure that the pool stays safe, pleasant, and pretty.
Take a look at your home from the street. If you see debris, trash, and a general mess, you need to take action immediately. Make sure you give prospective tenants a reason to come inside and look around. Show them that you have pride in your property, and they’ll have pride in it, too.
Marketing your Dallas Rental Property
Once your home is clean, maintained, and compliant with all state, local, and federal laws, you’re ready to put it on the rental market!
Have a clear strategy about how and where you’ll market your home. Many landlords are quick to simply throw an ad up on Craigslist. While that may be a valuable resource when you’re seeking tenants, you want to remember that you’re hoping to attract high quality tenants. Those prospects are going to be on some of the more popular rental sites. They’ll be looking for their next home on Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, or Rentals.com. They might be working with a real estate agent, who has access to the MLS. Make sure your listing shows up in these places, and make sure it stands out with professional photos and clear, descriptive text.
Yard signs are still effective. When you post a professional yard sign that provides general information about the property, when it’s available, and contact information, you might attract someone who happens to be driving or walking through the neighborhood. It will also give neighbors in the area an opportunity to make a referral.
One of the best ways to effectively prepare your property for the rental market is to work with a professional Dallas property management company. Property managers know the Dallas market, and they understand the needs and desires of Dallas tenants. When you partner with a professional, you know you’re getting:
- A smart pricing strategy.
- Professional marketing.
- All legal guidelines will be met.
- Excellent photos that show off your home’s assets.
- Relationships with the real estate network in Dallas.
- Knowledge and experience on what works well and how to rent quickly.
Even if you want to manage your property on your own, it can help to have a professional prepare it for the market and find you a tenant. This is the best way to protect your home and your bottom line.
If you have any questions while you’re getting your own investment property ready for the market, or you’re interested in hearing more about Dallas property management, please contact us at Specialized Property Management.