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When mortgage rates are too low for new home buyers to ignore, the rental market can suffer. But property owners don’t want to prematurely lower rents, given how quickly and unpredictably things can change during a pandemic. It’s a good time to consider creative ways to attract tenants that won’t affect your income in the long run.
Gift cards, free televisions, spinning for prizes on a giant wheel—these options will certainly get attention. However, the challenge is to gain the attention of high-quality renters you’d like to stick around for a while—not less stable candidates impulsively taken in by a gimmick. When you’re strategizing about incentives, remember what might appeal to your ideal tenant.
Since the pandemic’s beginning, renters have experienced dramatic changes in their circumstances, and they’ve come to expect some flexibility from their landlords. Concessions with immediate benefits can draw tenants who are starting to financially recover. A month or more of free rent appeals to candidates who can sign an 18-month lease. According to a recent Zillow study, the average free rent being offered by property managers is about six weeks.
A $450 application fee is a substantial amount for a new renter, but just a drop in the bucket for a landlord who can count on years of steady income with the right tenant. A reduced security deposit is another one-time, good-faith gesture that can really pay off. Offering to help with moving expenses—or getting them a discount with movers you’ve worked with—is thoughtful, timely, and sets a cooperative tone for the lease.
If you’ve learned how valuable virtual tours can be for busy schedules and social distancing, extend that spirit to set apart your property. Offering smart technology; doorbell cameras, keyless entry, or access to online learning can offer tenants a better quality of life. Further, multi-unit buildings that relied on popular community programming haven’t given up yet. They’re hosting virtual workout classes, bingo games, trivia nights, and even wine tastings.
Community workspace, athletic facilities, and social areas are much more limited in the era of social distancing, but they’re still assets to renters. Extra office space is very appealing to remote employees who are unable to find quiet at home. Dividers can make common areas safer; smaller rooms could be reserved for individuals and cleaned between uses.
The most creative ways to attract tenants these days acknowledge our new reality. At this point, free Wi-Fi and Netflix might be prized more than free parking. And you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who can resist a premium subscription to a food delivery service. If you’re a landlord looking for dream tenants, remember that they’re looking for a dream landlord. If you can demonstrate that you’re attuned to their changing needs, quality tenants will follow. In the end, the most appealing feature of your property just might be you.
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