Here in the St. Louis area, our rental market tends to slow down in the colder months. People don’t want to move during cold or inclement weather, and they also don’t want to uproot their kiddos in the middle of the school year.  As a landlord, it’s important to keep this in mind when you’re looking at the timing for getting your rental property leased.

Before I get into some tips on getting your rental leased more quickly in these slower months, let’s first take a look at a few quick numbers from this past year, 2020.

Looking back on the last 12 months, as expected December 2019 through February 2020 had the least amount of homes rented.  June and July have the highest number of rental homes leased.  This information is all obtained from our local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which of course does not reflect properties that weren’t listed on our MLS.

January 2020 had the least amount of inventory (179), and July 2020 shows the most homes leased (260).  January’s average days on market was 43, while July’s was only 30.  So that’s a 45% difference in the number of homes leased in the best month vs the slowest month, and a 43% difference in average days on market.

The numbers don’t lie.  Renting in the summer time is much better than renting in winter.

But, if you’re stuck renting in the slower time of year, there are some things a landlord can do to help move your rental property more quickly.

1.  Price it below the competition.  By offering a larger discount than your competition, you’re placing your rental property to move more quickly.  Each day the property is vacant is costing you money, so it makes sense to price it a little lower than you would if it were summer time to get a tenant in more quickly.  Taking $50-100 off the monthly rent and getting a renter in 30 days sooner will definitely save you more money over a year’s time.

2.  Allow pets.  More than half of tenants in the St. Louis and St. Charles area have pets.  Our properties lease over 2 times faster if the owner allows pets.  By not allowing pets in the winter months, you are narrowing down an already small tenant pool.  Contrary to popular belief, pets don’t create that much damage on average, and typically it’s minimal enough that the security deposit would cover it anyway.

3.  Make sure your rental property is in tip top shape.  You aren’t going to have as much interest in the slower months, and you definitely aren’t going to have as many showings.  So, make the showings you do get, count!  Keep the home squeaky clean, and make sure it’s cosmetically up to par (fresh paint, not too outdated, etc).  You may even want to take the opportunity to spruce things up a bit.

4.  Market right the first time.  Make sure the house is 100% ready before it hits the market.  Ensure that the photos are professional and showcase the property to its best potential.  If you’re going to allow pets, allow them from the beginning, not just adjusting your ad after a few weeks of no interest.  You get one time to shine bright and new on the market – make it count!

5.  Market on the MLS. And while we’re talking about marketing, make sure that you are getting full exposure with your ad.  Consider listing with a REALTOR or property manager (like me, of course!) that lists on the MLS, so that you have that exposure to 5,000+ other real estate agents. Over one third of our listings are rented via the MLS.

So now that you have some landlord tips on getting your rental property leased more quickly in the fall and winter time, here’s the best piece of advice I can give to you – Get your property on a better cycle! Make sure your property management company is working to get your property on a better cycle!  It’s so important to do what you can not to have a vacancy in the slower months.

Market yourself out of this cycle by offering a minimum lease term that puts you in a better time to rent next go around.  Don’t do a one year lease November – February.  Have your lease set up to be 15-18 months, so that it expires in a more ideal time of the year.  I always have the rental properties I manage expire at the earliest March 31 of the following year.  This puts the landlord in spring for having their property rented, and sets up a good cycle for years to come.  And guess what – tenants don’t want to move in the winter anyway, so you shouldn’t expect much pushback on the longer term lease.

I hope this all helps.  As always, if you’re looking for leasing and property management services in West St. Louis County or St. Charles County, we would love to help. And we’re always here to answer any questions you have.  Reach out at any time.