Here in the St. Louis and St. Charles, Missouri area, our rental market tends to slow down in the colder months. Tenants 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.
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 your St. Charles rental property sits 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 Keep the home squeaky clean, and make sure it’s cosmetically up to par (fresh paint, not too outdated, etc).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 by doing some light staging.
4. Market right the first time.
Make sure the rental 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 St. Louis 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 rental 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 the end of March or April 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.
Another strategy we’ve had a lot of luck with recently is listing the rental property at a reduced price for an 18 month lease, but offering it a 12 month lease for $xx more. This helps to still engage those renters that only want a one year lease, but nets you a higher amount so you can put some of that back for a time of vacancy the next time. And, there’s always a really good chance that your tenant ends up extending their lease as well!
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