Rental incomes are declining faster than hygiene standards at a public pool on a Saturday, and landlords can’t be fussy. If you still have a mortgage to pay, then every month without a tenant means you’re out a few thousand dollars. Here are some simple things you can do to get a tenant faster:
Work out the right demographic for your property
If you’re skipping the use of a property agent, you’ll have to market the property yourself. That means knowing the kind of tenant most likely to be attracted to your place.
For example, if your property is huge but in a less exciting location, you should be advertising to families and not single expatriates. If your property is close to polytechnics or universities, students may be easier to find as tenants.
This is the kind of the information you’ll want to put in the listing (e.g. IDEAL FOR STUDENTS), in big, noticeable letters. It will also give you some sense of where to put up your rental notices; sometimes the cork board at a polytechnic can get more responses than an expensive classified section ad.
Partially furnish the unit
When going for speed, use partial furnishing. This means going for the bare minimum, nothing beyond tables, chairs, lamps, etc.
If the tenant prefers an unfurnished unit, it’s still possible for them to accept partial furnishings. There’s still enough room for their art collection, train sets, work desks, and so on.
If the tenant prefers fully furnished units, partial furnishings are already halfway there. Most of these tenants don’t care about the matching qualities of your art deco theme; they just want to be able to move in and use the facilities as soon as possible.
In this sense, having a partially furnished unit lets you cater to both sides.
Use your social media
Whether or not you have a property agent, remember to use your Facebook / Twitter / Instagram accounts. A surprising number of leads come from social media sources (ask any property agent), as most friends are willing to share posts about your rental offer. This is the closest you’ll get to free advertising.
One important note: make sure the pictures you use are properly taken. Bad angles can make your place look smaller than it is, and if you leave stuff lying around (i.e. your bags on the sofa couch), it makes the room look messy. Tidy up before you post.
Be pet friendly
Let’s face it, Singapore is about as pet-friendly as a chef at the Yulin dog meat festival. Plenty of animal-detesting landlords would rather not have pets about the house. Well their loss can be your gain.
If you have the right set-up for pets (e.g. unfurnished, or partially furnished with no carpets and tough vinyl flooring), you can tap into the market of tenants who need their pets with them. Remember this general rule: the more tolerant the landlord, the sooner the tenants arrive.
Mind you, this does mean setting up your property to be ready for pets. You don’t need to buy scratching posts and a kennel, just set up the furnishings so they’re a little more resilient. You’ll also want to avoid expensive leather upholstery, and most forms of rugs or carpets.
Be open to having multiple tenants
You may not get a whole family waiting to move in. Sometimes, you’ll need to settle for multiple tenants, who each want a room to themselves.
Now most landlords find this arrangement as comfortable as, say, sitting on a traffic cone for three hours. It’s a pain-in-the-behind is what we’re saying, as you need to collect from multiple tenants. There’s also the possibility of disputes between tenants (most common cause: one idiot turns on the living room air-con for 18 hours, and everyone is saddled with a big power bill).
But this is where a good property agent really earns their keep, because they can handle the drama with minimal effort on your part. Also, if you’re open to the suggestion of multiple tenants, it can mean the difference between a vacancy and having your mortgage paid.
Little details count for a lot
First, see point 1 about knowing the right demographic.
Once you have that down, you can include a whole bunch of small things that are nonetheless relevant to said demographic. For example, for the price of a ping pong table or a video game console, you can raise the prospects of securing many student tenants. If you grant access to a well-stocked whiskey cabinet, that could be a boon to older tenants who appreciate the gesture.
When your property is tied with another for choice, it’s the little details that makes yours come out on top. Just make sure that the costs of these small bonuses are well below the desired rental income.
Start the process early, and explain you’re in the midst of furnishing
You can start looking for tenants even before you’re done furnishing. You just need to be careful to point out that some works are ongoing, and there may be a few hiccups (or get your property agent to explain it).
Tenants will need to be prepared for possible inconveniences at the beginning, like lack of wi-fi for a few days, or the occasional workman coming down to fix things. This many deserve some kind of giveaway or rental discount, but look at this way: it beats the heck out of the cost of vacancy.
You can be a more selective once the first tenants are in
Once you have a year (or at least six months) of the mortgage reduced by rental income, you have to time to save up. On the next round of tenants, you can afford to be a little more selective. But if you’re a new landlord dealing with two mortgages for the first time, don’t neglect to move fast; your property’s a liability for as long as it’s empty.