September 1st has come and gone. Boston’s prime rental season is over and the number of renters out there has decreased sharply. However, all is not lost. Here are 10 tips to help get that apartment leased:
1. Make Necessary Repairs. If something is clearly broken (e.g. cracked windows, doors that do not close, etc.), many prospective renters will see that as a red flag.
2. Deep Cleaning. Has the apartment been cleaned since the last tenant moved out? Prospective tenants this time of year generally have more options and are more likely to scrutinize unclean apartments. If the apartment windows have not been cleaned (inside and out), that is a must-do to help maximize the natural light.
3. Freshen Up the Paint and Floors. Without furniture, scuff marks become focal points. Not only will a fresh coat of paint help the apartment show better, but now is the best time to get that done since there are no tenants to work around. The same is true with the floors – refinishing hardwood floors and replacing carpet (with new carpet or hardwood flooring) can make a world of difference.
4. Improve Curb Appeal. Depending on the type of rental that you own, there may be limits to what you can do to improve the curb appeal. However, for prospective renters, their evaluation of your apartment begins even before they step into the unit. Put yourself in their shoes and walk-up to the building – how does the landscaping look, is the mail in boxes or scattered in the foyer, are the common areas clean, are the hallway lights working?
5. Take New Pictures. Nearly all renters’ searches begin online, so pictures will make the first impression. If you have been using the same pictures, take new pictures to give a fresh look.
6. Consider Going Pet-Friendly. For renters with pets, they will ONLY look at pet-friendly apartments. If you have been advertising your apartment as not accepting pets, then there is a new audience of tenants that you could reach. However, careful consideration needs to be given here – for instance, some condo associations prohibit pets.
7. Change the Lease End Date. Consider entering a lease until June 1st, rather than doing a lease until September 1st. September 1st has tended to be the biggest turnover date in Boston, but June 1st is a popular lease turnover date too. Additionally, if you miss a tenant for June 1, then you still have several months of “prime” rental season to work with.
8. Maximize Your Listing Exposure. Working with a real estate broker can help maximize your exposure. For instance, here at Cabot & Company we utilize a number of listing and advertising platforms in order to reach tenants. Not only does the tenant typically pay the brokerage fee, but we provide a credit check and manage the lease signing and collection of upfront payments.
9. Offer Incentives. Agreeing to pay all or half of the broker’s fee can help alleviate a renter’s upfront moving costs. If the renter needs to come up with the first month’s rent, last month’s rent, month security deposit and a broker fee, that can work out to a sizable amount. Foregoing the requirement for the last month’s rent and/or accepting a lower security deposit can also help.
10. Consider a Rent Reduction. This is the last tip, but probably the most important. If you have already tried some/all of the tips above, then the market is saying that you are asking too much. It is also important to consider the impact of missing an additional month’s rent as opposed to reducing your asking rent – generally, you find that the numbers work out that you are better off agreeing to a lower rent for a sooner move-in date than missing out on a few months of rent while chasing a higher rent.