Why is it still vacant?

We face this a lot. We market every property the same way, but some rent right away while others stay on the market for a long time. When a property stays vacant for a while, I get owners calling me asking me why we don’t have their property rented as if we’re not doing our job. I let them know that we’ve been showing their property to those who inquire about it, and for people that call wanting to know what we have available, we tell them about all of our vacancies. Sometimes I think that they want us to force tenants to rent the place.

If your property isn’t getting rented, here are three things that could be keeping it vacant.

The condition of the property

I often tell people that if you want top dollar then you have to offer top quality. And it’s usually the little things that kill you. Do all the light bulbs work? Has the place been swept or vacuumed lately? Are the batteries in the smoke detectors working or is the smoke detector constantly chirping? You may think these are minor, but people do notice. I had a property that had a hole in the wall where the refrigerator goes. The owner didn’t want to spend the money to fix it because it would be hidden when the tenant put their refrigerator in. Because of that and a few other things they wouldn’t do, it stayed vacant.

Is the rent you’re asking fair market value?

If you are asking for more in rent than other like properties, you’ll be waiting for a while. You may have a nicer property than all those other places, and though some people are willing to pay extra, not everybody will. That means you’ve narrowed the market. Rent should be set at what the market will bring. I’ve had people upset with me because the rent I suggest isn’t what they’d like. They tell me “I need to have…” Unfortunately, the market dictates the rent, not your needs.

Is the property functional?

There’s a term used in real estate called “functional obsolesce”. What this means is, does the property meet today’s expectations? For example, many older homes have small closets. For some reason, 75 to 100 years ago people didn’t need the closet space we do. So a home with four foot wide closets is functionally obsolete. Can you rent a functionally obsolete home, yes, but don’t expect the same rent as a house with walk in closets. We recently had a house where the owner spent a lot of money remodeling the kitchen. The kitchen was beautiful. Not too extravagant but a lot nicer than you would expect for that house. The problem with the house was that the only bathroom was in one of the bedrooms. Not functionally obsolete, just plain not functional.

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