The Good Guide to Great Renters
Author: Austin Lansing
Given the way things are going with the US housing market, renting is going to be the most viable housing option for many. If you own an investment property that you want to hold onto to, you may be looking for tenants. And, of course, you're not looking for just any tenants. Any and every landlord wants to find the best tenants possible. The good news is that to be the best there are only a few requirements a tenant needs to fulfill. I would say every landlord is looking for renters who are reliable, who will fulfill the terms of their rental agreement, pay on time, are not disruptive to the neighborhood and take good care of the house. Anything beyond these factors is icing on an already perfectly sweet and satisfying cake.
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So, these requirements, they don't seem so outrageous, and they're not. But, you'd be surprised to find that it's not always to easy to decide on who will be most likely to fulfill these requirements, and on a regular month to month basis. Here are some tips to help you along with your hunt for the perfect tenant/s.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR HOUSE AND OTHERS WILL AS WELL:
Consider that before you advertise you may want to invest in some repairs and updates to your property. If you want to attract renters who'll respect your place and treat it with care, as if it were they're own, then you need to present it in a well kept, well-loved state. Likewise, you are going to want to know what is in need of repair, and what has recently been repaired before anyone moves in. This aspect is also about competition. Really, you want your rental property to shine in comparison to other properties that prospective tenants are considering. If your tenants think they're getting a great deal, on a great home, they'll stay.
BE A DILIGENT SCOUT:
First of all, you want to source out a good pool of folks to choose from. This means some grunt work on your side and some creative approaches to marketing your property. Think about it like a real estate sale. Your marketing and staging should appeal to whatever niche you think your particular property will draw. If it is a real family home in a great family neighborhood, advertise in and around the area, at shops and stores and businesses. There might be a local family orientated magazine or paper. If so, make sure to put in an add there. Obviously, have a sign on your front lawn for those driving through the neighborhood. If you're advertising on a website and can place some images, definitely do so. Make sure the images are appealing, of high quality and really show off your home and the assets you are marketing. Slip "for rent" signs in other rental building in surrounding areas. You might consider offering a bonus to listing agents, friends or neighbors for successful referrals. Think outside of the box to find as many legitimate spots to advertise your rental property, and in such a way that you feel you'll draw the crowd you are aiming to rent to.
HOLD AN OPEN HOUSE:
Hold an open house on a weekend. This is a great way to just focus in on your search. You'll have a chance to see people coming through the home and reacting to it. ( you might get some ideas on what you could do to improve its marketability if you listen in on some hush-hush conversations!) Likewise, open houses for renters, as with real estate open houses can create a bit of pressure on people- such that, if they are interested, they'll most likely sit down and fill out an application right then and there. Your are adding a healthy dose of competition into the mix. This is also a good way to reign in a captive audience in a more condensed time period. You can then focus on the applications you have and narrow down the options. So, during your open house, have a table set up with pens and applications ready.
APPLICATIONS: COVER THE BASICS
Make sure that on your initial applications you request at least the past five years of the applicants work experience/history. You want to get an idea as to what they've been up to, where they've been living, how long they seem to stay at each job, what line of work they're into and how stable that work force is. Check in on personal and professional references. Three of each should be a minimum, and I would highly recommend actually following up with a phone call or e-mail to check in on them. You'll find out a lot from others.
You application should also request information on their current/ongoing expenses. Do they have monthly car payments? Other loan payments? You'll need to assess whether or not they can truly and comfortably afford your rental property. An ideal tenant will be able to afford rent, and have room to spare for any emergencies that may arise. After all, in most cases you're looking for someone who has the stability to stay on for the full term of your contract and beyond.]
You application should inquire about where they are moving from and why they left. Obtain information/contact from their last landlord and follow up with a phone call.
When reviewing applications, know that an incomplete application can be a bad sign. Unless they've indicated that they'll get back to you asap with the particular information, well, it's best to look to those who've followed instructions and given you the information you need to move forward with the selection process. An incomplete application, can be a tell tale sign of unreliability.
MAKE THE PHONE CALLS:
In your conversations with the referees from prospective tenants, the kinds of questions you might ask are:"Are they reliable?", "Do they regularly show up on time at work?", "As a landlord, were you sad to see them go?" Remember you can't really ask personal questions, nor can referees say straight out that someone is a bad tenant, employee or person. But if you ask some indirect, albeit pertinent questions, you'll most certainly find the information you need to make an informed decision.
THE RENTAL AGREEMENT: ARRIVE ON THE SAME PAGE
When you do decide on a tenant/s, try to schedule a time to go through the rental agreement with them. Clarify areas where there may be some confusion and be specific with expectations, on both ends.
Now, although this may seem like a lot to consider, it's better to spend the time up front to find solid tenants rather than deal with the numerous issues, and legal problems that can arise with tenants who do not fit the bill.
Austin Lansing is the Manager of Operations at High Country Realty, an agency that specializes in Blue Ridge real estate. Explore Ellijay real estate listings to view beautiful properties in Gilmer County and around the North Georgia area.
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