Your Rental Property Is Your Business Product
We are considering the five basic elements of property management and in our last post we discussed the property owner. Continuing, the second basic element of property management is the rental property.
We are used to thinking about the steps involved in preparing a home to be sold: making repairs, painting, cleaning, decluttering, staging, assuring curb appeal, etc. It’s all a part of marketing the product well to increase the prospect of making a sale. We want to make sure the house is presented in the best possible light to the prospective buyers so that they make the decision to make it their home.
The same applies to marketing a house to be rented… only more so! Even though the rental house is not being sold, it is nevertheless a product being “sold” to people who may choose to make it their home. But unlike a house sale which is a one-time transaction between a seller and a buyer, a leasing arrangement involves an ongoing relationship between landlord and renter, and that relationship is focused on the product involved: the rental house.
The house must be initially presented in a way to attract a renter, but it must also be prepared and maintained in a manner that assures the ongoing well-being and happiness of the renter and causes them to want to make the “buying” decision again and renew their least year after year.
There are three primary characteristics that must always be present in a rental home so that the product is desirable to renters in the market for a home: the house must be attractive, functional, and safe.
Attractive. Not all homes are beautiful, but every rental house should be presented in its most attractive possible condition. This is achieved through careful selection and coordination of paint colors, flooring materials, light fixtures, faucets, appliances, etc. Any rental offering should be immaculately clean, the grass trimmed, and shrubbery well kept. Even if a prospective renter decides a house is not for him, he should leave his preview saying, “It looks great. The owner has put a lot of work into making it a nice place to live.”
Functional. A vital part of preparing a home to lease is to make sure that all the systems, equipment, fixtures, appliances, etc. work the way they are designed to work and that anything that is broken is repaired. We all hate it, and rightly so, when we buy something only to get it home and discover it doesn’t work as advertised or a part is missing. A renter shouldn’t have “buyer’s regret” after moving into his new home due to the hassle of running toilets, non-functioning light switches, dishwasher latches that won’t latch, etc. Any home will need ongoing maintenance to keep it up, but it shouldn’t need it on day one of the lease.
Safe. An owner is obligated by law, if not by basic decency and compassion, to provide a tenant with a home that is safe and secure. This doesn’t mean the owner guarantees the protection of the renter; no one can do that. But it does mean that the owner makes customary preparations to reasonably provide for the tenants well-being, such as: installing smoke detectors, providing fire extinguishers, using deadbolts on doors, eliminating any infestations of pests, dealing with any known mold or asbestos issues, etc.
The process of preparing the rental product for the marketplace has in view the tenant who will live there. In the next post we will take a closer look at that key player in the rental business.