Presenting Your Property For Lease
Why is it important that your property be well presented online?
Rental markets, like sale markets, fluctuate depending on the economy and the usual supply and demand issues.
Irrespective of market conditions though, the aim of online promotion is to bring the right people to your property in anticipation of securing the right tenant. In a soft market where there are more properties than people looking to rent them, this becomes all the more important.
So how do we attract more of the right applicants?
Ensure the property, when photographed, presents as well as it can. Photos used do not necessarily have to be current but they must not mislead. Often a tenanted property will not have quality furniture and may be messy so in these situations, it might be best to use earlier pictures which show it in a better light. Generally, 5 or so photographs of the various areas of interest will suffice.
Should a property be empty but look uninspiring in pictures, then most professional photographers will be able to virtually style the property online so that it looks better, rather than just showing a number of empty rooms. Remember that the online promotion is what will draw people to the property, once they are there the property should sell itself.
Copy is important. We try to steer away from the usual clichés, concentrating on position, proximity to infrastructure and the internal qualities and characteristics of the property.
Finally, be open to ad hoc inspections if the tenant is amenable, this is easier with vacant properties of course. Many people work odd hours or shift so being accommodating with regards to opens is very beneficial.
What’s the best way to present the property internally?
With tenanted properties one is reliant on the tenant both providing access at appropriate times and ensuring the property presents well on the open days. It is good to have the discussion regarding expectations on vacating both at the beginning of the lease so there are no grey areas and again in writing on receiving the vacate notice from the tenant.
Generally, if a tenant has had a good experience both with the property and as importantly with the property manager, then he or she will be happy to co-operate to ensure access is granted and the property is well-presented.
With vacant properties, it is strongly recommended that any remedial work be carried out at this time. Replace washers, clean or re-paint walls, ensure carpet is steam cleaned, smoke alarms are working and ensure the property is clean and any cockroaches etc. gotten rid of. Remember that pests usually present once somebody has moved out as they live behind items of furniture or stoves and fridges in kitchens and you don’t want to see them when the property is being promoted for rent!
In the case of houses, ensure that gardens are well presented. No tenant will ever look after a garden as well as you do but to present it well while promoting the property will ensure the intended tenant is aware of their responsibility regarding garden maintenance.
Remember too to ensure flow inhibitors are installed on all taps in houses being offered for rent. This will allow you to charge water usage to the tenant which is not possible if these have not been added. Generally, with apartments, the water usage cannot be charged unless it is itemised on the water bill for the apartment, and then if so the same flow restrictors need to be in place. With houses, the usage is usually shown as a separate charge on the bill.
Opening for inspection
It is important that the agent gets to the property early. If tenanted it is usually best that the tenant is not present during the open ( although you cannot stop this ) but arriving early will give the agent the opportunity to open windows and blinds, clear any smells, and sometimes do a little de-cluttering of the tenant’s goods if it makes the place look better. If rooms are dark it is recommended to turn lights on. The agent should ask for names and numbers of attendees and contact them all on the following working day to see what they thought of the place and if they have any intention of applying etc.
In some cases, it might be ideal to get a property cleaned if still tenanted and not well presented. The landlord will pay for this but at least they will rest assured that the property is in good order when being shown.
Remember, the better the presentation, generally the better the quality of the applicant!
A story of success
A success story is an owner who had a property to promote at $2,500 per week in Woollahra and who took the property manager’s advice to get the floors re-sanded prior to promoting to ensure the property looked spectacular. They did this and during a weak leasing period had 6 applications, all at the requested rent and the property leased within 14 days.
And then one of horror
A not so successful story is the Paddington property which took over 3 months to lease and then did so at a much-reduced rent due to the owner’s unwillingness to undertake even minor repairs prior to any tenancy being accepted. Leaking taps, bulbs lacking in lights, walls needing repainting and a 50 litre water tank in a 3 bedroom house does not encourage applicants and those who may apply will generally not be looking to maintain the property as they can see that the owners don’t seem to care, so they will usually act the same way.
- The better the presentation, the better the applicant.
- It's easier to undertake repairs with an empty property than it is with a tenanted one.
- If nobody applies in the first two weeks, then amend the rent to be more attuned with the market.
- Pets are becoming more and more common. It is good generally to accept pets, in the case of apartments they will be subject to Strata approval anyway. Property managers have a number of approved clauses which can be added to the Special Conditions of the lease to protect owners from damage and to ensure that the animal does not become a nuisance to others.
- Ensure all issues of relevance are discussed with an intended tenant before they sign the lease. An enfranchised tenant feels empowered and will generally be reasonable and co-operative if treated with respect.