Many decisions we make in life will be based on our feelings, what our gut says to us. When you meet someone, you may know right away if you like them. We all know that feeling of being rubbed the wrong way. We also know the feeling of hitting it off with someone we just met. That is a fantastic feeling. We can also get those same kind of impressions when we see a property for the first time.
A vacant home is for rent. When a prospective renter walks through that door, they will get a “feeling” immediately. That feeling is their first impression. What will it be? Will they be awed by the freshly painted walls, enjoying the neutral colors throughout and how they contrast with the clean white ceilings? Will they fall in love with the large family room that sports large windows, that let in a ton of sunlight? Do you care what they feel? As a Grand Rapids Property Manager, I do! I want them to be comfortable during that walk through. I’m going to have those blinds open already for them so when they come in, they can see how brightly lit a room is already. I don’t want to explain that I will get something painted. I want this home to be ready at the time of showing. I want my prospective residents only picturing how they will live there, not how something needs to be fixed.
Grand Rapids, MI has seen the lowest vacancy in the country! If you would like to learn more, then click here. Most landlords and property managers in Grand Rapids will tell you that right now is the best time to be a real estate investor! I would agree, because it most certainly is! But I still want to make that best first impression. Quality renters choose quality houses. Let’s talk about some real life situations.
Gorgeous single family home available in an area known for having great schools. The home owners are putting it up for rent for the first time. They need to downsize but they want to hold onto the property for a few reasons. It’s truly a beautiful house. However, there is this tiny problem with the living room carpet. There’s a saucer sized bleach spot in the center of the living room. The home owners explain how they’ve lived with it for years, and just had a table over it. It would cost about $1000 to replace this carpet. The rent is expected to be about $1800/month, and they can’t justify the cost. As their property manager, I need to tell them this is a mistake. I do, but owners don’t always listen. People that are highly qualified renters, with good credit scores, will not pay $1800/month for a home that has a huge stain in the center of the living room floor. They don’t want their furniture arrangement being dictated by a stain. They would prefer a nice, clean home. So here we have it, this sweet home being listed for rent. We show it all week. Everyone asking if the carpet will be replaced. The answer is no. Those prospective residents aren’t having it. They move on to the next rental. Then there are the people who are okay with it. The apply for the home. Their rental history is atrocious and they’ve damaged past properties as shown on their credit and eviction back ground check. We are not accepting an unqualified tenant just because they will accept bad carpet. We are now at a month of vacancy waiting for a good tenant to apply. We’ve lost $1800 already. You don’t need to be a math whiz to know where I’m going with this one. Don’t try to save a money in cases like this. You will lose money. And this owner did. We ended up replacing the carpet. This isn’t an over exaggeration. It happens with appliances, or counter tops. It happens all the time.
First impressions can also happen after move in. Let’s say we have leased out a home. Now we manage it. The first time that tenant calls me for maintenance, they will be closely watching how we deal with their request. This will be their first impression on how we will act as their landlord. Tenant calls in that their heat is acting funny. If this is my tenant, I’m apologizing for the inconvenience. I’m talking to them to make sure that they are using the thermostat properly, maybe it is an easy fix, like a thermostat battery switch out. If not, I’m dispatching an HVAC technician to get there immediately to resolve this issue. My goal is to be empathetic to their needs and to professionally tend to the matter at hand. In the back of my mind, I know that I’m saving my owner money by fixing this tenants heat right away. Last thing I need is a small maintenance issue to ripple into a major issue. Goal here is to let the tenant know that they will be taken care of every time, and right away. I will not patronize them by saying something I hear other Grand Rapids property management companies/landlords say often, “It worked before you moved in.” Please, don’t do that. The tenant doesn’t care that it worked before. It does not work now. I’m going to use this as an opportunity to make my tenant happy. I’m working that lease renewal for next year.
Honestly, these are real life situations. Owners lose money when we show their houses not in the best condition possible. Owners lose money when maintenance is not taken seriously, and not done to the best of our ability. Be a great property manager/landlord be taking care of your tenant’s maintenance needs right away and be prepping their house to have little or no maintenance needs at all when they move in. Don’t leave a bad taste in a renters mouth by not maintaining your property. Don’t let that one bad experience cause a ripple effect that will make them move out right when that lease ends. Maintaining your property is the best way to reduce costs. Maintaining your property gets you the best tenants, and it helps you keep those tenants.
Please contact us at Qwest Property Management if you'd like to talk more about rental maintenance in the greater Grand Rapids area.