Property management is a demanding career. In addition to managing a full staff and meeting the needs of all your individual residents, you have the added pressure of maintenance issues, business goals, and the most important aspect of your job – keeping your properties occupied. Every property manager will tell you that the months of May through September are especially demanding as these are the peak moving seasons for most renters. With September finally upon us, you might feel like you can finally sit back and take a little bit of a breather since you’ve made it through yet another peak season. While it is nice to get a slight break from the insanity, this is also the perfect time to look at the units you still have available and come up with new ways to market them and achieve your ultimate goal – getting them occupied.
Most people prefer to move in the spring or summer. The weather is nice and usually not unpredictable. Kids are out of school, and college students on break are either moving back home or looking to move somewhere else after graduation. What does this mean for you? Business! During this peak season, you will have a significant amount of turnover in your rental units compared to the rest of the year. This means more selection for prospective tenants, which, in turn, means a higher number of people are likely to view and tour your properties. While it seems counterintuitive that a higher number of available units can actually be good for business, here is where it gives you the advantage. Prospective tenants want to get settled before the start of a new school year or the beginning of a new job and before the weather starts getting cold and snowy. Therefore, they’re more likely to sign a lease during these months. Additionally, the potential renters realize that the unit they want might move quickly and they don’t want to miss an opportunity.
However, after these booming business months of the spring and summer, many property managers find themselves struggling to drum up additional business in the cold and slow months of the impending autumn and winter. Don’t worry, all hope isn’t lost. While it is true that the fall and winter are considered the off-season in this field we see it as the perfect time to market yourself to a new demographic of prospective tenants who might have waited a little too long to make a decision and lost the property they had their sights on.
First, recognize that your goal is to get empty units occupied. The units that are still available after the peak season are probably your least desirable properties for one reason or another. Less square footage, boxy floor plans, not enough closet or storage space, etc. Knowing this, you need to determine your bottom line. What incentives can you offer that will entice a potential resident to sign a lease? People who move in the fall and winter know that their options will be more limited than if they’d moved during the spring or summer. They have likely narrowed down their list of desirable qualities in a rental to the essentials that they can’t live without. What does this mean for you as a property manager? It means that the prospective tenants who view and tour your property probably aren’t going to fall in love with the units you have left at first glance. However, with enough incentives, they might still sign a lease.
Most property managers report about a 5% difference between the rates of units that are leased in peak- season compared to those leased during the off-season. So be willing to negotiate with prospective tenants. Determine your bottom line number and go from there. You’ll likely be able to offer better lease terms, waived fees, or lower rent. Be flexible with the prospective tenant as well. If they need a quick move in date, move up the normal timeline. If they’re willing to do some of the maintenance themselves such as painting and cleaning why not consider reducing the rent. Also, don’t forget to keep contact information for people who have toured your properties previously. Often, during the off-season, you will have tenants who break their lease or leave a unit suddenly. If a more desirable unit opens up in the off-season contact people who were interested in it previously and offer them move in incentives.
Although the off-season is a time year most property managers dread because of slow business, it doesn’t have to be. This is the perfect time for you to evaluate your business plan, increase your marketing efforts and create a focus on building solid relationships with your current residents and the community.