There are about 11 million rental property owners in the United States.
In a country of over 350 million, you certainly belong to an exclusive group of people. Being a landlord comes along with multiple perks, but it’s not without its challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of unforeseen events that can affect the residential property market.
If you’re suddenly staring at a vacant property, you’re not alone. Millions of people in the U.S. have been stripped of the ability to pay rent because of the coronavirus. Some have had to move to cheaper housing. Or perhaps you had just completed building your units, then the virus struck, effectively ensuring no one moved into the property.
Just what do you do with a vacant rental house?
Read on to learn your options.
Try to Rent It Out
Of course, your property is for rental purposes, so the first thing you should do is to try and rent it out.
Obviously, if you’re wondering what to do with an empty property, it’s likely been vacant for several months. You’re almost giving up on finding a tenant, right?
Well, that’s understandable, but there are steps you can take to ensure it finds a tenant. The first big step is to lower the rent. If it’s a two-bedroom with a $2,000 a month rental tag, consider slashing off a substantial amount, like $500.
There’s a good chance most prospective renters are avoiding the property because of the high rent. Sure, lowering the rent will have a big impact on your short-term return on investment, but of what value is having a property that isn’t bringing in any income?
What’s more, you could actually be spending more money on it. Even if it’s empty, utility service providers still expect you to pay up.
Lowering the rent alone might not be enough. If you haven’t invested in marketing, now is the time to invest in an aggressive marketing campaign. Leverage the power of digital marketing to expose the unit to a wide target market.
Another option is to offer creative discounts. For example, although the coronavirus is still ravaging the economy, things are getting better. How about offering a tenant two free months of stay after which they can start paying rent on the third month?
Hire a Property Management Company
As a landlord, there’s only so much you can do to ensure a vacant property gets a tenant. After all, you’re an investor. What you do best is putting up or acquiring rental units.
This is why you need to hire a property management company in your area. Of course, it might not make financial sense to pay service fees to a management company when your property is vacant. However, this is a risk you need to take.
Established property management companies typically have a database of good tenants looking for places in certain locations. Don’t be surprised if your unit finds a tenant soon after you hand over its management to a property manager.
Convert It Into a Vacation Rental
What do you do to a car you don’t use? Why not hire a driver and put it on a ride-hailing platform like Uber or Lyft?
You can apply the same logic when thinking about what to do with vacant property. These days, there are vacation rental platforms such as Airbnb that allow property owners to convert their units into vacation rentals.
Sure, right now isn’t the best time to embrace this business model since the coronavirus has effectively caused people to do away with their vacation plans. However, as vaccines hit the shelves and more people start to get outdoors, vacations will soon become the order of the day.
This option might also not be a savvy idea because you have to furnish the unit so that it meets the standards of a vacation rental. However, at a time when your options are limited, you might have little choice.
It’s possible that your rental property is vacant because it’s in a poor condition. Perhaps the floor is worn out, or the ceiling is leaking. Or maybe the plumbing is dead.
Whatever the cause of the bad state of your property, nobody is going to rent it that way. And if someone does, you’ll only be exposing yourself to legal liabilities because landlords have a duty to provide a safe and healthy house to tenants.
As such, it’s time to renovate it and possibly touch it up so it looks attractive to potential tenants.
Sell the Vacant House
Maybe selling the property is your best move.
A lot depends on why the property is vacant in the first place. For example, if it’s vacant because of the coronavirus, selling it shouldn’t be your first option. The rental property market has taken a big hit, which means values have gone down. Selling right now might mean losing money on the deal.
However, if it’s vacant because you didn’t get the location quite right, selling it might be a better option. There are real estate investors who will buy it and convert it into something else.
Either way, it’s important to know what it takes to sell a vacant house the right way.
Know What to Do with Vacant Property
As a landlord, a vacant property is one of the things that will keep you awake at night. If you’re facing this situation right now, it’s important to know your options. With this guide, you now know what you can do to the property.
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