Apartment vacancy is high in Los Angeles right now as a result of the effects of Covid-19. As a result many landlords are left with vacant units that are collecting dust due to current residents moving out for various reasons which include things like exiting Los Angeles entirely, consolidating from say a 2BR unit to a 1BR unit to save money or even moving back in with their parents.
18 months ago if you had a vacancy in a prime area, you might only have had to put out a ‘For Rent’ sign and you would have applications in within a few days. Times have changed during the global pandemic and in order to lease your vacancy, you may have to do some things that you otherwise would not have had to do.
Here are a few tips for leasing your vacant apartment unit during a period of high vacancy such as this one:
Freshen Up Your Unit – Keep in mind that you are competing with nicer buildings who also have vacancies and whose rents are likely falling as a result. Your product has to look good. I’m not saying that you need to fully renovate your vacancy but there are various low cost improvements you can make to make it look a little bit fresher such as painting the unit, putting in new blinds, reglazing the bathtub and changing out old light fixtures, kitchen and/or bathroom fixtures. These minor improvements can make a difference in terms of attracting prospects.
Take Good Photos – I can’t tell you how sad it is to search apartments.com to find tired looking units with even worse photos. The first thing the average millennial renter will do when searching for an apartment is go online and search listings. If your unit does not show well on screen, you will likely not get inquiries. You do not have to hire a professional photographer for every vacancy. The new iphones have excellent wide-angle lenses which will do just fine in terms of capturing what you need to capture.
Utilize All Online Listing Platforms Available to You – Although putting up a For-Rent sign may have been your only source of leads in the past, if you are not using online listing sites like apartments.com, Zillow, or even Craigslist, you will not get the volume of inquiries you are looking for.
Answer The Phone and Respond to Inquiries Promptly – This should go without saying but I speak to many rental prospects on the phone who are so happy to get a warm body who actually answers the call and responds to their inquiries quickly. A lot of times with renters, the first person they can get on the phone is the first place they will tour and often times the place they will lease. You should create a template response that goes out to all text and email leads which you can just copy and paste to each prospect without having to write a new one every time!
Be Realistic With Pricing and Even Offer a Concession – Let’s face it, with high vacancy comes the flattening and even decline of apartment rental rates. In some major metropolitan areas, some large apartment landlords are reporting rents being down as much as 20%. Price your unit accordingly and if you are offering say a one month concession, try to negotiate a 13-month lease.