For property managers, the winter slowdown between the holidays and the end of February can often be a welcome break. However, spring is right around the corner, and that usually comes with a sharp uptick in leasing activity.
With a bit of advanced preparation, you’ll be ready to tackle this season head-on. Here are 5 things for property managers to do in advance of peak leasing season.
How to Prepare for Leasing Season: Step #1
Fix Up Your Properties
If you’re expecting tenant turnover, try to get into the units as soon as possible to start working on deferred maintenance. Most residents understand that the unit will need to be in good condition while you’re conducting rental showings. Repair that broken doorknob or install a more modern bathroom vanity. Consider making cosmetic improvements to the common areas, indoors and out, to increase the appeal of your property. Who knows, maybe your residents will be so pleased with your initiative (and the improvements) that they decide to stay another year after all!
How to Prepare for Leasing Season: Step #2
Train Your Rental Agents
Whether you have new rental agents, or you’ve been working with the same team for decades: Head into peak leasing season by getting your team in ship-shape. Use this downtime to refresh agents on company policies and local, state, and federal laws. You might even do some role-playing with agents so they can learn from one another.
Review last year’s records to see who your top performers were, and acknowledge them as such (maybe you even offer them a small bonus or reward!). Then, ask them to share some of their “secrets to success” with the rest of the team. Sometimes, a little competition can be a good thing as a team heads into peak leasing season—as long as everyone is prepared and feels properly equipped in advance. A carefully crafted training program can help you to do just that.
How to Prepare for Leasing Season: Step #3
Polish Your Listings
It’s common practice: Property managers whose units tend to turn over on an annual basis often use the exact same listing for that unit as the year before (which is the same as the year before, and the year before that!). When was the last time that you sat back and actually reviewed all of your listings?
Use this lull to perfect your rental listings. Include any new amenities you may have added to the building. Take better photos of your units. Be sure that all pertinent information about heat, hot water, parking, laundry, etc. is included in the listing—this will prevent you from having to field unnecessary phone calls. And of course, double-check all spelling and punctuation!
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How to Prepare for Leasing Season: Step #4
Button Up Leases & Contracts
This is a great time to be reevaluating your lease agreements and contracts. Be sure that your agreements contain all necessary language to reflect the terms of the lease for the specific units you’ll be leasing this season. Include details about what is included with the rent. Remember, the standard lease form is just meant to be a guide. If you’re still using a basic lease form, consider working with your real estate attorney to craft something more iron-clad to protect your interests.
Meanwhile, review all of your existing vendor contracts. Are you getting the most competitive rates for the quality of service you’re getting? How do you know if you aren’t evaluating their performance against the contract, and against local competitors, at least on an annual basis? Now is the time to do so, if you haven’t already. Once peak leasing season hits, you’ll be juggling so many balls that this could easily fall off of your radar.
How to Prepare for Leasing Season: Step #5
Invest in New Technology
Real estate technology is evolving at rapid speed—both hardware and software. For instance, there are some really sophisticated smart locks out there on the market nowadays that can be used by property managers interested in using “self-showings” to lease vacant units faster.
There are all sorts of real estate and property management software applications out there nowadays, too. Do your research on the latest and greatest to be sure that you’re using the best technology for your business. If not, invest in new tools that will help you get through peak leasing season with ease. Now is a good time to get up to speed on how these technologies work. This way, you can work out any of the kinks with your team before you hit the field this spring.
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What are some of your must-take actions to prep for peak leasing season? Share your advice in the comments section below!
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