Leasing is a crucial part of owning a rental property. Whether you’re new to the world of real estate investing, or you own the keys to 1,000 units, the idea may seem daunting. Oftentimes, investment property owners take on this task themselves, especially while their portfolio is small. As that portfolio grows, it can be beneficial to depend on someone else to complete leasing duties. A professional covers five essential aspects of leasing: make-ready inspections, marketing, screening prospective tenants, research, and tenant relations.
Before a rental unit hits the market, the leasing agent will complete a make-ready inspection. During that inspection, the leasing agent carefully examines the unit documenting the condition of the property prior to a tenant move-in with thorough photos and diligent descriptions. This allows for any last minute cosmetic and maintenance needs to be reported and addressed. The process makes for seamless move-ins and happy tenants!
A leasing agent is responsible for marketing a vacant, or soon to be vacant, rental unit. They are responsible for taking clear and attractive photos of the property. Oftentimes, new listings require fresh photos especially if renovations have been made. They are also tasked with writing a concise, appealing description of the property including details on utilities, pets, parking, laundry, and more. These details will help renters determine if your property is a fit for them while simply viewing the listing on a phone screen. While communication is always required, getting their questions answered before the first point of contact will prevent misunderstandings about what is being offered to them. In addition, they carefully research the market rent rate. While the property owner will be the deciding factor, helping you understand what the local comps are may give you an idea of where to start. The leasing agent makes sure your listing reaches multiple platforms including Facebook, Apartment List, Trulia, Zillow, and more to ensure that it reaches as many renters as possible. Finally, they are responsible for setting up and participating in showings whether they are self showings, in-person showings, or virtual showings.
Screening Prospective Tenants
Placing the right tenant in your unit is critical to the cosmetic appearance and structural integrity of your property and of course, to making sure you get paid; you have bills, too! The leasing agent accounts for a prospective tenant’s credit score, rental history, income, and criminal background. Each of these alone typically will not be a telltale sign of whether the renter will be “good” or “bad,” which is why it’s important to assess all factors as a whole. Ultimately, you need a tenant who will take care of your unit as if it’s their own and who will pay their rent and associated charges each month.
It’s not uncommon to purchase a property from someone who has tenants on a verbal lease or who may have left out pertinent information in a written lease. Leasing agents are tasked with gathering this information both for new leases and for lease renewals. If not mentioned in the previous lease, the leasing agent may need to research information on utilities, security deposits, square footage, parking, insurance, pets, tenant information, and more. To determine whether utilities are metered together or separately, the leasing agent will call the utility companies. Of course, if each unit has separate meters for utilities, it must be explicitly stated in the lease that the tenant will pay for them. If the unit has any shared meters with another unit, the leasing agent will help to determine whether the landlord should pay those bills or the tenant will pay for them via R.U.B.S. Additionally, it’s important for correct details about the security deposit to be listed on the next lease to prevent disputes about it at the time of the tenant’s move out. For recently purchased properties, this information will be listed on your closing statement. Other information
pertaining to the tenant or the unit can be found by inspecting the unit, asking the tenant, or asking the property owner. Of course, the landlord should be asked to verify any collected information; however, the leasing agent will do the leg-work for you.
Lastly, the leasing agent is responsible for tenant relations. Although the property manager will deal with any lease violations or evictions, the leasing agent answers tenant questions about their lease. They will clarify any inquiries including, but not limited to, late fee policies, pet policies, insurance requirements, or move out requirements. If a tenant does not have a written lease or has a vague lease, the leasing agent must be knowledgeable about Wisconsin law regarding leasing. If a tenant does have a lease with specific requirements, the leasing agent must be able to translate the information in a clear and concise manner.
In summary, getting your property rented out is crucial to owning investment properties. As your portfolio grows, you may see it beneficial to delegate this task to a trusted property management company.