Showing Occupied Units

By on Jul 9, 2021 in Marketing

When it comes to increasing revenues, decreasing vacancies is a no brainer. Keeping units occupied with optimal rent flow is a foundation for good performance. One way that you can limit vacancies is to list units as soon as you know the current renter will not renew their lease. Listing rentals while they are still occupied can offer significant benefits if you’re able to work through the challenges.

Why list an occupied unit?

Historically, property managers list an empty (or soon to be empty) unit. When the desired unit is occupied, prospects are instead shown a beautifully decorated model. Today’s renters, however, have different expectations. They want to see the exact unit that they plan to rent. Renters are more likely to sign a lease when they know exactly what they’re getting.

But that’s not the only reason to list an occupied unit. Listing an occupied rental comes with these benefits as well.

Listing a unit before the current tenant moves out minimizes the risk of vacancy, which leads to uninterrupted cash flow for you. The average cost of vacant unit is up to $1,750 per month, according to SmartMove data. Other sources estimate costs anywhere from $1,500 – $5,000 per month. That’s money to bolster your bottom line.

When you list a property before it’s vacant, you may find a renter more quickly and skip paying utilities during the vacancy period. That translates to money saved. This is especially important for properties in the hot and humid south and southeastern U.S. In these regions, drywall is prone to mold and mildew when central air conditioning is shut off.  

Additionally, you could skip transferring the utilities to and from the property account during periods of vacancy. You have better things to do with your time than sit on the phone with the utility company.  Time is money, and you’re saving both when utilities are switched seamlessly between renters.

Challenges of listing an occupied unit

Listing an occupied unit can be a huge time and money saver. To receive those benefits, there are a few challenges that you may have to overcome.

Listing the occupied unit requires collaboration. You’ll need the agreement of the occupant to photograph or record the unit for a virtual tour. You may choose to offer an incentive to motivate renter participation. Remember: you only need to do this once, as you can reuse images of the furnished unit in the future.

An occupied space may limit marketing options. This is particularly true for single family rentals. With signage, you risk a passerby ringing the doorbell to inquire about the property. Without signage, people passing by may not know the home is for rent.

When you skip signage, a strong online marketing plan is essential. Consider advanced search marketing services to boost leads by up to 160%.

The occupant’s furniture placement may not optimize the square footage of the unit or show off its best features. A couch covering an unused fireplace or a bedroom overstuffed with furniture are just two challenges of a home that isn’t professionally staged. Depending on the occupant, you may negotiate rearranging a few things.

Should you show an occupied unit?

There are a lot of variables to consider if you choose to show an inhabited rental. First, consider if it’s necessary. In high demand markets, renters may be willing to sign a lease without a live tour. That will save you time, money and hassle. Get the latest report on your market’s performance.

If showings are an essential part of moving inventory in your area, consider the following:

Pets may adversely impact showings. Per the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, about 30% of Americans have pet allergies. Prospects may be put off by pet odors and noise as well. Make arrangements for pet-inhabited units.

Resident cleanliness is difficult to manage. A messy rental may be a deterrent to prospects. Addressing the topic of a renter’s untidiness may also damage the renter-landlord relationship. Proceed mindfully.

Unknown risks pose their own challenges. A missing bracelet or a broken vase are among the many concerns that may arise when showing an inhabited rental. While occurrences may be few, prepare yourself accordingly.

Listing an occupied rental gives you an opportunity to keep rents flowing with minimal interruption. The challenges faced depend on your renters and your market. You may find that the best option varies throughout the year.

Discover how you can drive revenue with pet-friendly policies.