Successful owner in times of crisis
Clichés become clichés for a reason: their pithy nature sparks more thought than one might expect from so few words. Phrases such as “the only constant is change” and “necessity is the mother of invention” are two to the forefront of my mind in these unpredictable and unprecedented times.
We don’t know what the world will be like six months from now, next month, or tomorrow for that matter, so we’re doubling down on what we know. As an owner myself, I know firsthand the challenges this profession faces during the pandemic. The goal for the lucky few who can pivot and manage their businesses virtually is to make the transition as smooth and quick as possible. Here’s how to make the transition to a virtual owner successfully.
Housing is essential to people, so while you might expect a slower rental turnover rate, you should still actively try to fill your properties while performing your usual landlord duties, even if it is. line. Face to face contact with tenants may not be possible, so it will be necessary to opt for online communication as well as online tools for each step of the rental process.
Here are some tips for successfully running your home and indoor rental business:
• Marketing: Use online SEO sites as well as social media to market your rental. Using a service that syndicates your ad across multiple sites at the same time will save you time and increase your lead count. With less foot traffic from door-to-door orders, moving your marketing exclusively to the online world will help you continue to get traffic.
• A picture is better than a thousand words: Make sure you have solid photos and an accurate, informative description of the ad. With the rise of online shopping in the real estate industry, consumers are increasingly comfortable making major purchases and chatting exclusively online. To make this decision easier for potential renters, you will need to include photos and detailed descriptions for each room and equipment in your rental.
• Virtual tours: Offer virtual tours of the property, as in-person tours are strongly discouraged during this time. You can easily do this on your phone through video chat tools or even by posting a video to YouTube. When you have a serious candidate, you can also opt for a live video tour with them, allowing them to ask questions and experience the property in a more personalized way.
• No more paper: Online rental inquiries are more secure, easier, and faster, and they include everything a paper inquiry has (and more, if you can customize it).
• Filter potential tenants: Filter tenants with online history and credit check. Since this is already done online through government databases and credit bureaus, you can easily request and get the report.
• Sign on the digital line: Once you’ve found a tenant, send them your lease using an electronic signature platform such as Adobe Sign or DocuSign.
• Your funds have been received: Avoid handling cash, checks, or in-person payments and use online payment features like Venmo, Google Wallet, or PayPal.
• Over-communicating: Communication is one of the most important parts of virtual property. Being available and open with your tenants about day-to-day affairs, COVID-19 and other things that are happening in the community is vital. A variety of phone, email and video chat tools are available free of charge. Establish best practices and supports with your tenants so nothing is missed or misunderstood.
Stay educated and prepared for changes
For now, there is a moratorium on evictions and seizures in some areas set up by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This means that you cannot evict tenants who cannot pay the rent. It’s important to understand that the economic impacts of the pandemic are being felt everywhere, so being as understanding and flexible as possible with your tenants will help both of you during this time.
Make sure you always follow important fair housing laws. Consider extending the rent due date, waiving late fees, or offering different payment plan options for your tenants. Plus, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have a new deferral program for borrowers who face difficulties in deferring two months of their mortgage payments, and government stimulus plan will hopefully provide relief to landlords and tenants.
Remember that communicating with your tenants frequently and staying informed and proactive about changes in rental laws, news and local actions will help you stay prepared and get through this difficult time as a landlord.