The Top 10 Secrets To Reducing Your Voids!
Friday 13th January 2012
Experienced Lettings Business Professional and senior ARLA representative, Sally Lawson, of national multi-branch residential Lettings Agency Concentric Lettings with 5,000 plus properties managed worth £1.1billion, over a 21 year track record, gives you some smart advice on how to dramatically reduce your voids...
Did you know the national average for voids is less than 3 weeks?
If you take more than 3 weeks, then you have a problem with voids, why?
Here’s Sally Lawson’s Top 10 Secrets To Reducing Your Voids
1. Right Property:
Assess your property, your market may have changed, if you have a student property they may have built an excessive amount of student accommodation now, so not easy to let. 2 bed flats used to be the best Buy-To-Let option but then they built 1000`s of them so too much competition. Find out is there a market for it. If it is new build there might be a market for it but if they’ve just built 200 in one development that’s going to be a lot of competition from day 1 and could ruin your chances of a let, at market rent, only those desperate enough to drop the rent to the lowest figure will get a let, be prepared for that.
2. Right Location:
Some areas rent better than others to certain markets, towns and cities rent better than rural, close to access routes, and public transport are always popular, near to large employers like hospitals and universities and business parks are good too, close to motorway junctions and nightlife shops and facilities.
There is the “market rent” and the “achievable rent”. Don’t get these confused. A new build 2 bed flat may have a £575 “market rent” but there are 45 available as of today so therefore you may only achieve £450. It’s easy to check the market and the competition by just looking at Right Move or the relevant property site for your market.
Nice house shame about the décor! Oh dear. Make sure you get this right. Many armchair investors don’t seem to understand this one, they buy a flat in some town they’ve never been too, they complete on the purchase, don’t want to curtain it or furnish it and then wonder why all the other flats rent first and they end up giving the property away at a stupid rent, which then pushes all the prices of the other flats down- not good. You need to get out of your armchair and decorate and/or furnish or present appropriately for the market you’re aiming at, or find someone to do this for you.
If you have drab, badly maintained or old fashioned or tired looking property over the years’ as the property deteriorates, so will your class of tenant. You get the tenants you deserve in many cases, and in the end Asylum seekers might be all you will get! Don’t go down this spiral of decline, keep you property fresh and modern, it’s like a hotel, good tenants WILL NOT live in other people’s grime! Your property must be immaculately clean! If you went in a hotel and it was anything less than immaculate would you stay there? Then why should your tenant?
This has changed soooo much over the last 5 years. 5 years ago 55% of our enquiries from tenants came from the newspaper. Now 90% comes from the Internet. This is where you need to be for most of the rental sector.
However it doesn’t stop there, the effectiveness of your internet marketing strategy will depend on the “quality” of your advert. Mostly this means the “Photos that you (or your agent) uploads, you want as many on there as possible, every room, 2 per room if possible and good sunny (tidy garden) external photos and back garden, any special features photographed too. The description should be lengthy and positive and each of the rooms described too. All Letting agents on Rightmove will receive reports telling them their ranking on their “click through rate”. This is ‘How Many’ people click on to look at the properties from the first screen impression, this is higher dependant on the quality and number of the pictures.
Also check the description is accurate and that the property is down correctly as “flat” (if it is a flat) and the correct amount of bedrooms. Remember these ads are automatically uploaded overnight, not input directly. If the post code is not input in full or the descriptions are missing it will not show up on Rightmove www.rightmove.com and if there are no photos then it might as well not be on there!
There are many other sites, many which work in a similar way and dependant on your market, i.e. House shares, students, etc, you need to select the sites suitable for you and your agent accordingly (if using)
Sorry guys but you need to keep an eye on your agent. When selecting an agent, check out the property sites that you’ve identified you need to be on and see what properties and coverage they have in that area already. Do they have photos for all the properties? Are the photos any good? Do they do internal photos? Are the rents consistent? Do they let the same type of properties that you have on offer? Are the descriptions written well and in full? Agents are a great way of getting your property out there on the web in many formats as most of them have automatic uploads overnight to all the major portals, but the uploads are only as good as the information they have put on their system! ARLA agents have access to the www.propertylive.co.uk site, which is a site dedicated to ARLA and NAEA agents so that tenants can be assured of a “quality agent and service” which is rapidly becoming a site to be reckoned with.
Make sure your agent has a set of keys or you are available at all times of the day to do viewings. So many viewings are lost because keys aren’t in the office or the landlord “can’t make it!” A professional working tenant is limited on time and if you can’t make it they won’t make it.
8. Applicant Matching:
Every tenant that calls an agent should be registered on their system, so that even if they don’t have a property for them now, if one comes in tomorrow, they can go back to that tenant and they should be keeping in touch with that tenant. Many have SMS texting facilities and a mass email applicant matching facility. Check out the agents in your area, register with them and see if they let you know of properties coming up or not, or do they even take your details at all? If you are marketing the property yourself, then keep records of every tenant that calls and what they are looking for, you might be able to help them in the future, (you never know when your going to get a vacate notice!)
9. Keep Tenants Happy:
This is the key element to reducing voids. Tenants are not the enemy (although they may feel that way sometimes) they are your customer, and without them you have no business. It’s much easier to keep a good responsible tenant by being a good responsible landlord, than it is to find a new tenant. Keep on top of your maintenance, go the extra mile, upkeep the property beyond their expectations, call them periodically to check everything is ok. If you issue work to a contractor call the tenant to check if the contractor has done the work satisfactorily etc. Make them feel valued, ask them for feedback. A happy tenant is an easy tenant to manage!
10. Re- Marketing:
Have in your contract that you have the right to do viewings in the last 28 days of the tenancy and ensure your tenant understands this, also make it a clause in the agreement that they have to give you 28 days notice. That way you should generally get a month to market your property and the tenant will allow you access to show prospective tenants around during that time. Re-assess your market upon every re-let, is there still a market for your product? Has it changed? Do you need to consider another market, house shares, LHA, professional, etc? Re-check your agent, a change of staff can make a big difference, are they still on the ball? Check them out, re-assess the competition and your agent’s coverage on the internet sites or if marketing yourself check out your sites for usage and competition. Remember to ensure all those lovely pictures get re-uploaded and the full descriptions.
So every time your property comes up for remarketing, if you’ve kept your tenants happy then doing viewings and marketing should not be a problem!
You should already have a quality stock of cracking photos from the last time you marketed the property that you can send off immediately with those long descriptions. You will be able to assure any new tenants that as soon as it is vacant you will be painting, cleaning, etc. ready for them.
You will also have checked the internet coverage for that type of property so that you can re-assess your new asking rent and furnishing situation and competition.
You will know whether your agent is still on the ball, maybe even do a spot check registration, telephone call to make sure they’re still taking tenant details down and contacting you back with new properties. You will then follow up your agent by checking the internet to assess their “click through rate” and the quality of their property adverts and photos.
If you follow all these 10 simple secrets your voids should substantially reduce!
To download your FREE copy of Sally’s Property related ebooklets and to find out more about Sally please go to www.sallylawson.co.uk plus you can also download a copy of her special Free ebooklet “10 Things Every Landlord Should Know Before Choosing a Lettings Agent” at www.ConcentricLettings.co.uk/10things
If you’re interested in becoming a Lettings professional yourself, find out more about Sally’s Concentric Lettings Franchise opportunities at www.UKFranchiseOpportunities.info
Editorial Contact Details - Rosalind Renshaw