Categories
Landlords

Top 11 Amenities Renters Can’t Resist

Everyone hates going to the laundromat. Lugging a bag of dirty clothes to a laundromat even only 10 minutes away is the kind of hassle people want to avoid. And once you have the luxury of in-unit laundry, it’s hard to go back. 

When you’re trying to make a rental unit more appealing to potential tenants, you need to keep in mind what they’re looking for. For some tenants—it’s in-unit laundry. 

Every renter has a specific thing they want in a home, whether it’s granite countertops or hardwood floors. Whatever it is, highly-requested amenities are often deal-breakers. And these days, search filters on websites are getting increasingly specific.

When tenants search on popular real estate websites like Apartments.com, Zumper, RentCafe, or PadMapper, they have plenty of filters to choose from. As a landlord, you need to know exactly what makes your rental irresistible to potential renters. 

Writing an excellent listing and taking high-quality photos can help, sure, but the key to securing long-term tenants is by giving them a place with something no others have. They may even stretch their budget if it means they get to have the rental of their dreams.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the top amenities renters just can’t resist.

11 Amenities and Features Renters are Searching For

These eleven items come from my experience running a property management company as well as data from industry-standard websites: Zumper and Apartments.com. In other words, you can be confident that these are the kind of features you want to use to attract interested renters.

  1. Air Conditioning: Heat and air conditioning come at the top of the list according to Statista. The law doesn’t require cooling systems, but many tenants want it. Not surprising given that a large part of the US gets hit with sweltering temperatures throughout the summer. After all, nobody wants to be stuck lying awake at night with loud fans blasting beside them.
  2. Central Heating System: On the flip side, many different regions of our country also deal with the coldest of winters. While all states require heating systems, they don’t require central heating—which is what most renters prefer, according to Zumper.
  3. Plenty of Parking Spaces: Another one of the most searched items is parking. Renters want to have a parking space reserved for them and others when they invite over company. Assigned parking is especially popular in urban areas where space is limited, and covered parking is sought-after in places that get rain or snow all year.
  4. Flexible Pet Policies: If there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s that we love our pets. Most of us have one, too, as a survey showed that 96% of Americans had pets before, and 72% of renters still have pets! If you’re not allowing pets into your rental, it may be time to reconsider.
  5. Dishwasher: As they say, the kitchen is the heart of every home. So what do renters look for in a rental? A dishwasher. It’s even the 5th most popular amenity according to the same 2021 survey from Statista. Even Zumper reports “dishwasher” is one of their top 10 most-searched terms.

By buying a mid-range dishwasher for even $500 to $1000, you can up the monthly rent by $50 or even $100 per month and make it back shortly—especially since a good dishwasher should last about 10 years. If your unit is on the smaller side, there are still options like countertop dishwashers that can attract tenants too. 

  1. Outdoor Spaces: Something that was a “nice-to-have” before is now a “must-have” after the pandemic. Zumper saw the search for “outdoor space” catapult by +143% after COVID-19 meant many of us were trapped indoors. Terms like “roof deck” and “balcony” also increased as people realized the importance of having accessible fresh air and open spaces.
  2. In-Unit Laundry Equipment: While others may argue that doing laundry is relaxing, Zumper data indicates that most renters want to turn an afternoon in the laundromat into a press-and-wait task at home. 

Having an in-unit washer and dryer in your unit makes their inevitable chores more convenient. It can even allow you to charge $100 more on rent! Especially when considering they cost anywhere from $300-$2,000 each, it’s logical that the rent will go up to cover the cost.

  1. Hardwood Floors: Nobody wants a carpet that reeks of pets or spilled liquids. They’re a pain to clean, and expensive when they need to be replaced. Instead, renters want beautiful hardwood floors that look better, last longer, and are easier to maintain than shag or wool.

Of course, if you’re going to splurge on flooring, you need to be sure you’re renting to tenants that will take care of it. Otherwise, you risk an even more expensive renovation. For C and D rental properties, this might not be the best choice.

  1. Furnished Homes: People hop from one city to another way more than before, which translates to a higher demand for furnished rentals. Not only is lugging furniture a hassle, but moving can cost up to $2,300—more than two month’s rent in the City of Detroit. 

If you do decide to go the furnished route, be sure to get it insured in case anything goes wrong. It also opens up the opportunity to charge far more if you accept short term renters, but it will still boost the price for long term rentals too. 

  1. Granite Countertops: While this is not a necessity, it’s a luxury that many enjoy. An updated kitchen is especially attractive to younger renters, since 76% of Millenials say that they enjoy cooking. Boosting the value and the appearance of the kitchen will help you stand out in a competitive rental market.
  2. Modern Appliances: If the toaster is old and broken or the microwave is stained or smells, it’s probably time to upgrade. Small changes like this can be a great way to subtly impress a potential tenant and help them justify their monthly payments. 

Of course, sometimes things can go missing or be taken, so this will depend on the type of property and type of tenant. If you’re renting out a high-end apartment to working professionals, then it makes sense. But, if you’re renting a basement suite to university students, then you could skip this.

Conclusion

These eleven amenities mean you have plenty of ways to entice prospects into renting your property—and maybe even increase your profits.

Keep these home features in mind when you’re upgrading the rental, revamping advertising materials, or expanding your portfolio to include more properties. They’ll give you a far more competitive edge in the market and attract serious renters looking for a perfect match.

Any other highly-requested amenities we’ve missed? Comment them below!

Image courtesy of Patrick Perkins

Categories
Wholesaling

Which Type of Real Estate is Best?

The answer is, you can wholesale anything that has buyers!

That’s what makes things tricky.

There is a multitude of real estate property types you can potentially wholesale. But which one should you focus on? Which are more suited for the wholesaling technique?

Consider that the ultimate goal in a real estate wholesaling business is to generate profit by locating distressed properties that are owned by motivated sellers, putting their houses under contract, then assigning the contracts to buyers who want them. You don’t renovate or take ownership of the property. Instead, you find good deals, estimate repair costs and ARV, and collect a wholesaler fee when buyers sign purchase contracts.

Two crucial things here: the potential profit you can make from the properties, and the speed it takes to match them with buyers. The whole process should take only 30-45 days because the faster you close deals, the more successful you’ll be.

But which type of real estate should you focus on?

Single-Family Houses

SFHs are plentiful in all states. A quick search of US housing statistics shows that 60.3% of housing structures in the country are SFHs (1-unit, detached). This makes them familiar to most, including wholesalers, and the obvious preference of most buyers.

You can find plenty of distressed SFHs under market value. In places like the City of Detroit, which was hit hard by the housing crisis and has lots of blighted areas, foreclosure-related sales are common.

Here, you can scoop up distressed SFHs with minimal capital, but do people want to buy them? Especially in blighted neighborhoods? It’s all about location, location, location, so no matter how good some deals are, they’re probably not suited to wholesaling. You want to find sweet spot houses that are both affordable and marketable. Cheap, tear-down houses in undesirable neighborhoods are not marketable.

With single-family homes, you can typically seal 5-10 deals per month, each of them giving you $5,000-$10,000 in profit. This makes them the bread and butter of the wholesaling business. They’re easy to find and easy to earn from.

Mobile Homes

While mobile homes aren’t the most popular, there are wholesalers who swear by them.

Mobile homes are the third most popular (7.6%) housing structure in the US. Most of them are in the southern states: Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama.

There will always be a market for a cost-efficient living, so it is possible to find buyers for mobile home wholesale contracts. You’ll experience less competition, a stable demand, and get your name is known in the market fast (the community of mobile homeowners is often close-knit).

In terms of margins, mobile homes are low. You’ll earn around $500-$2,000 as an assignment fee for most deals you find. (Though it’s not unheard of to make $30,000 in high-demand areas, those come rarely!) In general, it’s going to take at least 6 mobile home deals to equate to 1 SFH deal.

In terms of volume, there are fewer mobile homes than SFHs across the country, too. So it depends on how much leg work you’re prepared to do, and which properties are in higher demand in your area/the people on your buyers’ list.

Apartment Buildings (and Multi-family Homes)

Most beginners are intimidated by wholesaling multifamily properties, due to their size and difference in buyer criteria (versus the usual SFHs). Instead of basing the value on ARV, apartment buildings and MFHs depend on the net operating income (NOI) or cash flow that it will produce.

Apartment buildings range in units sizes from studio to 4-bedroom, and in building sizes from a few floors to dozens of stories. In general, they are most in-demand in metropolitan areas. Because of this, apartments are not as preferred in smaller towns as in big cities. Keep this in mind, as apartments that attract fewer tenants will have a smaller buyer base, taking more time and marketing costs to seal deals.

Larger properties and buildings also take a lot of time to analyze. You will spend more time on these deals than you will with smaller properties. This means you’ll have lower volumes, so will need to make more profit from a smaller number of deals, most likely.

Nevertheless, MFHs are still in demand today, due to how much income they can provide on a monthly basis. There is also ease of managing them and higher ROI per unit compared to SFHs.

Wholesaling one building can bring in five to seven figures per deal, making the higher time investment on your part potentially worthwhile. Higher prices, bigger profits! Just make sure you’re prepared to put in the legwork and find the right location to wholesale apartment buildings or MFHs.

Commercial Properties

Wholesaling commercial real estate includes office buildings, retail malls, warehouses, or buildings with mixed usage. You’ll be sealing deals with investors who are looking to make money from overhauling and repositioning the building to attract businesses or tenants, focusing on NOI instead of ARV (just like with MFHs).

The pros of wholesaling commercial properties are bigger profit margins, less competition, and easier financing.

Their values are usually in the millions of dollars, therefore, the assignment fee you’ll make will also be high. Most real estate agents are also more comfortable with residential properties, so there isn’t much competition in the field, allowing you to negotiate with investors.

The range you can earn from commercial properties is wide (a small office will vary greatly from a retail mall). But with the right connections and buyer’s criteria, most of them are also easily sourced. In fact, some have experienced a larger pool of distressed commercial properties out there than residential ones (if you count construction REO properties).

Vacant Land and Lots

Empty lands can be wholesaled, too. Parking lots, infill lots, demolished buildings, acreage, and lots that are great for building new structures are fairly easy to wholesale. Given their variety, buyers for land wholesale deals will also come in all shapes and sizes.

If there is a market for new construction in an area, there will be a demand for buildable lots. Some home investors, for example, are constantly on the lookout for new lots to build on. Wholesaling empty land that meets their criteria is as straightforward as it sounds. These potential markets can be found by searching for areas that have sold newly-built structures recently. Chances are, those are the areas where houses are being (and will continue to be) built. That’s where you should look to wholesale vacant lots.

Flipping vacant lots can mean a teardown (usually done where the land is more valuable than the house) or a cleanup. Once you turn the land around, selling it can be fast – if it’s in a desirable area. The margins are smaller than with SFHs, however, unless you’re dealing in larger, more expensive plots of land.

Each property type has its pros and cons–and this list does not cover it all. At the end of the day, it boils down to what you want, how many deals you want to do, and how much you want to make off each deal.

If you’re looking for straightforward wholesaling, go for SFHs.

For beginners, start by understanding your market and building your buyer list. You can do this by joining local real estate investor clubs. It’s easier to find properties that match buyers’ criteria than getting stuck with properties that nobody is interested in, so make sure you research the level of demand in your area for each property type before getting started.

What are your preferred property types to wholesale? What are you curious to wholesale next?


the best thing a wholesaler can do is find a class C property in a Class B area. Second best option: find one very close to a B area.

Image courtesy of Rodney

Categories
Wholesaling

Top 5 Insights for Successfully Wholesaling Real Estate After a Year of COVID-19

Wholesaling real estate

Now that the global pandemic has been with us for a year, which trends started in 2020 that will continue to affect the real estate market in 2021? Particularly for wholesalers, what insights should you take away from the situation? How can you adjust and take advantage of new opportunities brought about by the lockdown? 

Being in a dynamic industry, where the only thing constant is change, the key to wholesaling success is to spot market trends early, extract relevant insights, and adjust the way you conduct your business.

In this article, you’ll find five important real estate trends for you to keep an eye on if you want to pivot with the landscape and remain successful in wholesaling real estate in 2021 and beyond.

5 Real Estate Trends and How it Affects Wholesalers

While the list below is by no means comprehensive, we see five important changes that happened in response to the global pandemic. Let’s discuss what they mean for wholesalers and the real estate industry as a whole.

1. Work-from-home is now mainstream.

With stay-at-home orders and social distancing rules, many office workers have been working remotely for nearly a year now, and most have settled into this new normal. What does this mean for wholesalers?

  • Many office leases are not being renewed.
  • People living in expensive homes close to offices are excited to relocate to the more affordable suburbs.
  • Vacation towns are now becoming an option for permanent residency. People are tired of big, populated cities and are seeking new places with more freedom and space on offer. 

Wholesaler Action: you may want to pay more attention to rural areas, where there is an increased demand from buyers—these are the areas that most office workers couldn’t consider prior to the pandemic, but now can. 

Don’t wait until the competition becomes fierce! Take the lead and meet the high demand before other investors swoop in.

2. People want an upgrade from their current home.

Working from home and having less social interaction with the outside world also means that people are investing more in their homes now. They want larger houses and backyards, more rooms and privacy, and bigger patios and storage spaces—especially if they have children. 

Families (and people of all ages) are now willing to invest serious money into creating a comfortable home, more than they ever were prior to COVID.

Wholesaler Action: This means that wholesalers need to pay heightened attention to the features of a home and think about whether or not they will be attractive to remote workers, homeschooled children, and folks who want plenty of leisure space when stuck on the property.

Think of the homeowner’s needs and preferences, many of which have evolved with the times. 

3. More people want to purchase homes.

After the record-breaking low-interest rates in 2020, the forecast for this year is still a relatively stable and low-interest rate. It doesn’t take a genius to see that we still have a long way to go before the economy improves, which means that interest rates are unlikely to move much higher within the year. Additionally, the Federal Reserve has declared that rates won’t be raised through 2023 to support economic recovery efforts.

For the real estate industry, lower rates mean lower payments, which means buyers can afford higher purchase prices. So, it’s an attractive time for people to buy a house (or two). Think about it this way: a $300k loan at 3% is almost the same mortgage payment as a $200k loan at 6%.

Wholesaler Action: For wholesalers, this means it’ll be harder to find and secure properties that are below market value. However, this also means that the properties you do acquire will sell quickly and for a higher price.

4. Housing inventory is low.

Due to COVID being easily transmitted, many people have put off selling their houses simply because they don’t want to have strangers in their homes. This increased competition within the housing market, with people snatching up the few available houses at lightning speed—even if they’re priced at top dollar.

Wholesaler Action: This makes it harder for wholesalers to secure deals at a discount, but it makes it easier to exit deals with a much higher profit due to larger spreads. In other words, it’s a good time to put in the extra time and energy in securing good deals and making up for it multiple times more at the exit.

5. The housing market likely won’t crash.

Contrary to what others might predict, due to the housing shortage and skyrocketing home prices, the possibility of a market crash is quite low for the moment. 

Unlike the infamous 2008 crash, this time around lenders did not allow homeowners to extract their equity via home equity loans or other methods. At the same time, appreciation and lenders doing smart loans have created incredible equity for homeowners. This means that, even with a struggling economy and high unemployment, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see a wave of foreclosures.

For example, let’s say someone loses their job and can’t afford to pay their current mortgage payment anymore. However, they do have $200k in equity in their home. Will they walk away from their property and let it go to foreclosure? Or will they sell it and try to get as much of the equity out as they can? The obvious answer is to sell, of course!

Conclusion

When a door closes, a window opens—and early adopters will reap the most rewards.

As long as there are people who want to buy their own homes, there will always be wholesaling opportunities to assist the buying and selling process.

Choosing to not capitalize on the current situation out of fear is a losing strategy. As the famous saying by hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky goes, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!”

So, keep searching for the right opportunities, and you’ll continue to be successful in any circumstances. Besides, real estate constantly fluctuates, even without a pandemic – so think of this as just another one of the industry’s lovely challenges. 

Any important wholesaling opportunities we missed?

Image courtesy of Alena

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

What to Do if You Have Negative Past Reviews?

The internet is full of critics, so it’s no surprise if you’ve got a couple of negative reviews for your short-term rental. This can feel like a low blow, especially if you’re doing everything you can to please your guests.

You might also experience more negative feedback if you’re catering to a higher-end clientele. They often have higher standards (the towels aren’t white enough! The oysters aren’t fresh!) and are, unfortunately, more vocal about it, as well.

However, a bad review is not the end of the world! What’s crucial is your response. Look at these as an opportunity to prove critics wrong, by showing them how good your customer service actually is. 

Here are some tips on how to handle negative reviews.

Calm Down Before Reacting

If a bad review gets you emotional, calm down first. Any rash reactions might “prove” the negative review right and scare potential guests away—whether your reply is posted publicly, or directly to the guest. Calming down will also allow you to strategically decide what course of action will give you the most positive result.

For STRs listed on Airbnb, here’s a technique: If you already suspect that your current guest will give you a negative review, remember that the review won’t be published until after two weeks, or after both of you submit reviews of each other. 

You won’t be able to read their review until it’s published, but you can delay it. Either skip your review entirely or wait until the two weeks is up before submitting your review. This will help because the reviews are posted in order of rental dates. By delaying a potentially negative review for two weeks, you give yourself time to get positive reviews from more recent guests—effectively pushing the negative review down the timeline.

Communicate and Apologize

Once you’ve calmed down, contact the guest directly. Though you can’t change the review they posted, at least you can show that you’re concerned about giving your guests the best experience. 

Offer your apologies and ask if there’s anything you can do to address the issues. In many cases, their reactions are due to a simple misunderstanding, which should be easy to resolve. 

Remember that most complaints are not a personal attack—it’s all just business, at the end of the day. But if the reviews are getting personal (and are justified), then take them as critiques for your own improvement. 

If the reviews are unjustifiable and/or unreasonable, then maybe the guest was just having a bad day. It still won’t hurt to offer a sincere apology, as hospitality is your job as an STR host. 

Keep Future Guests in Mind

Remember that all posts are public. Reviews that are posted on your listing can be seen by anybody on the internet. Even private reviews or responses can spread like wildfire to the guests’ circle of influence. 

So, when you’re replying to negative reviews, keep your future guests in mind. Your response should “reverse” or lessen the severity of the negative review, undoing the damage done to your reputation.

Keep your replies short and professional. Avoid being defensive or putting the blame on the guests, as these will only make you look hot-headed and immature. You want to show future guests that you’re an owner who’s mature, objective, and won’t lash out like a teenager if there’s a complaint. State facts, instead of feelings—explaining your side in the most objective way possible, without attacking the guest in any way.

These tips should help you handle any negative reviews you might encounter. However, it’s much better to avoid getting bad reviews in the first place. 

Take note of past complaints, and address those before accepting new guests. Are they upset because of a misleading description? Uncomfortable beds or faulty appliances? Lack of cleanliness or WiFi? You can significantly improve your services just by listening to your guests!

Steps to Remember:

  1. Breathe, calm down, and don’t take it personally.
  2. Think of the best strategy to handle the situation. Sometimes, this means ignoring a review—but only when the review is obviously biased or inaccurate. 
  3. Communicate directly and professionally with the guest.

Most people just want to know that they’re being heard. So, when you receive a negative review, assess the situation properly. Take all reasonable feedback as a chance to improve, and take all unreasonable complaints as a chance to show great hospitality and customer service—the real product you’re selling!

What’s your experience with getting bad reviews for your STR? Any tips for how to manage negative reviews? 

Image courtesy of Michael Burrows