Categories
Wholesale Wholesaling

Wholesaling Tips: How to Wholesale Empty Land Instead of Houses

Vacant land in Downtown Detroit
Source: Zillow

Empty land is a valuable commodity. In some parts of the country, it’s worth more than homes—simply because there’s always a market for land for building a new structure or something else.

It’s also easier for wholesalers to find buyers for vacant land than for houses, as there is less competition in the market for land deals. As a result, you’ll find better deals on properties ripe for development than those with established homes.

So, if you want to learn how to get into this small real estate niche, we’ve got tips to get you started in the wholesaling process.

5 Steps to Wholesale Empty Lots

We’ve all seen those empty gravel lots in our neighborhood. But now, you’ll see them as more than just a pile of dirt. Instead, they’re an opportunity. While the land is valuable everywhere‌, some lots are worth more than others—highly sought after by the buyers you want to attract.

So, here are 5 ways you can start wholesaling land:

1. Look for Developing Areas

Look for areas that are being developed or zoned for development, as it’ll give you a good sign of where the market will move to in the coming years.

You can attend city council meetings to get a sense of which areas are being approved for rezoning or development variances. Search online for local land auctions—being good indicators of where the market is moving, and scan MLS listings for “raw land” or “vacant land” to identify hotspots.

2. Research the Title and Zoning

Do your due diligence when researching a piece of property. Check the title to see if there are any liens or encumbrances, and ensure that the property is zoned for the type of development your buyers have in mind. It’s also essential to determine if easements or rights-of-way could affect your prospective buyer’s development plans.

3. Get a Professional Opinion

Before making an offer on a piece of property, it’s always a good idea to get a professional opinion. Have a real estate attorney look over the contract, and have a land surveyor assess the property to determine its potential uses. You can also use the information to market the land to potential buyers.

4. Make an Offer

Once you’ve decided that a piece of property is a good fit for your portfolio, it’s time to make an offer. When making an offer on vacant land, it’s important to be realistic about the value of the property and the costs of development.

Remember: It may take longer to sell vacant land than it would to sell a finished home in some areas, so you’ll need to take the additional waiting time into account.

5. Close the Deal

With a buyer now confirmed, close the deal using a professional team to help with the process. Ensure that all the necessary inspections have been conducted and that the property is free of any environmental hazards, secure the appropriate permits for development from the local municipality, and verify that the title is clear and there are no outstanding liens or encumbrances on the property.

Turn Empty Lots into Enticing Deals

Next time you walk by an empty lot, remember that it’s more valuable than you think. By following these steps, you can successfully wholesale vacant lots in no time. Just remember to be patient, do your research, and work with a professional team to get the best results.

Want more real estate advice?

Join REIA as a member today! Or attend our next meeting so you don’t miss any important information—just like this article. If you don’t have the time to spare, sign up for our newsletter instead to get content delivered right to your email address.

Categories
Flipping

Does House Flipping Qualify as QBI Deduction?

Man repairing a house
Source: GO Banking Rates

Over the years, the IRS has been cracking down on taxpayers taking advantage of the qualified business income (QBI) deduction. Because of that, some house flippers are wondering whether flipping houses can still qualify as a business.

So, let’s dive in and see what you need to know.

QBI Deduction: What Is It and Who Can Claim It?

QBI deduction is a tax break that allows business owners, freelancers, and independent contractors to write off up to 20% of their total taxable income. This effectively decreases the income tax they owe to the IRS. However, not everybody is eligible for it.

For instance, only business owners with pass-through income may take advantage of the QBI deduction. This includes the following:

  • Sole Proprietors: An individual, such as a freelancer or independent contractor, who runs an unincorporated business
  • Partnership Members: Two or more people who made a formal agreement to oversee a business together, sharing in its profits and liabilities
  • S-Corporation Shareholders: People who own shares in an S-Corporation and include its income and/or losses on their personal tax returns

In short, you’ll have to double-check if you qualify for the tax deduction to take advantage of it, as there are some income limits and business types that may affect your eligibility.

What Does Not Count as QBI?

Now, not all income types qualify for QBI. In fact, there are nearly 20 different income types that the IRS does not consider as QBI. Here are a few of them:

  • Income from out-of-country businesses
  • Investment items (e.g., capital gains and dividends)
  • Interest income not related to a business or trade
  • Annuities received from something unrelated to a business or trade

Of course, as a house flipper, your only concern is if income from flipping is included on the IRS list. Well, it’s not specifically mentioned by the IRS. So, are you eligible for the 20% tax write-off?

Does House Flipping Qualify as QBI Deduction?

The law says that the QBI deduction will only apply to taxpayers who are sole proprietors of a business or trade, a member of a partnership, or a shareholder in an S-Corporation. So those in the fix-and-flip business will be eligible if your operations are conducted within one of these entity structures.

However, there are still rules dictating how much you can deduct from your total taxable income:

  • If you’re single or unmarried and your total taxable income is less than $164,900, then you can deduct 20% of your qualified business income.
  • If you are married and filing jointly with your spouse and your total taxable income is less than $329,800—then you can deduct 20% of your qualified business income.

Because of W-2 wage limitations, things become more complicated when your total taxable income exceeds these thresholds. If this is your situation, then it would be better to call an accountant for advice.

Confused? Don’t sweat it—here’s a quick example to help you understand QBI deductions better:

Let’s pretend that you’re a single-house flipper whose net operating income is $100,000 and W-2 wages are $50,000. Since you fall below the $164,900 threshold, you can deduct 20% from your net operating income, amounting to $20,000.

Assuming that you belong to the 24% tax bracket, this QBI deduction will save $4,800 on your tax bill.

Yes, House Flipping Qualifies as QBI Deduction

The QBI deduction has undoubtedly benefited a lot of industries, particularly real estate, where house flippers are now seeing more profits earned from every sale they close. But if you are still confused about the calculations, then we recommend working with a certified public accountant (CPA).

Calculating your QBI deductions is a huge headache and as a busy house flipper, you simply do not have the time for that. That is why you should consider joining the Real Estate Investors Association of Oakland County—our members have access to tons of resources that help them take their house-flipping business to new levels of success.

From landing sales on your fix-and-flip projects to help you determine your tax write-off, REIA has everything you need. Interested? Check out our website to see what your next steps should b

Calculating your QBI deductions is a huge headache—which you may not have the time for. Consider reaching out to REIA and our team of experts to help you with everything. Subscribe to our newsletter as well and join as a REIA member to attend our upcoming meeting!

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

How to Find The Best Neighborhoods for Airbnb

 To earn the biggest profits from your STR, you need to find the right neighborhood to invest in. Here, we look at some of the things to consider.
An STR in the woods
Photo by Karsten Winegeart

Investing in a short-term rental (STR) is a great way to make some additional income. In fact, according to 2021 figures, the average Airbnb host in North America can make $41,026 annually from a single rental.

But you need to be smart and focus on a lot of factors to earn that impressive amount. 

For example, just picking a neighborhood can make or break your investment. While the right neighborhood with all the right conditions will give you high occupancy and rental rates, the wrong neighborhood will only give you high turnover rates—or worse, complete vacancy.

So, what are the right conditions that make a neighborhood perfect for STR investments? 

Let’s discuss the conditions you need to consider when picking a neighborhood for your Airbnb.

What Makes a Good Neighborhood?

No one factor makes a good neighborhood. You have to consider several characteristics when choosing the area for your Airbnb. When you choose a neighborhood to invest in, look for: 

  • Airbnb occupancy rate
  • Airbnb rental income 
  • Airbnb rent averages
  • Cash-on-cash return

Each factor is as important as the next and they all have to come together seamlessly. For example, if you only take into account the Airbnb occupancy, you could see an 80% rate. But each tenant might be paying you a low amount—and that might not be worth the effort.

So, let’s define each factor and go through their details:

Airbnb Occupancy Rate

The occupancy rate measures the dates a property was booked versus the total number of days it is listed for rent. Factors like location, market saturation, and seasonality can affect a neighborhood’s occupancy rate. 

Now, the average occupancy rate in North America is about 44%, but you’ll want to find areas that give an even higher number. Instead, focus on locations that have the highest occupancy rates such as:

  • Seaside, CA: 71.3% 
  • Little Rock, AR: 75.0%
  • Phoenix, AZ: 64.1%
  • Los Angeles, CA: 55.6% 
  • Columbus, OH: 60.6%

A quick search on Google will give you these numbers. If you find another neighborhood with a good Airbnb occupancy rate, you can consider investing in property there. 

Airbnb Rental Income

The Airbnb rental income will determine how much income your property will generate over time. For you to determine the potential rental income you can earn in a neighborhood, you need to conduct a market analysis. Using market analysis, you can learn: 

  • The real estate appreciation rates of the neighborhood
  • The current and upcoming trends of the real estate market in an area
  • If the neighborhood you’re scouting is suitable for an STR
  • If long-term rentals are more popular in a particular area instead of an STR
  • The overall demand for rentals in the area

Take, for example, Mashvisor’s heatmap. With this tool, you can see the average occupancy rate in Detroit. You can also get a glimpse into the estimated rental income of an Airbnb.  After you perform a market analysis, you should have a good idea of what your Airbnb rental income should look like in that particular neighborhood. 

Airbnb Rent Averages

This is the simplest metric you need to find out. You basically need to look at the average rent STRs are going for in a neighborhood. If you skip this, you might invest in an expensive property that’ll take too long to generate a good return on investment.

You can use Mashvisor to get a good idea of how much people are charging for rent on their Airbnbs. In general, you want to look-out for properties with similar specifications to the property you’re looking to invest in. Watch for things like: 

  • The number of rooms
  • The number of beds and baths 
  • The kinds of amenities available
  • The location (e.g., if it’s near tourist attractions)

Once you have a general picture of how much people are charging for stays in their Airbnbs, you get an idea of how much you can charge. 

This will also help you estimate the maximum amount you should spend acquiring the property, as you’ll want to charge at least 1% of your total property price to recoup costs fast enough. For example, if a property costs $212,000, you’ll want to charge at least $2,120 for the monthly rent.

Cash-on-Cash Return 

Finding out the cash-on-cash returns for similar Airbnbs in a particular neighborhood will give you an idea of whether investing in a neighborhood is worth it. Again, Mashvisor gives you the cash-on-cash returns of Airbnbs in a neighborhood.

To calculate your cash-on-cash return, you just need to follow a simple formula:

Cash-on-cash return (CoCR) = (annual rental income – operating expenses)/total cash investment 

Let’s look at the potential CoCR of the listing we mentioned earlier, with an annual rental income of $25,440 ($2120 x 12) as an example. With a total cash investment of $200,000 and a safe estimate of operating expenses being 1/3rd of the annual rental income, it’ll look like this: 

CoCR = (25,440 – 8395.2)/200000 

CoCR = (17044.8)/200000

CoCR = 0.0852

For this particular example, the cash-on-cash return is 8.52% per year. This is within the benchmark for good CoCR, which is between 8-12%. If you find an area with a CoCR that measures within that range, it’s a good opportunity for your STR.

Pick the Right Neighborhood For Your Investment 

Airbnbs can be a great investment opportunity. However, much like any investment, you need to invest wisely. Choosing the wrong neighborhood will put you at too much financial risk, and you might not see numbers anywhere close to the $41,026 average.

Do your due diligence, analyze your opportunities well, and maybe even consult with experts in the industry, and you can be confident in earning that $41,026—maybe even higher.

Do you think there are other factors to consider when choosing a location for an Airbnb? Let us know your insight in the comments below!

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

Post-Pandemic Challenges and Opportunities

If you have a short-term rental, COVID-19’s travel restrictions likely had a negative impact on your short-term rental investment.

The pandemic challenged everyone’s travel plans all across the globe last year. In turn, travel-related businesses, such as short-term rentals, initially took a major hit and saw business declined. Many markets rebounded relatively quickly, but COVID challenges haven’t fully disappeared yet.. 

Although we are finally regaining our freedom to travel, the World Health Organization (WHO) still advises that individuals and business owners engage in their COVID-19 safety measures. This includes avoiding crowds, spreading high traffic areas out, and cleaning surfaces which many people touch. 

With all this in mind, there are new challenges for short-term rental investments in the post-pandemic world. But, there may just be some new opportunities as well. 

Challenges for Short-Term Rentals

COVID-19 has brought an increased focus on hygiene, cleanliness, and even crowd density. These days, people are still advised to avoid public places, where cleanliness and social distancing can be compromised. 

This means that if your short-term rental property does not meet the current standards for cleanliness and safety, you may find it challenging to rent out your property. You’ll need to make your rental property a desirable option for people and that it keeps their health and safety in mind.

We suggest you prioritize the following aspects:

  • Cleanliness: Now more than ever, having a clean rental property is a key factor in getting booked in the post-pandemic world. Since the spread of COVID-19 can occur due to unsanitized surfaces, people want hosts who go the extra mile to make sure it’s well cleaned. 

Make sure to highlight your cleaning policies in your posting, and in great detail. You want to show them you care about their needs and will go above and beyond to make their stay with you safe.

  • Pandemic Measures: Another consideration is how your property provides safety measures for the pandemic. Onlookers feel safer when they know that rental property owners promote practices to mitigate COVID-19. Leaving extra bottles of hand sanitizers in different rooms, Lysol wipes, bottles of surface disinfectants, and even complimentary masks, can help your property stand out in the sea of online options.

For the general safety of your guests and yourself, there must be a strict adherence to these standards of cleanliness and safety. More so, even if you do your part, your guest might not. So another set of challenges are the ones presented by guests themselves.

  • Unsafe Guests. To keep yourself and your rental unit safe from COVID-19, you have to examine your guests thoroughly and pick them wisely. For example, Airbnb’s COVID-19 guidelines align with the current advice provided by authorities. Guest bookings for a stay after exposure or after testing positive are not allowed. 

Always keep yourself updated with the guidelines and advice regarding COVID-19 and apply these measures when booking guests. 

Opportunities for Short-Term Rentals

While there are some new difficulties for STRs, there are also some opportunities for short-term rental property owners. Here are some things you can promote about your rental property to make it a hot pick for people’s vacation or business plans in a post-pandemic world:

  • Preferred Lodging. As you already know, the way people travel has changed immensely due to the pandemic. Locations that involve high-traffic areas where the virus can easily spread are still advised against by the WHO. As such, places like hotels, restaurants, and public markets are categorized as higher risk.

Luckily, when weighing the pros and cons of hotels versus STRs, an STR is considered safer and more preferable. Due to an STRs exclusive nature, it minimizes the risk of contracting COVID-19 from strangers staying at the same location. 

In addition, guests don’t share facilities and spaces with other guests, so both airborne and surface contamination is far less of a concern. As long as you do your part and keep your rental unit clean and safe, your rental unit will be the preferred choice for bookings.

  • Local Attractions: Most short-term rental properties cater to people looking for lodging while they’re on vacation. And when rental properties are designed to cater to these people, the surrounding area usually provides options for all sorts of activities for guests to enjoy. 

Some may look to retreat in nature, while others want to explore a new city. Whatever options and activities your short-term rental property provides, you can advertise. 

Since short-term rental properties are a safer option to stay in for holiday, more people are shifting to this option. Pair that with the resurgence of traveling, and you can expect that your short-term rental property will be fully booked!

Want to keep doing business? Keep up with the changes!

COVID-19 has brought many unexpected changes in the way people travel—including what kind of short-term place they want to stay in during vacations and trips out-of-state. But these changes aren’t all bad, as the safety measures that go along with COVID-19 can actually heighten the attractiveness of your short-term rental properties if you can make them stand out from the crowd.

The pandemic may have negatively impacted your short-term rental investment, but that’s all about to change. If you deal with the challenges and seize the opportunities given the travel changes, your investments can make a comeback. 

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

How to Encourage Repeat Guests for Your Short-Term Rental

Investing in rental properties is one of the best ways to build wealth. That said, the market is getting increasingly competitive, especially when it comes to short-term rentals (STRs). 

While the STR industry took a hit during the height of the pandemic, research showed that many guests stayed longer in vacation rentals to fully take advantage of the work-from-home situation, and data forecasts expect the industry to resume its year-on-year growth starting September 2021.

Given the situation, STR owners like yourself need to grab the opportunity to attract repeat customers to grow with the market. For long-term rentals (LTRs), you only have to find a good tenant once a year. With STRs, however, repeat business is the only way to gain strong cash flow and secure business continuity.

As the industry resumes its annual growth, you need all the tips and tricks you can get to encourage repeat guests and remain competitive against other STRs, hotels, and home-sharing services. 

Here are a couple of ways to do precisely that.

Target Business Travelers

With COVID-19 slowly letting go and businesses restarting regular operations, a large portion of your guests will be business travelers visiting the area for work and extending their stay for leisure. In the industry, this is called ‘bleisure’ or ‘bizcation’ tourism

There are several ways to target business travelers, and these are some of them:

  • Promote a Work-Conducive Space: Apart from fast Wi-Fi connection and a proper desk, you can invest in a few essential devices that make your rental work-friendly. This includes a phone line, personal printer, and even a laptop. The more work-conducive it is, the more your guest will feel comfortable enough to extend their stay.
  • Promote Convenience with High-Quality Service: You’re competing with hotels that pamper their business guests. So, meet them head-to-head with convenience and good service to earn repeat customers. For example, provide quality bedding and branded toiletries. 

And since hotels offer concierges, it’s also worthwhile to provide daily housekeeping services to your guests. The absence of these amenities may not bother backpackers and frugal tourists, but it may very well be a deal-breaker for busy business travelers.   

  • Promote Easy Access to Event Locations: Business travelers look for an accommodation close to their meeting locations. You won’t be able to move your property closer to their venues, but you can certainly offer ease of transportation and accessible parking facilities.

If most of your guests don’t have a car (and won’t rent one either), consider partnering with a cab company to have pick-and-drop services included in your business traveler package.

Think of the things business travelers will prioritize and try to include them in your package. Remember that they’re working out-of-office and will gladly enjoy luxurious convenience.

Start a Referral Program

One great way to attract repeat business is by word-of-mouth referrals. To encourage this marketing strategy, start incentive-based referral programs for the highest chance of guests recommending your short-term rental to friends and business associates. 

Here are two of the many types of referral programs you can run:

  • Friend Referral Discounts: You can reward or provide discounts to customers who bring in more business. For example, offer guests a free night’s stay if they give you two weekend bookings by referring your rental to their friends and colleagues. 
  • Discounts and Rewards for Repeat Stays: You can also offer reasonable rewards and discounts to repeat guests to encourage them to return. If their experience with you is fantastic, there’s no reason why they’ll waste the opportunity.

Take inspiration from Airbnb’s Referrals 2.0 program as well. The platform got people to send customized altruistic invitations to their Gmail contacts, giving their friends a discount to travel. The email says something like “gives your friends $25 to travel!” which motivated people to refer Airbnb to their friends.

The program was so successful, it drove Airbnb’s first-time bookings by 900% year-on-year growth, and daily bookings and signups increased by 300%. When done right, Airbnb proved that referral programs could bring in guests and generate a lot of profits.

Promote Upgrades to Past Guests

Of course, you need to stay in touch and follow up with your past guests to keep them interested. There are two effective ways for you to retap past guests: 

  • Constantly Update Your Listing: Did you install new upgrades, features, or have new amenities for guests to enjoy? Whenever you add or improve things in your short-term rental, update your listing right away and update your previous occupants of the new changes.
  • Respond to Negative Reviews: Negative reviews aren’t so bad if you can use them as insights to improve your offer. Any pain points your guests experience are opportunities for you to improve according to their expectations. 

So, encourage all guests to leave feedback and respond to their concerns. Being proactive will also boost your referral program, as guests will undoubtedly recognize your willingness to give them the best experience.

From a business standpoint, it’s much easier to gain back previous guests than earn new ones. Therefore, identify and focus on the factors that will encourage guests to book with you again—and make sure that they hear about your upgrades. 

Focus on Guest Experience

Aside from providing guests with a clean and comfortable place to stay in, add small details that will enhance their experience with your short-term rental. Here are a few examples:

  • Detailed Welcome Packet: Ensure that your guests feel welcomed as soon as they enter the short-term rental. You want them to know how much you care about their stay.

For example, prepare a welcome packet or gift with all they need to know about the rental (e.g., Wi-Fi passwords and technical instructions) and throw in some pleasantries (e.g., free sunscreen or some chocolates) to welcome them in.

  • Send “Thank You” Notes After Their Stay: In the same way, make your guests feel appreciated once they end their stay. Give them something to remember you by even when they’ve moved on. 

For example, give them a hand-written thank you note, personalized thank you email, or even a small gift (possibly in exchange for feedback, too). As they say, how you end is as important as how you began!

At the end of the day, no amount of features or discounts can beat an amazing experience. So focus on providing your guests with the most memorable stay to have the highest chance of getting them back.

Conclusion

It’s not easy to encourage repeat guests. You’ll need to be persistent in figuring out which combination of strategies works best for your particular short-term rental. So, to get the ball rolling, try attracting business travelers, starting a referral program, promoting upgrades to past guests, and focusing on giving the best guest experience ever.

Before you know it, you’ll be fully booked with a long line of guests just waiting for the opportunity to book your place again!

Any other tips we’ve missed? What strategy works best for your short-term rental?

Image courtesy of Dan Gold

Categories
Wholesaling

How to Dominate Wholesaling Houses in Your Area

While you might be tempted to cover areas beyond your local real estate scene, it’s possible that you’re already sitting on a wholesaling goldmine—and you just didn’t know it!

Here are the signs of a market that’s ripe for a booming wholesaling business:

  • Overwhelming amount of cash purchases
  • Abnormally fast sales
  • Houses getting multiple offers
  • Escalation clauses (to avoid getting outbid)

If your local area has all these factors, you’re in a great place to become a wholesaler.

Read along to find out the two-prong strategy that will help you dominate your local real estate market and build a successful wholesaling empire—right where you live.

Search-Optimize Your Wholesaling Business

Aside from doing offline marketing, there is also a world of possibilities online. Not only are geographic boundaries removed, but the internet also enables you to effectively target and reach your audiences with SEO (search engine optimization) tools.

Check out these online marketing platforms for real estate wholesaling:

  • Wholesaling websites
  • MLS (Multiple Listing Service)
  • Online forums and auctions sites

All of these efforts hinge on the fact that we do practically everything online nowadays. Your customers are more likely than ever to search online for new properties.

Your goal is to be visible and easily accessible via an online search. This is where keyword research comes in. By knowing what keywords to target, you can also maximize your reach on search engines, gain valuable traffic, and generate qualified leads.

Do a simple test to see how your business currently ranks in search engines:

  1. Search “real estate wholesaler [location]” on Google.
  2. Look at the top results.

Does your name or business appear? Where do you rank versus your competitors? Who shows up before you do?

Well, you need to beat them.

Optimize your searchability by choosing keywords that your buyers will search for, then incorporate them in your blog posts, listings, and website.

Here are some keywords you can consider:

  • local real estate wholesalers
  • house wholesalers near me
  • local cash buyers in [area]
  • local house sellers in [city]

For in-depth SEO strategies and more information on how keywords work, you should also check out Reibar’s article on keywords that real estate investors should be targeting.

To boost your online presence further, you can also pay to get increased visibility in highly competitive markets. Paid advertising involves platforms such as Google AdWords and Facebook Ads.

Network to Outshine Your Competitors

Given the wholesaling potential of your area, you might be competing with a lot of other investors. It’s definitely not bad for business, but marketing will be a challenge.

In our article on the best places to find wholesaling deals[1] , we mentioned a couple of offline marketing methods such as:

  • Driving for Dollars
  • Bandit signs
  • Direct mail campaigns
  • Networking
  • Newspapers

All of these methods are effective in finding wholesaling deals, but networking is the most important strategy when trying to dominate a market.

The good thing is that all competitive areas have an REIA or two in the community – Metro Detroit definitely does.

REIAs are a great place to start making your presence known—the goal is to establish your wholesaling business to outshine other wholesalers and be the go-to property supplier for the local area. REIAs give you access to a whole group of people for:

  • Building an active cash buyers list
  • Developing strong and reliable connections
  • Boasting your overflowing housing inventory

You can also team up with Bird Dogs or acquisitions managers who are interested in the local market. The more properties they bring you, the more inventory you have to sell to cash buyers.

Conclusion

The key to dominating your local wholesaling market is good marketing—both on-ground and online. By networking closely with the community and optimizing your online presence, you’ll set yourself up for long-term success wholesaling in any competitive space. Ultimately, you want to establish yourself as an expert—and building your credibility with a great online presence and consistent quality service is how you do this.

To succeed even in these uncertain times, go through our wholesaling trends and insights that have surfaced during the pandemic. Get a good grasp of the present and future of wholesaling real estate to dominate the business in your local area—and beyond.

Need help in beating your local competition? Get in touch with us! Our team is more than willing to help.

Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio


Categories
Landlords

How to Market your Rentals Online: Screen Appeal and Listing on Digital Platforms

From digital walk-throughs to Zoom tenant interviews, real estate marketing has officially transitioned to digital in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual showing techniques aren’t new, but COVID-19 has certainly pushed the industry to adapt as a necessity. Landlords that didn’t have videos of their properties pre-COVID are now rushing to create virtual tours and trying virtual staging methods.

At this pace, digital marketing will fast become an integral and permanent part of real estate marketing before we realize it!

What does this mean for landlords? 

Prospective renters are now viewing and shortlisting properties from their screens, making “screen appeal” a crucial factor to promote your rental property. You want your offer to stand out where the prospective tenants are: online.

In this article, we’ll go through the ways to increase your property’s screen appeal, write an effective ad online, and list your properties where tenants are most likely to find them.

Increase screen appeal with noticeable features

First, you need to make your rental look impressive in photos. To do this, invest in features that will stand out in photos—even if the prospect browses on their tiny phone screens. 

These are the things that will make a huge difference in digital listings:

  1. Sparkling kitchens with shiny appliances, glossy countertops, and newly-painted walls and cupboards
  2. Spotless bathrooms with new showerheads, clean mirrors, and re-grouted tiles
  3. Fresh blinds and curtains without any mold or grime that are updated to fit the aesthetic of the property
  4. Blemish-free walls freshly painted with a color that makes the room look bigger, brighter, and homier
  5. Brand-new fixtures everywhere—from light switches to faucets to doorknobs and fly screens
  6. Clean carpets that even look like they smell great
  7. Bright lights in every room to make the rental property feel new, and more importantly, show that you’re confident enough to put everything in the spotlight

Make sure that you use a camera that does your rental justice! None of the spectacular features you updated and cleaned will be seen if you use the front camera of your beat-up phone. If you need to hire a photographer for decent equipment, it’s worth the one-time payment to get a lifetime of great photos for your listing. 

Write an effective ad that highlights relevant details

Once you’ve updated your rentals with photogenic features, you need to post them on digital platforms. But what do you say? How do you write an effective ad that attracts your tenant pool? 

Here are the important factors to focus on:

  1. Write a great headline. Rentalutions’ formula suggests including the key information tenants look for (e.g., number of rooms or location) plus one feature that makes your rental unique.
  2. Use professional word choices that add value to your listing, as long as they’re an accurate description of your property. You want to avoid generic words such as “great” and “nice”, instead, choose words like: upgraded, spacious, tasteful, landscaped, modern, luxurious, and charming.
  3. Add more information on the key features. Knowing what tenants want (as you should), make sure to highlight these features in your ad. Are you expecting to attract tenants who put importance on parking spaces, walkability, nearby supermarkets, or proximity to a great school? Your copy should indicate that.
  4. Add detailed property descriptions. Similarly, also indicate what the tenants will want from the property itself. How many rooms, floors, and bathrooms? Will they be attracted to a lush backyard or extra storage areas? Flesh out all of the important details to attract tenants.

Lastly, prove what you said with great photos! When you use great photos to compliment everything that you verbally promoted on your listing, your screen appeal will skyrocket. This is where the prospective tenants should go “Wow! They weren’t kidding!”

List your rental on industry-popular websites

Armed with your impressive photos and well-written ad content, it’s time to post your listing where it matters. Most people are baffled by how many options there are to list online, especially since there isn’t a one-stop-shop solution that posts to all the rental listing sites. 

Zillow—the favorite of most landlords—allows you to create detailed listings that they’ll syndicate out to 26 partner sites (including Trulia, Hotpads, and MSN Real Estate), but it still doesn’t cover all of the sites available.

To get started, check these sites that are known to be effective and user-friendly:

  1. Zillow
  2. Trulia
  3. Hotpads
  4. Craigslist
  5. Facebook

Apart from those, you can also consider these lesser-known platforms:

  1. Apartments.com
  2. Apartment Finder
  3. Apartment Guide
  4. Apartment Home Living
  5. Apartment List
  6. Backpage
  7. Byowner.com
  8. Cozy
  9. Doorsteps
  10. Move
  11. My New Place
  12. Nextdoor.com
  13. Oodle
  14. Realrentals.com
  15. Realtor.com
  16. Rent.com
  17. Rentals.com
  18. Rentdigs.com
  19. Rentlinx
  20. Saletraderent.com
  21. Sublet.com
  22. Walk Score
  23. Zumper

All of these websites allow you to post for free. You just need to do some research and decide which platform enables you to attract the tenants that you want. For more details on the sites we mentioned above, check Smart Move and Landlordology.

Conclusion

Technological development waits for no one. In order to keep up and remain competitive in the rental property business, it’s time to level up with online marketing!

The steps are easy enough—simply increase your property’s screen appeal, write an effective ad describing the best parts of your property, and list them on websites where tenants are likely to browse for new homes.

Any other tips on how to market rentals online? Where are your rentals listed so far?

Image courtesy of Joshua Miranda

Categories
Landlords

7 Ways to Attract Newly WFH Tenants

Now that work-from-home is normal, many Americans are planning to move!

The pandemic has shown both employers and employees that remote working is possible, profitable, and preferable. Employers enjoy lower overhead costs, while employees can relocate to areas with a lower cost of living and larger homes.

Don’t believe that work-from-home is really here to stay?

Just check out these statistics from Upwork reports:

  • 1 in 4 Americans said they’ll be working remotely in 2021.
  • The U.S. predicts an influx of 14-23 million remote workers soon.
  • 14-23 million Americans intend to relocate as a result of remote work.
  • 36.2 million Americans (22% of the workforce) will be working remotely by 2025—an 87% increase from the number of remote workers prior to COVID-19.

With so many people planning to relocate, your tenant base can expand beyond the traditional type of applicants you received in the past – like those who work at nearby companies. Tenants can now come from anywhere, work anywhere, and will have priorities that are different from tenants who commute to a job nearby.

As a landlord, you need to know what these remote-working tenants are looking for, so you can tailor your marketing efforts and investment strategy to capture this huge new market.

Let’s look at 7 different ways you can attract them:

1. Offer a Work-Conducive Space

Whether your rental property is a stand-alone house or apartment units in a building, remote workers now prioritize a space for working almost as much as a space for sleeping! They will look for a home that’s well-lit and has a dedicated office space, ideally – perfect for long hours of work.

This could be as simple as a secluded corner where an office table would fit perfectly, or a spare bedroom that’s easily convertible to a home office. Both areas should be ready for additional electrical wiring (e.g., outlets or light sockets) and additional shelves or cabinets. Remember, remote workers will be spending at least 8 hours of their day in whatever working space your home can provide—if you want to attract them, you need to cater to their working needs and make this area as ideal as possible.

2. Advertise Where They Are – Online

With the coronavirus solidifying our dependency on technology, many landlords have already adapted to digital means of advertising. Now, with most applicants finding and even viewing properties online, digital listings have become more important than ever.

In other words, you need to create a killer ad on real estate sites and renting platforms, or else nobody will find you!

Aside from standard details, such as the rental rate and location, you should also highlight parts of your property that will be attractive to remote worker renters. This will vary from property to property.

For apartment units, this may mean laundry services or swimming pools, but the most important thing is to make sure there are stable, fast internet speeds available from providers in your area. It may also mean plenty of nearby businesses, shopping centers and other local amenities, like services to support remote working (print shops, etc.). With proximity to the office becoming a lower priority, having amenities and services near their residence might appeal to tenants more than commuting times in the current environment.

In special cases, you might advertise a home specifically because it gives the off-the-grid appeal. Remote workers finally being able to move away from the city might be on the lookout for a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life, so rural and remote rentals might be more in-demand now with WFH tenants.

3. Emphasize Value for Money

One of the biggest reasons why remote workers move is because they want to pay lower rent, and they’re now no longer limited to renting in expensive areas, just to be closer to their office.

Think about this when marketing your rental properties.

For example, if your home is a 3-bed, spacious property in a Class A neighborhood that rents for the same cost as a 1-bedroom apartment in your closest major city, you could say: “2000 sq ft house on ½ an acre (in an award-winning school system), for less than the price of a Chicago apartment!”

Speaking directly to the pain points currently experienced by your tenant base will help make your listing more appealing to them, and could help you stand out from the crowd when marketing to WFH applicants.

4. Provide 3D or Virtual Tours

Because of social distancing rules, travel restrictions, and the risk of infection, many people now avoid visiting properties in-person. Providing virtual tours for prospective tenants will allow them to “visit” your property freely at any time of the day – from anywhere in the country! This makes it easy for remote workers who are planning to relocate to view your property, even if they’re stuck in the middle of a city at the moment.

There are plenty of softwares available on the market that specialize in creating virtual tours for your property. Consider getting a professional to come film and create your virtual or 3D tour, because in some cases, it will be the only point of reference your tenants have before deciding whether or not to rent your property. It’s important to make a great impression with your tour, so spending a little cash on having it done by an expert is well worth it – especially since you’ll be able to re-use the same 3D tour in future years (as long as you don’t do any major renovations).

5. Assure a Contactless Process

Now that remote work is becoming the norm, you (as the landlord) should also consider having a contactless process for managing your rental properties. Not only will this make things easier for you to manage, but it also makes the system safer for your tenants.

Nearly everything in real estate can be done remotely, such as:

  • Self-guided virtual tours
  • Thorough tenant screening
  • Document preparations
  • Securing digital signatures
  • Collecting rent via online portals
  • Delegating, coordinating, and monitoring tasks to contractors

As a bonus, remote worker tenants will most probably have no problems adapting to a digital process – in fact, it’s what they’re used to, at this point! Mention in your listing that you offer these contactless solutions, and it can help attract these tech-savvy tenants.

6. Highlight Health & Safety Measures

Moving during a pandemic can be a scary undertaking, especially if tenants are worried about coming into contact with the virus when they move into their new home.

To give them peace of mind, make sure you thoroughly disinfect the property before move-in day by deep-cleaning the carpets and furniture, mopping floors, wiping down surfaces, and clearing the ventilation systems.

You can hire a professional disinfection service to sterilize the property with UV light, smoke, or cleaning solutions, and even provide a certificate stating when the disinfection took place. Again, highlighting these safety measures in your ads will help reassure applicants who are concerned about transmission.

7. Allow their Pet Companions

According to The Humane Society of the United States, 72% of renters have pets. Now that many people are transitioning to WFH, this number might even increase.

Some tenants who never were able to care for a pet before due to long hours spent out of the house might now decide to get that puppy they’ve always dreamed of, since they’re working from home. Others may be feeling isolated during the lockdown and have only their furry friend to keep them company – so if your rental means giving up their pet companion, it might be a deal-breaker! Allowing pets right now therefore could be an additional way to attract remote workers as tenants.

However, if you don’t want to consider having pets in your rental properties, just be aware that more tenants could be trying to sneak in unauthorized pets now than in previous years – so that’s something to keep an extra-close eye on when inspecting properties.

Conclusion

The best landlords are always on the lookout for the next real estate trends. Remote working is just one of the huge trends that emerged in 2020, but experts are predicting that it’s a trend that will remain in 2021 and beyond.

Because of this, landlords need to make sure their rental properties are primed to attract the huge influx of remote workers who are on the hunt for a new home.

Take advantage of this new opportunity to meet the demands of our ever-changing society—and grow your rental business in the process!

Are you renting out to remote-working tenants? What are the things they tend to look for, in your experience?

Image courtesy of Teryn Elliott

Categories
Wholesaling

Where to Find the Best Real Estate Wholesaling Deals

Like plenty of new investors, you may have decided to try out real estate wholesaling.

Using this investment method, the turnaround period is short, and you don’t need a lot of money (if any) to start—this is why a lot of first-time investors gravitate towards wholesaling.

However, to be successful at it, you do need to find the best properties for wholesaling. After all, not all deals have an equal potential for giving you the returns you desire. You’ll need to source houses significantly (ideally around 50%) under market value, and for that, you’ll also need to be dealing with motivated sellers. 

Finding these kinds of properties isn’t easy – that’s why not everyone and their mother is out there working as a successful wholesale. But to get you started, here’s a guide to help you source profitable wholesaling deals.

Offline Methods

There are two main kinds of wholesale deal sources: offline and online. Though many will consider online methods to be more efficient—especially in today’s digitally driven world—offline techniques also have their benefits.

Those who were successful at real estate wholesaling started their careers with these old-fashioned methods. Though these methods often require more time and resources to set up, you have a good chance of sealing your first deal with the help of these proven techniques:

Driving for Dollars

Before the internet, driving for dollars was one of the most popular ways to hunt for wholesale leads. If you’re tight on budget, this old-fashioned way can still work wonders.

You simply hop into your car and drive through target neighborhoods (i.e. places where buyers actually want to live or invest), looking for properties that show signs of neglect. Some signs to look for are the following:

  • Abandonment or vacancy
  • Overgrown lawn and plants
  • Boarded-up windows
  • Visible damages
  • Uncollected trash

Once you spot a potential property, use public records to find the name of the registered owner, and contact them to make an offer. Often, an unused property could be more of a burden to the owner than a boon – like the unwanted home of a deceased relative, for example – and they’ll be fairly motivated to consider letting someone take it off their hands.

Bandit Signs

Bandit signs are another low-cost and effective way to find deals in your local housing market. Often spotted on random street corners or busy traffic areas, these signs say things like “We Buy Houses” or “Sell Your House for Cash”. Place them in the neighborhoods you want to target for your real estate wholesaling deals.

However, before you start putting up your own, just make sure that these signs aren’t illegal in your area!

Direct Mail Campaigns

This involves sending out postcards or letters to potential sellers, expressing your interest in buying their property. Direct mail campaigns can be effective, though they’re a bit pricier and slower to generate leads than their equivalent online methods.

You’ll need to secure mailing lists and be persistent with getting a response. To increase your success rate, only target owners of pre-foreclosure properties, high equity or delinquent mortgages, probates, and other types of motivated sellers.

Networking

Joining local real estate investment clubs is a great way to find deals. There may be sellers that just haven’t listed their properties yet, which a network of agents, investors, and attorneys can inform you about. Making connections in the industry will also grow your buyers’ list, increasing your chances of closing deals on both ends.

Newspapers

Old-fashioned newspaper advertising can help you reach sellers who aren’t online. After all, 10% of all Americans aren’t online—equating to nearly 33 million Americans!

To avoid missing an opportunity for a real estate wholesaling deal, you can reach more people by posting “I Buy Houses!” ads in local newspapers.

Online methods

Online methods are often more convenient and faster at producing results, though they may not always be as effective as offline methods—and there’s plenty of competition online that you have to contend with, too! Nevertheless, you can still discover a lot of good deals online that you wouldn’t find otherwise.

Here’s how:

Wholesaling Website

Creating a website allows you to target a larger customer audience. With a single click, you can reach thousands more people—a lot more than you can reach with local signages.

Your website should sell yourself as a willing and capable real estate wholesaler, convincing people to trust you with their property. You should optimize your website with SEO, PPC advertising, and social media marketing (as well as retargeting ads) to generate leads and seal more deals.

Expired MLS listings

Expired MLS (Multiple Listing Service) listings are properties that weren’t sold by the date specified in the listing contract between the seller and the listing agent. There aren’t a lot of properties that get this far, but a real estate agent or broker should be able to help you find these deals.

To do this, focus on a particular city or neighborhood, check the properties within, and get in touch with the owners of the expired listings to show your interest in their property. Usually, they’re pretty motivated to sell, since the property has already sat on the market for a long time with no buyers coming forward.

Online Forum and Auction Sites

Craigslist, Hubzu, ForSaleByOwner, and Auction.com are places where people often post to sell quickly. This makes them potential gold mines for real estate investors, and wholesalers in particular. If you move faster than your competition, you can snag some great deals from these websites.

Final Thoughts

For you to be successful in real estate wholesaling, you have to make numerous offers to seal enough deals—both online and offline.

Once you find a motivated seller with a distressed property, make sure to move fast to get them under contract. Then, follow through with assigning the rights to your buyer and collecting your fee, before beginning your search anew!

Any other sources we’ve missed? Which one’s your go-to strategy to find deals?

Image Courtesy of PhotoMIX

Categories
Landlords

How to Write a Perfect Property Description to Attract the Best Tenants

Your property listing is the very first touchpoint between you and your ideal tenant, so it’s pretty essential to get this right.  A big part of this is the written property description which should appeal to the type of person you’d most like to have as a renter, whether that be young professionals or middle-class families. This article will show you how to get inside the mind of your prospective tenant and tailor your description to speak to them, just like professional marketers do when they want their product to stand out from the crowd.

Think Like a Marketer

As you prepare your rental listings, always write to attract your target tenant. You can do this by finding out as much as you can about their interests, concerns, and needs, and addressing these within your description.While you can’t discriminate as a landlord, you can still tailor your messaging to make it sound more appealing to your preferred target demographic, making them more likely to choose your home over another similar property on the market.

Know Your Audience

Once you have an idea for who your target tenant is, you can use tools like social media to help get inside their head. Look through property groups or ads on Facebook, and read through the comments to get an idea for the types of questions that concern your audience, and even the language they use to describe their ideal home. Write these words down and incorporate them into your property description, to help your home appear when they search for these keywords online. 

Do Market Research

You can also use social media, and other property listing sites, to get a feel for the competition in your area. The point here is not to copy other descriptions, but rather to understand the ways in which your home is unique, so you can better emphasise these qualities in your own ads.

Craft Compelling Copy

There are two kinds of buyers: emotional and rational. You can make your marketing copy appeal to both of these kinds of prospective tenants by choosing the right words.

For those driven by emotion, tell a story with your property description to help them imagine themselves living in your home (e.g. “Curl up by the fireplace in the evening with a good book”). Just make sure the story you use is something that would speak to your ideal tenant.

For those driven by logic, the best way to “sell” them on your property is to remove any element of doubt from the equation. To do this, try to answer any potential question they may have about the property in the description itself. Take note of all the questions you see while doing your online research, as well as those which are asked most frequently by your prospective tenants, and incorporate the answers to them in your ads. This way, when they see your property, they’ll be able to tell right away whether it’s right for them, and this will give them confidence to choose your place over all the others on the market.

Embrace The New Normal

In the era of the new normal, tenants’ priorities are changing, so highlighting features which appeal to people in the current climate is another way to help make your property stand out.. Concerns about  privacy and seclusion from neighbors, and the presence of big indoor/outdoor spaces, entertainment or recreational areas, large kitchens, home offices, and spaces which can be easily separated to accommodate people living and working at home together are just some of the things that tenants are now prioritizing more than ever before, so if your property has any of these features, make sure to emphasize and leverage on that as a selling point.

When creating your listings, you don’t need to stand out by having the fanciest property description in the entire market. You only need to stand out to one person: your ideal tenant. The best way to do this is by tailoring your language to address their desires and concerns directly, just like the best business marketers do.

Image Courtesy of Ivan Samkov

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