We’re living in a different world when it comes to the rental market in Boston. As one of the heaviest supply markets in the country, the downturn in demand is hitting our city harder than many other areas of the country. With that said, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. In order to stay competitive in the Boston rental market, you’re going to have to get creative and start offering concessions. In fact, in May, more than 40% of all properties in the Boston multifamily market had some form of a concession, according to CoStar. So where do you start if you want to get your apartment rented and prevent extended vacancies? Here are some of the key things you should be focusing on.
Paying Broker Fees
If your apartment is on the market, we strongly advise paying the broker fee. At Charlesgate Realty, we charge one month’s rent. Many larger managed properties and smaller landlords have recently begun offering this to agents. This lowers upfront fees and is often much more effective than just lowering monthly rent.
Watching Market Rent
The market is changing – we’ve seen a downward turn from last season. With that said, it’s important to follow the trends of other similar units on the market. We are seeing average list prices for downtown neighborhood rentals, per MLS data, are $539 less in June 2020 vs. June 2019.
Offering Free Rent
Offering a free month rent is a great incentive right now. Many larger buildings are beginning to pay broker fees and offer a free month, in some cases two months free rent. For smaller owners, this is a lot, but depending on the competition in the market this could be necessary.
Reevaluating Pets and Terms
Allowing pets and changing move in terms can often open up your listing to new renters. Things like renting to students, being flexible with lease end dates, including utilities, cable, and WiFi can set your listing apart. Some have lower immediate financial impact and can help solve the problem of renting in the short term.
Fixing Up Your Unit
Sometimes maintenance is needed. Have you or your property manager recently been through the unit? You may be able to touch up paint and make minor repairs while the current tenants are still there. Also, make sure the common areas and entrance are cleaned up and presentable, they are a reflection of the quality of building and residents.
Investing In Renovations and Upgrades
If your unit is currently vacant or is expected to be, it may be an opportunity to renovate the kitchen and bath(s). It is not common to have downtime in a unit and many rentals have deferred improvements due to the lack of vacancy. Reinvesting now can help you avoid losing rent in a hotter market and will also make the unit more desirable against competing inventory in the short run.
Developing a Partnership
As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work. Aligning yourself with an agent or firm that does rentals and rental management will help you get a leg up on the competition. Listing with an agent who can post in MLS and syndicating sites like Zillow, Hotpads, Trulia, etc., will open up your listing to more renters.
Cashing Out With A Sale
The sales market has continued to see little new inventory and in the Greater Boston market, most properties are going quickly, often with multiple offers over asking. Low interest rates and little supply has kept the sales market strong. Many would-be renters are opting to buy given favorable mortgage rates. If you have been considering selling and are looking at your unit’s lease coming to expire this summer, now is the perfect time.
Ready to have a strategic conversation about how you can stay competitive in today’s rental market? Contact our team!