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Cant Rent a Work Zone

So you've picked up your first (or third, or tenth) income property, and it's a real fixer-upper. You've got a great team of contractors, and you know what they need to do and how much time and money it's going to cost to make it happen. The renovations are going to put you in the red and you're going to need to get a tenant in there ASAP. So as soon as you have the plan worked out with the contractors you run an ad and start showing the place, right? Not if you don't want to throw away money, you don't!

Prospective tenants lack imagination, and this is never so evident as when you're showing them a place that is missing walls, is covered in construction dust, badly needs a paint job, has a gutted bathroom . . . you get the idea? "Curb appeal" is a concept that refers to the attractiveness of the outside of a house. Equally important is what I call "Foyer Appeal," which is how the inside looks when you're standing in the front door. If your curb appeal is poor (which is likely while you're renovating, since your money is best spent on the inside problems first), half of your appointments will be no-shows because they assume the outside is representative of the inside. On the flip side, poor foyer appeal will turn off the ones that actually walk in the door. No matter how clearly you explain what work you've got planned, the best you're going to get is, "I'd like to see it again when it's finished," and you'll be lucky if a third of them offer that level of commitment.

Let me put it another way: if you're savvy enough to know the importance of online marketing, you also know that pictures are the most powerful part of your internet ad campaign. Are you going to take pictures of a construction zone, or a place that looks like a tornado hit it, and expect a high response rate? Or maybe you'll just skip the pictures entirely, so that ninety percent of your potential tenants just scroll on by without a second glance? Having good pictures could cut your advertising time from two or three months to under a week.

If you're putting money into a property, it stands to reason that you're going to want to recoup that investment as quickly as possible. Showing an apartment that isn't ready for a resident wastes your time and advertising dollars, could permanently turn off potential tenants, and might give you an unearned reputation for low-quality housing. Start your marketing when the punch list is cleared, and your prospective tenants will be far more likely to sign on the dotted line.

2005 Terence P Ward, all rights reserved.Terence P Ward is the President of Landlord for Hire, a residential property management service of Green and Clean Corporation, based in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State. You may find contact information for him on either of his company's web pages.

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