Rental properties: how to turn a negative into a positive

Last Updated: May 21, 2018By

Permission to subletWhen I bought my first rental property, it was on the fourth floor of a walk-up. Imagine hauling groceries to that unit. It wasn’t fun, but my legs looked great. I saved $100 a month because the gym was no longer necessary. See how reframing changes your perspective?

While I jest, the sentiment has value. Reframing a negative into a positive can work for most issues you find in real estate investments. When there’s a negative about your unit or property, highlight something that would alleviate the need for what your property is lacking. Let’s look at four common negative situations and reframe them into selling points.

Related: How to use cap rate to make your investment property decisions

1. No laundry in building

When you live in an apartment building, laundry is an event. I remember saving up my laundry until I was on my last sock before I would finally think about doing laundry when I lived in an apartment (nothing has changed). I would put it in a wheeled laundry basket and walk it down the block to the Laundromat.

When I became a landlord, one of my buildings didn’t have any on-site laundry. This was an issue for potential renters. Time and time again, I would have prospective renters say that the laundry was a deal breaker for them, so I got creative.

Solution: I spoke with a local fluff-and-fold service that picks up laundry, cleans it, folds it, and drops it back off. I negotiated a special rate for tenants. What was once a deal breaker became a sale maker. The fluff-and-fold deal became a selling point, and I rented the unit the same day I updated my ad to include this feature.

2. Landlord is selling

I recently put one of my leased units on the market. The tenants still had six months left on their lease, so I had plenty working against the potential sale. One, the buyer would either need to be willing to wait to move in or want to be a landlord. Two, the tenants are living their lives in this unit. Showings would be an issue. It could be messy. It was definitely intrusive.

What could I do?

Solution: I spoke with a Realtor friend of mine and asked for advice. He specialized in buying and selling investment properties, so this wasn’t his first rodeo. He suggested offering a monthly discount as an incentive to keep the unit clean. Other options were offering a “bonus” when the unit sold, giving the tenants the option to end the lease early, and/or providing a weekly cleaning service. We chose to offer a “bonus,” when the sale closed. The unit is now under contract, and the tenant is still happy.

Related: How to stage a rental for showing

3. No assigned parking

In two of my real estate investments, I had the issue of no assigned parking. Street parking was the only parking available. At least, on the surface. I found that local parking lots had rental spaces available.

Solution: To turn this negative into a positive, I worked with local parking lot managers to secure monthly parking options. From here, you have a few options. You can secure the parking spaces yourself and roll the cost into the rent, or pass along the information to the tenant or prospective tenant to manage themselves.

If street parking is truly your only option, you can add other incentives to ease the burden by including the cost of a residential parking sticker (if needed) or a stipend for public transportation within the monthly rent.

4. No outdoor space

Outdoor space is an amenity that is important to today’s renters, and I didn’t have it. There was no place to put a barbecue or have drinks on a balcony.

Solution: I focused on what I did have: access to a great park. My unit did not have a terrace, and it never would. What it did have was a big park right behind the building that had barbecues, a playground, and hangout areas for the pups in the neighborhood. In fact, it was where I met all of my local friends and neighbors. I highlighted that outdoor space.

If you’re hard-pressed to find an outdoor space to highlight at your property, go a different direction. Provide a beach pass or a dog park pass in your move-in welcome package.

Related: The perfect tenant move-in package

No property is perfect, but any property can seem perfect to someone.

Being a landlord provides you with many opportunities to think of creative ways to make your tenant’s life better. Instead of thinking of yourself as a landlord, think of yourself as a tenant experience manager. You have the potential to make your tenant’s life better by finding innovative ways to solve problems. What problems can you solve for your tenants?


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