Every client we’ve ever had has wanted as little vacancy time for their rental as possible.  Zero days are optimal; every day after zero winds up costing them money in utilities, mortgage payments, and maintenance.  Not wanting to lose any money leads to a mentality of getting the home on the market as soon as possible, regardless of condition and resident situation.

So some clients want us to put their homes on the market prior to them being ready for occupancy.  What I mean by this is that the home has not been completely repaired and there are still personal items in the house.  They (or their current tenants) also are within the process of moving.

The rationale, by itself, is sound.  The greater the length of time the house is on the market, the greater amount of potential tenants that can see it.  If more potential renters see it, the law of large numbers would dictate that someone at some point would love it and want it.

However, does this really work?  I would argue it doesn’t.  Huh?  Why’s that?  Isn’t it common sense?

Simply, the American consumer’s mind works differently now.  There is an inundation of information being flung at them on a constant basis.  Most of it is ignored; however, there are some marketing messages that get through (like a rental listing).  If the consumer takes the time and makes an inquiry to visit the property, there is typically one shot to get them.  Their attention span is limited.

This one shot means that the house has to look perfect.  This visit needs to conclude with the prospective tenant loving the house.  If they see or feel something they don’t like, it will probably turn them off and they will want to find another home.  And there are many other rental houses on the market that look very similar.  The competition is fierce!


So why does this matter?  Maybe the diamonds in the rough that aren’t turned off by the home’s uncleanliness will be unearthed and they’ll take it.  It’s certainly possible.  But are renters who don’t care about the condition of the home desirable?  If so, there may be disappointment when move-out time arrives and the home doesn’t look so great.  Clean people typically want clean homes.

The other main reason is that once the marketing of the property begins, momentum is started.  The rental is on the top of all the searches from rental websites, people who are waiting for a rental are told about it by their property managers, and it is fresh.  This is when things typically happen for an average rental home- the first two weeks.  Interested calls, inquiring e-mails, and subsequent showings come quickly.  They need to be harnessed and converted into applications and security deposits.

But when the rental house isn’t up to the task, momentum is stunted.  Interested, potential renters see the property in less than ideal shape and compare it to better kept homes on the market.  The home loses out.  Or the current tenant in the home is packing boxes to move and glares at the renter who is interrupting their evening after work.  The house looks horrible and the vibe is bad.  Potential renters flee to the next home.  Can you blame them?

With rental homes, it’s more about quality time on the market and less about total time.  Make sure the rental home is ready and most inviting when the most people want to look at it!