Time is money. That’s why we say “time spent” when talking about how long it takes to do something. When it comes to advertising your property, the time spent finding a new tenant on your own can easily become a big expense. So how much time do you really spend and how much do the dollars really stack up? Let’s break it down by the three major steps involved in advertising your property for rent.
Luckily, many popular listing sites are free for landlords to advertise their rentals. There are many sites that offer a one-stop solution as well and can push your ad to other sites, too. The true cost of advertising comes with the time it takes to list, manage, and accept requests from prospective renters. You’ve spent time writing the perfect ad, took stunning pictures, and did the research to price your property appropriately based on current market conditions. Let’s say that everything is going really well and the calls come flooding in. Seriously flooding in! While you can’t answer every call, plan to spend anywhere between 15-20 minutes per call. And don’t forget to return the voicemails!
When you have a lot of interest in your rental, the number of calls, questions, and voicemails can quickly become overwhelming. Minutes stack up and the time you spent fielding calls can turn into a full-time job. For that reason, it pays to hire a property management company to handle things for you. After all, it’s part of their job!
Many first-time landlords underestimate the time involved with showing their rental to prospective tenants. Even if you live fairly close to your rental, the likelihood of getting there and being done in under half an hour is small. Drive time, walking the prospects through the inside and outside of the rental, and answering any questions can easily take between 30-90 minutes of your time. If you have multiple people at your showing, it may take longer. Factor in gas and wear/tear on your car and you begin to see real monetary costs. And perhaps the worst part of it all is that often times you’ve spent all this time and money to schedule a showing only to get no-showed!
This leads to another pitfall many DIY landlords fall into: showing the property once and accepting the first prospect with cash in hand. On average, it can take between 7-15 showings to find a tenant who is actually qualified for the property. This means you could spend 10-20 hours of your time just showing the home. If you have a full-time job already, this means spending your weekends showing your rental.
Applications and Screening
Applicants can take anywhere between 15 minutes to 3 days to complete an application. If you have multiple, you’ll want to be sure to go through as many as you can to have back-ups in case the first applicant is declined or falls through. And when you finally have a completed application, it’s time to run the background check. Screening can cost anywhere between $15-50 depending on the type of screening you do. When completing a background check for your rental, you’ll want to check credit history, national criminal records (including sex offender registries and terrorist watch lists), and a rental/eviction history check. When you have multiple applicants, it’s best to screen each adult living in the property to ensure everyone meets your requirements. And yes, this is where application fees come into play, but you can’t forget that the time you spend combing through the paperwork and screening results is just as important. You don’t get reimbursed for that.
From writing your rental ad to finally collecting the deposit, advertising your home for rent can eat up a lot of time. Time you could be spending with your family, focusing on your career, or even looking for other rentals to expand your investment portfolio. For this reason, many seasoned landlords and real estate investors choose to hire a property management company. Having a dedicated professional to manage your rental saves you time and money, and means you can get back to doing what you do best.