There are numerous reasons why homeowners may choose to rent their homes. Regardless of whether you are looking to build a portfolio of rental properties or just need to rent your home during a temporary job move, attracting quality tenants is one of the most important tasks.

We have put together some secrets you need for your own DIY tenant search to help you maximize your profits and minimize your efforts. This is not an all-inclusive list, but it covers most of what you need to know to save money on hiring a professional. We’ll continue with Part 2 next week.

Price: Accurate pricing is critical. The best way to market your rental is to set monthly rent that is competitive with similar properties in your neighborhood with the same amenities and upgrades. Just like when selling your home, it is easy to overvalue the property because of emotional ties. You have to take a critical eye, then be brutally honest when comparing your home to other rentals in your neighborhood that will be competing with you for tenants.

Price too high, and you will only appeal to a small audience, if any. Price too low, and you may draw in lower quality tenants or lose potential profit.

Advertising: You must have an online presence. Most prospective tenants will begin their search on the Internet. A good place to start is with the free services that provide instant visibility. You can leverage such tools as Craigslist, Zillow, Postlets, and Trulia for free, and without the assistance of real estate professional.

If you decide to pay for advertising, look for opportunities to get the biggest bang for your buck. Given the military presence in Northern Virginia, it may be a good idea to consider paying to list on Military By Owner. This service will allow you to market to potential tenants from Fort Belvoir, Fort Myer, the Pentagon, Fort McNair, Bolling Air Force Base, Andrews Air Force Base, and Quantico.

It will cost you approximately $30-$80 to utilize Military By Owner. You do NOT have to be a veteran or actively serving in the military to advertise on this site.

Lastly, put a sign in your front yard and post flyers at work and anywhere else that allows you to do so. A sign in your yard will capture the attention of prospective tenants who drive by your property, and is a very inexpensive way to get the word out about your rental.

Pictures:  As a DIY landlord, you may save up to a month’s rent by not using a Realtor®. Take a portion of the savings and splurge on professional pictures. Online searchers will be drawn to high quality, well-staged photos, and will likewise be turned off by images of clutter, dark rooms, and fuzzy photos.

Hiring a professional photographer will cost you approximately $150-$200. You will want to use a photographer that specializes in photographing properties for sale/rent. We can recommend local photographers if you wish to pursue this option.

If you decide to do your own photographs, here are a few tips:

  • Take pictures of living areas from multiple angles, including bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, basement, and several exterior pictures.
  • Do NOT focus on that new toilet or hardware you just installed.
  • Turn on all lights, open all blinds and curtains, remove clutter, and leave toilet seats down.
  • Stage your home as if you were getting ready for an open house. Clear counter tops, add a vase of fresh flowers, remove personal items, and make each room look as open and inviting as possible.
  • Be sure to showcase desirable features: New appliances, separate tub/shower in master bath, large walk-in closets (declutter them first!), fireplaces, open floor plans, etc.
  • Use a tripod to ensure steady, well-focused shots.

Another note about pictures. For online galleries, it’s OK to use lower-resolution images. They look fine online and will help pages load faster because of the smaller file sizes. However, if you plan to do any print flyers, you will want to use high-resolution photos. It’s not uncommon for these files to be 3MB or bigger. Low-resolution photos do not print well, and will look fuzzy and unfocused, and perhaps even pixelated. It will look unprofessional.

See our other articles in this 3-part series:

Becoming a landlord is not for everyone. While this article covers one aspect of renting property, you should definitely consult your attorney and tax advisor before taking the leap. If you should be brave enough to try, then we will be the first to encourage you to go for it!If you have questions on your DIY rental -OR- area ready to turn it over to us, please contact us at SandersNoVA@gmail.com or 703-298-7037.