How long does it take to rent out a place?
December 16, 2008 2:51 AM   Subscribe

Is there a good way to estimate how soon I'd be able to rent out my place?

I'm considering getting a job in another city and moving. If I did get an offer from an organization in another city, I'd need to rent out my condo, as I doubt I'd be able to sell it in this market at a reasonable price.

The thing is, I don't know how to guess at how long it would take to find tenants. Are there any rules of thumb for figuring this out? Something along the lines of "three weeks, minus a week for every $100 under the average rent for the area"?

I'd also appreciate any advice about the feasibility of relocating while leaving behind a property. I figure that plenty of people have already done this, and that you can take care of your tenants by calling for whatever professional service they need when problems occur, e.g. electrician, plumber.
posted by ignignokt to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Do you need a landlord license in your city? The rules / regulations maybe be different for certain things depending on if a property is owner-occupied or occupied by renters. Does your condo association allow renters, even?

I'd suggest that you not underestimate the bureaucratic time-suck this may be, especially if you've never been a landlord before. Drawing up leases, getting credit checks for prospective tenants, not to mention the part that you're obviously thinking of - advertising and showing the place.

Ask around to see if there are any reputable property management companies in your area. There are always things that come up and (from the perspective of a renter) an absentee landlord who is coordinating things from afar can be very annoying.
posted by polexa at 5:01 AM on December 16, 2008

I figure that plenty of people have already done this, and that you can take care of your tenants by calling for whatever professional service they need when problems occur, e.g. electrician, plumber.

Sure. But what about when the problem is the tenants? Then you won't know about it for ages and ages.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:11 AM on December 16, 2008

If you aren't going to be in the immediate area, you need to get a local property management company.
You are just asking for a demolished, ruined and gutted property otherwise.
posted by whoda at 7:06 AM on December 16, 2008

Best answer: I'm an ex-landlord, and we would get almost no interest in the dead of winter. If you were to put it on the rental market right now, you would probably have a tenant by Mar./April if the rent was comparable with other units in the area.

If you can afford it, setting the rent below the market rate will get it rented faster. And yes, check into property management companies - tenants are a lot more abusive towards properties if they know you're an absentee landlord.
posted by Ostara at 7:21 AM on December 16, 2008

Best answer: Definitely look into getting a property manager. Not only will they have a good idea of the market and be able to give you a more educated answer to your question, and they have the added benefit of being local. There's so much more to be being a landlord than just calling for a plumber. In terms of cost, I'm in a pricey area of Canada so our prices might be drastically different, but the property management company I rent from takes the first month's rent as a tenant-finders fee, and then 8% of the rent for the duration of the lease.
posted by cgg at 7:39 AM on December 16, 2008

Best answer: I'm adding an informal solution, which is to check craigslist rentals for your local area, especially if you're near a university and/or would not object to renting to graduate students or faculty. I don't know what pool of people you anticipate renting to, but if it includes young people making less than $50k per annum, you can expect a lot of similar properties to go up on craigslist even if a property manager is involved.

Look at rentals priced within +/- $250 of what you expect to charge, and see how quickly listings get taken down or if it's common for posters to specify a date for move-in. Even right now, where I spend most of my time there is a constantly fluctuating academic population and property holders have the luxury of noting that "move-in must happen within two weeks" or similar ("within two days" is less common than it used to be, but it still happens).

This obviously doesn't obviate the need for a property manager, but it might provide you with a little additional information.
posted by jeeves at 11:43 AM on December 16, 2008

Best answer: As a former real estate agent who dealt with rentals, December was crazy. I did well in December, but that's because I kept hustling. I would tell clients that they would have less competition, but also less choice.

It depends on what kind of city or town you live in, what kind of place you're renting, and how much you're charging. In the winter, no one moves because they feel like moving. they move because they have to.

In NYC, there are plenty of people who show up in December and need a place to live, so the $1400 studios or 1-br's would always move, that demographic is always moving no matter what time of year it is. ($1400 being cheap in nyc rent)

A larger apartment designed for a family would be tougher, because families tend to base their moves around the school year, you would probably have to wait a month or two (at least) to get it off the market, and then you'd probably end up having to compromise and rent it to a bunch of roommates.

Worst of all would be your luxury or slightly-nicer-than-average apartment for a single or a couple. That's going to be the toughest to move in the winter because unless you have someone who needs to move for a very specific reason, you're not going to find someone who bites.

Agree that setting the rent for below market rates with a notation that you're looking for a good tenant (so people don't reject you out of hand as being too good to be true) will help your cause.

I wouldn't suggest trying to manage your property remotely, especially since you're a first-time landlord. You want someone who is around to check on the place, is available to help the tenants, can come by and collect rent if it's late for some reason, and, heaven forbid, be there in case of emergency. They also have to deal with the meter readers, if you get a leaky window, if someone breaks somethign and it needs to be fixed. Don't do this remotely.
posted by micawber at 1:05 PM on December 16, 2008

Response by poster: Wow, that's a lot of valuable insight. I had no idea that property managers were willing to handle single units within condos. Thanks, guys.

Also, the fact that it's the dead of winter the fact that I have a "slightly-nicer-than-average apartment for a single or a couple" leads me to believe that my plan is likely no longer feasible.
posted by ignignokt at 2:24 PM on December 16, 2008

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