We’ve all hear the expression, “don’t step over a dollar to save a dime.” This is great to think of when your property becomes vacant and goes on the market for a new tenant. Vacant listings require some effort and investment from the landlord. Your property could be vacant for several months while trying to find the right tenant. However, when that tenant makes their offer, they will most likely lease the property for three or more years. You don’t want the current condition of your property to lower the rent you receive for many years to come. Cutting out expenses while the property is vacant could cause the property to stay vacant for longer. It could even lower the final offer price when you do secure a tenant. So what should you do while listing your property for lease? Here are a few services you should keep up with while the property is vacant.
Water & Sewer Service
The water and sewer bill for a vacant property should be a minimal monthly cost that is worth the expense. Keeping the water on allows the agent to flush the toilet sporadically, which is important before showings. You may not realize, but toilets that haven’t been flushed for an extended time start to look really gross. Often times, the sewer can even back up into the bottom of the toilet.
Although, the appearance isn’t the worst of it – the SMELL is! Depending on the length of time the water has been off and the temperature, you could open the door and be hit with the smell of sewer permeating the space.
If you’re in a financial crunch and you can’t pay the fee for water and sewer there is an alternative. You could place a few gallon jugs of water in the restroom and have your listing agent arrive prior to showings. The agent could add water to the toilet bowl, flush the toilet and air out the building.
Keeping the electricity on in a vacant space while listing your property for lease can be helpful for many reasons. It can allow you to keep an alarm system turned on, even if it is not remotely monitored. You can use timers for lights to turn on in different rooms throughout the evening, providing additional security. Keeping the electricity on also allows you to keep exterior lights on. Most importantly for property tours, it allows prospects to actually see the space during tours. Touring a property in the dark with a flashlight is not the first impression you want to give your future tenants of your space or of you as a landlord.
Most landlords realize that some amount of landscaping is required, even on vacant properties. Basic landscaping prevents vines and tree limbs from damaging the building roof, structure and rain gutters.
Further, there are many marketing reasons that landscaping should be maintained on listed properties. First and foremost, landscaping should be kept up enough to catch the prospects eye from the road. Seeing a well-kept property can encourage them to call the number on the listing sign. Second, a neat landscape improves the impression of the value of the property when a prospect arrives for a tour. If the prospect isn’t calculating the cost to tame the overgrown shrubs, they’re more likely to make a fair offer. Finally, it’s hard to see what property is included when the grass and shrubs get really out of control. The tenant may underestimate the size of the property when the landscaping is overgrown.
Reducing the frequency of services such as landscaping on a vacant property is understandable. But, before you cancel these services altogether, take into consideration whether the temporary savings will be worth it in the long run. Keeping up with these services while you’re listing a property for lease could help fill your vacancy more quickly. If you don’t keep up with these services, you could be giving prospects an impression that as a landlord you will be cheap or absent when future needs arise.
About Stephanie Gilbert – Stephanie has been working in commercial real estate since 2003. Although she has done a variety of deals, her focus and passion, when it comes to commercial real estate, is leasing and selling office space, primarily in the Pensacola, Florida area. If you would like to contact her, you can call her at 850-610-8339, or email her at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter at @.