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Magnifying glass over top of orange house searching to find the suite spot



As a landlord its important to learn how to find the suite spot when advertising your property. We frequently get calls from frustrated landlords who have had their ads running for months and are wondering why their property isn’t renting. Although there are many excuses that can be made in this economy – we have found there is a simple explanation. Most properties (excluding the executive rental market) have a sweet/suite spot, and the frustrated landlords haven’t yet found it.
How do you find the suite/sweet spot?

Find the Suite Spot by Taking Professional Pictures

To start, you need to ensure you’ve:taken professional quality pictures of your property that show off it’s features and benefits. Then place your pictures in a logical sequence. Imagine you are walking through your property, pictures should follow the same flow.

Find the Suite Spot by Writing a Compelling Ad

Write a compelling advertisement that appeals to the type of the tenant you want to live in your property. Don’t write a boring grocery list. Think like the tenant, and have your ad align with and speak to their needs and wants. While you’re at it, do check your spelling and grammar.

Write a Catchy Title

Titles, should be short, and punchy, yet cover your property’s main selling features. For example; “You’ll fall in love with this trendy and bright furnished northeast condo.” “Have it all! Luxurious SW 1-bedroom condo with amazing amenities & location.”

Finding the Suite Spot by Posting in Busy Rental Websites

Post your ads in well trafficked online publications such as Rentfaster, or Rentboard. Also find out which websites attract quality tenants. Rental websites are targeted to specific demographics. Our experience has been that Rentfaster and Rentboard attract quality tenants looking for quality properties. However, Kijiji is geared more towards lower priced properties.

Appearance is Important

The front of the house as well as the interior work together to create a first impression. Make sure the landscaping is tidy and the interior is fixed and cleaned. If your property has a beautiful, welcoming deck, it’ll show potential tenants the property is cared for. Even if you have an older property, a clean, well maintained property will rent over a messy/dirty property 100% of the time.

Monitor Your Ads

Once you’ve completed your pictures and ads, monitor your ads – are they generating healthy viewing stats? Typically, 80- 100’s of views within a few days of posting an online ad is great. With numbers in that range, you should be getting calls for appointments.

If not – recheck your wording/have someone objective read it to give you an honest opinion. You may need to tweak the wording, or if the ad is well written, try switching your main picture.

Be Prepared to Tweak Your Ad

We had advertised a suite with a great kitchen as the main picture, and weren’t getting much response. I decided to switch the main picture to the front entrance. The entrance boasted an eye-catching red door and colourful wall hangings – people started calling.

Tweak the Price To Find The Suite Spot

Have people been picking up the phone to book viewings? If so, you’re getting closer. If not, you’ll want to take a closer look at your price. Is it in the same range as similar properties in the area? Try dropping the price by $50 increments/week until your phone starts ringing. Price makes a huge difference, when people search properties within a budget. Often searches are done within $50-$100 range (i.e. 1600 – 1650 or 1700 – 1800). When you hit the right price, people will call.

We have friends who were renting their lovely 2-story home in a well-established NW Calgary neighborhood. They checked prices of similar houses in the same neighborhood and lowered their price to match. Within 2 weeks over Christmas (the worst time of year for renting), they had it rented. They called to share their amazement with me, I said, “clearly you found the suite spot on your first try.” Well done.

Are Tenants Filling In Applications to Rent?

During/after viewings, are people filling in applications to rent? If so – you’ve found the suite spot! If not, listen to the types of comments people make when viewing the property. What are there comments? Old appliances? Bad smell in the entrance? Too pricey for the size? They’ll tell you – pay attention and fix those things or adjust the price.

Will Improvements Help You Find The Suite Spot?

Most landlords would prefer to spend a bit of money on improvements to attract more desirable tenants. If repainting the entrance, or replacing a few older appliances with stainless steel gets your property rented, it’s worth the cost. As a landlord, I really don’t enjoy listening to negatives about my properties, however, I like paying the mortgage even less. Furthermore, improvements can be claimed on your taxes, so there’s a benefit for you and the tenants.

Tales from the Trenches

A couple of years ago I was having difficulty renting a basement suite in my Fort McMurray property. I asked my property manager to call me back with the comments after each showing. There were two frequent comments; there were larger basement suites for lower prices, and the suite was cold. I dropped the price, and changed the wording in the ad from 2 bedroom to 1 bedroom + den. The property manager also turned the heaters on an hour before showings. It rented.

Should you Include Incentives?

Incentives are something else landlords frequently ask about. Our experience has been incentives are not great for attracting tenants. We’ve found good tenants who wanted to take the property regardless of the free cable, or $100 visa card. Instead, we prefer to offer incentives as rewards for great long-term tenants.

People are Always Moving

The long and short is that people always move. Prior to the economic downturn and COVID, they got new jobs, divorced, married, downsized, and upsized. Sometimes people move because they just want to live closer to friends, family or schools/kids activities. They may also want to live in a nicer neighborhood. Regardless of their reasons for moving, or the economy, if your property is in the suite spot, it’ll rent.

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