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How to Find Tenants – Finding the Suite Spot

Do you know how to find tenants? Do you understand where the suite spot is for your rental unit? How will you know when you found it?

I used to get calls from frustrated landlords who ran their ads for months and wondered why their property wasn’t renting. There are many excuses in this economy. The simplest explanation for finding tenants is that most properties (excluding the executive rental market) have a suite spot. The frustrated landlords haven’t found it yet.

How do you find tenants with the suite spot?

How to make sure your property is in the suite spot

To find tenants, you need to ensure you;

  • take professional quality pictures of your property that show off its features and benefits and place them in a logical sequence. Imagine you are walking through your property starting with the entrance, pictures should follow the same flow
  • write a compelling advertisement that appeals to the type of tenant you want to live in your property. Don’t write a boring grocery list. Instead, think like the tenant and make your ad align with and speak to their needs and wants. Make sure to check your spelling and grammar
  • write a short, punchy title that covers your property’s main selling features. Examples:
  • advertise in well-trafficked online publications  such as Rentfaster and Rentboard, and for lower-priced properties – Kijiji
  • fix and clean everything in your property so that it’s in sparkling condition. A clean, well-maintained property will rent over a messy/dirty property 100% of the time
  • have a timely system for answering email and phone inquiries (within a few hours)

Next step – monitor

Once you’ve completed your pictures and ads, monitor your ads. Are they generating healthy viewing stats, and most importantly, are people calling for a showing? Good viewing stats are 80- 100 views within a few days of posting an online ad.  Regardless of the number of views, if your phone is ringing to set up showings, you’re getting close.

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

I had advertised a suite with the kitchen as the main picture but wasn’t getting much response. I decided to switch the main image to the front entrance, which boasted an eye-catching red door and colourful wall hangings. People started calling.

Check comparable properties

Have people been picking up the phone to book viewings? If so, you know how to find tenants. If not, take a closer look at your price; is it in the same range as other properties in the area? If not, try dropping the price by $50 increments a week until your phone starts ringing. People search for properties within a budget. Tenants search for properties by location and within the  $50-$100 range (i.e., 1600 – 1650 or 1700 – 1800). When you hit the suite spot, people will call and apply.

I have friends who were renting their lovely two-story home in a well-established NW Calgary neighborhood. They checked the prices of similar houses in the same community and lowered their price to match. Within two 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.” They figured out how to find tenants by lowering the price. Well done.

Are you getting applications?

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

Would you be willing to spend a bit of money on improvements to get more desirable tenants? If repainting the entrance, replacing the living room carpet, or replacing a few older appliances with stainless steel gets your property rented, is it worth the cost?

As a landlord, I don’t like listening to the negatives about my properties; however, paying the mortgage is even less appealing, so I choose to listen!

What are the comments?

A couple of years ago, I wondered how to find tenants for a basement suite in one of my properties. I asked my property manager to call me back with the feedback after each showing. The comments indicated there were larger basement suites renting for lower prices and that the suite was cold. I had the property manager drop the price, change the wording from two-bedroom to one-bedroom plus den, and turn the heaters on an hour before showings. It rented.

Should you offer incentives?

Do incentives attract tenants?  My experience has been that good tenants are seldom tempted by an offer of free cable or a $100 visa card. I had better luck by offering incentives for renewals, such as a discount on the 1st month of the renewed lease, a new kitchen appliance, or painting a room in a colour of their choice. These are motivations you can mention in your ad to attract tenants.

The long and short is that people move all the time for similar reasons; new jobs, divorce, marriage, downsizing, upsizing, desire to live closer to friends, wanting to live closer to family activities, or just to live in a nicer neighborhood. Regardless of their reasons for moving, you will find tenants if your property is in the suite spot.

What are your best tips for finding the “suite spot”  I’d love to hear them – email me nelda@neldaschulte.com

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I am a property investor who is passionate about helping investors who self-manage to have profitable investment properties through resources and education. If you struggle with the wrong landlord forms, or worse yet, no landlord forms check out my 10 Essential Editable Landlord Forms that help you separate the good tenants from the bad and increase your property’s profitability.

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