In previous years landlords were able to name their rental prices and still have an abundance of tenants vying for their properties.
Their properties were filled quickly and years of rental price escalations followed.
But this is no longer the case due to an oversupply of rental properties, a struggling economy that’s reduced rental affordability, and a pandemic that’s further exacerbated these dynamics.
Landlords are undoubtedly under pressure to reduce their rental prices to attract and retain tenants to avoid vacancies, yet as a vast majority still have bonds to pay on their properties, Ben Shaw, chief executive of digital letting agency HouseME, says they are not left with much room to manoeuvre.
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To arrive at the “ideal price”, he recommends landlords follow these steps:
Step One: Calculate your yield
“First, calculate your input costs such as bond repayments, levies, taxes and rental agency fees. If possible, add a buffer of about 12% onto these costs for unexpected expenses such as maintenance emergencies and vacancies. This will give you your preferred price.”
Step Two: Do some market research
Now, he says, landlords need to figure out if this price is within range of the current market ‘rental value’ of their properties.
“Go to a popular online marketplace and enter the search criteria matching your own property.
Browse the results to see what similar properties in your neighbourhood are letting for. Ideally, you want to be at or under that average price. But beware, these listings typically only show you the asking price, not the price the properties were rented for, so they may still be inflated.”
Step three: Test the market
“Post your listing at your researched price and see how many prospective tenants respond,” he continues.
Landlords must be sure to include beautiful photos showing every room and any outdoor areas, a detailed description and clear contact details in your listing.
“Typically, if you haven’t had more than five responses and a couple of viewings booked in the first week, this is a sign that your property may be overpriced. Act swiftly to adjust your price and do so in large enough increments. Remember that the earlier you list your property, the more time you have to adjust before the required occupancy date.”
Step four: Reassess your costs
Landlords struggling to find reliable tenants at their preferred rental prices will need to find ways to lower their price. To do this, they should ask themselves the following questions:
Does the interest rate change allow you to pay less on your bond? Could you refinance your mortgage? If not, how much could you afford to self-finance each month in case the rent doesn’t quite cover the bond?
Do you have access to funds to self-finance your bond in the event of vacancy while you wait for a tenant who can afford the full price?
“Work through these questions to establish the minimum price you can afford to charge, bearing in mind that it may only be temporary: by the time this lease is up, the situation may have stabilised in your favour again.”
Step five: negotiate If a prospective tenant wants to negotiate the rental on a property that is already near or at the lowest prices it can go, Shaw says landlords could offer them other concessions to “sweeten the deal”.
For example, there might be some maintenance or upgrades that the tenant would like done before moving in.
“Wi-Fi is a big deal to many tenants, so you could offer to make the property fibre ready.
Consider allowing for an additional couple of days before the month starts, so they can use the weekend to move in. Although these are costs, at least they are only once-off costs in exchange for a steady income.”
A recent survey by HouseME reveals that tenants are “extremely sensitive” to upfront costs such as deposits and agency fees, he adds.