In real estate, there are many lines of thought about when the best time of year is to list a home for sale. In general, spring is the season of choice for most agents. As it turns out, this way of thinking can also benefit landlords and anyone else who owns or manages a rental property.
But does that mean the rest of the year is a bad time to list your rental? Not necessarily. Each season has its advantages and disadvantages — some just have more than others.
Listing in April, May, or June
Just like selling a house or apartment, listing your rental in the springtime is generally the ideal choice. For many tenants, it’s the best time to rent an apartment or house for a number of reasons.
Maybe they’ve just received their tax returns. Perhaps the school year is ending for their children, and they are looking to move to a new district and get settled into their new home before the next school year begins.
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of the atmosphere. In spring, the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and the birds are chirping. We all want to get outside, go for a drive through our favorite neighborhoods, and see what’s available.
If your rental property is landscaped, it probably looks a little greener around this time of year. The weather may play a role, too.
No one wants to spend the hot summer months moving heavy furniture into a new place, nor do they want to spend time outside in the freezing cold winter months, moving their boxes in and out of the house.
Listing in July, August, and September
After spring, summer may be the second best time of year to list your rental property. This is particularly true if your rental is located near a college or university. Students who choose not to live in a dorm are usually looking for last-minute housing accommodations, so keep that in mind when advertising.
You may also encounter a few last-minute parents of young children who are looking to move to your school district. Always be prepared to answer questions about the local schools, such as when they start and how they are ranked.
Another positive reason to list during the summer is to show off your outdoor amenities. Maybe you have an apartment building with a swimming pool. The sun shining down on the water on a hot summer day may be enough to convince a tenant to move in as soon as possible.
Picnic areas, tennis courts, playgrounds, and gardens all look better during the summer. If your rental is along the coast or near a beach in the Oakland area, it will most likely receive more attention during the summer, too.
The downside to listing during summer is that many people seeking new job or educational opportunities have probably already locked down a new place to live, so you missed out on many potential renters.
Also, it’s hot. Most people want to spend summers parked in front of the AC or by the pool — not unloading a moving truck.
Listing in October, November, and December
While fall isn’t the best time to rent a house or apartment, it’s certainly not the worst time of year. There’s a coziness in the air as the weather gets cooler and the leaves start to change that reminds you of snuggling up at home. You can use this to your advantage.
Start with the outside. Plant fall flowers like mums and sunflowers in the yard and on decks or in window boxes. If you have trees with changing leaves, find a way to showcase them.
You can use fall decor both outside and inside your rental. Create a warm and inviting environment with fall-scented candles, fall-flavored foods baking in the oven, or a fire crackling in the fireplace.
Listing in January, February, and March
Whether selling or renting, most landlords and real estate agents agree that winter is probably the worst time to list your rental, and they do what they can to avoid it. Unfortunately, a property without a tenant isn’t making any money, so waiting until spring rolls around is not always an option.
If you must list and show a property in winter, make it as warm and inviting as possible. Just like fall, use candles to recreate seasonal scents throughout the home, but make sure they are in plain view to add warmth to the rooms.
Get a fire stirring in the fire place and make use of big soft throws and pillows if your property is furnished. Consider baking cookies or some other holiday treat when you know a potential renter is going to see the property. Outside, make sure any snow or ice on the driveway or walkways is cleared so your prospective tenants can easily reach the door.
Tips for Listing During the Off-Season
Going above and beyond with advertising is a must during the off-season. Consider placing signs in front of the property and know where to list rental property online.
Because many other landlords decide not to list their properties at this time, it’s important to ensure that the few renters who are looking for a home during the winter know you are there. This can help you rise above the competition.
Another thing to keep in mind if you must list your property during the slower seasons is to list it early. Studies have shown that rentals stay on the market longer when they are listed during the summer, fall, and especially winter.
If you have advanced notice of when a property is going to become available, list it two or three months ahead of the date it is available.
Finally, to avoid finding yourself in another off-season situation, consider changing your lease to 6 or 18 months. Just make sure your tenants understand the dates.