What’s it all about? In essence communication. It’s really all about landlords delivering the right ‘message’ to the right people; in this case the prospective tenant. But in order to do this, landlords first need to have established who their customers are likely to be.
A landlords’ Marketing Assessment should have been completed prior to even purchasing a property. This initial research by a landlord will have given them an idea of who their likely tenants are and whether their prospective tenants will want to let the property they are purchasing.
Landlords should already have answers to the following questions about their prospective tenant.
1. How old are their tenants?
2. What type of socio-economic group does the tenant belong to?
3. Does the tenant have a job?
4. What type of job does the tenant have?
5. Does the tenant have a car?
6. Where does the tenant work?
7. Does the tenant need public transport?
8. Ultimately does the landlord see the tenant wanting to live in their chosen property?
This Marketing Assessment doesn’t have to be lengthy or complicated. It’s just a way of a landlord understanding the tenant’s motivations and characteristics.
Having established these, the landlords should be able to ascertain the best way to reach and communicate with the prospective tenant. Marketing theory teaches us that there are multiple channels of communication with your customers. In the case of a landlord and tenant, the main ones are:
The imprecise nature of marketing means that landlords should always seek to maximise the chances of reaching their ‘ideal tenant’. This can be best achieved by landlords utilising a multi, rather than a single channel approach. By doing this landlords will increase their chances of communicating the details of their product to the tenants, in this case their investment property. For example: by landlords using the Internet & press rather than just the local paper. Having already visualised their tenant, the landlord should imagine the sources that the tenants will use in their search for accommodation. All this information can then be used to refine the landlords’ Property Marketing Plan.
The Property Marketing Plan
The landlords Property Marketing Plan doesn’t have to be huge. A few bullet points will do. The most useful thing about it for landlords is its’ preparation. Thinking things through; who, why, where? Landlords should speculate, question and refine their marketing strategy. The Property Marketing Plan should be based on the characteristics of a landlords potential tenants.
For instance it might be that:
A landlord has bought a two bedroom flat. It’s in a nice area and has a good view. The size and location means that it should therefore appeal to a professional couple or even two sharers. The landlord knows that the area is popular with inward locators because of the proximity of a large business park near by. The letting property has no garden and is therefore probably not suitable for a family. However, it is within easy access to bars and restaurants and therefore should appeal to younger occupants. The rental level probably puts it out of reach of recently qualified graduates.
So there you have it. A profile of the likely tenants would suggest to a landlord a 25-35 year old professional couple or two sharers.
Now a landlord has established a tenant profile; in order to complete the Property Marketing Plan landlords will need to work out how best to market their property. The potential scenario could be as follows:
A landlord knows that their local newspaper has an advertising feature for rental property on a Tuesday. So for a landlord, to start with an ad in the newspaper would be good. A landlord’s potential tenants may well be inward locators and being young and educated they are very likely to use the Internet, so an Internet presence is essential. There are numerous letting websites. One site which is owned by e-bay and is easy to use and also free to place letting adverts is www.gumtree.com . A landlord decides therefore to post a letting advert on this site. The nature of the area and the type of tenant a landlord aims to attract means that a letting advert in the local shop, an Asda hypermarket in this case is unlikely to be successful. A landlord should know that the letting market in the area is buoyant. The existing tenants aren’t due to move out for another 5 weeks. The landlord is comfortable doing the letting themself. So the landlord decides to hold off getting an agent involved; deciding instead to test the market. The landlord has a friend who works for one of the large firms based on the local business park. Therefore a message on the company intranet is another option. Having run through this process the resulting Property Marketing Plan should look a bit like this:
PROPERTY MARKETING PLAN for No.14 Kendal VillasTenant Category, Professional, 25 –35 yrs, Single / couple / sharer
Channel of communications
Channel 1 - Local press –add twice a week in Tuesday property supplement & on Saturday
Channel 2 - Internet – property marketing site national coverage
Channel 3 - Direct marketing – company intranet
Channel 4 - Informal networks
Overall strategy - DIY approach/ test market/ possible ‘twin track’ if low response after 2 weeks of initial marketing
The great thing is that once landlords have prepared a few property marketing plans they should be able to conduct the whole process without pen & paper. A landlord should instinctively know the tenant profile for an investment property and the ways to market the investment property to their prospective tenants.
The landlord may have picked up under the heading Overall Strategy the term ‘twin tracking’. This is an approach that I have employed successfully for many years in marketing my investment properties. The term is actually derived from an old trick where property developers would run two concurrent planning applications to get round the planning appeals system.
The dark art of ‘Twin tracking’
I’m convinced that it is possible for landlords to ‘have their marketing cake and eat it’ if they use a ‘twin tracked’ approach. The concept is all based around the fact a landlord can demand a little more rent up to 10%, if the landlord goes through a letting agent. However, as landlords are no doubt aware, agents don’t work for free. On a six-month let a letting agent’s fees can account for a good 15% of a landlords total income. Therefore if a landlord can do something to reduce the net effect of the letting agent costs, this is going to have a positive impact on the landlord’s total returns.
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How does ‘twin tracking’ work?
Well for example, a landlord has an investment property that they are confident will achieve £1000 per calender month if they advertise it privately. If the landlord advertises the same investment property through a letting agent it is likely that the landlord could potentially uplift their rent by between 5-10%; bearing in mind that the landlords initial figure was commercially realistic. If the letting agent thinks the landlords expected rent was too high then maybe their initial estimate was too ambitious.
Once the landlord has settled on the two figures, then the next step is to advertise their property privately as well as using a letting agent. Landlords should not go overboard on the private marketing because of the costs. An letting advert in the local paper and through a free or cheap property marketing site will probably suffice. A landlord now has a private letting advert for their rental accommodation of £1000 per calender month and a letting agent marketing it for £1100. Having a letting agent provides the landlord with direct access to their tenant list as well as giving the landlord exposure via the Internet to letting agent only websites such as Rightmove, as well as commercial letting advertss in the property press and a letting board outside the investment property. By taking this ‘two pronged’ approach the landlord has increased their channels of communication so multiplying their chances of attracting a suitable tenant. Now all the landlord has to do is to keep their fingers crossed! Let’s examine the financial merits of the two approaches:
|Rent received 6mths||+£6600||+£6000|
|Speculative rent premium||+£600||+£0|
|10% of £6600 + vat @ 17.5%||-£775.5||-£0|
|To let board||-£0||-£30|
|Total marketing costs||-£845.5||£-100|
|Real marketing cost (speculative rent premium – marketing costs)||-£245.5||£-100|
|Total net income (income – marketing)||£5754.5||£5900|
|Variance (net income agent vs. DIY)||-145.5||+145.5|
FORMS FOR LETTING PROPERTY
FINANCE AND TAX ON RENTAL PROPERTY
RENTAL PROPERTY REGULATIONS
INVESTING IN BTL PROPERTY
WHAT TO BUY
BUYING OFF PLAN
KNOWING THE RISKS
MANAGING YOUR RENTAL PROPERTY
NON - PAYMENT OF RENT
GETTING YOUR MONEY BACK
THE TENANT WONT MOVE OUT
THE TENANT DOES A BUNK
RAISING THE RENT
REDUCING THE RENT
REPAYING THE TENANCY DEPOSIT
DAMP, MOULD AND CONDENSATION
LETTING RENTAL PROPERTY
LEGISLATION ON LETTING PROPERTY
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
HOUSING ACT APPEAL DISPUTES
THE LANDS TRIBUNAL
RIGHTS OF LIGHT APPLICATION
APPEALS FROM LEASEHOLD VALUATION TRIBUNALS (LVT's)
POSSESSION - SECTION 8 NOTICE
POSSESSION - SECTION 21 NOTICE
SECTION 21 TIMETABLE AND PROCESS
GROUNDS FOR POSSESSION
HARASSMENT BY LANDLORDS
RENT DISPUTES BETWEEN LANDLORD & TENANT
FAIR RENT (RAC)
MARKET RENT UNDER AST
LEASEHOLD VALUATION TRIBUNALS
MODIFICATION OF RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS