Seasonal Change Brings Stress to Vacant Property Owners.

For those landlords having to rent their property between November and January should understand that there are challenges that come with this time of year.

Ex. Rentals do better when people are out walking around. Especially in areas like Georgetown.  So weather is a huge factor.

Ex. Demand now is less as most tenants are settled through the New Year.

As per previous blog posts DC is a very seasonal rental market. I can almost tell to the day when the market shifts from very aggressive to moderately busy and then to slow. Sometimes landlords can’t control when their rental comes up for vacancy due to the month -to -month laws for tenants. So I must work with what is given.

So what are some things you can do to help with re marketing in the fall/winter months?

What are the benefits of taking that lower price even though it’s not exactly what you as the landlord want?

Landlords I find like anything else in the world become accustomed to a particular amount of money each month. But like life everything can and does change. The rental market although fairly strong in DC can shift up or down at times. That comes mostly when the seasons change. As a property manager one of the most challenging things I face when talking to landlords is price points. In the summer it’s usually a very pleasant conversation. In the fall and winter it can be a struggle.  Landlords always have a price in mind. So I ask?

What number are you looking to get on the rental? The question places the owner in the driver seat. This lets me get an idea of how realistic their number is or if they are “dreaming”.  Getting $3000 a month for a studio is just not going to happen. Typically most owners are fairly realistic and within the price points.

One issue I do contend with is unhappy owners. This is simple because for the entire summer their property did not sell. Now they are faced with a mortgage payment with no way to offset it. Their voices are frazzled typically and want their place rented tomorrow.  I do my best to  coast them through this new process for those who never experience being a landlord in DC. Then they typically get more upset. J But that’s what my company is here for. Let us do our job so you don’t have to worry about it. Laws, regulations, TOPA, tenants rights, and more.

So lets go back to some quick tips that will help your rental get moving in the marketplace.

1.    A good rental agent will continue to check the MLS and additional websites to see what the competition is. Every few days I continue to check the market to see what is rented, has an application in or still active.  This gives me the most knowledge of the current market when I speak to a client. Knowledge is power when listing property.

2.    When speaking with a new client in the fall or winter I warn them upfront that the price point they desire maybe a stretch during this time of year. I set a time line of reductions over the course of the listing. That way they know on “this date” we go from this price to that price. Then another 20 days we reduce again and so on. Typically 1 price reduction does the trick. Its upfront and no feeling of surprise for the owner.

3.    The unit itself has to and must show in “model” form. I have found that trying to rent a unit with a tenant living there can have its challenges. If the tenant has not taken care of the unit and is messy it will make the rental process difficult.

4.    PAINTING: PAINTING : PAINTING. A fresh coat of paint goes a long way. Now for larger homes that becomes expensive. So try to enhance the best rooms possible. Kitchen, entryway, and living areas.

5.    Incentive marketing. I have found this works wonders when competing with a listing similar to mine. Incentives can include rent reduction, move in fees paid by owner, last months rent free, a paid for professional cleaning during the tenancy. Something that makes the listing pop out.

6.    Appliances must be cleaned out and spotless. (Tenant’s use this to cook food). You can’t have grease stains all over the oven and moldy food in the fridge.

7.    A full property cleaning prior to marketing always helps. Carpets shampooed and wood floors shined up.

Owners should anticipate spending money to get the property back to marketable condition.


Taking that lower price! Ouch!


Well its not so bad. The property needs to be kept up especially in the winter. Having a tenant in the property and using the water, bathroom, and so on helps keep the property keep going. Too many landlords want to wait for their “price” but end up with frozen pipes and a large bill when the pipes burst. There goes your extra profit! I have seen it time and time again.


The idea behind the rental game is to look at the property as in investment. With each turnover taking a price percentage increase if possible. Keeping the property is great shape will reduce the major overhauls down the road. Don’t skimp out on the little stuff. Tenants notice when a landlord keeps the property up to date and clean.


My advise for the winter is to start marketing as soon as you can. I try to be aggressive with advertising. Create a buzz about the property with social media. Sharing the listing with agents that work with renters.

To find out more just visit my website at


Happy Renting!