MilitaryByOwner staff writer
Military relocation comes with an array of emotions, ranging from excitement to utter dread. From the moment you anticipate that orders are coming your way, your head starts to spin. Anyone who has embarked on a military PCS move will tell you that the key to success is proper planning. This is particularly true when you own a home that you need to rent or sell prior to moving. If you have made the decision to rent your home when you move, there are a number of items that need to be addressed before you can pack up and leave town, and the sooner you start on this list, the better. In order to make sure your move goes smoothly, we have put together guidelines for you.
Make Your House Safe
Making sure that all items that could pose a danger to your tenants are fixed is not only important to safe guard you from legal action, but it is just good business. Are all emergency exits accessible and operable? Are bannisters, railings, decks and stairways secure and in good condition? Are there any electrical circuits or old fixtures that might present a danger? Step back and examine the various nuances of your home that you have been willing to put up with and determine if it is an item that should be fixed to protect yourself and your tenants.
Neutralize Your Home
We often address the need to stage or neutralize a home that is "For Sale", however, this is equally important when putting your home up "For Rent". Your goal is to rent your home quickly and you increase your odds by creating a home that will appeal to a broad market. Consider painting over bold colors with neutral tones that will compliment a variety of decors. Take photos of the home that will accurately portray your home to prospective tenants.
How much to charge for rent is the million-dollar question. This aspect of the rental process deserves careful consideration and is a discussion you need to have before deciding to rent out your home. Research the rental rates in your neighborhood and be sure to use comparable homes to come up with an average price. Does the average rental amount cover your mortgage? If not, you may want to consider other options, unless you are in a financial position to handle a monthly loss. A rental price should not be set exclusively on the amount of your monthly mortgage payment, as you may owe more than your home can reasonably command. For military, we have the unique opportunity to know what a military service member will receive as a monthly housing allotment and can set a rental price that is within that amount. Consider the size and location of your home and determine who your target market would be, determine the BAH rate and use it as a reference when setting the price. Other factors that warrant consideration are the fees incurred if you hire a Property Management company, as well as if you choose to include yard, pool or pest service for your tenants. Set the price too high and you will have a hard time renting your home; set it too low and you risk putting yourself into a position of financial hardship. Bottom line put the time and energy into finding the happy medium.
Normally, this is a difficult decision to make; in addition, the decision will depend on your money and time. It actually costs much less if you manage the property yourself, although you must be ready to deal with issues and even calls in the night when your tenant finds something amiss. Property management companies, on the other hand, charge approximately 10 percent of rent paid on a monthly basis, but if you can afford it, it might be worth having the nuisance off your plate. For more information about Property Management choices, please view the articles under the Property Management tab of our Resources page.
Landlords desire to have tenants that will care for and respect their property. Military tenants are sought after for exactly that reason. Connecting military families was the inspiration behind MilitaryByOwner.com, as military members understand the plight of other military families and they speak each other’s unique language. The other safeguard in renting to your home to fellow military is the fact that you have an avenue for recourse for missed rent or damage through the service member’s command element. This is piece of mind that does not exist in the civilian sector. However, even if you secure a military tenant, it is critical that you properly screen the tenant. Performing a credit and background check will ensure that you are making the best decision possible. A great resource for tenant screening is TransUnion’s SmartMove.
Market Your Home
This is where websites like MilitaryByOwner.com come into play. MilitaryByOwner.com allows you the opportunity to market your home to other military members through an online advertisement. Be resourceful and creative in marketing your home, considering options such as Facebook or YouTube. Pictures are a critical component in marketing, so take photos of your home to be used in your ad, Facebook page, YouTube video or to send to prospective tenants. For tips on Real Estate Photography, visit our Pinterest board. Use your military network to spread the word about your home. It is amazing how quickly the word can spread about your home if you just let people know it is available.
Homeowners & Renters Insurance
Contact your current mortgage lender and let them know that you will be renting out your home when you leave and ask them what type of insurance coverage they require you to carry. Renters insurance protects your tenant’s possessions in the event of loss or damage to the home. Read more about Renters Insurance and the laws governing whether you may require your tenants to carry a policy in our article, "Renters & Landlord Insurance: Don’t Get Burned".
Mark Your Ad "Rented"
There is no better feeling than when you can change the status of your ad on MilitaryByOwner.com to "rented". While this is a major hurdle, the journey is hardly over. If you have chosen to employee a Property Manager, it is important to choose wisely and make sure that the agent is serving your best interest. If you are embarking on managing the property yourself, follow our "Tips for Building a Strong Landlord/Tenant Relationship".
Now that you have crossed this major item off of your list, it is time to tackle the rest of the items that need to be completed before your wheels hit the road.
Good luck on your next journey!