How Long Does It Take To Rent Out My Unit in the Bay Area?

As the top property management company in Emeryville, we often get questions from local and out-of-state property owners. What is the turnaround? How fast can you find me a tenant? In a 3 part series, we will cover just how quickly we can rent out a unit in the Bay Area and reasons why it may take longer than an owner-managed scenario.

How quickly can you rent out my unit?

It depends on 3 main factors.
1) Are you charging market rent?
2) Is the unit in good condition?
3) Do the tenants meet your criteria?
If you answered YES to all of the above questions, then it shouldn’t take more than 3 weeks to get a qualified applicant. How soon this qualified applicant can move in is out of our control. Some can move within a week. Others are yet to give their 30-day notice to their current landlords and therefore can’t move in until past that 30 day mark. Worry not, with us by your side, we will do our best to negotiate an earlier start date for the lease.

Why does my unit take longer to rent out than others on the market?

Some of our owners told us, “I noticed other units in my area renting faster than mine. Why? You are a professional management company after all. How come that unit was rented out faster by the owner?” The short answer is, “Your unit is professionally managed and that’s the exact reason why it takes longer”. That’s counterintuitive, right?

Here are 3 reasons why.

1) When owners rent out their units themselves, they often can’t be as objective about the process as professionals can. Unlike our company, owners don’t establish an objective tenant criteria upfront. Instead, they advertise one thing and “see how it goes”. Then, they look at what kind of people apply to their units and reshape their criteria as they go.
If they find someone they like (such as an applicant who shares the same passion about a cause), then they just throw all of their standards out the window and find ways to justify having that tenant. “Yea…. He said he was on a missionary trip and therefore late in paying his rent for a few months.” No offense to missionaries.
My point is, even though this applicant was indeed a missionary, I’m sure there are plenty of other missionaries who are more careful in their planning and weren’t late in paying past rent. If you don’t follow through with your criteria, you might as well not have any criteria at all. If we followed this approach, sure, we will find you a tenant quickly, but we would be putting our landlords at substantially higher risk.
2) It’s not uncommon for self-managed owners to deviate from their applicant criteria and accept an applicant out of cashflow pressure. Cashflow is a very real problem and we can’t pretend they don’t exist. However, accepting someone that doesn’t qualify and hoping for the best is only kicking the problem down the road, leading to an even higher cost in the future.
3) When you’re driving in slow traffic, do you ever notice how other lanes always seem to be going faster than the one that you are on? The truth is, on average, other lanes are just as slow. It’s just a matter of human perception. People don’t notice when they surpass other cars because their eyes are focused on the road ahead, not on the rear mirror. When other cars drive pass you, they get into your view from behind ー you can’t miss them.
The same phenomenon is happening with renting out units. The owners only see that other units are rented out faster. What they don’t see is the headache those other owners will face down the road. People don’t announce their screw-ups on rental portals anyway.
Our company’s approach is simply different. We do this professionally and our staff members are trained to take emotion out of the process. The end result? It may take a bit longer to find that applicant, but once we find him or her, that applicant is indeed qualified and can stand the test of time. So, stop envying those units who go off market before yours. The owners may have a time bomb on their hands without even knowing it.
Next month, we will take a look at how to find a qualified tenant in the Bay Area and what criteria to follow. Stay tuned for next month’s featured blog!
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