All rental property owners ask, “how much should I rent my house for?” The answer can be somewhat complicated. Determining your rent price should be broken down by characteristics, including knowing your competition, seasonality, amenities, and rental control laws.
Here’s a closer look at how to figure out how much to charge for rent.
Marketing your home for lease starts with a comprehensive look at the market. This research will help you understand what a well-qualified tenant will pay you monthly. This research will help answer your question, “how much should I rent my house for?”
If you choose a low market rate, you will not make as much money as you should. If you decide too high over the market rate, it takes longer to lease (another money waster) and your property might be leased to the wrong person.
Generally speaking, two kinds of tenants are willing to pay more than market rent for a house.
The first type of tenant who will pay above-market rent isn’t familiar with the area and, therefore, unfamiliar with what they should be paying. These tenants wise up a few months into the lease and usually become short-term tenants. They typically leave after a year, which makes them less than ideal tenants for your rental property.
The other type of tenant who will pay you above-market rent is worse than the first. This tenant is a less than qualified individual willing to pay more to tempt you to overlook their credit shortfalls.
You may get excited that they’ll pay more than the house down the street, but be careful. You will be assuming more risk than is necessary, and if it turns out bad, an eviction could be in your future.
If you want to learn more about choosing tenants, we recommend you check out this podcast episode.>>
Rent prices can be significantly affected by seasonality. Nationwide, rental property demand is highest during the spring and summer and is at its lowest during the year’s winter months.
What this means for your rental property is that if you list it in the winter, it will likely stay vacant for longer. Some property owners might drop rent prices during the winter to avoid having their units sit empty for an extended time.
In your research to determine how much to charge for rent, you’ll want to consider the different amenities your property offers prospective tenants. Some of the top amenities renters are looking for include:
These add desirability to your property, and charging a higher rental rate accordingly might be reasonable.
In the opposite situation, your property might lack amenities that set it apart from the surrounding properties. For example, your backyard is significantly smaller than your neighbors, or all surrounding properties have garages and yours doesn’t.
In this situation, renters may not show interest in the property if the rent price is the same as other properties in the neighborhood that are not lacking these amenities.
It’s important to stay objective when facing a white elephant issue. The good news is there are solutions to the problem. You can add value to the property to get the rent price you want, or you can lower the price of rent based on its current value.
Another important factor in deciding how much to charge for rent is to ensure you’re up to date on your area’s latest rental control laws. These laws, dictated by city and state, can directly impact the amount you are legally allowed to charge for rent. You can look into the National Multifamily Housing Council resources for more information on general state rental control laws.
While you are working on finding the market rate of your home, keep one fundamental truth in mind – tenant prospects, unlike buyers of homes, have a very short-sighted mindset. This concept means that when a buyer is looking to purchase a home, it’s not unrealistic for them to take months or even years to buy one. However, tenant prospects will not take months, much less a year, to find a place.
Tenants tend to have three or four characteristics they are looking for in a home. They will settle on the first one in their budget that checks all those boxes, typically for fear of someone else renting the house.
As such, tenant prospects will compare your home to what is available in that time window. Therefore, the most critical data you can determine is an accurate measurement of the homes you compete against. When you figure out the market rate, the question, “how much should I rent my house for?” becomes easier to answer.
Now, let’s look at some techniques to find the market rate.
Formerly two companies, these two joined forces in recent years. They take local real estate data and extrapolate certain assumptions if you are unfamiliar with them. These include the value of homes, the future value of homes, and the market rental rate of the house.
Not only is it helpful to understand what properties are renting for in and around your area, but tenant prospects also look at these values.
Homes that are too far below these values typically don’t get as many showings as homes with marketed rental rates that align with Zillow or Trulia’s values.
The good news is that using Zillow or Trulia is simple. Type your address in the box after choosing “Rent.” Once you click “Search,” you’ll see your property, and off to the right will be some nearby properties for rent. You’ll need to determine if they are comparable properties in a different type of neighborhood or if the house is different.
Search the available homes on local property managers’ websites to determine if they have any nearby. Doing this can determine what the professionals think homes are worth in that area. You can also look at the pictures on their site to determine if the houses have similar features and amenities.
When you pull up all of the listings on a local property manager’s site, you can filter several ways to see any houses we have in your general area. You could then pull up the map view and see if there’s anything close to your home.
Once you find a similar house, scan through the pictures. Based on the 50 photos, you can determine if this house is similar to the one you’re trying to rent. Some local property managers even have software to pull up comparables for you.
Local, on-the-ground knowledge of what homes have been rented for in your neighborhood is an excellent way to determine how much to charge for rent.
Is there a house near you that you know has been rented recently? Can you ask them how much they rented their house for? This “boots on the ground” data is beneficial when determining how much your home will rent for.
What homes are currently available for rent in your neighborhood? Drive your area, look for “For Rent” signs, and call to inquire. When you do this, you can ask questions to gauge if the house for rent is similar to your home. It’s always good to do a little competitive analysis as well.
One of the best ways to determine how much to charge for rent is to pretend you are a tenant looking in your area.
Much like a tenant would, determine a budget and find out what you can rent in your neighborhood for that budget. In “tenant mode,” start comparing your house to the available options to determine which place you would rent for that budget.
For example, what are your options if you have $1,500 a month and want to live in this neighborhood?
Now, if you look at those houses that are better than yours, you know you need to price them lower than those. If your house is better than the available options, you’ll have two options.
If you do this, your property should be the next one that leases. This is a great option if you’re looking to rent your property as soon as possible.
To do this, you’ll need to be willing to find a tenant who wants to lease a nicer home in that area. It may take longer to lease than if you choose the first option, but you’ll make more rental income.
Another option is to have a rental analysis report done by a company in your market. Many property management companies offer this, or you can take our free rental assessment. We’ll send you a detailed report crafted by our experts, including a rental rate estimate and more.
Especially if the home has sentimental value to you (you’ve lived in the house for a significant amount of time, have made custom renovations to the home, etc.), it can be easy to think emotionally instead of objectively when deciding how much to charge for rent.
But the truth is if you want to find that GREAT tenant for your house, it’s best to take emotion out of it. Do your homework, strive for actual market rent, and be objective when deciding.
Remember that your goal is to keep a tenant long-term in your house. A long-term tenant is as valuable an asset to you as the house they live in. It costs more money when short-term tenants fill your properties and vacate after 12 months
If you want to learn more about setting expectations when pricing a rental, we suggest you read this article.>>
When facing the question, “how much should I rent my house for?” especially if you are new to being a landlord, determining the answer can feel overwhelming. It’s good to know that plenty of resources are available to help you choose the right price based on the property type, surrounding neighborhood, and market.
The goal of setting the best price possible is to strike the balance between renting out your property as soon as possible while also setting you up for long-term success.
At Evernest, we’re here to help in any way we can. If you’re looking for a place to start when renting a property, you can download our ultimate guide to renting your house in 2022. Here we break down what it takes to place the best tenant possible and keep them for years to come, navigate marketing and lease agreements, and more!
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