Halloween is upon us again; a fun time for scary costumes, kids going door to door for sweets galore and pumpkins at every front doorstep. It’s great for decorations and having a bit of fun when the winter chill kicks in. We know appearances can change, and that neatly brings us towards this week’s topic. When a child approaches the door on Halloween, they ask if you want a trick or treat? And tenants are no different. You can be certain they do not want a frightening surprise when they turn up for a viewing. Therefore, how you advertise your property is everything. It goes without saying that how you market your property or portfolio of multiple buy-to-lets is key.

These days, nearly everybody looking to rent goes online to find a home. Those looking for a professional flatshare do exactly that. Whenever they get back from work, on goes the laptop searching for the ideal spot. What about retirees, who hope to find a quaint cottage but don’t have enough to buy outright? Right again, they will look to rent. By 2021, experts expect 1/4 of the country to rent in the private sector. The market is forever changing and technology is no different. How you advertise your investment will be the difference between tenants signing on the dotted line with you and looking elsewhere. Property portals are the modern-day effective tool to list online. The likes of Rightmove and Zoopla lead the way for tenants searching for digs close to university or a house close to the local school where their children go. It’s so simple to do and you can remove your properties instantly once they are filled.

Gone are the days where you have to market in your local estate agent window to very few prospective tenants that already own a sprawling mansion. Now with the power of the internet, you can market to thousands in demand instantly, just by clicking a button. Upload your pictures or even add a virtual video tour and voila. What you don’t want to do is mislead your audience. Making a one-bedroom apartment valued at 80k looks like Buckingham Palace is not the right avenue. Instead, why not take a great picture with natural light that captures the essence of the property. Know your audience and don’t waste their time. The frustration when a potential lead books a day off work to view a property that does not meet expectations can be damaging for your business. You might believe it could fill that void, but in reality, it could seriously compromise your brands’ image.

Not only could you lose a prospective tenant but word of mouth quickly spreads when you waste the people’s time. To avoid this, try and be as honest as you can. It’s fine to take plenty of pictures that capture the properties key USP’s, but try not to trick the tenant with Photoshop. A video of the home is actually a great way to show your properties best features. It can give a better image of the house dimensions, as well as furniture and appliances available. Product descriptions are also important. The language you write for the target audience is valuable and can help you sell. Don’t be too wordy, stick to the vital selling points depending on your market. If it’s to students, talk about the communal space. For families, highlight the living room area. Create the scene for the client and let the pictures do the rest!

Now as a tenant, you will have a rough idea of what you want when looking for a property. The budget, location and whether it’s a house share or entire house  goes without saying. There are lots to look out for and you should be armed with questions for the landlord. Health and safety are paramount. The house should pass all reasonable checks; such as fire and burglar alarms fitted, a gas safety record if it’s that kind of property, carbon monoxide detectors etc. You need to know the house price, bills included or not, what scheme the deposit will go into and that no extra fees are added. The recent Tenant Fee Act was passed in parliament to protect tenants and their rights. After you have arranged the viewing and set up a time, first impressions will give you a good indication. Do you like the area? Are there many cars in the vicinity? Does it have private parking? Is the property secure and is there a garden?

There’s so much to consider before you even enter the property so researching all these details will help you make an informed decision later. When you get inside the property, notice damp marks or any odours? Let your senses guide you. Also, does it come with furniture? If so, great! One less thing to think about before taking that next step. Ask about insulation and storage space, are the neighbours friendly and what sort of heating it uses (electric or gas typically). With each answered question, you’ll be fully aware of its potential. Take the time to evaluate all the information given to you before and after your viewing. Ask as many questions as you can think of and get a good feel for the property. After all, it could be your home for the next year! Overall, follow your gut instinct and picture the ideal scenario. If you can imagine yourself there during the coldest months and still get excited, it could be the perfect fit.