How Long Does It Take? Vacant Property Edition

2018-03-19

How Long Does It Take? Vacant Property Edition

study found that closing times on real estate rentals are getting longer—on average it now takes 50 days.

A couple holding a key to a house.Royal Rose Properties does a lot of things for our owners. We manage renovation, repairs, marketing, inspections, move-ins and -outs, collections, evictions, and more. Each of those tasks takes time, but many owners don’t really have a good grip on how much time they take. That’s why we’re taking the time out in this blog post to talk about how long things theoretically should take, and how long they usually do take, because those are often not the same thing.

From Vacancy to Occupied…ness
When a property becomes vacant, the steps it has to go through are:
• Just after the tenant moves out, we send an inspector out to do a move-out inspection — which includes taking a video documenting the status of the property, and if it’s clean enough, also taking marketing pictures. The inspector also goes over the video and creates a timestamped list of all of the issues that need to be taken care of before the next tenant can move in.
• If the move-out inspection comes back with a list of needed repairs (which is close enough to ‘always’ as makes no difference), the timestamped list is sent to the Maintenance Department who opens a Work Order to get the issues taken care of.
• If the house was clean enough to have marketing pictures taken, the Marketing Department edits those pictures, writes an ad, and posts it. (If the contractors make a huge mess or some other issue makes the property temporarily unshowable, they’ll suspend the ad until it’s clean again.)
• As people apply to rent the house, the Applications Department screens those tenants carefully, making sure they’re going to be good to the property and they’re going to be able to pay the rent.
• Finally, when an applicant signs a lease and makes the switch to ‘tenant,’ the Inspections Department comes in again to do a Move-In Inspection and note any issues the incoming tenant requests to be fixed.

How Long Does A Move-Out Inspection Take?
• To receive notification of a move-out and contact the inspector to ask for a move-out inspection: Ideally, 1 business day. Realistically….also 1 business day, barring the Inspections coordinator being sick or on vacation, in which case it may be 2 because someone with their own job is covering the coordinator’s task list.
• To actually get the inspector out to the property: Ideally, 3 business days. Realistically, it depends on the time of year. Winter can be slower due to weather-related travel times, and summer can be slower due to it being the busiest time of the year for people moving, so a week isn’t uncommon during the hot months or during heavy snow.
• To get all of the data uploaded and the timestamp created: Ideally, 1 business day. Realistically, timestamping an inspection video is frankly a thankless, time-consuming job and our inspectors hate doing it, so sometimes we have to poke them a few times before they’ll follow through on it, so 3 days isn’t uncommon, especially in the summer.
• To get the data reviewed and a decision made on whether or not marketing can commence immediately: 1 business day. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes looking at the pictures and videos for the Marketing team to decide whether or not the house is showable, so all we need to allow is time for the notification that the data is ready to get seen by the Marketing Department.

How Long Do Repairs Take?
• To get the timestamp from Inspections and open a Work Order for the issues that need to be taken care of: 1 business day, ideally and realistically. There’s no reason a simple act of paperwork should take longer than that.
• To assign a contractor to that Work Order and notify that contractor that we need a bid on that work: ideally, zero days. It should happen as part of the process above. Realistically, though, we do have a limited number of contractors that we know we can trust for each given kind of job, and sometimes they’re all busy. So realistically, it can take a couple of business days to get a contractor assigned to your Work Order.
• To get a bid from a contractor: ideally, 3 business days. Realistically, many of the contractors we use are staggeringly bad at replying to our outreach, and it can take a week of repeated pestering them by email, text, and voicemail before they’ll actually get the message that we need a bid ‘like, now.’
• To get approval of the bid from the owner: That’s up to you! 🙂
• To get the work done: That’s literally impossible to say, because sometimes the work is “mow the lawn and trim the bushes” and sometimes it’s “install all new plumbing and electrical, reroof, repaint, and rebuild the entire front porch”…or worse.
• To (obtain if necessary and) review video or picture evidence that the job is done (or, for very expensive jobs, to get an inspector out there for a ‘Scope of Work’ inspection): 1- business day for the first one. If it requires another Inspector’s visit, then again you’re looking at another 3-7 days like the last bullet point of the “Move-Out Inspection” part above.

How Long to Get a Property on the Market Once it’s Clean Enough to Show?
• To get the marketing pictures edited and watermarked: Ideally, 2 business days. Realistically, if several ads come ready at the same time, it can take a third business day.
• To get the ad written: Ideally, 1 business day. Realistically, depending on the number of ads that come ready at the same time, it can take up to 3 business days — sometimes the writers get backlogged, too!
• To get the ad posted: Ideally, the ad will be finished early enough in the day that the writer can alert the Internet marketing guru, and the ad will get up the same day. Realistically, our writer tends to work late, so it’s often an additional business day before the ads go up online.
• To get the ad up on all channels: We use a pair of syndication services that can 24 to 72 additional hours after we post an ad to get that ad out to major sites like Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads.

So ultimately, the absolute ideal turnaround time for a property with no issues whatsoever, that is ready to go to market the moment we take control of it, is 10 days. Realistically, two weeks is a reasonable goal — again, assuming no repairs are necessary.

Getting Better Tenants Starts with Being a Better Landlord

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