Renting our home was exciting the first time, stressful the second, and almost impossible the third. We had been trying to sell with a realtor when we decided to list our house for rent and buy a new home. This turned into a trial and error learning experience and a huge financial nightmare. Here is the story of how we learned to pick good renters and learned our first lesson in Real Estate 101.
When we made the big decision to rent our home, I was all about our new business venture. I had been in the military and knew of a great military website to use to list our rent house. I uploaded the pictures, typed up a detailed description of our house, and hit the “Available Now” button. I printed flyers with pictures of the main rooms and the extended patio. I played up anything that would accent our home and help it stand out from the crowd of houses. Our rent house is a four bedroom which is a big plus to a lot of renters, especially military families who tend to have more children or visitors.
A nice, sweet military couple with three young boys came to see the house. They were nice, clean, and normal. They also wanted to move in immediately and lease for one year. We had them fill out a renter’s application packet. Being as the couple was military, I asked my husband quietly if he thought they would be good renters. On that, we based our decision and they moved in within five days.
It’s not that they were bad renters; it’s just that she forgot to mention they were on the list for base housing. They called us three weeks after they had moved in and asked nicely, “Is there any way you would let us out of the lease?” This question began another search for renters for us. We told them, yes, they could get out of their lease providing we kept the security deposit and they paid us an extra two month’s rent. It was clear that next time we listed a rent house; the first impression method would not be employed.
We listed the house for sale again with our realtor, almost three months later, with winter approaching, we asked our realtor to help us find renters. She helped us interview potential candidates. The couple she liked best was an older couple with two cats. They moved in with a six month lease. With spring nearing, we listed the house for sale again. This is when we learned another important lesson. Older people acquire more things; we could barely show the house because two of the bedrooms were filled with furniture, extra beds, and things they had acquired throughout their lifetime.
After a summer of not selling our house, we were back in the rent market again. Once again, we enlisted the help of our realtor employing the lessons we had learned. Late September, we finally rented to a couple with a teenage daughter. They have turned out to be the best renters we have chosen. The wife is very clean and neat, pets are kept outside, and rent is paid on time.
Our lessons taught us that appearances and reputations can be deceiving. Retired couples do not always make the best renters. Sometimes beggars can’t be choosers and sometimes, with a bit of good luck, you’ll find someone that will love and take care of your home as well as you did. If you’re really lucky, they will stay for more than one year.