As if I haven’t shared enough big news this week, I have some more: We’ve rented our house!
I realize this announcement is a little bit out of nowhere; you knew we were planning for it, but probably hadn’t realized we started on the process. The lease was signed just last night, so we feel pretty comfortable in shouting it from the rooftops!
I thought a lot about sharing the details of getting started as we were doing it in real-time, but held off until it was said and done for a few reasons: We haven’t, and never intend to disclose our actual home address. As we rent the home out to tenants, keeping the address private for their needs is as important to us as was keeping it private for our own peace of mind. Secondly, keeping the rental process streamlined and qualified was important for us (and our sanity) this first time around. I figured that if I put it out there, our Craigslist post (with address) would have circulated, curious followers might have shown up just to look around, and we would have had more distractions than we would have liked. What’s funny is that we showed it to some relocating non-locals who had seen our home on the internet before, on Apartment Therapy specifically, and they said they didn’t realize that it was familiar until they were standing in our living room. How weird-cool?
In keeping hush-hush over the past week, I realized that you’d probably be curious about the whole How To Rent Your House process without the help of a realty company, especially from our first-time ever landlord perspective, so here’s how this all went down:
1. I started the process of making our home rentable by doing my research with the City of Rochester and applying for a Certificate of Occupancy for our home, which has always been a single family unit, never rented. The City advised online that landlords should do this about 40-days out from when they planned to have tenants inhabiting the house to allow for inspections and paperwork to be processed. The process of applying required nothing more than filling out a form at City Hall and paying $60, which will cover our home for the next 6 years.
2. I also conferred with our personal accountant to learn more about how rental properties are reported in tax situations, so that we knew how to account for all expenses related to our home-slash-new rental property. We also obtained documents from fellow landlords so that we had rental applications and legal-certified leases to build from. Having this background as a starting point felt so much better than downloading documents from the internet (which you can obviously do, or have built by your own lawyer, but make sure that they suit your needs).
3. We did a lot of snooping on local rental property pricing. We’ve both had experience renting from city units and had some frame of reference for how much a single family home could fairly be rented for, but looking more closely at the pricing of homes for rent in our immediate neighborhood shed a lot of light onto what our home might be able to fetch. We chose a median price, based on the fact that we could offer a private, fenced-in yard, and would be pet-friendly. I don’t care where you are, those few list items are good selling points.
4. As part of our Certificate of Occupancy approval, a City Inspector was scheduled to review the condition of our home and approve the property as a certifiable rental unit. Never mind that I’ve lived in many “certified apartments” that were utter disasters during my time in Rochester, I was still nervous about this part. Fortunately for my blood pressure, we passed with flying colors.
5. With the Certificate of Occupancy approval under our belts, we moved quickly to get an ad listed because we hoped to have tenants by July 1st. This happened about 10 days ago, which goes to show you how quickly we went from zero to success. Referrals from other landlords in our little network had previously advised us to advertise in small print publications rather than Craigslist, which I can completely appreciate, but as a first ditch (and quick, f-r-e-e) effort we went the Craigslist route, gave ourselves a short timeline in which to test it out (i.e. if we were getting a lot of weirdos, we would have stopped and advertised the rental through a more credible publication; I had to try, because I always found my apartments through Craigslist, and I had to assume there were other non-weirdos like me out there looking innocently).
6. Craigslist worked! We couldn’t have been more excited/relieved. It worked so well that we spent the better part of last week corresponding with potential tenants, and chipping our way through a calendar of showings. We kept the house clean. We abandoned most of our out-of-the-home plans, especially in the evenings, to accomodate after-work showings. I felt that it was important to have all of these prospective tenants looking through our house while it was furnished (i.e. we haven’t done substantial packing yet!) so that tenants could envision the house and room layouts.
No one was more surprised than us that we attracted so many only normal people. That’s lucky, right? And when I say normal, none of the stereotypical Craigslist creepers that make me think I should have a police escort, everyone was chill and happy and the types of people we would want as our neighbors and friends. We expected to have our fair share of oddballs, college students, beer-pong-addicted troupes of frat boys, and I was surprised that we had none of them in all of our showings. We had interest immediately, and found ourselves handing out applications at every showing. Within 3 days, we had a short list of three capable, friendly, and totally we-love-them-so-much desirable tenants that were fully in the realm of possibility. Some prospects were willing and eager to do yard work (which we had committed to maintaining), others were happy with the current paint colors (which we had planned to neutralize), everyone was thrilled with the location (it’s certainly a great ‘hood), and overjoyed by the yard (perfect for families and pets).
, Sealed, Delivered. Having a signed lease is a huge relief for us. With this stage of the process behind us, and our plan of closing on the new house creeping nearer and nearer, we’re embarking on this possibly one of the most exciting months of our life.
Happy weekending! Time to start packin’.