Oh, the pandemic.
Every time it seems we’ve turned a corner and we don’t have to talk about it anymore, there’s a new strain of the COVID-19 virus that shows up to make people sick again or a fresh debate rages around masks.
Outside of the public health issues, there are also the economic impacts of this pandemic that will be discussed and managed for many years to come.
The way the rental market has responded to the pandemic has been a surprise to some experts. In the early days of the pandemic, things looked pretty bleak. The eviction moratorium had owners worried that they wouldn’t be able to collect rent from their tenants. It was nearly impossible to safely manage maintenance services while people were staying home and social distancing.
Now that the worst of it seems to be over, we have some time to reflect on where we are and why we’re here.
How has the pandemic impacted the Killeen rental market?
Many rental markets and local economies across the country have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, with rental values dropping, vacancies rising, and rent going unpaid. In Killeen, we have had much better luck. After a couple of uncertain months early in the pandemic, the local rental market has rebounded nicely, and we quickly began to see an increase in demand for rental housing as well as higher rents.
The higher rents and lower inventory on the rental market has also contributed to less turnover. People are more likely to stay in their homes than move, and that’s good news for owners who don’t want to deal with turnover and vacancy costs.
This is a great rental market for real estate investors and property owners, and while there’s a lot we don’t love about the pandemic (still), we can’t complain about its effect on the Killeen rental market. The inflation that we’re currently working through is no fun for anyone, but for property owners, it means higher rental prices that can help to offset the higher costs of doing business.
Killeen Rental Prices are High
If you take a look at the data gathered by Zumper, you’ll see that rental prices are nearly 10 percent higher in Killeen than they were a year ago.
There’s a large rental range, depending on the type of property you’re renting out. A one-bedroom apartment is just under $1,000 a month on average while a single-family home averages at around $1,600 per month. When you’re offering a home that’s well-maintained and in good condition, you can expect to earn more this year than you did last year from rental income alone.
The demand for good rental housing has also increased, especially since the pandemic. The sales market is also competitive, and a lot of tenants who might have thought about buying a home are waiting a little longer. That’s keeping them in the rental market, which also drives demand and increases prices.
Less Turnover and Lower Vacancy
The vacancy rate in Killeen is lower than it has been, and that – again – is due to the high demand for rental homes and the lower inventory. With a lot of new construction trying to catch up to that demand, we may soon find ourselves with a rental market that’s less competitive for renters. Right now, however, most homes are rented quickly.
There’s also less vacancy.
People are not moving as much as they did pre-pandemic. Reducing turnover is great for owners who are trying to keep costs down. You won’t have to worry about long vacancies, and there will be less maintenance between tenants. With fewer people moving, you can plan on some consistency with your rental property and a higher number of lease renewals.
Adapting to Changing Property Management Technology
One of the best things to come out of the pandemic from a property management standpoint is the way owners, investors, and even tenants have embraced the technology that can lead to better rental experiences.
Rent is almost exclusively collected online now. Maintenance requests are also made online. Showing technology has allowed prospective tenants to see homes on their own time, without an agent physically showing them the home. This is done securely with a digital lockbox or key. At Shine Residential Management, we’re still committed to showing homes with our leasing agents present. We believe this sets us apart from the competition and allows us to provide an elevated level of service. But, we know that some tenants appreciate the ease and convenience of this self-showing technology.
Leases are signed electronically and everything is documented more carefully. We know that some Killeen property management companies were unable to stay in business during the pandemic, and we believe that’s due to their inability to adapt to a constantly changing situation with the market, the technology, and the needs of properties, owners, and tenants.
The pandemic impacted the property management industry by showing owners and landlords how valuable it is to have a professional management company by your side during these unexpected circumstances. We helped our owners navigate the eviction moratoriums. We worked closely with tenants to make sure they were continuing to pay rent, and we provided resources to both tenants and owners when they were needed.
Most of the landlords we work with learned an important lesson during the pandemic: professional property management is well worth the investment.
Changing Tenant Demands Post-Pandemic
Tenants are a bit different now than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Given what everyone has been through over the last two years, it’s important to know what renters are looking for and how you can make yourself more competitive by providing those things for them when you’re renting out a home.
Many tenants still work from home and they want flexible working space.
Remote work has taken off. It’s not a trend that’s going to go away entirely. During the pandemic, many companies and employees realized that working from home is not out of the question. In fact, many people would tell you it’s more productive.
Knowing that a growing population of your tenants are working from home, you may want to make sure there are working spaces inside the homes you may be renting out. Ideally, this would be an extra bedroom or even a den where a tenant can set up an office. If that kind of space isn’t available, however, be creative. Perhaps part of the dining area can be walled off to create a workspace. Think about built-in desks and how to leverage a breakfast bar.
Killeen tenants are looking for better technology in their rental homes
Not only does great technology help with the work from home lifestyle, it also provides extra security, convenience, and ease. This will go a long way in attracting Killeen tenants in the post-pandemic rental market.
Consider including basic Wi-Fi in your rent. Usually, landlords leave this to tenants but it could be an inviting feature that new tenants will appreciate. You can also make sure your property is wired for smart home technology that’s growing in popularity. New tenants will want to move in with their smart home devices like Alexa and Siri. Video doorbells are more popular than ever. When you can show prospective tenants that your property is tech-friendly and ready to connect, you’re going to have an easier time attracting and retaining residents.
More tenants have pets than ever before
Pets have always been popular. More than half of the tenants in Killeen looking for a new home have at least one pet. During the pandemic, pet ownership increased. You’re now looking at even a larger tenant population of pet owners.
Create a pet policy with this in mind. If you were previously against allowing pets in your property, you might want to reconsider that now.
Contact-free lease signings and rental payments
Technology in the way the leasing and rental process works is important. Tenants will expect that their lease agreement will be emailed to them at that their signature will be captured by DocuSign or something similar. No one wants to visit an open house with 20 other people anymore. T
Lease agreements can be shared, discussed, and signed electronically. Rent can be paid online and routine maintenance requests can be made online. These are the conveniences tenants will look for now and in the future. The pandemic demonstrated that more can be done online and digitally than ever before. It’s hard to go back to the old ways of doing things once this trend became so popular. Don’t try to hand out a paper application after a showing. Tenants will expect you to be online.
If you’d like to talk about how you’ve been able to respond to this post-pandemic rental market in Killeen or you need help in some of the areas where you’re struggling, please contact us at Shine Residential Management.
A property management company based in Harker Heights, Shine Residential Management cares for exceptional single-family homes throughout Central Texas, including in Killeen, Temple, Belton, Copperas Cove, Salado, and Georgetown.