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3 Ways to Protect Your Real Estate Investment During COVID-19

PMI Chi-Town - Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Consider Renting with Flexible Lease Options 

Stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines have brought travel to a stand-still, creating a tense market for vacation rentals and tourism. Meanwhile, new house listings in Chicago have declined by 60% since this time last year, confirming buyers and sellers alike are putting their plans on hold amid COVID-19 fears. With most leases typically renewed in the spring, the upcoming renewal season will likely comprise of renters more hesitant to commit to inflexible, long-term leases. Uncertainty is affecting everyone, but the future of your real estate investment doesn’t need to be uncertain, too. 

The renter’s market in Chicago is still strong, with over 50% of the population renting. If you are a property owner who recently took your house off the market, consider renting your property with short-term lease options. If you are a landlord that has traditionally only offered long-term leases, consider offering creative, flexible lease options.  This will prove a profitable decision because although renters are currently hesitant to commit to long-term leases, the demand for rental opportunities is still strong. 

Communicate Honestly with Your Tenants and Offer Resources 

With over 15 million Americans unemployed due to COVID-19, financial hardship is pervading the country. Consequently, transparency is crucial. Property owners need to be honest about their expectations, while also remaining approachable and willing to help renters seek assistance. In doing so, the landlord-tenant relationship remains positive, and renters will be more likely to communicate about any inability to pay rent sooner. 

The Fannie Mae Disaster Response Network has published a guide for renters that includes a personalized recovery assessment and action plan. Additionally, many city and county governments are implementing programs that include eviction moratoriums, rent forbearance or rent assistance. Make your tenants aware of these resources to ensure help is received where it’s needed. 

Work with a Property Manager

While property managers are usually essential to effective asset performance and tenant communication, the pandemic has proved their services even more important. A survey reported that 90% of property managers had put together response policies by the end of March. Instead of tackling hardship from behind, property managers respond to difficult situations quickly and creatively, creating and carrying out business plans aimed at protecting your real estate investment. Property managers are an open line of communication for tenants and, now more than ever, tenants need to feel supported.