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To Keep a Tenant

Posted by Johnine Larsen on April 27, 2017
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Moving sucks. It’s usually worth it, but I won’t sugarcoat the hassle of packing everything you own into boxes, loading the boxes into moving trucks, unloading the boxes out of moving trucks, and finally unpacking everything you own into a new house.

“I’m never moving again!” I can’t tell you how often I hear that after one of my clients finishes moving. “I love this house, but that was terrible!”

And yet—despite how terrible moving is—more millennials (age 25–34) move in Seattle than in any other U.S. city. Thirty-six percent of our millennial population has moved in the past year. For comparison, the national average for moving is twenty-five percent. In New York City, less than eighteen percent of millennials have moved in the past year—less than half our our Emerald City moving rate.

What’s the deal?

The Seattle Times investigated this trend, and they discovered the #1 reason behind all these relocations is housing, Millennials want lower rent, a better house, more space. Mostly lower rent—or, more accurately, rent that doesn’t keep rising.

Rent in Seattle keeps skyrocketing, and renters often find themselves priced out of a house once their year-long lease ends. The Seattle Times reported, “In a hypercompetitive rental market, the city’s young people are on the move, looking for cheaper rent, a nicer place or somewhere close to work. They are so mobile, in fact, no other place in the country moves as much.”

What does this mean for landlords?

It means landlords need to know the cost of making more money. Yes, in this rental market, you can raise the rent year after year. If your current tenants don’t want to pay the increase, it’s almost certain that someone else will. You’ll make more money, and more money is always good, right?

I, personally, don’t believe that money matters most. That’s not how I live my life, how I do business, or how I interact with clients. I value relationships.

Another important factor to consider are the new rental laws. New tenants now have to be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis, which means landlords have far less control over who moves in. You could lose your stellar tenant and wind up with a nightmare one, and there would be almost nothing you could do to stop it.

As rents throughout the city keep increasing, landlords have to decide which means more to them: responsible tenants, or more money each month. If you have a responsible tenant who you trust, someone who pays rent on time, is friendly and kind, and who maybe even does minor home maintenance themselves, is an extra $100 or so a month worth the cost of losing them? The data is in—you do have a high chance of losing a good tenant in this city of move-happy millennials. The assumption that tenants will stay simply to avoid the hassle of moving isn’t true, not here in this city. So which matters more?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. If you want to talk about your specific renting situation, give me a call. Like I said, I value relationships, which means for me, real estate means far more than buying and selling houses. Let’s talk landlord-ing!

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