Zillow Economic Research recently released the results of a survey they conducted with renters, and I found the results to be interesting:

Here are five ways you can profit from the findings in this study:

1. If you’re in the market for an investment property, you might want to look for properties that offer things that renters really would love to have in their homes. Consider looking for private outdoor space, larger homes, updated home finishes and adequate parking for larger family sizes.

I can honestly say that I’ve had parking issues with several of my properties. This may because adult children seem to stay with their parents longer than we did when we were growing up. This obviously leads to the need for more parking.

Also, I used to own several smaller single-family homes. These homes were around 900 square feet and were ranch-style with no basements. I always had a hard time renting them. Even worse, my tenant turnover was higher.

If you have a property meeting the needs of prospective tenants, you should be able to rent it quickly, at higher rental rates and with much less turnover. My largest single-family rental property is a five-bedroom home on a larger lot with a fenced-in back yard. The driveway is very long, offering parking for at least 10 cars!

Believe it or not, the family renting the home has been there for seven years. They are awesome tenants that probably won’t move because they won’t be able to find another rental property offering what this home includes.

2. If you currently own rental properties meeting the needs of prospective renters, as outlined in the survey, you should use this in your marketing!

Spacious Home with Open-Concept Living.
Larger Private Yard That’s Great for Entertaining!
Parking for 10+ Cars!
You’ll Never Have to Move Again.

3. Many renters want to earn equity. In addition, they also want the ability to improve the homes they’re living in. You can’t turn on the TV these days without seeing some type of real estate renovation show. These shows impact our tenants, who end up feeling trapped in homes they can’t improve.

All of this suggests using Rent to Own Programs with your rentals. You can structure these programs so that the tenants are earning equity. You might also consider allowing them to improve your properties. You should set some terms for these improvements to protect yourself. A few ideas might be that you have the right to approve of any improvement, the work must be performed by contractors approved by you, and they must agree not to place any mechanic’s liens on your homes. (Obviously, discuss this idea with your attorney and protect yourself with written agreements.)

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4. 31% of renters are frustrated about rules regarding pets. I’m obviously not very excited when my tenants have dogs, and I’ve certainly had my fair share of pet damage in my properties. The reality is that the majority of renters have pets, and we should structure things so that we can accept pets. This may mean charging pet fees or larger security deposits. If you don’t allow pets, you’ll have less demand for your properties.

5. Almost 30% of renters have indicated that their landlord isn’t responsive enough. I used to be one of those landlords hoping that if I ignored my tenant’s requests, the problems would go away. They don’t. 🙁

Problems actually get worse when ignored and your tenants will eventually move out, costing you $$$. After they move, you’ll end up having to take care of the problem anyhow, so why not fix it when they’re still there and eliminate the added cost of a vacancy?

I’m a different landlord today.

I respond quickly to every communication I get from my tenants. I don’t necessarily agree to every request, but I certainly respond to it. I do handle important repairs (furnace/air conditioning, plumbing, roof, etc.) quickly. If non-important repairs are requested, I’ll handle those when it’s cheaper to have the work done. The reality is that as landlords our tenants are our customers and it can be profitable to pay attention to what they want.