How to Market an Older Property (Psst, I think you mean historic home)

I live in an apartment in a subdivided house that was built in 1902. When I went to view the property I noticed right away that the building had seen some better days, but I was excited nonetheless. I grew up in a series of ramshackle farmhouses and my grandma’s own lovingly restored older house, so a unit in a building that’s obviously old makes me feel right at home. The leasing agent who showed me my place did an okay job of playing up the apartment’s character, but seemed relieved at my obvious enthusiasm for an older property. Marketing an older rental property (or a historic home if the phrase fits) doesn’t have to be an exercise in apology.

Find the right tenant for your older property

Finding the right tenant is a key part of property management no matter the age of the unit, but finding a renter for an older unit means looking for someone unique, or someone who would like to see themselves as such. Advertising an older property in a local magazine or with a quirky Craigslist ad might generate more leads that simply listing it on a property management website. Artists, musicians, students, and young couples without children may be more likely to find charm in an older property without being deterred by the physical realities of living there.

For some tenants, the design of an older property will be a big plus, not a minus.
For some tenants, the design of an older property will be a big plus, not a minus.

Set the stage

Staging a home before showing it to a potential tenant is usually not as extravagant as showing a home to a potential buyer, but putting a little extra effort into dressing up an older property is worth it. Choose window treatments in a style that fits the character of the home. When picking out light fixtures, take an extra minute to consider what they’ll look like in a house that was built before home electricity was common. Choose accents such as mailboxes, house numbers, and appliances that match the overall character of the home.

Dig up some history

Research the history of the home or neighborhood and have a short pitch prepared for potential residents. If the house is located in a more densely populated area, try to connect the history of the home with the history of the city or town. Telling a good story creates an emotional response in the listener and getting someone to connect with a space and imagine themselves living in it is the first step to a signed lease.

After appliance upgrades, an older property may become indistinguishable from a new one.
After appliance upgrades, an older property may become indistinguishable from a new one.

Focus on the neighborhood

Many older properties are located in historic areas or neighborhoods that protect them from demolition. Over time residential and commercial development often grows up around older homes and they become a part of a highly desirable mixed use neighborhood. Highlight nearby attractions such as parks, restaurants, and other community spaces that are located near a historic property.

Accentuate any upgrades or remodels

One of the biggest anxieties that comes with renting an older property is the fear that appliances and home systems won’t hold up to regular use. To quell this fear in potential renters, point out all the upgrades and regular maintenance in the home. Show that the appliances are new and well serviced. List dates and repairs made to major home systems like plumbing, heating, and cooling. Knowing the concrete details of repairs can convince a potential tenant that they aren’t giving up any creature comforts to live in a house that’s been on the block for a few decades.

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Elizabeth Hayes

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By Elizabeth Hayes

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