The Rental Industry Scoop: Stephen Starks’ Five Favorite Tricks of the Trade
Stephen Starks came to Las Vegas in 1999 to work in real estate. After five years, he opened his own company, StarksHomes, becoming a big player in the Vegas rental market. How? His unique perspectives prove that thinking outside of the box can be the difference between success and the rest in property management.
Tip #1: He uses outside agents and offer more than market rate to keep tenants moving into vacancies.
“Let’s say we’re listing properties and other property managers get $200 to bring in a tenant. They have to spend a week to two weeks to bring someone in, which isn’t enough to live on,” says Starks. “We pay them above that, and that’s how we average just 2 weeks on the market per vacancy in a unit.”
Tip #2: When Starks posts ads, he uses the MLS and Zillow.
“I tried Yellow Pages and Craigslist – too many scams. Zillow gets us leads and so does MLS.”
Tip #3: Starks manages properties well on an ongoing basis both keeps units full, and also generate referrals to fill vacancies.
Starks gives immediate attention to his tenants. “No waiting around one…two…three days,” he says. Starks enjoys just about everything about his job, but he underscores that when you do good work managing your customer service, it becomes especially fun to meet all the new people and get the satisfaction of receiving ongoing relationship referrals.
Tip #4 : He won’t take on just any property.
“There are no free offers with our homes,” Starks says. He explains, “Let’s say a homeowner wants to come to us and put their property on the market, it has to be in mint condition.” He continues, “It has to look like a new home when a good renter is out there looking. That renter is going to look at around five to eight homes, but they will come back to ours.”
Tip #5: Starks uses 18-Month Leases.
Stephen Starks has an unorthodox leasing period on purpose. “Our leases are much longer than a normal lease, because if the tenant stays that long, they want stay longer. They become accustomed to the area, the schools, and don’t want to move.” Only committing to 12 months makes it harder for property managers.
Starks elaborates, “We didn’t always do that. A lot of these 18-month lease tenants were homeowners before the foreclosures all hit. They are trying to rebuild and they were debating whether to buy or not.” Because Starks used 12-month leases in the past, he’s noticed comparatively lower turnover and lower repair costs with this 18-month lease system.
“Generally it’s the same everywhere, not unique to Las Vegas,” says Starks. “If you’re just testing the waters somewhere, get a hotel. If a renter wants to settle, they’ll get a long term lease for security. And you end up with better tenants.”
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