How the Fort Mac Wildfires Will Impact Edmonton Vacancy Rates

Posted by Braden Equities Inc. on Jun 13, 2016 11:10:54 AM

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Vacancy rates are in many ways what define the success of your investment property. If your vacancy levels remain high for an extended period of time then it is likely that you will be losing money. There are many different factors that can lead to high vacancy rates just as there are specific things that can be done to lower them.

Most of Fort McMurray’s multifamily real estate was outside the fire zone and untouched by fires when the city’s population emptied out under a compulsory evacuation. Yet, few people would have considered staying any longer given the limited escape options. This development has dramatically shifted landlords’ focus from the market challenges they’ve faced over the past two years of Alberta’s economic slump to more immediate concerns about the situation of their tenants and staff and the security of their assets.

It’s fair to say that Fort McMurray’s urban population has dropped somewhat below a 2015 tally of 83,000 as a repercussion of prolonged low oil and gas prices and associated job losses, but market analysts project that the majority of employed evacuees will return when the situation has improved. That being said, some are expecting the vacancy rate in Fort Mac to get as high as 50 percent. 

Related: Fire Safety Protocol for Multifamily Buildings and Disaster Insurance Coverage for Multifamily Property Owners

Here are 5 simple ways that you can lower your vacancy rates:

1. Don’t delay repairs: Although this may seem like a simple concept, the nature of property management is that things will go wrong at the least opportune times, making it very tempting to put things off. This will only lead to a snowballing effect in which the end result is a massive bill all at once.

2. Advertise your rentals vigorously: This is a major factor in having all of your spaces rented out. Keep in mind that technology now plays a huge factor in finding tenants. If you are advertising online then you are headed in the right direction, but if you are still relying solely on print and newspaper, you are doing it wrong.

3. Keep things looking tidy: Think of it in these terms: where would you want to live, somewhere nice and neat, or a place that looks like it needs spring cleanup throughout the year? If the common areas of your rental are not nicely maintained, it will give people a horrible first impression, and likely scare them away.

4. Charge the proper rent: Have a look at online ads for other apartment buildings in your area. If you have been having a hard time finding people to stay with you long-term, it could be possible that you are overcharging. Correcting this by even $50 per month can have an immediate and noticeable impact on vacancies.

5. Offer renter’s incentives: This could mean something as simple as offering a discounted month of rent for signing an extended lease. Even a few dollars a month could be enough to encourage someone to agree to a long-term commitment. Another way to lure tenants is to offer free or partially free utilities, such as water, electricity, or cable and Internet. Check with your Property Manager for effective rental incentives for your building location.  Some incentives work in some areas but not in others.

Final Thoughts

These are but a few suggestions that will help with finding tenants for your investment properties. Although there will be different challenges for different landlords who are trying to lower their Edmonton vacancy rates, this list will serve as a guideline for minimizing your vacancies. If these five points are utilized, you will be on the way to enjoying the financial benefits of your investment, without having to deal with the hassles of high vacancy rates.

Has your multifamily property's vacancy rate been impacted by the Fort Mac wildfires? Was the information within this blog helpful? Please leave your comments below. 

Download: Guide to Edmonton Real Estate Investment


With nearly 40 years in business, Braden Equities Inc. is one of the premier property management companies in Edmonton and the surrounding area. Our management style is tailored to the unique needs of each one of our clients, and we work as a team to ensure that every project is treated with the care and attention it deserves. We pride ourselves on having the best staff in the industry, backed by strong, proven management systems that deliver results. We firmly believe that paying attention to the details can make all the difference.
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