Maytham Alhayki
Maytham Alhayki Real Estate

We have witnessed a change in tenant preferences and requirements, in general, over the past few years, and the Covid-19 crisis served as an even more pronounced inflection point. Expectations increased, while budgets remained somewhat constrained. Tolerance, flexibility, and loyalty to stay within the same premises decreased.

Social media provided further impetus for altering client preferences as brokerage firms and social media bloggers began marketing properties, which created awareness of unit stocks in the market, by posting professional photographs with beautiful interior design, virtual tours, and well scripted descriptions.

On the other hand, certain landlords or property managers complained that they were having a hard time renting or selling their – mostly older stock – properties (apartments, villas, office or retail space) having been vacant for a long period of time. There are a number of root causes that compelled clients to move towards new, high quality buildings that are on a higher standard than their previous units. In fact, many of them were in the bargaining seat, setting demands that they expected to be met if they were to continue with their existing units.

If you want your properties to be well positioned to be rented or sold in a timely manner in these market conditions, here is our basic checklist that would assist in determining what needs to be done.

If possible, try to support tenants who have lost their jobs or are unable to pay rent due to loss of income resulting from the pandemic by offering reduced rent and/or more flexible payment terms, instead of waiting for them to seek alternative options. As a landlord, compassion and empathy where they are needed the most pays off. As a landlord, you can be part of the solution. To the extent possible, strive to be an active member of a local community that is struggling to overcome this crisis by accepting short term loss of income, which is bound to create goodwill with existing and future tenants and help build trust and loyalty.

Utilize the services of licensed real estate brokers, proper marketing plans, professional photography and advertisements.

Ensure that your current rent price range is within the market. If prices have moved, you will need to move with them. Consult your licensed broker to learn more about current market price ranges, conditions, payment plans, new facilities or flexibilities landlords can offer to clients. Ensure that your property is very well maintained, serviced, and ventilated; new paint job, refreshment of furniture, new bedsheets, sanitizers in public areas, air freshener, etc. Ensure that lights in all public areas and your sensors are in good working condition.

Security systems, CCTV Cameras, fire and smoke detectors and extinguishers in each floor and apartments, ensuring the building and its contents will add value and make your tenants feel more secure.

Ensure that your watchman or security guard is well presented and dressed in a professional uniform and that he is well informed about the property details, and is trained to support brokers, tenants, and buyers.

Security systems, CCTV cameras, fire and smoke detectors and extinguishers in all floors and apartments, ensuring the building and its contents are protected and that your tenants feel safe.

The pandemic has meant that many of us spent considerably more time locked in at home than any other time before. This has meant that clients now prefer to have more common and public facilities and amenities within their residential towers, larger windows and balconies, study spaces, high speed internet, and better equipped fitness facilities. We have also noticed an increased demand for closed kitchens or well-ventilated open kitchens.

Avoid disconnecting the electricity to save minor monthly bills; if the air conditioner is turned on frequently, you can easily maintain a pleasant temperature within the premises, which can be adjusted through the change of weather.

Your lease agreement should have clear guidelines and restrictions on what is allowed and what is not, to avoid possible disputes between neighbours, such as storing items outside the unit, in common areas or the car park for example, or the use of garbage areas, noise restrictions, smoking areas, gatherings and guest guidelines, and what actions can be taken if anyone violates these rules.

Your lease should include clear instructions on reporting any possible issues or damages, as some tenants tend to stop reporting damages when the contract is about to end. Set a reasonable EWA limit and provide tenants with a proper high-speed internet package, and ensure that you take note of the value of furniture and electronics available in the unit.

Get in touch with your tenants frequently, and ask for feedback and concerns. It will also help if you are aware of properties within the same area of your building, so that you can learn more about what is available in the same neighbourhood.

The current market is a very competitive and fierce one; your attitude as a landlord, broker or property manager is vital to your success in the industry. Tackle your daily operations with an open mind, and an understanding approach, especially in difficult market conditions.

Your words and promises to clients are the source of your reputation in the market, and reflects your ethics and business standards. Being able to deliver on your promises creates a pleasant and positive feedback that brings more potential clients, and that makes leasing or selling your property much easier, which in turn, generates the maximum return from your assets.

This article was published as part of the sixth edition of Property Finder Bahrain’s Trends Report.