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Filling Your Units (Published in CCAA Newsletter 6/01)
By John Smith

If you are involved in the Champaign/Urbana apartment industry in any capacity, then NOW is the beginning of “Game Time”. Because of our proximity to the University of Illinois, we typically have our leases run from August to August. For better of for worse, now is when we start working harder to fill any vacancies that are left for August, and the purpose of this article is to help make sure that you are not the one with the vacancies come September.

Always remember what the bankers have been saying for the last few years, “There are more bedrooms than bodies in Champaign/Urbana.” Make sure to do whatever is necessary to get your units filled. It is often difficult to part with the money to put carpeting in a unit that already has carpet that could probably get by for another year. Or, painting an apartment sooner than you were expecting to can be hard to decide. Whenever you are faced with a dilemma like that, ask yourself how much it will cost you to have the apartment empty for a month or more. Spending money a little sooner can increase your chances of getting your apartment filled. Empty units don’t save us any money.

Another thing to consider is how much rent to ask for a unit. As a consultant, one of the questions that I get asked most often from owners is, “Am I asking too much?” In this free market that we enjoy, your apartments and houses are worth exactly what ONE client is willing to pay for them. To get as accurate of an idea as possible how much the market will bear, do your research. Ask the prospective tenants who come through what they think of your unit. How does it compare to what else they’ve seen? Which unit that they’ve looked at do they like the best? Go through the paper to find out what other units like yours are going for. Figure out what would make them worth more or worth less than yours.

Good luck!

John Smith has a Master's Degree in Education, is a real estate investment and management consultant and trainer throughout the state of Illinois, and has been a real estate investor and manager for over seven years in Champaign-Urbana. To contact John Smith, email him at or call (518) 851-7820.