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Business Commentary: The rental property industry

Published on Sunday, August 16, 2009 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Amanda Wilson

It is obvious by so many signs that we in Cayman have not been impervious to the economic challenge the globe is presently facing – newspapers inform us of cost cuts in local companies and the government; the talk of major layoffs, escalating crime, the number of residences for sale and the incredible number of “FOR RENT” signs that seem to be popping up on every corner of residential and commercial properties.

We know that the economic climate will not change by tomorrow morning, next week or even next month, so in the mean time we need to be smart about how we choose to spend our money. After a very short 6 months in the Real Estate market, I realized there was another market that needed attention - the property rental market. This market is a significant portion of Cayman’s Economy as both locals and expatriates alike need somewhere to live. There are a number of Caymanians who own their own property and others who rent. Whether the property is Caymanian or expatriate owned, we are all in the same boat with more and more people out of work and others moving away from Cayman; our properties are empty.

This is the first time in a long time, possibly ever, that our rental property supply exceeds demand and to add insult to injury, the building has not stopped. There will come a time again when the economy will be strong, jobs plentiful and rental properties is a positive cash flow investment. In the meantime, we must find cost-effective methods of advertising these properties so that they can be found by prospective tenants.

Let’s take a look at the industry for a moment… The rental property market is unique and although cousin to the Real Estate industry, a very different character. Unlike the Real Estate industry, the rental property market has very little structure and moves at a faster pace. There is no association or code of ethics, no rules or regulations. There is, however, an unwritten agreement or common practice within the industry that if a real estate or rental agent or property manager brings a suitable tenant, they are paid half of the first month’s rent.

Not a bad place to start but the problem comes when that commission is then split between the company and the agent and the agent then has to pay for a significant portion, often 100%, of the advertising costs. This situation coupled with the lack of exclusivity puts an agent in the rental business in a precarious position when it comes to spending money on advertising. Similarly, property owners do not have infinite amounts of money to advertise rental properties as they are often dealing with the other relative expenses such as the mortgage, insurance costs and general upkeep of the property.

Due to all of these factors and many more from the prospective tenant side, ForRent.Ky was created. This user-friendly website is Cayman’s first and only independent search engine for rental properties in the Cayman Islands. Catering to residential, commercial and vacation properties, ForRent.Ky is only $1.00 per day per listing to advertise (or less if you have more than 4 properties) and gives the owner, real estate agent, property manager and prospective tenant the best way to advertise or research a rental property. With the ability to show up to six (6) photographs, provide a short and long description, select numerous features specific to the property that are all searchable by the engine, this site hopes to revolutionize the rental property industry and bring serious tenants to your door step.

As much as I have used this opportunity to market ForRent.Ky, this column is about the rental property industry and I will be addressing various issues. I look forward to sharing information about this vital industry in the coming weeks.

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