How to Market Rental Properties
After you’ve purchased your first real estate investment property, it’s time to find a tenant for it. Here are Panzera Realty’s tips on how to market your rental property to find the right tenant and fill your vacancy so you can start realizing the cash flow you’ve projected for your investment. This is how we rent properties in Columbus, Ohio, and it works everywhere.
Buy in a good location: Of course, you’ve already bought the property, but this is just our note here to remind you that if you do buy in a good, rentable location, you’ve done a lot of the marketing already. People will want to live there, so you just have to find them.
Write great ads: All marketing is about great content. Don’t write an ad as dry as toast with lame-sounding features (unless you’re on Twitter with limited space, just driving people to the link on your website).
What makes your property unique? We have a lot of older duplexes and four-plexes in our portfolio, some of which have lovely arched doorways; we use adjectives for them like “charming” and “quaint.” Sure, you have to list the bedroom and bath numbers, but are there wood floors? An open concept plan? Modern design features? Central A/C? Talk about recent renovations, especially in kitchens and baths, and other features renters want these days if your property has them. Don’t forget to write about where the unit lives. What’s great about the neighborhood? Are there parks, shopping, restaurants nearby? Is it close to a main highway? You want people to come and live in your property, and you want them to stay. Write your ad accordingly. Search on property rental sites as if you were a renter, make note of the ads that really grab your attention, and write your ad like that. And don’t forget a link to your website (if you have one), and contact information!
Take great photos: Everything sold online today must have visual appeal. People will pass your ad if you post blurry photos or don’t post at all. Short of hiring a professional photographer, the best photos will come from a real camera with a wide-angle lens, but some phones can do a nice job. Since everyone does everything on mobile devices now, upload your photos and see whether they look good on your own mobile device first.
Post ads online: If you have a website for your investment business, upload your ad and photos to your site. Make sure your website format is mobile-device friendly—if not, it won’t load properly on phones and tablets and your ad won’t be seen or it will be too difficult to view and people will click off it. Then post online to websites that advertise rental properties in your area. Our primary posting site is Hotpads.com, which syndicates the posting to the following rental sites, to name a few: Postlets; Zillow; Trulia; Yahoo; Trovit; MyNewPlace; RentMatch; Zumper, Frontdoor, etc: We also post on Craigslist, but beware that they sometimes flag HTML ads over plain text (if so it won’t be shown to the public), and they do not allow daily ad re-posting under their anti-spam rules.
Use clear signage – Even though most rentals are found online today, yard sign usage is not dead and gone. Our company yard signs are professionally done and we recommend that for a quality look and feel. Staples.com and other printing sites can do them rather inexpensively and Lowe’s and Home Depot carry sign frames. Keep them simple with “FOR RENT” language and extensive contact information so you can re-use them.
Provide enough contact information and be responsive: On both ads and signage, list your office number where someone answers a phone, or a cell number where you answer the phone, or an email address that you’re responsive to by smartphone or tablet. Or all of the above. Potential renters want to talk to someone quickly and if they can’t they’ll move on to the next landlord. Answer calls and emails within 24 hours.
Be truthful about rental rates: Don’t pull a bait-and-switch on a potential tenant by telling them the rent is $750 and then dropping added-fee bombs on them when they come to the showing. List the rental rate, the amount of the deposit, and whether the tenant is responsible for the utilities. Being truthful from the beginning about all of the costs involved in the rental—and about the property as a whole—builds trust and helps lead to a successful landlord-tenant relationship.