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How can I optimize my rental advertising to get more applicants?

Advertising your rental is very important. Before you can screen applicants to find the ideal renters, prospective renters want to know what you are offering. You may also want to attract long-term tenants to minimize turnover. Depending on your goals, there are a few things you can do to optimize your advertising. Below are just a few suggestions to get more rental applications.

Put out a "For Rent" sign

Although it might seem too simple for today’s modern world, do not underestimate the power of a "For Rent" sign in front of your rental. You can put it in a window or on the front lawn. A sign at the property tells the neighborhood and visitors that there is a rental unit available. Neighbors may mention the sign to friends or family to encourage those people to move nearby.

Utilize free online listings

Several online advertising services offer free or low-cost advertising to those who want to list a rental. If there is a nearby university, or large employers in your area, you can check to see if they offer rental listings for their students or employees. Some online listing services may offer a way to boost or promote a listing for an added cost, so more people will see it.

If possible, incorporate photos, monthly rent, move-in costs, duration of the lease, and the precise location into the listing. That way people can get a sense of the property before they contact you. The more information you provide in your listing, the less time you may spend answering simple questions. Good photos can make a rental listing stand out from the crowd. You may want to hire a professional photographer. Showing rooms from several angles with bright lighting provides the most benefit to prospective tenants. Including a picture of the floorplan, and a list of features and amenities, such as garage parking, a dishwasher, or updated appliances, can help to attract applicants who may be searching based on strict criteria.

Offer virtual walkthroughs

Advances in technology have made it simple to offer virtual walkthroughs to prospective tenants. Most smart phones are capable enough for the task. If you are looking to avoid an open house, or numerous showings, you may want to consider asking prospective tenants to do a virtual walkthrough via a video call to confirm their interest before they visit the property in person.

As an alternative to an individual video call, you may want to make a video walkthrough that you can post online, or share with prospective tenants that reach out. A video walkthrough or video tour of a rental works best when the camera moves slowly and steadily throughout the home, showing every bit of the property, inside and out. You may want to work with a professional videographer.

Consider a property manager or real estate office

Professional property managers can help advertise your rental and more. A professional property manager may be experienced in reaching the right rental prospects, and may have more time than you to devote to showings and screenings. Additionally, property managers benefit from finding the most qualified tenants, as doing so generally makes their job easier.

If you are only looking for help with advertising, you may be able to post your rental’s information with a local real estate office. This typically comes at a cost, but it can be substantially lower than utilizing a property management company.

What incentives can I offer prospective tenants to fill vacancies?

If you have trouble getting tenants to submit a Rental Application, you may want to provide incentives to sweeten your Lease Agreement for prospective renters. Some common options include:

First month free

A month free of rent is a huge draw for new tenants. Moving is expensive, and a security deposit plus the first month’s rent can be daunting. The first month free gets a tenant in the door with a year-long lease at a lower move-in cost. If a full month free feels excessive, half-off the first month’s rent may still motivate more prospective renters to look at your rental. Along the same lines, waiving the security deposit, or half the security, may be another way to entice prospective renters, while not reducing the immediate income the property can generate.

This incentive is an expensive option, but it can be effective. If you are considering these options, you may want to ask a lawyer about how to update your Lease Agreement to protect your business.

Waived pet fees

Pet-friendly rentals often are hard to come by, so accepting pets is an incentive in and of itself. If, however, pet-friendly rentals are common in your area, you may want to consider discounting or waiving pet fees. Many rentals include both an initial pet fee and a monthly pet fee. You may waive or discount one or both to entice pet owners to apply.

Rent increase protection

Offering longer term leases, or specific protections against rent increases for an extended period of time, may be attractive to many renters on a fixed budget. This also works in your favor by increasing the likelihood of your tenant staying longer. You may want to ask a lawyer for help setting this up in your lease, as you may want some exceptions for situations beyond your control.

Offer new amenities or discounts at local businesses

If you can add amenities renters want, or partner with local hot spots to offer discounts or perks, you may be able to draw more applicants. If you have been considering upgrades, or adding amenities, doing so while your property is vacant is ideal.

Depending on your area, partners could range from cafes to gyms to spas to laundry services. If you own a multifamily property, local businesses may be willing to partner at no-cost, or even pay you, as the partnership may provide them with new and repeat customers.

What amenities typically attract tenants?

If you want to attract long-term tenants, you might consider adding amenities or renovating. Renters value many things that homeowners also value, such as upgraded kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and outdoor spaces. Parking is also a huge perk. For multifamily properties, upgrading common areas and shared spaces can both attract new tenants and make current tenants happier.

Here are just a few upgrades that you might consider to attract more applicants:

  • Refresh, update, or add outdoor spaces and landscaping.
  • Update kitchen cabinets, countertops, and appliances.
  • Make sure the unit has clean and modern paint, carpets, and lighting.
  • Upgrade internet and cable infrastructure.
  • Update security for individual units and the building as a whole.
  • Add storage, laundry, or parking for tenants.

Something as simple as some landscaping, or a fresh coat of paint can go a long way to attract renters. Many of these upgrades benefit both the renter and you as the property owner. New and more efficient appliances, for example, will generally require fewer repairs, lower utility bills, and make for happier tenants. Better security may deter crime and vandalism, and help tenants feel secure in their homes.

Can I offer current tenants a referral bonus for referring new qualified tenants?

Absolutely. Word of mouth is often the most effective marketing tool. Ideas for referral bonuses when a new renter signs a lease, or moves in, might include:

  • Rent credits.
  • Gift cards.
  • Cash.
  • Reserved parking spots.

You can definitely get creative in providing bonuses to tenants. For example, you may offer to let a tenant choose a new paint color for their unit, or provide some other upgrade of their choosing.

If you have more questions about managing a rental property, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.


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