As the rental market slows down for the year, what does that mean for your current vacancies? Are you still getting the inquiries you need?
Here are some marketing best practices for your listing that will help you stand out among the competition!
You have a new vacancy - Now where are you going to list it?
There are listing sites that deliver qualified leads, and other listing sites where prospects are more likely to just window-shop. So how do you decide where to post?
- Craigslist: Ah, tried and true. Craigslist hasn't changed much in 15 years and that's the best thing about it! The average prospect knows it as a household name, plus it's free and easy to use. But with the amount of scammers and fake listings out there, prospects on Craigslist tend to shop around more and are less trusting of Craigslist listings.
- Zumper: Zumper, which is privately held, reaches 17 million renters monthly by cross-posting on Zumper, PadMapper, and WalkScore (they also used to post to Facebook Marketplace before Facebook discontinued the distribution of home rental listings from partner catalog feeds). Zumper also features a "Craigslist Marketing Tool," which consolidates the listing information that you input into Zumper and allows you to copy and paste directly into a Craigslist ad. If you're a struggling landlord, Zumper also rolled out a 12-month rent protection program early in the COVID-19 pandemic for small, individual landlords who've been affected by the pandemic.
- Zillow: With over 36 million users, the Zillow Group is the largest rental network in the US. In 2019, Zillow made the switch from being a free listing service to now charging up to $10/listing/week in certain states. If lunch isn't free anymore, do you stop eating it? Of course not! Zillow is still THE best way to reach your target prospects. Since your listing gets posted across the "most visited online rental network" (Zillow, Trulia, HotPads), many users find a renter within just a week or two of listing!
If you're a small landlord, you can absolutely start with the free listing sites. However, if you are on a time crunch and need to fill your vacancy FAST, Zillow is almost always going to be worth the cost.
You know where to list your vacancy - But how can you get your listing stand out?
Surprise: There's more to your listing than just the location, location, location. That's why we put together the following list of five best practices for marketing your new vacancy!
- Location is important to prospects. That's why you should highlight as many points of interest as possible! How close is the property to the nearest grocery stores and restaurants? How's the commute into the city, or how close is the property to freeway access or public transportation? If your property is dog-friendly, how far is it from the nearest park or walking trail? These are all great things to highlight in your listing!
- Your description should be as detailed as possible, and include all the unique qualities of the property. Think about the commonly asked questions you get from prospects (washer/dryer, parking, amenities, pet policy, etc. ) and see if you can answer them in the description!
One more thing... Check for typos!! No one wants to see a simple grammar mistake.
- Consider being super transparent about your pricing. The #1 priority among renters is "Can I afford this place?" So hidden fees and unclear deposit amounts means that you have to use more of your time in conversation with prospects to clarify the price. If you show prospects the all-in pricing (fees, deposits, etc), it will help build trust PLUS save time and effort for both of you.
- Good quality photos are a must, and your prospects are going to want at least 10 of them. You can outsource your listing photography to a professional photographer or friend, or do it yourself! Most people are equipped with high quality cameras on their smartphones, or you can rent a nice camera from a local photography store. Pay attention to the lighting (the more, the better!) and angles. If you have an iPhone, you can switch from the standard 1x zoom lens to an ultrawide 0.5x zoom lens to capture more of a room in one frame. See the photo below.
- On-demand showings and instant scheduling are a huge perk - let your prospects know in the description that you offer both! Scheduling showings around someone else's schedule can be a big pain for a prospect and often a deterrent from ever seeing the rental property. Include in your description that they can schedule a tour in as little as an hour, any day of the week, and up until 7pm.
Want to get your vacancy filled?
We covered where you should post your vacancies (Zillow being the best) and the five best practices for marketing your listing... All with the goal of filling your vacancy as quickly as possible.
It's a renter's market right now, so anything you can do to set yourself apart from the rest (like offering on-demand showings) will help you rent faster and with more success.