As a landlord or real estate investor, so much of your success is directly tied to finding qualified applicants who turn into reliable tenants. But with good tenants in short supply, you’re ultimately competing with every other landlord in your market.
Unless you want to risk having your properties sit vacant for several months while you wait for the right person to come along, it’s imperative that you implement a proactive tenant acquisition strategy.
One way to do this is by investing in rental property marketing.
The Power of Rental Property Marketing
Your average landlord has no strategy for finding tenants. They simply wait until a tenant notifies them that they’ll be leaving, then begin the painstaking process of manually finding someone. This is typically done by sticking a “For Rent” sign in the front yard and/or sending text messages and emails to friends and family members in search of a good referral.
While a shotgun approach such as this can work from time to time, it’s not a reliable method for generating qualified tenants at scale. If you’re interested in developing a more systematic approach, you need to invest in an actual rental property marketing strategy.
Rental property marketing is basically the concept of intentionally and proactively marketing your rental property using a combination of digital marketing techniques. The benefits of this approach include:
- Increased reach. When you’re reliant on your own network, you’re limited by the number of people who are in your personal network. But when you invest in digital marketing, you’re suddenly able to exponentially increase your reach and quickly engage with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people at scale.
- Lower cost. Most digital marketing is free. Thanks to email, social media, and a long list of free rental “classifieds” services, you can pursue digital marketing without having to shell out a bunch of cash. (Though it should be noted that there are plenty of paid options available for those with the budget.)
- Greater authority. Imagine how much more credible and enticing a property looks to an applicant when it has an online listing (versus a paper flyer and cheap plastic sign staked in the front yard). When you launch a property marketing strategy, it instantly establishes greater credibility across the board.
- Direct communication. Online rental listings allow applicants to reach out directly to you. And with no need to filter communications through a third party, you’re able to directly vet prospective tenants and speed up the process.
Rental property marketing certainly requires more creative energy and money than a shotgun approach, but it also helps to fill vacancies more efficiently. Not only that, but it usually produces a higher quality tenant who pays on time, takes care of your property, and is more likely to sign a long-term lease agreement. If any of that sounds good, you’ll want to listen up.
7 Tips for Marketing Your Rental Properties
Every rental property is unique. Factors like location, supply, demand, price point, style, and property type impact how to best market a particular unit. However, here are a few universal tips that seem to work across the board:
Just Outsource It
We’re about to give you some technical details you can use to aggressively market your property online without spending hardly any money. But if you want to know the truth, the best thing you can do is outsource your property marketing.
Any good property management company is going to offer some sort of listing marketing service and/or tenant acquisition strategy. Best of all, it should be included in the service agreement. Taking advantage of this offering can save you a lot of time.
Know Your Audience
Before getting too far along in marketing your rental property, you must know who your audience is. Without a clear understanding of audience demographics, it’s impossible to create a compelling marketing message that reaches the right people. Consider, for example, the following audiences:
- College kids between the ages of 18-22 who want to live within walking distance to campus.
- Middle-class families with children in elementary school who want a big backyard and safe neighborhood.
- Retired elederly individuals who have a high net worth and want a luxurious, low-maintenance place to live.
Do you think the same rental property listing is going to appeal to each of these audiences equally? Absolutely not! If you’re going after college kids, your language, amenities, and listing photos will reflect this. Likewise, if you’re going after middle-class families, your approach will be different than if you were targeting elderly individuals.
Create a Video Listing
Most rental property listings look the exact same. They include a few pictures, a clever headline, and then some basic copy discussing the property’s features. But if you want to stand out and connect with people in a new way, we recommend trying your hand at a video listing.
A video listing usually includes all of the typical elements of a standard listing, but also has a short recorded video (usually 5-10 minutes in length). This video helps people get a better feel for the property’s floor plan, size, and flow from room to room.
Try a Virtual Showing Event
It’s hard to talk about “positives” and the recent pandemic in the same sentence. However, if you’re forced to come up with a list, the rise of virtual property showings would certainly make it. And even today, after most social distancing rules and virus concerns have disappeared, there’s a case to be made for conducting virtual showings.
For best results, create an actual event on Facebook and invite everyone in your network. Pick a time for the virtual showing (24-72 hours in advance) and use listing photos in the event’s description. When the event start time arrives, head over to the property, flip on your smartphone camera, and go “live” on Facebook. Spend the first few minutes chatting about the property and then taking people on a virtual tour inside of the property.
Focus on the Right Features
Be mindful of which aspects of your rental property you’re focusing on in your listing. Whether it’s a video listing or a traditional written listing, shifting the emphasis to the right features makes all the difference.
While it could differ slightly based on your target demographic, the “money” features typically include the kitchen, bedroom, master bedroom, master bathroom, appliances, electronics, outdoor living area, garage/parking, proximity to local attractions, and/or community amenities.
Try Guest Blogging
Find online publications that are local to your market. This could be a business journal, real estate blog, or even a local newspaper or news station that publishes content online. Make a list of as many of these sites as possible. Next, search these sites for guest contributor programs.
Depending on the size of the website and their budget, they may actually have formal programs that allow members of the community to publish original content on their sites. If so, you can pitch a content idea that revolves around one (or more) of your listings. This is essentially free exposure. You can also use it to drive backlinks to your website.
Use Reciprocal Property Marketing
If you’re committed to using digital marketing as a long-term strategy for acquiring tenants at scale, you might as well invest the resources to do so. And sometimes the best thing you can do is help others.
As someone who is involved in real estate investing in your community, you know plenty of other investors, landlords, real estate agents, lenders, and real estate attorneys in your area. Do your best to connect with as many of them as you can on social media. This includes Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or anywhere else they spend time.
The next step is to make a habit out of sharing their listings and promoting anything that they’re interested in. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it. Just go through your feed and share anything that you think will help them out.
After several months of consistently supporting other people, you’ll find that they naturally want to return the favor. And the next time you share one of your own listings, you’ll have people eagerly waiting to share it with their own followers. This can significantly increase your exposure at no additional cost.
Adding it All Up
If you’re tired of high vacancy rates, low-quality applicants, late-paying tenants, and all of the other common points of frustration that stem from having no tenant acquisition strategy, it’s time for a change. Let this article serve as a high-level starting point. Refer to it as you craft your own unique strategy that fits your business goals. We’re confident you’ll like the results.