Most landlords will agree that tenant turnover is an unpleasant but inevitable reality of the job. Vacancies are a part of real estate investing, so it's important for rental property owners to educate themselves on the best ways to market a rental property so it's leased quickly to a qualified tenant.
Whether you're a new landlord or an experienced pro looking to improve your marketing skills, this guide will walk you through the steps to marketing your rental property, including how to market the rental unit, where to market your next rental property, and tips for marketing your rental property like a professional.
Steps to marketing your rental property
- Get it show-ready.
- Determine the market rent.
- Take high-quality photos and video.
- Market online.
- Market elsewhere.
- Reply quickly.
- Pre-screen tenants.
- Simplify showing.
1. Get it show ready
It's important to get your rental unit in tip-top shape before listing it for rent. If the unit was rented previously, you may have to have it professionally cleaned, touch up paint, clean or replace the flooring or fixtures, or possibly update certain features of the unit to compete in the current rental market. While updating the unit isn't required, it will help you get it rented faster and most likely for more than the previous rental rate.
2. Determine the market rent
Once the property is cleaned and ready for occupancy, you'll want to determine the market rent. Rental rates can change quickly depending on the supply in demand in the given market. Use a tool like rentometer.com or look at current rental listings in your immediate area to determine the average rental price you can charge given the condition of the unit. While getting top dollar may improve your return on investment (ROI), it can take longer to rent, which means longer vacancy periods and ultimately a lower return. For this reason, it's a good idea to stay around the median rental price for your market area.
3. Take high-quality photos and video
As real estate moves into a more virtual environment, it's more important than ever to have quality pictures or video to provide to prospective tenants. While professional photography may not be necessary for your particular unit, mediocre photos taken on your smartphone won't cut it in today's market.
The pictures should give an accurate representation of the rental property, showing each room of the unit with multiple pictures and angles for the kitchen, bathroom, and living space. Lighting plays a huge role in the quality of your photos, so if you're going to take pictures yourself, make sure the unit is well lit. You can also do a nice walkthrough of the unit with video or use a 3D camera to allow tenants to see around the unit virtually.
4. Market online
If you're not marketing your rental online, you're missing out on a huge market of prospective tenants. There are multiple online platforms that allow you to market your rental property free of charge, many of which include a tenant pre-screening service as well.
Choose the right platform for your rental needs. For example, if you're trying to list a vacation rental, you'll want to list your property on major listing sites like Airbnb or VRBO. If it's a commercial rental property like an office, you'll probably want to list on places like Loopnet.
Before you take your listing virtual, make sure you have a well-thought and well-crafted property description that will grab a prospective tenant's attention while giving a nice representation of your rental unit. If your unit is near a hospital, college, or desirable neighborhood feature that would improve your unit's value, feature it. If you offer rental payments online, allow pets, or can provide other enticing features, this is the time to showcase them and help your listing stand out.
5. Market elsewhere
Marketing your rental unit online isn't the only way to get the unit rented quickly. Referrals and word of mouth can actually do wonders. It doesn't hurt to put a for-rent sign in front of the property with your contact information and basic rental information on the sign. Don't forget to add the rental price and size of the unit on the sign or in an easily accessible flyer. Doing so reduces the number of calls from unqualified tenants. Anyone who calls for more information will already know that they can afford the unit and that the size fits their needs.
6. Reply quickly
Most prospective tenants expect a reply within 24 to 48 hours. To simplify this, have a prepared script for inquiring tenants, including the terms of the lease, including if you allow pets, rent to section 8, have a security deposit requirement, require a minimum credit score, or request income qualifications. I also like to include a link to my online rental application and criminal and credit check in my reply. This helps eliminate unqualified tenants and allows interested and qualified tenants to move onto the next step without much interaction from you.
7. Pre-screen tenants
Pre-screening tenants is one of the best ways to narrow down your tenant pool. Many online websites and rental property management software offer tenant screening services, which are usually paid for by the tenant.
8. Simplify showing
Lastly, simplify the showing process by booking showings back to back or all at once. Just as realtors do with an open house, show the property on a convenient day and time for you and prospective tenants, which in most cases is during the weekend. I always call and text tenants before the showing day to remind them of the showing hours and confirm if they will or will not be there.
As you can see, marketing your rental property like a professional is easier than most think, and in most cases it's completely free. If you feel this is too much work, you can easily hire a property manager to take over the process of marketing and managing the property for you. Just make sure their fee is worth the service for your particular rental.