A vacant rental property is like a pimple on the complexion of your real estate investment business—it’s all you can think about when it’s there and you look and feel so much better when it’s gone! That’s why we have put together 5 ideas for marketing rental property that will fill your rental vacancies quickly.
We also recommend you check out our complete guide on marketing your rental property
When you have a vacant rental property, it costs you money for every day it sits empty, so it’s important to reduce that time between qualified, paying tenants to the bare minimum.
Filling a vacant unit with good tenants takes more than just printing up neighborhood flyers.
The key to minimizing the time that your rental sits empty is by acting quickly and effectively in trying to get the property ready, market appropriately and attract prospective tenants who are ready to sign a lease agreement—all without putting your cash flow at further risk.
BONUS TIP – POST UPDATE 4/18/17
Times are changing and we thought it would be good to include a new technology that will be changing the way people market their rentals.
We’re talking about 360 degree virtual tours of rentals and houses for sale.
Check out this video below produced by Nickel City Graphics:
You should be able to drag (or move your cell) around and see the house in it’s entirety.
360 video is a developing technology and you will be seeing it used more for rentals as well.
In this 360 video below, Steve White and Eric Worral (of RentPrep) discuss with Neil Carrol (of Nickel City Graphics) on how these videos are created.
The camera was hard to see on the cellphone mirror.
Here’s an image of what it looks like…
Here’s a list of available 360 cameras on Amazon.
Now, back to our original blog post with 5 more tips for marketing your rental
Landlords Should Act Immediately
Ideally, your current tenant will give you a 30-day notice that he or she is moving. This is the best case scenario because you still have an occupied property for that month while you begin your marketing efforts to find a new tenant. Sitting on a vacant unit for days, weeks or months will only eat into your profits when there’s no rent coming in yet your bills still need to be paid. Deliver a notice in writing to your current tenant to ensure he or she knows that you will be showing the rental property to prospective tenants over the next 30 days.
Remind the tenant of your state laws that allow you as the landlord to do this as long as you provide proper notice. Most states only require that landlords deliver a 24 or 48-hour written notice to the current tenant before showing the property. If your tenant has simply abandoned the rental property or otherwise vacated without much notice, you’ll definitely be aware of the ticking clock looming over your vacant rental property.
It’s important to take action right away to get that empty unit filled as soon as possible, but not so fast that you miss important and wise steps in recruiting and selecting prospective tenants.
Rental Vacancy Tip:
Before you start your marketing efforts, take some time to make sure that your rental unit is priced right. This means making sure that the rent you are charging for the unit is in line with your city or neighborhood and reflects a similar rate as your direct competitors—not too high or too low.
Rather than guess what similar rents are in your area, look at what your competition is asking, talk to local real estate experts and even tour other properties if you can. The rent needs to be competitive for your area in order to attract tenants, otherwise, it could sit vacant while landlords all around you are filling up.
Prepare to Market Your Rental Property
No matter which method you use to market your vacant rental property, there are a few things you’ll need to do to maximize the impact of your efforts:
Attend to the Rental Property
It goes without saying that the rental property itself needs to be as attractive as possible. How much you can do and how early depends on whether the unit is currently occupied with an existing tenant or whether you are dealing with an already vacant unit. If the rental unit is currently occupied, take the time to coordinate with the tenant to do a move-out inspection so that you can get a good idea of what kinds of repairs and updates you’ll need to do to the rental.
It’s also a good time to take photographs of the rental property for your marketing efforts. Make a list of all the tasks you’ll need to do or manage in order to get the rental property in top shape.
Then, schedule services and maintenance to happen the day after the tenant moves out so you aren’t postponing a new tenant’s move-in dates. Schedule the painters, carpet cleaners, and any other outside services as soon as you can so that the rental unit is move-in ready in just a few days after being vacated.
With a rental property that is already vacant, you must still work quickly to get those outside services to transform the unit into something you can show prospective tenants as soon as possible. Remember that every day your rental property sits empty translates into zero income for you, so put the pressure on everyone, including yourself, to get the property rent-ready.
Photographs of clean, empty rental units are generally more appealing to prospective tenants than photos of someone else’s furniture and belongings.
If you don’t currently have any photos of the empty rental property to use for your current marketing efforts, make sure you take the time during this transition to get some quality shots before the new tenants move in. You can keep these photographs on file to use the next time you need to fill a vacancy and save yourself some time and hassle.
Write Enticing Marketing Copy
When advertising your rental property, the words you use and the features you highlight are what will motivate prospective tenants to contact you. Paired with good photographs of the property, the right marketing copy will tell applicants everything they want to know and screen out people who aren’t interested in your rental.
Make a list of all the features your rental property offers. Put down the obvious things like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as other details like the size, rent and deposit amounts, pet policy, location and your contact information.
List the amenities and best features of your property, such as laundry hookups, air conditioning, pool or new carpet. Then, think outside the box and decide what makes your property special. In other words, what type of tenant would be attracted to your property?
For example, mention that the property has easy freeway access or is close to downtown to attract younger professionals. You could list the elementary, junior high and high schools for your single-family rental property to attract those with kids. Include anything that you think might make your advertisement stand out from all the others that are similar to yours.
Nothing grabs attention better than the promise of a sale, discount or other financial perks, so consider including that in your marketing copy headline. Examples include $100 off the first month’s rent, free cable for 6 months, or a $100 gift card upon signing a lease agreement.
Even though it may seem counterintuitive to put up some of your own money or slash rent, it is a small price to pay to get the attention of prospective tenants and motivate them to choose your rental property over another.
5 Marketing Ideas To Fill Rental Vacancies Quickly
Once you are ready to market your vacant rental unit and you’ve got the photos and copy, consider your best marketing sources to deliver the message to the right recipients.
It’s always a good idea when marketing a vacant rental unit to use several different avenues and not limit yourself or your message to a single method.
In order to get the maximum exposure, take the time to post your advertisement in as many free places as possible, and as many paid for places as is reasonable and that you can afford.
Marketing a vacancy means making as many qualified applicants as possible aware that your property is ready and waiting for them. There are several options for both free and paid marketing campaigns. Free marketing means that it either takes no money or a minuscule amount to market your rental vacancy, while other marketing efforts may cost you to use their services.
Using some or most of these ideas gives you the power to put your message in front of many qualified applicants.
Here are 5 ways that you can market and ideas on exactly what to do:
1. Word of mouth
Sometimes other tenants can be your best free resource when it comes to finding potential tenants. Let your other tenants know that you have a vacancy available and let them spread the word among family, friends and co-workers.
You might even want to throw in a finder’s fee for a good referral, such as a discount on rent or a gift card. Let your own friends, family and co-workers know that you’ve got a place opening up and take advantage of the original social networking—word of mouth!
Don’t forget your own social marketing accounts, like Facebook, Google+ and more for spreading the word.
Even if it seems cliché, putting one or two “For Rent” signs up can capture local traffic like nothing else. Put a sign in a prominent window or even on the front lawn to get the attention of pedestrians and motorists who frequent your neighborhood.
Even if someone isn’t looking for a place for themselves, they may refer someone your way just by seeing your sign. If your rental property is on the end of a quiet street or a cul-de-sac without much traffic, consider putting a sign up on the park strip of the next busiest street (with permission of course) with an arrow pointing your way.
3. Free online listings
Take advantage of free online classifieds and listings to notify potential tenants of your rental property vacancy. Well-known websites with local market classifieds include Craigslist and Zillow, and they are free. Look around for local or regional listing sites that include apartment and rental property listings.
For example, those landlords seeking to advertise a Chicago condo for rent can turn to Chicagocondorentals.com. Free online listings are the best way to get your message out to a variety of readers.
4. Online newspaper ads
While traditional newspapers across the country are fading away, the concept of a local classifieds section still thrives. Most newspapers have moved to an online version and still offer listings for a range of things, like jobs, pets for sale, homes for sale and rental vacancies.
Check out your city or region’s local newspaper online and see what it would take to get your property listed. Most newspapers charge a nominal fee for a set timeframe and you can generally extend easily if you haven’t found the right tenants yet.
5. Real estate offices and property management companies
It’s common for larger real estate offices to handle rentals, but it will cost you a fee that varies from location to location. Real estate offices that facilitate rental referrals like the supplemental income and also helps them make more contacts in the event your current tenants eventually become homebuyers.
Property management companies can also take over the duties of marketing vacancies for a fee and hope that you will segue into using them for more services in the future.
There are many unconventional marketing ideas out there for vacant apartments, including sending your contact information to people who may be helping people look for apartments, like company human resource managers, pastors and social workers. Other ideas include placing flyers at local businesses like bakeries, laundry mats, grocery stores and daycares. Think outside the box, such as inviting a local radio station to broadcast from your location, printing up door hangers to distribute in nearby neighborhoods and sticking a sign on your car’s back window.
Speed vs. Quality
Filling a vacant rental quickly is the dream of ever landlord, but don’t discount the long-term benefits of taking whatever time you need to get a quality tenant in place. If you ignore your standard tenant screening and interview process, you could lose more money in the long run on a bad tenant than you would by letting the property sit vacant for a little while longer.
Think of it this way, if you ignore your standard procedures for marketing, tenant screening and interviewing and fill a vacancy quickly with someone you haven’t properly checked out, you increase your risk of filling the unit with a bad tenant. A bad tenant is more likely to either not pay rent or do something to get evicted.
The whole eviction process can take up to two months, during which time you will probably not be collecting rent anyhow. Taking a few extra days or weeks to ensure you get the best tenant possible, who is the least likely to cost you down the road.
Finding that balance between speed and quality is essential in making sure your real estate investment is paying off.
Do you have any tried and true techniques you use to fill a vacancy faster with better tenants? Please share this article and let us know your tips in the comment section below.
How to find the best tenant:
It’s not all about speed as you still want a quality tenant in your rental.
We’ve put together a comprehensive tenant screening guide that will walk you through the entire process.