Last updated Apr 6, 2021
Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. Any legal information is not the same as legal advice, where an attorney applies the law to your specific circumstances, so you should consult an attorney if you’d like advice on your interpretation of this information or its accuracy. You may not rely on this article as legal advice, nor as an endorsement of any particular legal understanding.
When a tenant notifies you that they will be leaving at the end of their lease, you probably have a million items that are automatically added to your to-do list. Coordinating move out, inspections, repairs, updates, and other elements of the turnover process can add complexity to your already full schedule. However, at the top of your list is surely preparing to market that property and showing that you know how to find good tenants. This is where rental property marketing comes in.
The ideal scenario, of course, is a pipeline of warm leads who are eagerly waiting to go through your tenant screening process and hear about your latest vacancy. Rather than waiting until you have a need and scrambling to find a suitable renter, why not take a more proactive approach to your rental property marketing strategy?
Elements of how to find the good tenants via effective rental property marketing
In order to ensure that you always have someone ready to move in when a new rental listing becomes available, cultivate the following platforms and strategies.
- Get your property ready to show.
- Consider changes before you market.
- Create a variety of promotional materials.
- Develop online content for local renters.
- Utilize online listing platforms.
- Engage on social media.
- Cultivate effective community partnerships.
- Create an attractive open house.
- Cultivate a market niche.
- Explore event-based marketing options.
A smart, systematic approach will help you as you market both your current property and any future available properties. Once you create a system that works, you can reach out to your contacts and find an eager, well qualified tenant who has been waiting for your call.
1. Get your property ready to show
Having all of the leads in the world won't help if you don't have anything to show them. One of the first things you'll need to do is pay a visit to your soon-to-be vacant property. Since you will need to do a walk-through with the current tenant anyway, you'll want to use this opportunity to determine what changes, repairs, or updates will be necessary after they move out.
As soon as possible, schedule the workers you'll need both inside and outside the house, including painters, landscapers, and others. The idea is not only to repair damage but to refresh the look of the home.
One of the most effective ways to help potential renters picture themselves in a space is through professional staging. You may want to hire a staging service or keep items in storage that you can use to stage a vacant home or apartment. These could include:
- Table settings
- Kitchen appliances
- Towels and bathroom finishes
- Artificial plants
- Porch or patio furniture
- Decorative accessories
Once you have refreshed the space and staged, if desired, it’s time to ensure that you have great, professional photos. You may want to create a virtual reality walkthrough to help potential tenants better understand the layout of the property. These items will help you create promotional materials that you can use in a variety of ways as you prepare to rent the space.
2. Consider changes before you market
This is also the time for you to consider changes that you need to make before you put your rental listing on the market. These could include:
- Rental rate adjustment
- New fixtures or finishes
- New lighting
- New appliances
- New flooring or carpeting
- New policies
- New landscaping
Remember, it is far easier to make major repairs or improvements to a property between tenants, so consider what systems have reached the end of their useful life and determine whether you should go ahead and replace them.
Not all of your changes have to be expensive. A new kitchen costs thousands, but you can give it a stylish facelift for just a few hundred. By replacing some inexpensive elements, like cabinet pulls, a new faucet, or a lighting fixture, you make your property more desirable -- and more marketable.
3. Create a variety of promotional materials
Use your beautiful new photos to create promotional materials, including flyers, direct mail cards, and graphic elements suitable for online sharing. Work with a graphic designer or consider an online platform like Canva or Poster My Wall where you'll find hundreds of templates and options.
For your online marketing, you may want to update your website with your new listing as a featured property or develop a standalone website with photos, a virtual tour, and a guide to your rental application process. Tie your direct mail items to your online platforms with a QR code or dedicated web address.
Don’t forget signage for your rental property. Forego a generic For Rent sign in favor of a branded sign or a custom graphic using one of your professional photos of the property. Make sure you provide clearly visible contact information so that potential tenants driving by can get in touch with you and find out more.
4. Develop online content for local renters
If you want to develop a highly engaged audience for all of the latest news about rentals in your market, create online content targeted toward local renters. You may want to develop a blog, YouTube channel, or podcast with the latest information and ideas.
Topics may include:
- Home decor ideas for renters
- Small space storage (for apartment or condo renters)
- Local events
- Local schools
- The local restaurant scene
- Pet care
- Outdoor sports and recreation
Besides creating a resource for your current and prospective renters, you’ll build the SEO of your website and develop a base of subscribers and followers who check in with you and your content regularly. Then, when you have an upcoming vacancy, you’ll have an audience to whom you can market.
5. Utilize online listing platforms
There are a variety of platforms dedicated to advertising rental listings. Check out the following websites and mobile applications and ensure that they have all of your current contact information, updated photos, and updated property details:
- Your local Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
- Apartment Guide
In addition, consider Craigslist, still a popular starting point for many renters, and your local newspaper’s real estate section. Also, there may be a few go-to local blogs that have real estate listings, especially in competitive urban markets.
6. Engage on social media
Use those professional photos and graphics to put out the word about your latest vacant property on social media, but don’t wait until you need a renter to engage on your social media platforms. The more active you are there day in and day out, the more followers you will have and the more high-interest the platforms will judge your content to be.
Share news about your market, your latest blog post or video, and a variety of other content on your social media platforms. In addition, comment on the platforms of local figures with large followings and gain the attention of their fans as well.
Remember to tailor your messaging to the strengths of the various platforms:
- Use LinkedIn to talk to local professionals and to let colleagues know about your latest rental listing.
- Use Facebook for friendly, word-of-mouth advertising and high-interest content.
- Use Instagram, both posts and stories, to highlight beautiful photos and graphic elements.
- Use Twitter to communicate and crosspost from all of your other platforms.
Don’t forget the paid versions of your social media platforms. They offer opportunities to target your marketing to people who work in the neighborhood of your new rental and who may want to cut down on their commute. Create a variety of styles, headlines, and calls to action in order to determine which ad message is most effective in reaching qualified leads.
7. Cultivate effective community partnerships
Think about the places in your area where there are a lot of potential renters. These could include:
- Local hospitals
- Boards of Education
- Military bases
- Large corporate campuses
- Colleges and universities
- Major employers in your market
Get to know the HR department, housing office, or other staff members and find out if they partner with local service providers in order to help their employees or students with day-to-day needs. In addition, if local businesses have a relocation service, they may be eager to connect with a reliable local real estate agent or property manager to provide housing for new-in-town employees.
Additionally, you may want to connect with local churches, veterans groups, and other community organizations to find reliable renters in your area. The more people you know, the more word of mouth you’ll generate -- and the more potential renters you’ll identify.
8. Create an attractive open house
If you’re holding an open house, make it an event! Consider some of the following affordable options for making your open house truly stand out:
- Create custom signs and banners to draw the attention of neighbors and drivers.
- Hire a bounce house for the day so that parents can bring their children.
- Have a popcorn or cotton candy machine, ice cream truck, or taco truck out front to generate interest.
Be sure to advertise your open house extensively on your social media platforms and invite the neighbors to come by as well. They are a great source of word-of-mouth advertising and may lead up to how to find good tenants.
Once the open house has started, greet visitors warmly and be prepared with flyers, business cards, and a free rental application. Use Facebook Live or IG TV to let local social media followers know what’s going on as well.
9. Cultivate a market niche
It’s always easier to talk to a specific group than to craft an effective message that appeals to everyone. When you develop a market niche, you become the go-to resource for specific renters in your area. People are always looking for:
- Student housing
- Pet-friendly housing
- Senior housing
- Military housing
By creating content around these groups on your online and social media platforms and showing that you understand their needs and challenges, you become a trusted friend when they are looking for a home. Capture their contact information and build your database so that you can let them know when you have an available rental that’s just right and even begin an tenant screening process.
10. Explore event-based marketing options
There are always things going on in your community. By becoming a sponsor for a local event, you get your name out in the community and develop your visibility. The more people know you, the more they will visit your website, follow you on social media, consume your content, and respond to your marketing.
Popular events in your area may include:
- Fun runs, 5Ks, or marathons
- Community cleanup days
- Fairs and Festivals
- Charitable events and fundraisers
Connect with your community even more when you volunteer to register runners or sponsor a booth at the local fair. You’ll get to know other organizers and local attendees, raise your profile, and grow your community connections.
Now that you know how to find good tenants via rental property marketing, it’s time to look at questions to ask all of those new leads.
Continue to Chapter 6: Questions to Ask Rental Applicants or jump to a different article.
- Tenant Screening 101
- Creating your tenant screening checklist
- Tenant Screening Laws
- Determining Tenant Screening Criteria
- Rental Property Marketing
- Questions To Ask Rental Applicants
- Showing the Rental Property to Prospective Tenants
- What is a rental background check?
- Top 5 Problems With Tenant Screening Services
- Onboarding A New Tenant