Finding Tenants in Competitive Markets

The majority of prospective tenants seeking rental units are using two common search methods: the Internet and driving around neighborhoods where they would like to live. Property owners …

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The majority of prospective tenants seeking rental units are using two common search methods: the Internet and driving around neighborhoods where they would like to live. Property owners and landlords who make strategic plans to reach their audiences use their time and monetary resources more efficiently. Following are several methods for attracting different types of tenants.

Make the grounds and structures presentable

The buildings need to be in good working condition, with the landscape maintained, the paint fresh and the carpets clean. Tenants are looking for move-in ready units.

Go the extra mile: Hire professional crews to attend to cleaning and repairs. In addition to looking nice, owners are creating a layer of legal protection by avoiding making repairs and modifications to their properties personally. This technique can also save property owners time.

Post professional-quality signs

Invest in a large sign to post on the front of the structure or in the front lawn; it is worth the extra money. Hire a local printer to create a hanging sign that displays the message “For Rent” and a phone number. Home improvement stores sell sturdy, prefabricated posts similar to those that real estate agents use. The sign and post can be used at multiple properties for several years, so the higher cost is worthwhile.

Go the extra mile: Purchase coordinating A-boards (also known as sandwich boards) to place at nearby intersections. Property owners should research local regulations on A-boards before using them.

Get to know the rental market

The type of area that rental units are located in should also help drive marketing efforts. Newspapers in rural areas tend to be published every week or two, while urban areas tend to have daily newspapers. The longevity and relatively low cost of typical rural news publications are far better values than their urban counterparts. 

Direct traffic to the property

  • Larger companies hire more regularly, so talk to human resources departments about rental properties and post signs in break rooms. Young professionals entering to the workforce are often looking for places to rent while saving to purchase homes.
  • Community bulletin boards at nearby grocery stores are effective. Create a flyer with pull off tabs that include the address and contact number.
  • Hold open houses on afternoons and weekends. Creating standard viewing times allows landlords to set their schedules, rather than putting them at the beck and call of potential tenants.
  • Get it online. Most renters are seeking information that is thorough and easy to access via the Internet. Many newspapers now have the option to post an online ad only. Also try posting on Craigslist—it’s free and includes the option to post pictures. Google Base allows registered Google users to post rental properties, and many other items, and is searchable content in Google.

Go the extra mile: Include photos on all advertisements and print on 28 pound or higher paper stock.

Consider using an agency

For those who are limited on time, a rental agency can be the best solution. They have regular advertising in local publications and agents who are paid to spend their time showing the property. Property owners still reap the rewards of rental income and tax write-offs; the expense of a management company can be written off. For many, it’s worth the money to avoid the headaches of late-night phone calls and coordinating emergency repairs.

When drafting a marketing plan, start with a budget that allows for a few months’ worth of advertising efforts. Factor in property maintenance, signs, flyers and other expenses that are appropriate for the market. Developing a planned approach to marketing rental properties will help owners keep within budget and will help them find the best tenants in a timely manner.

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