Want to reach more prospective renters to fill vacancies? Look beyond Craigslist and develop a robust — yet budget-friendly — advertising strategy that includes different channels and techniques.
Here are five low-cost ways to get your rental units in front of more eyes.
For Ben Fisher, owner of the Fisher Group, a real estate company in Park City, Utah, word-of-mouth advertising is “the oldest trick in the book for selling or renting properties.”
“It’s easy, cheap and convenient if done correctly,” Fisher says.
Let current renters know there’s an upcoming vacancy at your property and consider giving them a small reward for referrals. “You can always sweeten the deal by offering a small gift card or rent relief option,” Fisher says.
Think about your personal and professional networks too. Marc Mason, CEO of Eastside Property Development, a Massachusetts-based real estate development company, says his team has had massive success posting about vacancies on their personal Facebook accounts.
“You will most likely have someone in your network or a friend who will need a rental property,” Mason says. “This works for our team 80% of the time.”
The more visuals you can offer prospective renters, the better. That’s why along with including photos in apartment listings, you should consider offering virtual tours.
“Buyers like to have an initial tour virtually to determine the property’s worth before visiting in person,” says Ron Wysocarski, a broker and CEO of Wyse Home Team Realty in Florida.
Offering virtual tours isn’t as hard as it might sound. All you need is a recording device — your smartphone will suffice. From there, search for free apps to create virtual tours.
Though this tactic might be more common in real estate sales, “hosting an open house for a rental is a smart idea — especially if the property is luxurious or big,” Wysocarski says. Even for smaller properties, open houses gather a group of prospective renters, which can make the vacancy feel more competitive and get it filled faster.
And for owners who take a hands-on approach to managing their properties, an open house “also provides a chance for both the owner and renter to meet in person,” Wysocarski says.
Along with posting about vacancies on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, consider joining local groups to spread the word about the units.
“Facebook Groups offer many market-specific renter sites that we find helpful,” says Joel Wilmoth of the Wilmoth Group, a property management company in Indianapolis. “You do have to plan ahead and request membership to most of these groups. Also, be sure you have Facebook Messenger activated on your mobile phone so that you can promptly respond to inquiries.”
Wilmoth suggests searching for “homes for rent” groups in a specific location. In more rural areas, property owners should search by county; in urban areas, search by neighborhood or city names.
Another area of Facebook to explore is Marketplace, where you can post about vacant rentals at no cost.
How can you make your listings stand out?
“Include good pictures, the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage and the marketing story,” Wilmoth says. “Also, the address is important. People want to filter by address … before drilling deeper into a property.”
Don’t overlook the effectiveness of posting flyers on bulletin boards at local colleges, supermarkets, libraries, other businesses and community centers.
“No matter how far technology advances, people still like to review bulletin boards to keep up with local updates,” says Rafael Murillo, a real estate broker in Chicago.
Since most folks create flyers with “the same design with a little variation in color and shapes,” Murillo says it’s important to make sure your listings look different. “A unique design will definitely help you stand out and attract more attention,” he says.