Time really is money, when it comes to rental properties. As a landlord, you know that the longer your rental property remains vacant, the more profit you’ll see going down the drain. While having an attractive, well-kept exterior will impress potential renters, the following five marketing steps may help guide those renters to your property in a shorter amount of time.
1. Post highly visible signs
The time-tested “For Rent” sign is the simplest and most effective way to market your rental property. It takes advantage of the fact that the typical prospective renter drives around their neighborhood of choice in search of available housing. Make your signs as visible as possible, with large, readable type, to take advantage of their presence. Be sure to include a small flyer box on one of the signs, providing information sheets with rental or lease details. List the price, rental policies and information about pet preferences, to avoid wasting your valuable time with prospects who can’t meet your expectations. Adding balloons to your signs has been proven to increase their effectiveness by 150%.
2. Spread the word
When your signs and flyers are ready, post the rental details flyers to every community bulletin board in the vicinity. Free boards are located in many churches, government offices, grocery stores, pet stores, and community centers. If marketing to college students, don’t forget to post flyers on local college campus boards.
3. Pay referral fees
Enlisting friends, neighbors and other tenants to help market your rental by offering a referral fee for recommending a new tenant is a smart marketing tactic. Let them know the referral fee will be paid when the prospective tenant meets your rental requirements, including background check, and after signing an agreement for a specified time. This may result in a better candidate pool, as well as shortening considerably how long it takes to rent your property.
4. Online advertising
Today, most people turn to the internet for housing information, specifically looking into new communities that they want to move to. Posting ads online allows landlords to provide much more information and can reach a larger audience than classified ads in print. Online marketing allows you to pre-qualify prospects, and makes your information available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Start with free rental listing sites such as Craigslist in order to test your ad without risking too much, before moving up to paid sites. Also reach out to other property management companies, real estate agents or other resources such as your Chamber of Commerce to find which websites are legitimate and widely used. Once your ad has been posted, monitor your email or voicemail and answer any questions from potential renters as quickly as possible. Be cautious in screening applicants, as scam artists often use online postings as an opportunity to prey on unsuspecting landlords. As soon as the property has been rented, remove or update the online listings. This will prevent additional emails and/or phone calls regarding the property that has already been rented.
5. Place classified ads
Lengthy rental ads are fairly inexpensive in local newspapers, but can get pricy in the newspapers of larger metropolitan cities. Plan to post a lot of information in publications that circulate in the rental’s neighborhood, and to keep the details brief in the bigger newspapers.
Keep in mind that selecting a reliable renter is ideal, but not if their situation changes and they stop paying rent. Covering your assets by protecting your cash flow for up to six months of rent recovery through a rent protection plan such as Aon Rent Protect is a smart move. Aon Rent Protect, only recently available in the United States, is a safety net if the worst should happen. The insurance offers reimbursement to landlords for unpaid rent in the event of a covered default, as well as up to $1,000 reimbursement of certain legal costs if eviction becomes necessary.