The scourge of the modern landlord is tenant turnover. Though there are strategies that can help you reduce tenant turnover in the long run, eventually, you’re going to experience a vacancy. When you do, one of your best options is to rely on digital marketing strategies to find a new tenant—but the process isn’t quite as straightforward or as simple as it might seem.
What to Keep in Mind
Before you start advertising your open property online, there are a few things you should keep in mind about the tactic:
1. Not all advertising opportunities are the same. There are many ways to advertise your property online, and all of them come with pros and cons. Advertising on Craigslist, for example, is free, but you might have to deal with a lower volume or lower quality of tenant applicants. Apartments.com or Trulia might give you more visibility, but will also cost more money. Posting to local neighborhood forums will give you lower volume, but higher relevance—and possibly, more personal interactions.
2. Interest comes in waves. You should also know that advertising isn’t a guarantee of getting new tenant applicants, or applicants in a steady stream. In fact, you’ll probably see inconsistency in your incoming applications, coming through in waves of high volume and low volume. You’ll need to be patient if you want to wade through them and ultimately settle on the best candidate.
3. You’ll need to run a background check or pre-screen. Even if they look good on paper, not all of the tenant applicants you receive will be worth following up with. It’s a good idea to run a brief online background check on some of your most promising candidates, then agree to meet them over the phone or in person when showing your property. Look for people with a history of missed payments, or those with a criminal background they tried to cover up.
4. This is an ad. Remember, this is an advertisement, and you should follow basic advertising principles when creating it. Make sure your ad is compelling enough to attract attention, relevant enough to keep that attention, and specific enough to call people to action once they’ve read the whole thing. Use uniquely written and appealing copy to describe the property, and make sure you include plenty of images; the more familiar people are with your property after seeing the ad, the more likely they’ll be to follow up with you.
5. Your description of the property needs to be accurate. Don’t get too carried away with advertising your property, however. Your descriptions still need to be accurate to what the property can offer. Don’t overly embellish its best features, and don’t try to cover up the flaws. Otherwise, when people tour the property in person, they’ll feel both disappointed and lied to, and will be far less likely to commit to a lease.
6. Referrals are still golden. Spreading news of your property’s availability through word of mouth is still a good idea—even in a digital environment. If there are people you know in the neighborhood through an online community or forum, ask them if they know anyone who’s looking for a place to live in the area. Oftentimes, friends of friends will make better tenants than perfect strangers.
7. Incentives make a difference in competitive neighborhoods. If you’re advertising a property in a neighborhood that’s especially competitive or tight on price, you might need to include some extra incentives to stand out. For example, you might waive the security deposit, offer free utilities, or free wireless internet to drum up more interest.
You don’t need a big budget or a grand plan to get started; even posting in a few local forums and posting a simple Craigslist ad could be enough to get you started. Depending on how eager you are to fill your vacancy, you may want to invest more time or resources into the project. Otherwise, take your time, and find tenants who plan to stay in your property for an extended period of time; it’s worth the extra wait and extra investment to find the right people.