Thousands of rental listings are popping up across the country now that the affordable market has tightened. The potential for rental profit is high, since U.S. renters spent $441 billion on rent in 2014 alone. In Canada, a recent survey showed that 43% of every dollar is spent on housing-related costs (mortgage, rent, utilities, etc).
Related: Lessons from a First Time Landlord
As more property owners enter the leasing space hoping to generate revenue, existing landlords must make their units stand out from the rest. Successful landlords consistently maintain listing standards to ensure they preserve their competitive edge.
To improve your rental listings and attract future tenants, consider these three lead-generating strategies.
Use High-Quality Photographs
While it’s tempting to take a few interior photos with a camera phone and quickly upload them to your rental listings, captivating photographs usually come from professional equipment. Savvy renters often use images to sift through potential properties, so invest in a good camera to capture properties’ most inviting features. Blurry, poorly lit or cluttered photos can dissuade quality renters, sending them to competitors within seconds.
Help potential renters visualize themselves in your property with photos that best illustrate the layout and available square footage. Renters also respond well to brightly lit spaces that appear cheerful and inviting.
For optimal natural light, be patient and wait out rain, snow or clouds when listing a rental in cities with fluctuating weather patterns. Rooms lacking natural sunlight benefit from overhead bulbs to best illuminate all sides and corners, especially at night. Table lamps tend to limit brightness to specific areas of a space, making rooms appear smaller overall.
When I rented out my condo, I was lucky – the rental market was so tight that I listed it with mediocre pictures and still received a ton of responses. If the rental market wasn’t so tight I would’ve needed higher quality photos to attract high quality tenants.
Set Competitive Listing Rates
Setting appropriate rental prices is a necessary step in keeping units occupied throughout the year. Research your metro to determine price points of similar properties and list your unit(s) accordingly. Knowledgeable lessees complete their due diligence before beginning their search, and won’t stand for astronomical prices without warrant.
For example, renters searching for apartments in Philadelphia might spend around $1,295 per month, which is the city’s median rent list price. In Toronto, a one bedroom apartment typically rents for about $1,110. Valuing a moderately-sized apartment with average amenities far beyond this price point steers potential applicants to more realistic listings in your area.
If your property deserves more than the median rent, be sure to clearly indicate the reasoning behind the price, such as special features, size or upgrades. To a renter, a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment sounds average at best.
Let them know if your property includes access to a pool, covered parking or other coveted amenities, and if these extras are included in the cost of rent.
My Listing Strategy
I listed my condo at a price point that was slightly below market value; I did this so that it would attract more interest and I would be able to choose the best tenant for the condo. The strategy paid off – it attracted tons of interest within days and was rented right away. I believe if it wasn’t priced correctly it would have taken much longer to rent while it sat vacant – which likely would have cost me more money in the end.
Include Enough Information
Don’t allow renters with questions to sit and wonder whether your properties are still available. On each listing, provide multiple contact methods for renters to reach out at their convenience. Tradition dictates that phone numbers be available.
Today’s renters also expect a cell number where they can reach landlords beyond the regular 9-to-5 workday. Remember, too, that some would-be renters search late at night, so include an email address and check it often. Set up alerts on your smartphone for up-to-date notifications on texts, calls, voicemails and emails.
Also provide electronic rental applications with your listings for renters to fill out and apply for approval online. Some websites and apps offer automated applications to instantly screen tenants and provide you with credit reports, background checks and state-specific lease agreements. Using property management software allows landlords to spend more time marketing to potential tenants and less time dealing with paperwork.
Creating eye-catching listings is vital to rental property success. Most renters rely on the Internet when conducting their apartment and house searches, and first impressions are key.
Personally, I think communication is key when it comes to a landlord/tenant relationship so I always try to make myself as available as possible. My tenants can call or text me at any time in case something comes up, and I expect the same of them.
Conclusion: by pricing your rental accurately, using high quality photos and including enough information in your listing you’ll be able to attract the best tenants.
Note – The content above is a collaboration between Zillow and Our Big Fat Wallet.