By Neil Fjellestad and Chris De Marco
To understand the importance of professionally marketing a rental vacancy take time and commitment. Making a mistake with “rental pricing” or showing the property before it is “market-ready” can prolong the vacancy or attract non-qualified prospects. Targeted promotion along with a polished presentation will create a sufficient number of applications to secure qualified residents.
We remember how simple marketing our vacancies used to be: a “for rent” sign out front and a couple lines in the classified section and we’re good to go. What happened?
Well, for starters: rent represented less than 20% of the tenant’s household income, now it’s 50%. Renters were happy to move in and be left alone. Now, tenants see themselves as customers with service requirements. They demand respect for their choice to pay rent instead of mortgage payments. They believe that rental owners need to compete for their rental dollar. As it turns out, they are correct on all counts.
Our local economy is very demanding and requires every rental owner to compete like never before in order to market their vacancies.
Here are a few suggestions:
• Don’t advertise a rental rate that is not competitive in the current market.
• If your marketing is not working you need to adjust your rent rate sooner than later.
• We live and shop online. A combination of print advertising along with an online version is standard these days. It’s not enough to use just one internet portal. Include a “call to action” with a phone number that will get answered when an interested prospect calls. Real customers demand contact with real people in real time.
• Many professionally managed rentals include an extensive video tour of each vacancy along with the ability to submit an application with a deposit; all online.
• Most of your leasing prospects already live work or attend school within 5 miles of your vacancy. Use this fact to market effectively.
• Most businesses and employers have a place where customers and employees place information. Get a flyer posted on a real “wall”.
Lastly, invest in technology that allows residents to pay rent online and even text!