Chapter 1

How to Build an Effective Rental Listing

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The Complete Guide to Finding Tenants

Landlord Jorney

The first step to being a landlord is finding tenants to fill your rental property. Millions of landlords across the United States are trying to fill their units, and they’re all interested in finding the best tenants, who will pay rent on time and take care of their rental properties.

In your neighborhood, your listing will be competing with listings for other available units. Tenants typically spend four seconds or less before deciding to click on your listing or to move on. Based on all of these factors, it’s important that your listing is top notch.

Since launching in 2012, more than 20,000 landlords have used Rentalutions to successfully find tenants for their vacant units. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about what works for finding tenants and what doesn’t. Using everything that we have learned, we developed our own methodology for finding great tenants. Let’s take a look.

Our Methodology

Because tenants make a quick decision while looking at rental listings, we’ve developed a strategy for creating a perfect rental listing in less time:

  1. Have an eye-catching title that tells tenants what they want to know
  2. Provide an informative description that entices tenants to want your property
  3. Capture beautiful photos of every room and the exterior

Fortunately for all of us, these things don’t need to be creative or overly unique. They just need to give the tenant what they’re actually looking for. And once you understand what tenants are looking for, it’s really just formulaic. In fact, we’re going to share our free, easy-to-copy-and-use-for-yourself formulas:

The best rental listings are ones that are accurate, put the property in the best light, and give tenants enough information to think, ‘Yes, I want to live there!’

From the photos you display, to writing and including the most practical information, tenants want to see and read about everything they’re interested in: What does the unit look like? When is it available? What amenities and utilities are included? Including the right information and having edited, bright photos (and lots of them!) is very important.

With our tips, you’ll learn how to attract the best tenants by creating effective listings, managing tenant leads effectively, and how to best show your rental property. Finding tenants is a critical first step in the process of being a landlord. Doing it well means you can avoid vacancies, save money, and find quality tenants who pay on time and take care of your space.

Different Ways to Find Tenants

There are several ways to find tenants. You can list your unit with a broker, you can use rental signs outside your property, or you can use online listings. While there are several options, they’re not all equal. Listing with a broker often costs you the first month’s rent- a very expensive option, especially when brokers typically post your listing online themselves. They often charge you a lot of money to do something you can do yourself in minutes. Rental signs outside your property are only seen by people who pass by, and they can be costly. And printing ads in the newspaper is outdated. The best way to find tenants (and now the most common way) is to create an online rental listing yourself.

Why You Should Use an Online Rental Listing to Find Tenants

Rental Listing Syndication on Iphone

Online listings are the best way to advertise your vacant property; after all, 91 percent of tenants use online listings to find their next homes. Online listings are accessible 24/7 and provide a high level of transparency, which tenants love.

The majority of tenants use websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Hotpads to find their next home. These sites are the most visited real estate websites, according to ComScore. And according to Bloomberg, these sites attract 61 million of the 67 million visitors to real estate websites each month in the U.S.

As a landlord, deciding where to post your listing is important: you want as much visibility as possible. This often means listing your rental unit on as many high quality sites as possible.

At Rentalutions, we’ve generated more than 90,000 leads for our landlords by partnering with multiple listings sites. When you post with Rentalutions, your listing is syndicated to multiple platforms, including Zillow, Trulia, PadMapper, Lovely, Hotpads, and Apartments.com. Our method saves you a lot of time and provides huge benefits: you only create your listing once, but you gain exposure across multiple mediums. On average, we generate 16 leads for our landlords over the course of two weeks. Here’s a breakdown of how we help you create an online rental listing:

Finding Tenants with Rentalutions

What’s more, our interface offers helpful tips along the way. You can preview your listing before posting it. After you create your listing, it typically takes only a few hours for the posting to go live on our partner sites. Any edits you make will also go live the next day.

Avoid Craigslist

While Craigslist was previously a top listing site, it’s now on the downhill. It’s associated with rental scams and less security. Its user interface is also not as easy-to-use or helpful. To create a listing on Craigslist, you enter your property’s information in a disorganized manner. Likewise, their unsophisticated search tools make tenants less likely to use Craigslist as an apartment finding method.

How to Build an Effective Rental Listing

For Rent Image

Rental listings are comprised of a catchy title, a paragraph-long description, a list of amenities, and photos of the unit. The title should be informative, attention-grabbing, and straight-forward. On some sites, like Zillow, the title is just the property’s address. But titles should do more than showcase the address; they have more potential and purpose than that. Here’s our formula for creating a catchy rental listing title:

$$$$$ – ## Bed / ## Bath apartment|house|condo|duplex in neighborhood with great features.

With our formula, you’re immediately telling prospective tenants key factors: the monthly rental price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, what type of space it is, location, and the unit’s best feature. Here’s an example of the formula in use:

$2,500 – 2 Bed / 2 Bath condo in Old Town Chicago with skyline views of the city and lake.

After writing a great title, the rest of your listing is comprised of a well-written, descriptive paragraph (don’t worry, we’ll teach you how to write a rental listing description, too) and the most fun part- photos of your rental property! Doing all of these steps well is the key to fostering tenant interest and creating multiple leads.

When to List

After spending time perfecting your listing, the next step is posting it. You should post your listing 60 days before your tenant will move in for optimal lead generation. Remember, if you have existing tenants living in your rental property, you’ll want to start discussing a lease renewal with them 90 days before the current lease ends, before creating the listing. If your tenants are renewing, then there’s no need to find new tenants! Start the conversation about renewals early, so you know ahead of time.

Assuming you aren’t renewing your lease, then you should be looking for a new tenant sooner rather than later.

The 60-day rule is perfect. First, it mirrors the policy that tenants are often required to give 60-day notice of moving out. In other words, 60 days out is when you should know if you are renewing with a current tenant, or finding a new one.

Second, the 60-day rule is designed to optimize your listing’s relevance. Most tenants search for an apartment 45-60 days before they move. The peak time for relevance is the 45-60 day window. If you post any later, you risk losing potential leads because they couldn’t find your listing.

Here’s an example timeline:

Tenant Turnover Timeline

Create a Homepage

In addition to creating an online listing on websites like Zillow, you should create a homepage for your listing. This is easy to do if you are a Rentalutions landlord: you click “Your Company Page,” follow the easy steps, and voilà- you have your very own homepage. Your reputation as a sophisticated landlord is bolstered when you create your own homepage. It’s also an easy page to share on social media, in addition to sharing your listing. Here’s an example of a homepage created with Rentalutions:

Example Homepage Screenshot

Use Social Media to Market Your Rental Listing

Once you create your listing, it’s important to share it across your social media accounts. Nearly 90% of people ages 18-29, 60% of people ages 50-64, and 73% of the entire population of internet users currently use at least one social networking site. Because social networking is so extensively used, we recommend posting your listing on social media in order to reach a large audience. Share your listing with a quick description, enticing photos, and a link to your listing.

When sharing your rental listing on social media, it’s important to include pictures: posts with relevant photos get 94% more views than posts without photos. You can even post a walk-through video of your unit. Check out Zillow’s examples of walk-through videos. Posting on social media will increase the number of people who see your property, and therefore decrease your chances of vacancy.

At Rentalutions, we make it easy to share your listing on social media. As soon as you click, ‘Publish Your Listing,’ a box appears providing a link to your listing that you can share. Or you can easily click the Facebook, Twitter, or Email icon to immediately share your listing.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, you care about creating a great listing because you want to generate a lot of high quality tenant leads. Your listing is your first impression as a landlord- with the right information and photos, you can secure a lot of interest from qualified tenants.

As we’ve gone over, here are the top things a listing needs to generate tenant leads:

We want you to create the best listing- saving you time and helping you throughout this entire process is everything to us. Get started today by creating an online rental listing with Rentalutions.

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Have you already created a listing and want help with the next steps? Check out our later chapters on managing rental leads and showing your property:

Successfully Manage Rental Leads

After creating an awesome listing, you’ll have several prospective tenant leads to manage, which can be overwhelming. You want to respond to leads as quickly as possible and comply with Fair Housing Laws throughout the entire process to protect yourself from lawsuits. You’ll learn how to decipher if a lead is good, fair, or bad and how to move forward with the best leads. We’ll teach you how to effectively communicate with tenants, and how to schedule a showing.

Rental Property Showings

The showing is the first opportunity for you and your potential tenants to meet. We’ll teach you how to prepare for your showing by cleaning and staging your unit, how to guide tenants through the unit, and how to watch out for red flags when you meet prospective tenants. Not sure how to prep for a showing if you have current tenants? Don’t know how to show an unfurnished space? We have tips for all of these common questions- guiding you through the process from start to finish.

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