Like many over the past couple of years, I became a landlord because of the housing crunch. When it came time to put my home on the market, I just couldn’t stomach the loss I would take by selling at that time. Thus, I entered the world of investment properties.
Because I knew almost nothing about renting a property or anybody else that did, I used the services of a property management company. Long story short, these companies do have their place and if you simply cannot be bothered to put in any of the work involved in finding tenants and keeping up with the house, then this is definitely something to consider.
I am hands on, however, and having a property management company basically required a middleman when I felt I could get things done more efficiently between the tenant and myself. Again, reputable property management companies have their place and I did learn a lot about the process by working with them. Now that I have a better understanding, I enjoy handling my property on my own and it saves me a lot of money.
Today, I wanted to pass along some of the tips I have learned about advertising the house.
Using a for Rent Sign
I have not had to use this method and I won’t if I can help it. If your rental is like mine (in a neighborhood where most people own their homes), I think the neighbors appreciate that your home is not advertised as a rental. It certainly can have an effect on the other homes’ values. In addition, the leads that it generates will be much less qualified than other sources.
Using Print Media
I think that using the newspaper also give very little bang for your buck. You will likely have to pay for your ad and it likely will have less readership than electronic sources. In addition, you will be relying on a print description and not pictures of a property.
For me, the Internet is definitely the best and most cost-effective way to advertise a rental property. I discovered a site called rentlinx.com. The way it works is you create your ad on the site, listing the property type, bedrooms, bathrooms, amenities and so on. From there, you can add pictures of your property. There are two things that I really like about this page. Once your ad is complete, you can have it posted on many other free websites – Trulia, Zillow, and Realtor.com to name a few. They also have the option to pay a certain amount and your ad can also be added to pay-per-listing sites. I have not found that I need this feature yet. One more cool feature is it also provides you code to copy and paste into a Craigslist so that your dynamic ad shows up and not the standard Craigslist posting.
Description and Pictures
Make sure to list all amenities and features of the home. I find striking a balance between highlighting what makes the property stand out but not sounding like a used car salesman works best. Remember, things like a washer and dryer and off-street parking are big items to many tenants. Also, don’t forget about the features based on location, for example, close to shopping, restaurants, or good schools.
As for pictures, my primary advice is that your primary picture does not have to be the front of the house. If there is a certain room inside of the house that gives it its character, use that as the main picture. Make sure to have pictures of most if not all rooms so people don’t think you are trying to hide something but certainly put your best foot forward.
Be thorough in your research about other properties like yours in the area. You don’t want to come in low, but for people looking regularly, they will notice if you drop the price. This might put you in a tough negotiating situation if you’re perceived as not knowing what the property is worth. Every area is different, but a good rule of thumb to start with is take the property value and divide by 100 to get the monthly rate.
Be Prompt in Your Responses
Remember to be as appreciative and responsive to inquiries as possible. I also find that it helps to be genuine and open. If you will be an active landlord like me, it is a selling point for the tenants to know that you want to start on the right foot and will take care of things promptly if issues arise.
I’ve found this approach to be effective and it costs no money to execute! By comparison, I had a real estate agent approach me to perform the same services in exchange for one month’s rent. On this property, that would be a four figure pay out, so I am very happy to save that money.
Do you have a rental property? Do you handle the advertising on your own? What has worked for you?