101 Insider Secrets to Filling Rental Vacancies Fast!

Rental vacancy advertising has changed a lot over the years. Back in the old days, people flipped through newspapers to find vacant properties. That evolved, and landlords started putting ads up in local libraries and grocery stores. Now, with the help of the internet, people have more options than ever before. Modern listing management software like VerticalRent® empowers landlords, brokers, and property managers with a unified lead experience. What does that mean?

  • Friday, December 1, 2017

  Rental Market   Advertising & Marketing   

Rental vacancy advertising has changed a lot over the years. Back in the old days, people flipped through newspapers to find vacant properties. That evolved, and landlords started putting ads up in local libraries and grocery stores. Now, with the help of the internet, people have more options than ever before. Modern listing management software like VerticalRent® empowers landlords, brokers, and property managers with a unified lead experience. What does that mean?

Well, instead of putting up an ad at your local grocery store or fielding a phone call from a “For Rent” sign in the front lawn of your vacancy – you can design a beautiful digital advertisement and syndicate it with a click of a button to the Zillow Group’s powerful network. Within minutes, you are receiving leads directly from Zillow, Trulia, and Hotpads into your VerticalRent inbox. You can reply to those messages by mobile phone, desktop, or text message all while keeping an organized system of record.

Advanced tenant screening and vacancy listing tools give you key features that help to streamline and expedite the filling of rental vacancies. For instance, an automatic lead-reply engine is available in VerticalRent with instant push notification and SMS text. After you publish a vacancy listing to the Zillow Group network, you have the option to enable an automatic reply feature that directs a lead to your own digital application submission form. Within VerticalRent, you can configure a rental application fee that you charge for each lead (directly deposited into your bank account). Taking this approach helps to weed out the “dreamers” from the leads who are serious about setting up a showing with you. Prior to committing your valuable time for a walk-thru of the rental vacancy, you can collect a rental application fee, a digital rental application, a credit report, criminal report, and eviction report automatically. Once the full application is received, you’re notified by SMS text and email. From there, you can move onto the next step of scheduling an on-site walk-thru of the property – but first you have the necessary information to know whether the applicant fits your criterion or not. Plus, you have been compensated for your time and cost of the screening software with the rental application fee.

Beyond the technology of automating the filling of your vacancies and tenant screening, there are many intangibles that a landlord, broker, or property manager must consider in their quest to fill a vacancy fast. VerticalRent took the time to compile the industry’s first 101 insider secrets to filling a rental vacancy fast in today’s blog post. We hope that you gain some insight from our list of intangibles, but also take the time to sign-up for a free account to VerticalRent and begin posting your vacancies today.

  1. Act immediately. Most tenants will provide a notice that they’re moving out. As soon as they let you know of their intentions, start marketing the property. This will reduce the amount of time the property is vacant.
  2. Think of your perfect renter. You need to build an avatar based on the person who is most likely to rent your property. Then, build your marketing campaign around that avatar. This will allow you to speak directly to your target market.
  3. Offer perks. Free cable, gift cards, smart home devices, gaming consoles, or a month of free rent makes it easier to get people to sign on the dotted line. Think of the incentives your target market would like, and then offer them. Make sure you let people know what they’ll get if they rent with you.
  4. List the property at the right price. You need to go with the market value when coming up with the rental price, even if that is lower than your mortgage. It takes much longer to fill a vacancy if you list it at a higher price, and you likely will end up losing money in the process.
  5. Clean the property from top to bottom. Renters check out every nook and cranny, and if the apartment isn’t sparkling, they’ll start thinking of the people who rented it before. Yes, the place has had other renters, but new renters want to think of it as their own. If it is dirty, they won’t be able to get past that. To top it off, they’ll think you’re a lazy landlord that doesn’t pay attention to detail. That’s not the way to make an impression with potential renters.
  6. Offer the outgoing tenant a reward for referrals. If the outgoing tenant is leaving on good terms, offer a reward if he or she helps fill the new rental. A $50 gift card is the perfect incentive to get someone to help you find a new tenant. Best of all, if you like the outgoing tenant, there’s a good chance you will also like whomever he or she refers.
  7. Use SEO when creating listings on your website. You should have a website that lists all your available properties. This is an excellent way to get your property in front of interested eyes. Make it easy for people to find your listings by using the best keywords for your target market. This will help your listings get discovered.
  8. Make sure the property is ready for renters. Most people want to move in immediately when they find a property. That means they’ll want to check the property out and make sure it’s a good fit for them. Then, they’ll be ready to sign the lease and move in. If the property isn’t ready for renters yet, they likely will move on and look for something else. Make all repairs and upgrades before putting it on the market. Then, people can sign on the dotted line and move into the property.
  9. Make sure your website is mobile-ready. Younger renters tend to use their mobile devices when searching for properties. Make sure your listings are mobile ready, so people can easily see the listings as they’re meant to be viewed. Your listings should also include a clickable phone number the potential renter can call if he or she has questions.
  10. Create a listing on the community Facebook page. People look at community Facebook pages to find out what’s happening in their region. Those who are looking for a rental property will be happy to see a listing on the page. Add a listing if the page allows it.
  11. Use hashtags on social media. Potential renters often use hashtags to search for available properties on social media. Use geo-targeted hashtags, such as #NYCRentals and #ChicagoApartments.
  12. Use online tenant screening. It’s easy to review applicants and move them through the pipeline when you use online tenant screening. Use online tenant credit checks, background checks, and more. This will help you vet renters and fill properties quickly.
  13. Tap into your personal network. Word-of-mouth-recommendations are a powerful tool for landlords. Let your entire network know that you have a property available. Then, your network can share that information with their friends and family. You can end up with some personal recommendations this way. That’s a great way to find quality renters.
  14. Use online rental applications. Online rental applications are quick and easy, and they allow people to apply for your property when they are browsing online. Younger people like the ease of these applications, and they are more likely to apply for the rental if they don’t have to go into the rental office.
  15. Include 360-degree virtual tours in your ad. This is a hot trend, and it’s a hit with renters. It allows potential renters to picture themselves in the property. They can see the flow of the property and determine if it’s a good fit for them.
  16. Offer resident programs. Programs like pet playdates, game nights, and happy hours make properties more appealing. Talk to current residents to find out what they want, start the programs, and include the information in your listings.
  17. Make property showings more efficient. Include an assortment of high-quality photos in your listing, and add accurate descriptions of the entire property. This will help qualify renters before they go out to see the property. That way, you will get more out of your property showings. Renters will already have a good idea of what to expect from the property, so it will be easier to close deals.
  18. Go old-school with signs. Online marketing might be the best way to attract tenants, but don’t forget about old-school methods. “For Rent” signs are still a powerful marketing tool. Put a couple up so you can capture local traffic. This is a cheap and easy way to fill vacancies.
  19. Advertise in online newspapers. Print newspapers might not be popular anymore, but most local papers have digital publications that have lots of readers. Buy a classified ad in the online paper to get your listing in front of more eyes.
  20. Advertise a lifestyle. Tenants aren’t just shopping for a home. They’re shopping for a way of life. Advertise a specific lifestyle by mentioning amenities, perks, clubs, and other features you offer.
  21. Collect online reviews. It’s easier to fill rental properties quickly when you have a good online reputation. Encourage renters to leave reviews, and respond to them. Also, don’t ignore negative reviews. Respond to them promptly and thoughtfully. Fix the problem mentioned by the reviewer, and explain how you fixed it in your response.
  22. Hold an open house in a model unit. If you have several properties in the same building, stage a model unit and hold an open house in it. This will help renters get the feel for the space. They can picture themselves living in the apartment or house, and that will make it easier for them to decide if it’s a good fit.
  23. Include a desirable feature or quality in the headline. You only have a split second to attract potential renters, so put it all out there in the headline. Include a desirable feature, such as “quiet apartment,” “off-street parking,” or “pool” in the headline. This desirable feature will make the ad stand out from others.
  24. Use all the resources available online. The internet is full of property listing sites, such as Zillow, Rent.com, Trulia, and Craigslist. Use all of them so you get your property out in front of as many eyes as possible. An online listing management tool is a quick and easy way to do this.
  25. Be mindful of the local market when writing the ad. Buying properties in other locations is becoming increasingly common. You can easily rent properties in other cities or states, but you must be mindful of the local market when writing the ad. Think about what’s important to that market and include that type of information in the ad.
  26. Talk to previous and current renters. They rented your property for a specific reason. Find out what that reason was, and use it to help find other renters. Your renters have some great information, so don’t be afraid to pick their brains.
  27. Tell a story with your ad. People respond to stories that have a beginning, middle, and end. Use your ad to tell a compelling story that will interest readers. The story can explain what it would be like to live in the property. Try to elicit an emotional response from readers.
  28. Advertise online rent collection services. Renters like it when a property makes their lives easier. Online rent collection services do just that. This feature isn’t just good for tenants. It increases cashflow and reduces risk. It also takes the stress out of collecting rent. It’s a win for everyone.
  29. Put up flyers in high-traffic areas. Create a flyer with the rental information and put it up at grocery stores and retailers. Ask if you can put them up by the cash register so people can grab them when they pay for their goods. Also, hit up local bulletin boards.
  30. Host a fun social event at the rental. This might be a little outside of the box, but it’s a lot of fun. Invite people to a social event at the rental, and have some flyers on hand for interested renters. Pass out your business cards, as well.
  31. Make sure the listing is accurate. It’s normal to want to hype the rental, but don’t overdo it. Everything in the listing needs to be correct, or you will have a hard time renting the place. First, people will go to the rental expecting one thing and seeing something else. Many will leave when they realize the property doesn’t have the amenities and features they expected. Second, you will come off as untrustworthy, and that will make it hard to close the deal.
  32. Allow people to contact you with their preferred contact method. If you’re only available via the phone or email, some people won’t respond. Let people call, text, or email you. This will help you attract potential renters of all ages.
  33. Ask for shoutouts online. Don’t be afraid to ask people to mention your rental to their online followers. Ask former renters, as well as other community members. You can even offer to trade shoutouts. You can mention a local business if that business mentions your rental.
  34. Run an Instagram campaign that includes past and current tenants. Invite past and current tenants to upload photos to Instagram of them inside of your rentals. Create a hashtag for the campaign and use it to position yourself as a leading landlord. This will help you get more followers, and it will also build interest around your current listing.
  35. Use pay-per-click ads on search engines to drive traffic to your website. Google and Bing are both excellent platforms for driving traffic to your listings. Come up with a keyword campaign and write ads that will reach your target market. Just watch your budget. Don’t spend more than you can afford on this tactic.
  36. Attend community events. You want to be visible in the community. That can help you reach more renters and show them that you are an important part of the community. Check out your local event calendar and attend events. Don’t forget to bring some business cards with you so people can contact you about their rental needs.
  37. Answer messages quickly. When people are looking for rentals, they’ll often go with the first person to respond to a message. Drop everything and respond as soon as you hear from a prospect. That might make all the difference when it comes to renting your property.
  38. Use a Facebook Messenger bot to interact with potential tenants. Facebook Messenger bots can be programmed to answer basic questions and take a prospect’s information. If you use a bot, you will essentially have a customer service representative available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  39. Make sure the property is always ready to show. This is difficult if the property currently has a tenant. If that’s the case, you need to set aside times during the week when the property will be ready for viewing. Discuss this with the current tenant so you can bring potential renters over at the appropriate times. If there isn’t a tenant in the property, make sure it’s pristine at all times so you can take on last-minute appointments.
  40. Collect written testimonials from current and past tenants. Ask tenants to write their thoughts down and use them in your listings. This will give people a good idea of the type of landlord you are. If you come across as a likeable landlord, it will be much easier to rent your property.
  41. Focus on curb appeal. If people don’t like what they see when they pull up, they might keep driving. Make sure the lawn is perfect, the windows are clean, and the front yard is uncluttered. Also, come up with some ways to brighten the property. Add some flowers by the door and a cute welcome mat to make the property look more appealing.
  42. Confirm appointments with prospective renters on the morning of the showing. It’s impossible to rent your property if people don’t show up to see it. Call your prospects the morning of the showing to remind them. They are more likely to attend if they get a reminder.
  43. Put QR codes on rental signs so people can scan and get additional information. Technology should play a big role in your rental strategy. QR codes are an excellent way to integrate the latest technology into your marketing campaign. You can add as much information as you want into the code. Then, people can scan it and find out everything they need to know about the property.
  44. Run radio ads for the listing. Big rental companies rely on radio ads to fill listings, and you can do the same. Think about the stations your demographic listens to and run ads on those stations. The radio is quite a bit different from TV. People don’t typically turn the station when the radio runs commercials, so you should get your ad in front of lots of ears.
  45. Create a nickname for the property and use it in the advertising materials. Have you ever noticed how vacation rentals tend to use nicknames? For instance, a beachside rental might be called “Sandy Toes.” Do the same thing for your property. It’ll make it much more enticing to potential renters.
  46. Create a sense of competition. Book appointments back to back to make the listing seem like it is in demand. This will make people act quickly to snatch up the listing.
  47. Include the street address in the listing. Some people ignore listings that don’t include addresses. They want to drive by before going to the trouble of contacting the landlord. Lure those renters in by adding the address to your listing.
  48. Put the rental price in the listing. Qualify leads from the get-go by including the rental price in the listing. Some landlords are afraid to do this because they want to talk to potential renters before they talk price, but that is a waste of time. If someone still contacts you after viewing the price, you know the person is interested.
  49. Follow up with people who have viewed the property. Renting property is a form of sales, so follow-ups are important. Contact people after they see the property and ask them if they have any questions. Remind them they can fill out an application online.
  50. Build an email list. You should collect email addresses on your website, and every time you have a new listing, email it out to your list. People who leave their email address with you want to rent property. They just haven’t found what they want yet. There’s a good chance they will like one of the properties they see in an email.
  51. Run Facebook ads. Facebook ads are an effective way to drive people to your listings. Run pay-per-click or pay-per-impression ads. Include a picture of the property to draw people in.
  52. Create a YouTube channel. Renters like to see a property before renting it, and a YouTube channel is the perfect way to give people what they want. Create a channel that contains videos of your current listing. Also include videos that give tips to renters. Include geo-targeted keywords in your description to attract local renters.
  53. Track your advertising efforts. When people inquire about your property, ask them how they heard about it. Track the results, and then put more money, time, and effort into what is working. That will help you drum up more interest quickly.
  54. Reach local employees. Stop by the top employers in your area and let them know you have a property that is available to rent. They might have employees who are looking for a new place to live. Ask if you can leave some flyers with them that they can pass around to interested employees. You should also leave some business cards in case the employer has rental needs in the future.
  55. Include buzzwords in the description. Words like “energy-efficient,” “quiet and cozy,” and “gorgeous views” help sell properties. Look at the features your property offers, and then come up with some buzzwords that will help it sell.
  56. Think about amenities differently. Think beyond stainless steel appliances and consider what else the property offers. Are there lots of hotspots in the area? Then advertise how the property is great for people with active social lives. Is it quaint and quiet? Advertise that as an amenity.
  57. Email postcards out to the neighbors. Let the neighbors know that you’re looking for a new tenant, and offer an incentive if they can help you find one. People will work hard to find a tenant if they can get a free gift card or something else. Also, they will like the idea of finding a friend to move in near them.
  58. Keep the blinds open. People will drive by after hours to look at the property. They’ll want to see inside, but they won’t be able to if the blinds are closed. Keep them open so they can peak in at any time.
  59. Have your open house earlier or later than others in the area. People tend to hit up multiple open houses during the same day. Find out when other landlords are having theirs, and have yours start an hour earlier or stay open an hour later. That way, you can get all the renters there at one time. That will create a sense of competition, and it will ensure everyone can see your property.
  60. Have flexible lease options. Some tenants don’t want to be locked into a long lease. They want some flexibility, so consider offering flexible options, such as month-to-month or six-month leases.
  61. Include features that are important to your target market. Each target market has its own set of interests. It’s important to identify what your market cares about, and then highlight those features. Include them in the written description and the photos. Also, post about the features on your social media accounts.
  62. Create Pinterest boards full of property photos. Gather your best photos and create a Pinterest board. You can also create boards related to the activities in the area. This is an excellent way to help people picture themselves in the property.
  63. Blog about the listing. Come up with a list of keywords and use them in a blog about the property. You can come up with multiple blog posts, with each blog having its own angle. Include a call to action at the end of the blog.
  64. Guest post on other blogs. Find some local blogs that receive a lot of traffic and ask to guest post on the blog. You can return the favor and let the blog’s owner guest post on your blog, as well. Be sure to include keywords and a link to your listing in the guest post.
  65. Advertise on shopping carts. This might seem like a blast from the past, but everyone has to grocery shop, so you might as well get your ads in front of some renters while they’re at the grocery store. Put an ad right on the shopping carts. When people throw the loaf of bread in the cart, they’ll see your ad. People who are searching for a rental just might pick up the phone and call.
  66. Offer discounts for seniors, students, and military personnel. People are more likely to rent a property if they can get a deal. Just make sure you require an ID, so you don’t get taken advantage of if you offer this discount.
  67. Use natural light in your photos. Natural light makes the property look softer and more presentable. Take pictures during the day, when the light is at its brightest. Make sure you turn off the flash, as well.
  68. Only include professional-looking photos. You don’t need a fancy camera, but you do need to choose professional-looking photos. Use a camera or smartphone to take pictures throughout the property. You can also use cheap editing software to make the pictures look even better.
  69. Consider allowing pets. You might not like the idea of allowing pets, but there are lots of renters out there who are looking for places to live with their furry friends. You can charge a pet deposit to cover any damages caused by the pets. This is an easy way to fill the property faster.
  70. Allow quarterly rent payments to reach students. Students often receive government assistance, so they have money every quarter or semester instead of every month. Offer to break up rental payments in that way to reach students. You’ll get your money sooner, and students won’t have to budget for the whole quarter or semester.
  71. Offer flexible viewing times. You need to be available when people want to see the rental. If someone needs to see it in the evening, make it happen. Also, if someone needs to see it first thing in the morning, do your best to get there. This is difficult if someone is in the rental. Talk to the tenant and see if he or she will allow you to stop by at a moment’s notice. If you have a good relationship with the tenant, he or she is more likely to say yes.
  72. Allow tenants to use an out-of-state co-signer. Some landlords have location requirements for co-signers because it is harder to collect if the co-signer is out of state. However, it’s hard to get students into rentals if you don’t allow some out-of-state co-signers. Weigh the risk versus the reward, and if it makes sense, let people use co-signers from any location. You can mitigate your risk by requiring a larger security deposit.
  73. Become the go-to source for community information. Write blog posts and update your social media accounts with valuable information about the community. This will help you build your following. That, in turn, will make it easier for you to rent property.
  74. Offer a furnished rental. The idea of getting furniture together to put in a new home can be overwhelming. Make it easier for tenants to say “yes” by providing furniture for them.
  75. Avoid scammers. It’s hard to rent your property quickly if you’re caught up in a scam. Don’t let anyone into a property until the check clears. It can be difficult to get people out once they get in. Then, it will be hard to get a paying tenant in the property.
  76. Be professional in your advertisements. If an ad looks unprofessional, people won’t trust it. Double-check for misspellings and other things that will make you look unprofessional. It’s worth putting in the extra time since it will help you find a renter.
  77. Show some humor and personality. Being professional doesn’t mean you can’t show some personality. Don’t be afraid to show a little humor in your ad. You want people to realize you’re a likable person and renting from you would be a joy.
  78. Be personable and friendly when interacting with potential tenants. Landlords can get so caught up in the job that they forget to form relationships with potential tenants. Don’t make that mistake. If someone likes you, he or she is much more likely to rent a property from you. Go the extra mile to a build relationship with each person who contacts you about the property.
  79. Offer extra incentives for good credit. You don’t just want to fill your vacancy quickly. You want to fill it with a high-quality tenant. Accomplish both with this tip. Give people who have a credit score over a certain number a discount on rent or some other incentive.
  80. Advertise the neighborhood. You aren’t just renting a property. You are giving people access to a neighborhood. Let people know what the neighborhood has to offer. If they are excited about the neighborhood, they might even be willing to overlook a few problem areas with the property.
  81. Be willing to negotiate with potential tenants. If you want to rent your property fast, you might have to negotiate with tenants. For instance, they might only move in if you’ll repaint the property or upgrade the refrigerator. Consider reasonable requests, especially if no one else is interested in the property.
  82. Hand out a free prize at the open house. Get people to the open house by offering free prizes. Once you get people in, you can show them around the property and make them fall in love. They might come for the prize, but they will leave with an interest in the rental.
  83. Run a contest on social media. Contests always drum up a lot of interest on social media. You can run a contest with a special twist. The contest winner can get a month of free or reduced rent or some other prize. There’s a catch, though. To enter, people have to share the post and check-in at the property on social media. That’s a great way to spread the word about the property, and you’ll get a lot of visitors.
  84. Upgrade the property. Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile to get people interested in your property. Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances, and add some smart features, such as the Nest thermostat.
  85. List the property on a Friday. Properties tend to get more interest when they’re listed on a Friday. List it for the first time on a Friday, and don’t be afraid to relist it on the following Friday. Continue doing this until you get a renter.
  86. Lower the price. You want to get as much as possible for your rental, but if no one is biting, lower the price a bit. You don’t need to go crazy, but if you drop it a little lower than the competition, you will garner more interest.
  87. Show potential tenants that you’re accessible, but not in the way. Tenants want a landlord who is there to help when needed. They want to know you will be there if the AC breaks down, for example. However, they don’t want someone who will always be in the way. Let them know you respect their privacy, but you are always available to help as needed. Make that clear from the beginning so they will be more likely to sign the lease.
  88. Don’t believe that less is more when it comes to property descriptions. Most advertisers like to get to the point. That’s great with most advertisements, but you need to use as many words as necessary to explain your rental property. Don’t be afraid to get wordy, but break the description up so people can skim it if they want.
  89. Be mindful when giving directions to the property. If your property is near a less-than-desirable neighborhood, exclude that area from your directions. Direct people another way so they will only see the best the area has to offer.
  90. Have the lease ready. Don’t make a potential tenant wait. Have the lease ready so he or she can sign it immediately. You don’t want to give the person a chance to back out.
  91. Include language in the description to let people know the property won’t stay on the market long. Use words like “low vacancy rate” and “popular area” to know people the property is in a sought-after location. You want people to act quickly, and this language will make that happen.
  92. Contact tenants in other properties. Your tenants are an excellent resource. Contact them and ask them for referrals. Give them a bonus if they find someone to rent the property.
  93. Network with other landlords. Build a network full of landlords, and offer referrals for each other. The landlord community tends to be tightknit, and this can help you drum up some business while helping others.
  94. Team up with moving companies. Moving companies and landlords have something in common. They both want to reach people who are moving. Ask a local moving company to advertise for you, and you do the same for the company. The moving company can plug your rentals, just as you can plug the moving company.
  95. Let multiple tenants live in the property. Landlords often have strict requirements about how many people can live in a property. Loosen your requirements so you can reach more people.
  96. Collect video testimonials. Record people as they talk about living in your property. Then, put the testimonials on your listing, YouTube account, website, and social media accounts. When people see real people talking about what you have to offer, they will be interested in living in one of your properties.
  97. Host question-and-answer sessions on social media. Streamline the rental process by setting aside some time for questions and answers on social media. People can ask you everything they want about the property and neighborhood. This will help people realize if the property is right for them. At the end of the session, give everyone information about how they can see the property in person or fill out an application.
  98. Advertise in printed apartment guides. Your local community likely has printed apartment guides. Add an advertisement in the guides so people will see it when they’re flipping through.
  99. Mention new appliances and features. If something has been upgraded, mention it in the ad. New air conditioning units, appliances, and windows are all ways to sell a rental property. Those new features make the tenant look at the property in a different light.
  100. Engage social media followers. Respond to questions, like comments, and start conversations on your social media accounts. This will make you stand out to your followers. That means they will pay attention when you post about your new listing.
  101. Use Snapchat to reach the younger crowd. Younger renters like the visual nature of Snapchat. Get in front of those renters by showing off snaps of the property. You can even offer special promotional coupons on Snapchat. The code can give people money off rent, free parking, or something else. 

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