Even though the rental market is strong, you still want to do all you can to fill a vacant rental unit—while attracting the best possible tenant. Here are six tips to help you write a more effective rental listing that can accomplish both of these goals:
- Write a Great Headline. Instead of the boring basics, like “3BR 2 BA Home for Rent” try getting more creative: “Dream House. Great Neighborhood.” “3 BR Home, Walk to Trader Joe’s.” “2 BR New Upgrades, Pets Welcome.” “3 BR 2 BA, Fireplace and Big Sunny Rooms.” Get noticed!
- Target Women. That’s right—if you know how to catch a woman’s attention, you’ll have a better chance of closing the deal on a new lease. Studies show that women are signing home sales and rental contracts in larger numbers than ever. What do women want to hear that you can include in your rental listing? Walk-in closets. Security system. New appliances. Stainless steel appliances. Quiet appliances. Extra-large tub. Sunny patio. Close to trails. Plenty of storage. Light-filled rooms. Hardwood floors.
- Include the Walkability Rating. Have you ever heard of WalkScore.com? It’s a site that scores a property’s walkability, including how close it is to shops, grocery stores, libraries and other amenities renters want. Just enter the rental property’s address and you’ll have a score that will appeal to potential tenants who want to avoid the traffic, congestion and parking problems that come with driving a car.
- Describe the Neighborhood. include the area’s best qualities, like cozy coffee shops, parks, bus stops, Laundromats and bakeries. More and more tenants will be choosing their next home based on the proximity of all the places they want to be. Just be careful about pointing out churches to avoid the appearance of limiting tenants to a certain religion, which violates the Fair Housing Act.
- If You Allow Pets, Say So. Don’t wait for a potential tenant to call and inquire. Many pet lovers will skip your ad if it doesn’t state that pets are welcome.
- Use Over-the-Top Terminology. For example, why say, “clean” when you can say immaculate? Why not tell folks your place is ready to move in and a must see? And if it’s quiet, lovely and charming why not say so? Sell it.
Realtors know that holding an open house is a great way to get lots of exposure for a property. They also use open houses to find potential new clients, often to the homeowner’s chagrin. But there are plenty of success stories of homes selling because of a well-run open house.
So why don’t more landlords adopt this idea? It’s certainly worth considering if you have a rental vacancy.
There are pros and cons to hosting a rental open house:
- You save time by showing the rental to multiple people at once;
- But you might not be able to spend quality time with each potential tenant;
- An open house can cause a sense of urgency, when a potential tenant sees others interested in the property;
- Spending too much time with Potential Tenant A could mean missing out on selling the rental to Potential Tenant B;
- You could waste time with nothing but “tire-kickers.”
Qualify Potential Tenants Prior to Holding the Open House.
Pre-screen over the phone. Ask callers responding to your for rent ad where they presently live and work. Tell them the rent, the security deposit, and any other important lease-qualifying information. Let them know you will be conducting a thorough tenant screening on all applicants. Then, if they’re still interested, let them know you’ll be holding an open house and they’re welcome to view and apply to lease the property then.
Repeat this process for the next several interested callers. You may have a dozen people show up for your open house; you may have two. No matter—you’ll still save time showing it to multiple people at once.
Getting Ready for a Rental Open House
Make sure the property is at its best. Thoroughly clean the walls, floors and ceilings. Pay close attention to the bathrooms and kitchen. Make sure the tile gleams and the floors are spotless. Put a plant on the counter.
Inspect the property from the outside. Pick up trash. Trim low-hanging tree limbs. Cut the grass, and plant some flowers outside to add to the curb appeal.
If you have some extra furniture, place a chair and table in the living room and a bed in the bedroom, so potential tenants can envision their belongings in the space. Wash the windows and turn on all the lights.
Print up flyers and leave them where visitors can find them. Include photos and a list of the basic information as well as amenities offered with the property. Don’t forget to tell potential tenants what’s nearby that they might enjoy: parks, coffee shops, grocery stores, or bike trails.
Allow open house visitors to wander through the space. Don’t crowd them, but let them know you’ll be close by if they have any questions.
Be sure you have lease applications on hand—and don’t let any qualified potential tenants leave without filling one out! If anyone is super interested, offer to collect a security deposit and first month’s rent to hold the property, and inform them it will be refunded if they do not pass your tenant screening.
People might be more receptive to viewing your property through a friendly open house than in a one-on-one showing, so why not consider hosting one?