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How to Optimize an Online Rental Property Listing

July 26, 2021 / by Hignell Property Management Team

online search for rental property

Professional rental property owners view resident turnover among the costs/responsibilities of managing an investment unit. To maximize the unit’s return, investors find it beneficial to educate themselves on the effective ways to market a vacant unit. The goal is to minimize vacancies by ensuring the property is leased quickly to a qualified resident. Creating an optimized and effective online rental listing is quickly done by following a few simple techniques. 

Make the Rental Property Show-Ready & Determine the Current Market Rent

Before placing the online advertisement, a good best practice is to deep clean the unit and create a space that someone will want to call home. Deep cleaning allows the property to be seen in its best light. From a modern marketing perspective, this is an important step. This is the opportunity to present the vacant unit to many potential residents scouring the internet and viewing your property online.

Before listing the vacancy, it's wise to determine the current market rent for the vacancy. Most online sites provide ample rental information to help determine the going rate for the unit, based on similar units nearby, which is the most accurate way to determine the demand for that specific market.

Pro Tip – Smart real estate investors recognize that reaching for the top rent in the market may offer a better ROI (Return on Investment), but it might also take a bit longer to find a resident and ultimately generate a lower ROI. The sweet spot in each market differs but is often median rental prices.

Don’t Skimp - Take High-Quality Pictures & Video

As real estate (and life) move towards an augmented virtual environment, the quality of the photos and video that represent the property is more critical than ever. While it's not necessary to hire a professional photographer, the reality is that mediocre videos and pictures will likely hamper your efforts to find a resident.

The photos and video of the rental unit should include, at a minimum, multiple pictures/angles of the following:

  • Living area(s) – den and/or living room
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom(s)
  • Hallway(s)
  • Storage
  • Garage area
  • Laundry facilities
  • Basement/crawl space
  • Attic
  • Plus, exterior shots of the home and outdoor amenities.

Pay attention to lighting as the pictures must show a well-lit unit. Recent technological developments have made it quite affordable to create a 3D video simply by walking through the unit. This walkthrough will provide potential renters with a virtual view as they search online.

Renters in the 21st Century have high expectations regarding the quality of digital media used. To increase traffic to the ad, focus on using high-quality media content.

Market Online – And Elsewhere

Although it seems obvious to most, remember that you overlook a considerable portion of the potential resident marketplace if you do not market a vacant rental property online.

The advertisement should be SEO optimized (to ensure it hits top pages on an internet search), which means it may be worth the time and effort to seek a professional writer or property management company for this assignment.

There are professional sites dedicated to rentals, like apartment.com and even Zillow. But be sure you choose the most appropriate and effective digital platform, the one that targets your target market. Consider Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook in the social media realm.

Select Descriptive Words to Help Potential residents

Before your virtual listing goes live, be sure you have crafted a well-written description of the property available for rent. List essential details and other enticing aspects of the property. Take time to showcase the vacant unit’s best features in both pictures and words.

It's also helpful to include a short description of the neighborhood and general vicinity, which can help potential renters understand its location in terms of walkability or proximity to schools, houses of worship, and highways, among others.

Pro Tip – Avoid words that may paint a negative picture, but always speak honestly.

Reply to Inquiries Promptly

Although there are no steadfast written rules, most potential residents expect the unit’s representative to respond to an inquiry in about 24 to 48 hours. To simplify this for the property owner, it helps to have a script about the property to ensure you answer the prospective renter’s questions. This is a great time to explain the lease terms, pet policies, and other important details.

When responding, it's smart to include a link to the digital rental application and the forms authorizing credit and criminal/background checks. This simple statement helps eliminate unqualified renters and allows you to respond to more serious, qualified residents ready to move forward with the rental.

Listing your rental property online can be a lucrative best practice when you have a vacancy. It can also be a lot of work to optimize and manage the listing and respond to inquiries. If you just don't have the time or feel your time and energy is better focused elsewhere, consider hiring a property management company to help!

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Topics: Residential Property Management, Filling Vacancies, Investment Property