The most effective way to fill your rental units is to advertise online – but where should you post to get the most views?
We’ve done the work to figure out the five best websites to advertise your property.
1. Why landlords should use property rental sites
Honestly, very few people read newspapers these days and a sign outside your property may get a few eyeballs, but not enough traffic to generate serious inquiries. You don’t want to be praying for word of mouth to bail you out and renters expect ads to meet them where they are – online.
Plus, they want 3D walkthroughs, Instagram influencer quality photos and attention grabbing videos. It’s not enough to just make an ad; you have to engage people and you have to do it in a way that only the Internet can.
The traffic generated on social media and even real estate or classified websites is in the millions of eyeballs. If you get only the smallest slice of that looking at your property – it’s worth it.
2. What makes a good property rental listing
A good property listing is not only attention grabbing and interactive – using all that the internet has at its disposal, such as video – but it also understands who it’s targeting.
Landlords should figure out the ideal rental persona they’re looking for and market to that person. For example, if you own a downtown loft, your place is better for a young bachelor than a young family, so model your advertisement with that person in mind.
If you’re not able to do a high quality video tour, (and even if you are) high quality and high resolution photos are a must. Renters want to see every aspect of the property from top to bottom, so stage your property to look its best and invest in photos that are magazine quality. It used to be that you’d need to rent a professional camera for something like that, but now professional quality photos can be taken with a cell phone.
You also need a catchy headline that really has your chosen renter picturing themselves living in the property. Resist the urge to clutter the headline with square-footage and number of bedrooms (save that for the body) and instead write something like, “Spacious studio apartment with rooftop pool along Miami’s waterfront” or “Large family home with spacious backyard just minutes from the A-Train.”
Then, in the body, highlight your property’s best features and make sure you include things like the dimensions, location and amenities. While it’s important to emphasize the unique aspects of your property, don’t exaggerate or use flowery language.
Save your policies, fees and the costs for the end, while making sure the whole thing is relatively short. Use bullet points to list the key amenities and features, while using short paragraphs only when necessary to highlight the best parts of the property. Oh, and don’t forget to include a map with the location. People love to research the neighborhood they hope to rent in.
3. List of property rental sites
The site is everyone’s go-to for everything and its ubiquity in the online classified space is the stuff of legend. Since it’s so popular, it’s free (except for apartment listings in New York City, Chicago and Boston where it costs $5) and it allows you to use your own photos, you should definitely post here.
However, there’s not much you can do other than that. There’s no space for video, there’s not much room for description, and though you’ll probably get many inquiries, most won’t be serious and some could be scams.
You also don’t know who you’re corresponding with half the time or if they’re really seriously in the market to rent. So, while advertising on Craigslist is a great place to start, there are some other websites you should consider as well.
This site has arguably overtaken Craigslist as the place most people go to find stuff. As a result, you have to post here because everyone is on Facebook and has the potential to see your ad.
You can get away with some pretty spectacular photos and even video here, as these are the things that will sell your place because, on Facebook Marketplace, the description is still important, but secondary to the visuals.
The big advantage here is that you can start corresponding with the people who inquire right away, in real-time on messenger, and you can check out their facebook page and do some preliminary poking around to start to make sure they are legitimately a real person.
Also, the ads on Facebook are very inexpensive and can reach millions of people in just a few days; so, if you’re willing to boost your listing for just a few dollars after targeting only your ideal renters and those in the immediate surrounding area to your property, you really can’t go wrong as far as attention goes.
If you’re going to advertise on Facebook, then their sister site, Instagram, is also a must. Not only do real estate agents use Instagram to advertise the properties in their slate all the time, but properties have actually been bought and sold on instagram, sight unseen.
It goes without saying that Instagram is all about the photos. If you can’t take super professional, highly cinematic photos or you can’t film a compelling 30-second story, then you shouldn’t even consider Instagram an option. But if you invest time in beautiful photos and videos, your property could be rented in minutes.
Let prospective renters slide into your DMs, especially if your target renter is a millennial or younger.
Zillow allows users to sort through properties based on features so they can really hone in on what they want. They can sort by price, number of bedrooms, and number of bathrooms.
Its unique feature is being able to compare two listings side-by-side and you can hone in on where you want to rent through a giant interactive map that shows you where listings are located. Photos are still very prominent and numerous here, but they are organized on the left, while the listing itself is on the right, which keeps everything clear and readable.
It also gives browsers the option to both apply for the rental and take a tour.
Zillow is much more geared to serious renters actually looking for places to live and is set-up much more like a real estate site, so the quality of interest you’re getting will be much higher than the previous options. However, rental listings are only free for the first 30 days and then they cost $4.99 or $9.99 per week depending on your state.
Rentals.com is like the realtor.com of rental properties. You list here because it specifically caters to renters and landlords. As a result, you don’t have to weed out anyone who isn’t serious about renting and the site offers other support to landlords, including automatic rent collection (the same way Baselane does).
The interface is actually very similar to Zillow, but its specificity to renters and services for landlords give it the edge. It’s also free for landlords as it collects a 3% fee from tenants who pay rent through the site.
All in all, any of these five sites are great to list on simultaneously, as you’re bound to find someone ideal from any one of them.
You should advertise on sites where you know everybody goes, but social media, while a good start, isn’t enough. Pick sites that the real estate industry trusts and where realtors list their own properties. Finally, the more specific to renters you can get, the better, which is why Rentals.com is our number one option.
First and foremost, you need quality photos and a video tour. After that, you need an attention grabbing headline, which has people imagining living in your property. In the body, start with the highlights, list the amenities, be clear about the location and put in the dimensions. Then make sure what’s available is listed in a short bulleted list for emphasis.
Lastly, put fees, costs and expectations near the end.
A great ad, good video, and some spectacular photos will go a long way to attracting people online. You should also have fun thinking outside the box. Tell a story, follow all our ad recommendations and you certainly can’t go wrong.