Even a 5-star property won’t do you any good if you can’t get a tenant to rent it. As a property manager, you are a jack of all trades: an entrepreneur, a bookkeeper, a legal connoisseur, and, now, you can add a marketing director to your list.
With so much on your plate, attracting new tenants to your property is no small feat. The key to your success as a landlord is attracting, screening, and retaining high-quality tenants. That’s why you need to have good strategies in place to increase the number of applications you take in.
From a business perspective, a rental application is a great way to allow multiple tenants to show off their candidacy for your property. Letting your potential tenants know upfront what your requirements are from the get-go helps you determine who’s serious about renting. Additionally, using a tenant screening service can help fill in the blanks and ensure you’re choosing reliable renters you can trust. The screening process only takes a few minutes, and gives you a comprehensive report of the tenant’s background, credit history, criminal record, evictions, and income insights.
If you’re looking for a way to boost your chances of finding an excellent tenant, these features can help your rental stand out from the rest.
1. Take Quality Pictures
If you think about it, getting a potential tenant’s attention comes down to a few seconds, and in the world of the Internet, people are scrolling at record speeds. If you don’t stand out, they’ll scroll right by you.
According to several surveys, people are 80% more likely to inquire about property listings that contain over 20 quality photos.
That’s why the photos of your listing can make or break your chances of renting out your property in this highly competitive market.
Your tenants have high standards and expect the same from you. High-quality photos will add to your credibility and make you and your listing look more professional.
No longer a luxury, professional photos are a necessity that will pay off in the end since properties that have them get rented faster.
Here are some tips for taking the best photos of your rental property:
- Use Natural Lighting: Brighter spaces always look bigger and more inviting. Plan to take pictures during the day and turn all the lights on.
- Capture the Entire Room: Photos that only show a portion of the room make it hard for the people to envision the space. Do your best to capture as much of the room as possible (multiple photos are an option too).
- Add Some Color: Bring in an eye-catching focal point to liven up the space. This could be a floral arrangement, throw pillows, or a couple of décor accents.
- Get the Best Angle: It’s better to take photos straight on as opposed to an angle. The camera should ideally be at a height of around 4 to 5 feet and ideally on a tripod.
- Hire a Pro: Phone cameras have come a long way, but nothing can compete with a professional DSLR camera. These can be rented at a low cost if you don’t own one. Alternatively, you can hire a professional photographer or list the property with a realtor who builds it into their fee.
2. Lower Rental Application Fees
Rental applications are a must when vetting applicants for your property. You can look at a prospective tenant’s household information, income, rental history, length of employment, and general background information before they even step foot on your property.
However, the cost of a tenant screening process can get pretty pricey. Most rental application fees are between $35 to $75, but the cost can vary depending on the location and if you’re running an official background check or credit check.
Rental application fees can create a lot of questions for potential tenants who may not know what the fees are for or why it’s more expensive than other properties they are looking at.
Consider offering a discount and adding an explanation of your fees to the application form to show renters that you are transparent and have their best interests at heart.
If you are renting income-based apartments, you may want to think about waiving the fees for qualified applicants that pass the screening process with flying colors.
One way to do this is by offering a free application and only charging the tenant for the official screening, which ranges between $35 to $50.
Also, a landlord looking for new tenants can also place the listing themselves to avoid paying a realtor a commission. This can translate into offering the tenant one month of free rent.
3. Show Off the Amenities
In this highly competitive market, you need to find ways to separate your property management business from millions of others (11 million, to be exact).
What do you have in your apartment or rental house that others don’t? What do you have that’s bigger and better? Do you have a pool or outdoor amenities? These are the things your tenants want to know. Amenities are a great way to increase rental applications, so don’t be afraid to show them off.
Here are a few desirable features that tenants look for when searching for where to find houses for rent:
- Highlight neighborhood features, such as safety, proximity to transportation, etc.
- Extra perks like a community workout space, furniture, or pet-friendly rentals
- A private backyard or balcony
- Available parking
- Laundry in the building or unit
- Closet or storage space
- Large windows and natural light
- Air conditioning
4. Use Digital Marketing
Social media has changed the world we live in, and it carries over into the way renters are shopping too.
According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of American adults use social media of some kind, and these days you can do a lot more on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat than simply sharing available units.
Tenants are also getting in touch through direct messaging on social networks, making it a powerful way to respond to inquiries. One of the most effective ways to promote houses for rent by owners or property managers is through digital advertising.
Many sites offer advertising services, and as a landlord, you should be taking advantage of them. Some of these websites include:
- Apartment List
You might pay a slight fee to get your rental at the top of search listings, but you will get your return on investment when multiple applications start rolling in.
5. Offer Specials and Move-In Perks
Let’s face it: we all love getting a deal, and it’s no different when shopping for a rental unit.
When a tenant thinks they may be getting a stellar discount on a new place, they’re more likely to fill out a rental application to seal the deal.
Some property managers offer free rent for the first month, and some choose to offer discounted security deposits. Instead of a financial incentive, there’s always the option to offer a welcome package with some household staples or gift cards to local restaurants to help your new tenants get settled into the neighborhood.
Move-in perks like these are a simple way to make a huge impact and get tenants interested.
Final Thoughts: How to Get More Tenant Applications
Hopefully, these tips will have your rental properties fly off the market in no time.
Once you’ve nailed down applications and screening reports to find the ideal tenants, your next step is figuring out the best way to stay on top of rent collection and bookkeeping.
Most landlords have a system to track property finances, but it usually consists of disparate spreadsheets and banking information spread across multiple accounts.
Property management software can help you say goodbye to dozens of logins and manual data entry and say hello to a consolidated platform that keeps all your financial data in one place.
Landlords and real estate investors are opting to make their lives easier with platforms like Baselane that offer an all-in-one solution for managing banking, bookkeeping, and rent collection for multiple properties.
Whether you have a handful of rental properties or a packed portfolio, Baselane can help you save time and increase returns without missing a single detail or decimal point.
If you’ve taken out a loan before, you’ve probably already been asked for a credit reference.
As a landlord, you want to make sure your potential new renter is not a risk and that the tenant pays their rent on time.
Anyone who has given you credit or had a financial relationship with you can be considered a credit reference. Most people assume only your bank can do this, but you can also use previous landlords or an investment firm.
A rental application can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete, process, and approve.
Based on the questions asked, the property manager, and the type of rental application used, the application process can be shorter or longer. Standard paper applications take the longest to process since they’re physically passed between the landlord and tenant.
Consider an online rental application and lease agreement to reduce the amount of time to complete and approve new tenants.
You want to make sure your potential tenant is a good fit, and your rental application will help you determine that.
The basic documents to request include the applicant’s contact information (including their social security number or driver’s license), current and prior address, employment history/proof of income, consent to contact prior landlords/employers, and consent to pull a credit report and criminal histories.
TransUnion SmartMove is one service that can aid with the process of tenant screenings, such as credit score reporting, criminal background checks, income insights, eviction reports, and much more.