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A Landlord’s Guide to Rental Property Listings

June 3, 2022

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As a landlord, you’re in the business of filling units.  

It’s one of the most critical parts of your job.  

Empty units mean lost profit.  

Ultimately, the success of your business hinges on reducing tenant turnover and keeping units occupied. 

One of the main ways to reduce tenant turnover and keep units full is by leveraging rental property listings effectively. It’s an integral part of marketing your property and getting great tenants interested in your units. 

In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into how to create rental property listings that will help you attract great tenants and fill units quickly. 

Creating Listings 

As a landlord, you will use listings to advertise your rental properties. A listing is a short article that uses an appealing headline, professional photos, and a helpful description of the units to attract renters.  

Creating a competitive property listing is vital for getting potential tenants interested in your property. On average, you are up against about 100 other properties in a competitive market, so you need an attention-grabbing headline. The quality of your listing is proportional to the quality (and amount) of tenants you will most likely attract. 

Therefore, creating an appealing property listing helps you fill your vacancy quickly. A high-quality listing also gives you a greater pool of applicants to choose from, increasing your chances of finding a great tenant to rent your property. 

Listing Components 

There are four major components of rental property listings: 

  • Headlines 
  • Photos 
  • Descriptions 
  • Prices 

Each of these components plays a vital role in creating the perfect property listings, so it’s imperative to pay special attention to all four individually. 

Headlines 

A headline is the first thing people will see, so it’s a crucial part of your property listing. If you cannot grab someone’s attention right away, they will move right past your listing. Think of it like a first impression: Potential renters will begin forming an opinion the moment they see your headline.  

So, you know the pressure’s on to create a home run headline. Don’t worry; it’s not as daunting as it sounds. Let’s break it down into smaller pieces. Here are six specific tips that will help you develop the ideal headline: 

  1. Price: It’s a determining factor for most renters, so you should provide it upfront. It will also save everyone time because you only want renters that can afford your prices anyway.  
  1. Beds and baths: After price, you’ll want to clarify the number of beds and baths in the unit. Once again, this information helps the renter know right away if your property could be the right fit for them. 
  1. Type of building: You should also mention the type of building your rental property is (i.e., apartment, house, condo, duplex, etc.) This detail allows the renter to start forming a picture in their head of the property. 
  1. Neighborhood: A lot of renters want to live in a particular community. Including the neighborhood emphasizes the benefits of your property’s location. 
  1. Best feature: Like an introduction at a job interview, you want to immediately put your best foot forward. Every headline should conclude with the property’s top feature. This aspect of the unit sets it apart from other comparable rentals. 
  1. Avoid caps and exclamation marks: We understand it’s tempting to write your listing in all caps and throw exclamation marks in to make it seem more exciting. However, this just makes it look like you’re overcompensating. A professional headline is more likely to be taken seriously by renters. 

Don’t overthink your headlines. Incorporate these six tips and create something that will catch the right renter’s eye. Here’s an example of what a great headline might say: “$1,500 — 2 Bed / 2 Bath apartment in Over-The-Rhine Cincinnati with impressive skyline view.” 

Photos 

When it comes to rental property listings, a picture is worth a thousand—maybe even a hundred thousand—words. According to the National Association of Realtors, over 85% of renters say the listing’s photos are the deciding factor in choosing which properties to view. So, that should make it apparent how important pictures are regarding listings. 

The internet is full of tips and tricks for taking the perfect photos to advertise your property. With some decent equipment, good lighting, and an emphasis on the key features of the rental, you should be in good shape. Here are four tips that can help: 

  1. High-quality equipment/files: Cameras, lenses, and tripods can be expensive, but the cost is worth it to capture attention-grabbing photos. 
  1. Use natural light: Renters aren’t going to have a professional lighting set-up when they move in, so it’s unnecessary for your pictures. Plus, the most flattering light is typically natural light. 
  1. Focus on important rooms: Highlight the key rooms (i.e., main bedroom, kitchen, etc.) first and, if you have space, include pictures of the less important rooms after. 
  1. Show floor plans: Renters want to get as clear an image of where they might live. Not including floor plans can seem vague and keep renters from considering your property.  

Pictures can be the tipping point for renters. Find a way to put your property in a good light (pun intended) while being authentic. You want people to love what they’re looking at, but you also want it to reflect the actual place they’ll be living. 

Along with photos, you can also consider creating virtual tours to give you an edge over your local competition. They cannot replace good photos but are simply a creative addition to your rental property listings. Virtual tours provide landlords with considerable benefits and have been a big help during the coronavirus pandemic.

Descriptions 

Descriptions are the body of your rental property listing. After seeing your headline and browsing photos, renters will try to gather more specific details about the property. This means you need to have solid information to preempt any questions a renter might have about your place. 

Here are six things you should include in your description: 

  1. Amenities: Renters want to know what comes with your property. Does it have a gym? Laundry room? Pool? Amenities can be a key decision point, so make sure to include these. 
  1. Specifications: Renters go to the listing’s description to glean the specific details of the rental. This includes the property’s condition (i.e., new, old, modern), the property’s layout (i.e., floor plan and size of rooms), an itemized list of the property’s rooms, and the bills built into the rent (i.e., heat, water, electricity, garbage disposal). 
  1. Pet policy: You need to rule in or rule out pet owners before they get too far in the process. If you require a deposit, pet rent, or pet fees, mention your specific policy in the description. 
  1. Location: Many renters want to live in a particular area. So, it’s important to mention the exact location of the property. This also gives them the chance to research it on their own from a distance before scheduling an official showing. 
  1. Lease terms: Be sure to detail the important terms of the property’s lease. For example, specify if it’s a month-to-month lease or a yearly lease. This is another thing that helps renters decide if your property works for them. 
  1. Contact information: Make sure to include contact information, or the chances you’ll hear from renters are slim to none. List your name, phone number, and email address. 

Now that you know what to include, let’s look at a few tips that can guide you as you create your description: 

  1. Bulleted lists: Rather than long, arduous paragraphs, you can use bullet points to help renters quickly locate key information about your property. 
  1. Exact numbers: Build trust by giving exact numbers for rent, security deposits, square footage, and other relevant things. 
  1. Rich descriptors: It can be tempting to use a lot of words like “beautiful” and “scenic.” Avoid superfluous adjectives that won’t be meaningful to a potential tenant and say things like “two full bathrooms” instead. 
  1. Punctuation: Run-on sentences are difficult to read and make your listing look cheap. Make sure your listing is grammatically accurate and easy to read. 
  1. Express value and emotion: A useful technique for creating vivid and engaging descriptions is to relate the property’s features to the benefits of the listing. Then, you should connect benefits to emotional sentiments. This technique adds value to the description. A good example of this would be “free gym to help you stay healthy and happy.” 

Descriptions are a vital part of your listing. They allow renters to dive in and get granular. Make sure you take them seriously, give your listings personality and try to include any relevant information you can think of. 

Listing Sites 

Now that we’re gone into detail about how to construct your listing, it’s time to pivot to the channels where you can place your rental property listings. Many sites host listings for residential and commercial properties. Like everything else in our technological world, the rental business is online. 

Most of the best listing sites allow landlords to post for free. Beyond that, many sites even offer syndication services, which gives increased exposure for your listings. Listing syndication services apply when you hand over publishing control to a site that offers syndication.

Listing syndication is very beneficial as the site will post your rental listing to all of the sites in their syndication network.

When deciding where to place your rental property listings, it should come down to how much syndication each site offers and how popular it is among renters. Let’s dig into all the information you need about the major listing sites on the market to move forward. 

Craigslist 

Craigslist has everything for anyone looking to buy or sell something. It wasn’t necessarily made with real estate in mind, but it’s still a high-traffic site for renters looking for a place to lease. 

In terms of pricing, Craigslist allows landlords to post listings for free. That being said, users can only post once in a given category every 48 hours. 

Additionally, Craigslist doesn’t offer any further syndication for landlords. 

Despite its flaws and unattractive interface, Craigslist is still one of the top sites for advertising rental properties. They recently implemented added measures to combat spam and regulations to protect consumers. If you want to cast a wide net, you should definitely share your listing here. 

Apartments.com 

Apartments.com is a site for landlords and renters. According to them, they’re the #1 rental site in the US, attracting more than 35 million renters each month. Their name is a bit confusing because every kind of rental can be listed on their site — not just apartments. They also allow landlords to share property listings for free on their site. 

Apartments.com offers syndication with all the other sites in their network: ForRent.com, ApartmentFinder.com, Apartmentos.com, ApartmentHomeLiving.com, ForRentUniversity.com, After55.com, CorporateHousing.com, and WestSideRentals.com. 

Apartments.com is one of the premier listing sites in the world. It’s visited by millions of people each month. The network and its simple interface make it a great way to enhance your reach. 

Zillow Rental Manager 

Zillow Rental Manager is a site designed for landlords. They provide syndicated rental postings and other landlord-specific services, and pull in over one million renters every day. 

However, unlike Apartments.com and Craigslist, you only get one posted listing for free. After that, it’s $9.99 per listing each week that the listing is posted. 

Like Apartments.com, Zillow offers syndication services. Zillow’s three primary listing sites are Zillow.com, Trulia.com, and HotPads.com. There are also 23 secondary sites that your listing will get posted to. 

Ultimately, Zillow Rental Manager is a very user-friendly platform that gives you access to millions of potential tenants.  

Zumper 

Zumper is an easy-to-use platform that gives landlords access to a wide net of potential renters.  

Like Craigslist and Apartments.com, it is free of charge for all listings you want to post.  

It also offers syndication services through all four sites in its network: Zumper.com, PadMapper, Walkscore, and Facebook Marketplace. 

Zumper has about 3 million potential tenants on their site a month. Additionally, the interface is quite simple, and posting property listings is easy. 

Airbnb 

You’re probably already pretty familiar with Airbnb. It has become the preeminent player in the short-term rental market, and is quite popular for vacations, work, or other extended stays. 

Like most of these other platforms, Airbnb doesn’t charge you to post listings. 

However, unlike most of the others, Airbnb doesn’t syndicate your listing anywhere else. 

If you are in the short-term rental business, Airbnb is for you. It’s free and very easy to use. In addition, it puts your property listing in front of millions of people looking for short-term rentals.  

Conclusion 

Creating rental property listings and figuring out where to put them doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With this guide, you already have a great foundation on what to do. The path forward should be clearer to you now. 

When it’s all said and done, the key is to develop an excellent, attention-grabbing listing and put it in front of the right people. It’s a critical part of marketing your property. So, now that you have the right tips and tricks, it’s time to make it happen. Go forth and land those great renters! 

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