Updated July 2021
Looking for marketing ideas that will fill rental vacancies quickly?
Finding the right tactics to use when trying to market a new property is difficult, but filling vacancies is essential for any successful rental business.
A vacant rental property is like a pimple on the complexion of your real estate investment business—it’s all you can think about when it’s there, and you feel so much better when it’s gone!
Rental vacancies go even deeper. The longer you have vacancies that you just can’t fill, the more your bottom line suffers. Filling empty units is important for long-term success, so finding the right strategies for your target market is essential.
Today, learn about five great ideas for marketing rental property that will fill your rental vacancies quickly. We also recommend you check out our complete guide on marketing your rental property.
Table Of Contents For Top Rental Marketing Ideas
As you prepare to advertise an apartment for rent, there will be a lot of different options for you to try out. Whether you’ve done this before or you’re marketing your vacant property for the first time, learn how to do this more successfully with today’s complete guide:
- Why Marketing Matters
- 5 Marketing Ideas That Will Fill Rental Vacancies Quickly
- Before You Start Rental Property Marketing
- How To Market Your Apartment For Rent: A Simple Guide
- Speed vs. Quality: What Wins?
- Rental Property Marketing FAQs
For many new landlords, rental property marketing is something they have never had to do before. However, even more experienced landlords might still be searching for how to advertise an apartment for rent successfully.
Before we learn the techniques that are helping landlords around the world fill vacancies, take a minute to think about why marketing will be a key element of your rental business.
When you have a vacant rental property, it costs you money every day that it sits empty, so it’s important to reduce that time between qualified, paying tenants to the bare minimum.
This is one of the most important reasons why you should focus on rental property marketing in the early development stages of your business. Filling properties with good tenants isn’t always easy, but you want to make sure that you have a system in place to make this as efficient as possible.
While finding good tenants isn’t always the first thing on your mind when trying to fill a rental unit quickly, it is still a very important aspect of the marketing process. The more applicants you have for a property, the more likely you will find a good fit.
However, filling a vacant unit with good tenants takes more than just printing up neighborhood flyers.
It’s always a good idea when marketing a vacant rental unit to use several different avenues and not limit yourself or your message to a single method. By diversifying the techniques you use while marketing, you’ll be able to accomplish more in the same amount of time.
Using some or most of these ideas gives you the power to put your message in front of many qualified applicants.
Here are five great marketing ideas that will fill rental vacancies quickly:
Do you have other rentals that are currently leased out to tenants? Landlords with a network of rentals often forget that using these connections as a means of marketing is a great way to spread the word about your vacancies.
Sometimes, other tenants can be your best free resource when it comes to finding potential tenants. Let your other tenants know that you have a vacancy available, and let them spread the word among family, friends, and co-workers.
You might even want to throw in a finder’s fee for a good referral, such as a discount on rent or a gift card.
Let your own friends, family, and co-workers know that you’ve got a place opening up and take advantage of the original social networking—word of mouth!
Finally, don’t forget your own social marketing accounts, like Facebook and Twitter, to spread the word. You already have a network of people connected to you on these platforms. Using your social media and direct word-of-mouth communication are traditional but effective marketing techniques.
Even if it seems cliché, putting one or two “For Rent” signs up can capture local traffic like nothing else.
Put a sign in a prominent window or even on the front lawn to get the attention of pedestrians and motorists who frequent your neighborhood.
Signs may seem like a worn-out marketing tactic, but people from all walks of life see signs displayed like this. Whether or not someone is looking for a place for themselves, they may refer someone your way just because they saw your sign.
If your rental property is at the end of a quiet street or a cul-de-sac without much traffic, consider getting permission to put a sign up on the park strip of the busiest street with an arrow pointing your way.
The idea of signs will always be the same: let people know there are rentals in the area. The more people who know about vacancies in areas that interest them, the more likely you will be to find tenants who fit your properties.
Take advantage of free online classifieds and listings to notify potential tenants of your rental property vacancy. Well-known websites with local market classifieds include Craigslist and Zillow, and they are free. Look around for local or regional sites that include apartment and rental property listings too.
For example, landlords seeking to advertise a Chicago condo for rent can turn to Chicagocondorentals.com. Free online listings are the best way to get your message out to a variety of readers.
Another big benefit of using online listing portals is that you can often boost marketing for a small price on these sites. If you’re having trouble getting seen among many listings, adding a small marketing budget for these sites might be worth the cost. For many landlords, it is.
When putting your listing online among many other rental property listings, it can often feel like there’s no way to compete. After all, many properties are managed by experienced property managers with the latest camera gear and marketing language.
Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t help your listing be viewed in a positive light by just making a few small changes. For example, there is a variety of new technology out there that is changing the way people market their rentals.
We’re talking about 360-degree virtual tours of rentals and houses for sale.
Check out this video below produced by VidWheel:
You should be able to click and drag the image on your cell phone and see the house in its entirety.
360 video has become almost standard in many parts of the real estate world, which is beginning to extend to the rental market.
In this 360 video below, Steve White and Eric Worral (of RentPrep) discuss with Neil Carrol (of Nickel City Graphics) on how these videos are created.
The camera was hard to see on the cellphone mirror.
Here’s an image of what it looks like…
Here’s a list of available 360 cameras on Amazon.
While traditional newspapers across the country are fading away, the concept of a local classifieds section still thrives. Most newspapers have added an online version and still offer listings for a range of things like jobs, pets for sale, homes for sale, and rental vacancies.
Check out your city or region’s local newspaper online, and see what it would take to get your property listed. Most newspapers charge a nominal fee for a set timeframe. You can generally extend the listing easily if you haven’t found the right tenants yet.
Taking advantage of these spaces is a great way to advertise specific properties, but it is also a great way to get your business’s name and number out there. Even if a specific property gets rented out, you might gain more business from prospective tenants who call seeking properties.
Expanding your business this way is not as rapid as other types of flash marketing, but it can be much more effective in the long run.
It’s common for larger real estate offices to handle rentals and their advertising, but it will cost you a fee that varies from location to location. Real estate offices that facilitate rental referrals enjoy the supplemental income. Additionally, it helps them make more contacts in the event your current tenants eventually become homebuyers.
Property management companies can also take over the duties of marketing vacancies for a fee in hopes that you will segue into using them for more services in the future.
For more information on how to market a rental, check out this video:
There are many unconventional marketing ideas out there for vacant apartments, including sending your contact information to people who may be helping people look for apartments, like company human resource managers, pastors, and social workers.
Other ideas include placing flyers at local businesses like:
- Grocery stores
The point is that there is no end to the number of ways that you can get creative about your rental property marketing. But, ultimately, it will be up to you to find out what works best in your area and how to apply that to your rental property marketing strategy.
Before you start your company’s rental property marketing, it’s important to understand when to start that marketing and how to prepare. For example, jumping into advertising as soon as a property is vacant isn’t always the right choice, as this could wind up leaving a bad impression or attracting under-qualified tenants.
It’s important to take action right away to get that empty unit filled as soon as possible, but not so fast that you miss important and wise steps in recruiting and selecting prospective tenants.
If you currently have a tenant in the property, it will be difficult to think about advertising until you are sure your tenant is moving out.
Ideally, your current tenant will give you a 30-day notice that they’ll be moving. This is the best-case scenario because you still have an occupied property for that month while you begin your marketing efforts to find a new tenant.
Sitting on a vacant unit for days, weeks, or months will only eat into your profits; when there’s no rent coming in yet, your bills still need to be paid. Deliver a notice in writing to your current tenant to ensure they know you will be showing the rental property to prospective tenants over the next 30 days.
Remind the tenant of your state laws that allow you as the landlord to do this as long as you provide proper notice. Most states only require that landlords deliver a 24- or 48-hour written notice to the current tenant before showing the property.
If your tenant has simply abandoned the rental property or otherwise vacated without much notice, you’ll definitely be aware of the ticking clock looming over your vacant rental property.
Before you start your marketing efforts, take some time to make sure your rental unit is priced right. This means making sure that the rent you are charging for the unit is in line with your city or neighborhood and reflects a rate that’s similar to those of your direct competitors—not too high or too low.
Rather than guess at what rents are in your area, look at what your competition is asking, talk to local real estate experts, and even tour other properties if you can. The rent needs to be competitive for your area in order to attract tenants; otherwise, it could sit vacant while landlords all around you are filling up.
Once it is time to start marketing, there’s more to do than simply post your property in the right places. When it comes to learning how to market your apartment for rent, there are a few more things to learn including which method you use to market your vacant rental property.
It goes without saying that the rental property itself needs to be as attractive as possible. How much you can do and how early depends on whether the unit is currently occupied with an existing tenant or whether you are dealing with an already vacant unit. If the rental unit is currently occupied, take the time to coordinate with the tenant to do a move-out inspection so that you can get a good idea of what kinds of repairs and updates you’ll need to make.
It’s also a good time to take photographs of the rental property for your marketing efforts. Make a list of all the tasks you’ll need to do or manage in order to get the rental property in top shape.
Then, schedule services and maintenance to happen the day after the tenant moves out, so you aren’t postponing a new tenant’s move-in date. Schedule the painters, carpet cleaners, and any other outside services as soon as you can so that the rental unit is move-in ready in just a few days after being vacated.
With a rental property that is already vacant, you must still work quickly to get those outside services to transform the unit into something you can show prospective tenants as soon as possible. Remember that every day your rental property sits empty translates into zero income for you, so put the pressure on everyone, including yourself, to get the property rent-ready.
Photographs of clean, empty rental units are generally more appealing to prospective tenants than photos of someone else’s furniture and belongings.
If you don’t have any photos of the empty rental property to use for your current marketing efforts, make sure you take the time during this transition to get some quality shots before the new tenants move in. You can keep these photographs on file to use the next time you need to fill a vacancy and save yourself some time and hassle.
When advertising your rental property, the words you use and the features you highlight are what will motivate prospective tenants to contact you. Paired with good photographs of the property, the right marketing copy will tell applicants everything they want to know and help to screen out people who wouldn’t be interested in your rental.
Make a list of all the features your rental property offers. Note the obvious things like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as other details like the size, rent and deposit amounts, pet policy, location, and your contact information.
List the amenities and best features of your property, such as laundry hookups, air conditioning, pool, or new carpet. Then, think outside the box and decide what makes your property special. In other words, what type of tenant would be attracted to your property?
For example, mention that the property has easy freeway access or is close to downtown to attract younger professionals. You could list the elementary, junior high, and high schools for your single-family rental property to attract those with kids. Include anything you think might make your advertisement stand out from all the others that are similar.
Nothing grabs attention better than the promise of a sale, discount, or other financial perks, so consider including that in your marketing copy headline. Examples include $100 off the first month’s rent, free cable for six months, or a $100 gift card upon signing a lease agreement.
Although it may seem counterintuitive to put up some of your own money or slash rent, it is a small price to pay to get the attention of prospective tenants and motivate them to choose your rental property over another.
Once you are ready to market your vacant rental unit and you’ve got the photos and copy, consider your best marketing sources to deliver the message to the right recipients.
In order to get the maximum exposure, take the time to post your advertisement in as many free places as possible, and as many paid-for places as is reasonable and that you can afford.
Marketing a vacancy means making as many qualified applicants as possible aware that your property is ready and waiting for them. There are several options for both free and paid marketing campaigns. Free marketing means that it either takes no money or a minuscule amount to market your rental vacancy, while other marketing efforts may cost you to use their services.
Beyond those free sources, consider how much it is costing you to hold onto vacancies versus how much it would cost you to do some paid advertising. This will allow you to see if there is reasonable space in your budget for paid advertising to bring new eyes to your rental properties.
Filling a vacant rental quickly is the dream of every landlord, but don’t discount the long-term benefits of taking whatever time you need to get a quality tenant in place. If you ignore your standard tenant screening and interview process, you could lose more money in the long run on a bad tenant than you would by letting the property sit vacant for a little while longer.
Think of it this way: If you ignore your standard procedures for marketing, tenant screening, and interviewing and fill a vacancy quickly with someone you haven’t properly checked out, you increase your risk of filling the unit with a bad tenant. A bad tenant is more likely to either not pay rent or do something to get evicted.
The whole eviction process can take up to two months, during which time you will probably not be collecting rent. Take a few extra days or weeks to ensure you get the best tenant possible, who is the least likely to cost you down the road.
Finding that balance between speed and quality is essential in making sure your real estate investment pays off.
As mentioned, it’s not all about speed, as you still want a quality tenant in your rental.
We’ve put together a comprehensive tenant screening guide that will walk you through the entire process.
Consider investing in high-quality tenant screening from RentPrep. Our reports can help you to see which tenants are the best fit for your property faster, and that saved time saves you money.
Once you start preparing some For Rent signs, you might suddenly realize that you don’t know what to put on them! This is often a point of confusion for landlords. On the one hand, you will be tempted to put a lot of details on the sign so that people know what to expect. But, on the other hand, you want the sign to be legible even at a distance.
The best thing you can do is keep the simple facts on the sign in large, bold letters that will be visible at whatever distance at which the sign will be most commonly viewed. For example, you want signs that will be viewed from the road to have a larger font than a sign that will be hanging on a door that people walk right up to.
The most important things to include are:
- The words “FOR RENT”
- Your phone number
That’s it! That’s all the information that you absolutely need to include, especially when the signs will be viewed from a distance. Another benefit of keeping the information simple is that you can have these signs professionally made and then reuse them for multiple rental properties.
Of course, it can be beneficial to also make up some signs that have more detailed information when possible. When making a sign that will be hung up close to its viewers, add the following in list form:
- Property address
- Rental price
- Application information
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Included amenities
- Other features
Anything that will potentially attract more applicants should be included on these long-form signs.
Determining how to make your rental property more appealing to potential tenants is a good start when filling vacancies. When facing this situation, however, there are a few approaches that need to be considered.
First, consider if actual changes and improvements need to be made to your property. In some cases, properties will sit vacant because they do not line up with the expectations of renters in the area. For example, a kitchen with outdated appliances might not rent well in an area where people want more modern, updated designs.
Take some time to review your property in comparison to what is actively renting in your area. Often, investing in these improvements will make your property easier to rent long-term. Something as simple as painting the interior may be what it takes to find a renter.
Next, consider if you simply need to change the way you are advertising your property. Look over the following aspects of your rental property marketing to see if improvements can be made:
- Are your photos clear, showing a clean and welcoming rental unit?
- Does any writing copy include appealing features and local amenities that may attract buyers?
- Are you posting the advertisements in places where your target audience will see them?
- Have you recently updated the copy so that the same copy isn’t being used repeatedly for properties that have been vacant for some time?
Approach your rental marketing like a puzzle that you can solve. The key is to figure out what aspect of your rental is causing the vacancy. The way to find it is by troubleshooting with these techniques!
When you’re competing in a high-volume rental market or a similarly competitive market, you might have a hard time filling vacancies as quickly as you would like. Though this is a difficult problem to overcome, here are some additional tips that can be used to bring in more rental applicants:
- Add pet-friendly options to your apartment listing. This is becoming less common, so having this feature can be a real selling point.
- Upgrade appliances to be more energy efficient. Tenants will appreciate the potential cost savings as well as the earth-friendliness.
- Offer parking options, especially if you are in an area where parking is a real commodity. This might take some time to figure out, but it is worth the investment as it can attract many applicants.
Each of these proposals involves looking at the area and considering what other rentals are lacking. What is it that makes applicants jump on a listing quickly? If you can identify this it-factor in your area, you can set yourself up for fewer vacancies.
Finding tenants that fit your target audience can be difficult, and this is something that landlords of all experience levels struggle with. What is the right way to attract high-quality tenants?
First, you want to make sure you are giving your rental applicants the opportunity to show what type of tenant they would be. Rather than having an open house, try scheduling individual apartment tours. These tours will give you a chance to get to know the potential tenant, show the property thoroughly, and answer any questions they have.
High-quality tenants often know exactly what they want, and they aren’t afraid to ask questions. So engaging in one-on-one conversation can help you secure their application.
Additionally, make sure you require a full rental application as well as a background check and an application fee. Not all landlords will agree that a rental application fee is necessary, but having the applicants pay for their background check is a great way to test how serious they are about the property. The best tenants will be ready and willing to make this commitment.
Finally, continually learn from your experiences as a landlord. Potential applicants who meet you, see your listing, or interact with other tenants in your building will be able to see what type of landlord you are. When you show that you are a professional and considerate landlord, prospective tenants will be more likely to apply.
Attracting Tenants In A Tough Market: Get Creative!
Once you’ve figured out how to advertise an apartment for rent in a way that works for your area, you’ll be impressed at how much easier it becomes to attract tenants in a tough market. Remember, the best way to advertise a room for rent is going to change with the times, the market, and the location. So don’t be afraid to try out new techniques as time progresses.
The key to minimizing the time that your rental sits empty is by acting quickly and effectively in trying to get the property ready, by marketing appropriately, and attracting prospective tenants who are ready to sign a lease agreement—all without putting your cash flow at risk.
You have access to all the tools you need to fill your vacant rental properties successfully; what are you waiting for?