Marketing a rental can be a daunting process with numerous factors that impact the landlord’s ability to find a quality tenant for the highest achievable rent rate. In this article, we will cover key concepts to marketing a rental optimally.

 

Timeline

If a rental property is occupied, either by the homeowner or a tenant, it is best to put that home on market at least 30 days prior to its availability date.

Since the initial listing price will usually start at the high end of fair market value, 4 weeks or more gives the landlord a chance to gauge the market’s response to the initial listing price and adjust accordingly if they aren’t seeing significant interest.

The timeframe to see interest from the market in the form of inquiries or tour requests is 1-2 weeks after listing. An average of 3-4 tours per week or more is a good indicator a property will rent at the current price point.

If interest is lower than that, then likely an adjustment needs to be made in order to increase interest levels. 5% of the monthly asking rent is a good starting point when calculating an initial price drop. 

It’s important to consider barriers other than price before dropping. Other factors that can reduce interest include: 

  • A Restrictive Pet Policy
  • Lack of Private or Covered Parking
  • Dated Interior Features
  • Shorter Lease Terms (less than 1 year)
  • Property Quirks (ie. small bedrooms, a disproportional bed to bath ratio, etc)

 

Photos

Quality photos are crucial to an attractive listing. Ideally, a rental will be vacant for photos, but whether furnished or vacant, it must be clean, tidy, and absent personal effects of the resident. 

Photos should be high resolution, have adequate lighting, and cover the entirety of each room. It is better to have more photos than less. Include photos of the front exterior as well as the back exterior (backyard/patio) if applicable. 

 

Photos for Property Listing

 

Listing

A great listing is simple and highlights the most desirable features of a home. Start with a headline that notes the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, type of home (house, condo, townhome), the neighborhood where it is located, and any unique attractive features such as a bonus bedroom, sunroom, newly remodeled kitchen, etc. 

The body of the listing should include a description of all relevant and attractive features of the home itself, as well as the neighborhood and nearby amenities like parks, shopping centers, or public transportation. This section is usually 2 – 6 sentences.

The second part of the body should list crucial information that a renter should be aware of before applying such as pet policy, term length offered, applicant restrictions (credit score, income, etc), and utilities covered (or not covered). 

Once the listing is ready, post it to as many rental websites as possible. Zillow is the most popular rental site used by prospective renters, but renters also look on other smaller sites as well. Other rental websites to list on include:

  • Trulia
  • Hotpads
  • Apartments.com
  • Apartmentlist
  • Rent.com
  • Zumper
  • Realtor.com

We don’t recommend posting to Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace because they are a draw for fraudulent activity. 

 

Showings

A schedule for conducting tours will save time and money. Many listing sites allow you to set up certain days/times that you are available to show. Try to group tours or set tour times close by so that you limit the amount of travel time (if not residing in the rental). 

It is important to remember that the market should show interest within the first 2 weeks. If interest is low, consider why that is and adjust the listing accordingly. 

 

Property Showing

 

Applications

There are 3 main factors to consider when vetting applicants. Credit, Income, and Criminal Background. 

A credit score above 700 is an ideal score to look for. That said, scores that are lower can be viable, and conversely, a score that is above 700 doesn’t automatically warrant approval.

It is important to look at all accounts and debt obligations of an individual, not simply the score alone. Examples of things that bring down someone’s credit, but aren’t always concerning are: 

  • Student Loans
  • Medical Bills
  • Divorce

Aspects of a low score that are concerning and potentially grounds for denial include: 

  • High Credit Card Unpaid Balances
  • Unpaid Auto Loans
  • Unpaid Mortgages
  • Money Owed to Landlords or Management Companies
  • Unpaid Child Support 

With regard to income, the industry standard is that a household gross 3x one month’s rent or more. The landlord’s goal is to be confident that a tenant has enough income to comfortably pay their rent, as well as any other expenses in their lives. There are situations when an applicant can be considered despite having lower income, which is when an applicant has:

  • A Co-signer
  • Ample Savings (1 Year’s Worth of Rent or More)
  • A Credit Score of 750 or Above 

To verify income, collect at least 2 months worth of paystubs or bank statements. Be sure to check that the individual is employed by a business that is local, or if they are working remotely for a business that is out of state, get a letter from the employer confirming this. 

In cases where an applicant has a criminal background, use your own discretion when denying someone for an incident showing on their record. In North Carolina criminal history is not a protected class, and applicants can be denied due to most convictions.

When analyzing someone’s background, consider the time of the offense and type of offense. Convictions 7 or more years in the past, and minor misdemeanors, are general parameters that can warrant approval as long as an applicant has strong credit and income. Felonies should be considered with caution.