Is Print Dead When it Comes to Advertising Your Rental Home or Apartment?

Is Print Dead When it Comes to Advertising Your Rental Home or Apartment?

3 min read
Brenton Hayden Read More

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Every dollar you spend on your property reduces your profits. You wouldn’t waste money on improvements that don’t pay off in higher rents or by attracting and keeping tenants. Why on earth would you waste money on print advertising?

Yet thousands of real estate investors do…

Online Advertising Dominates Real Estate

Perhaps no business has adapted to the Internet so quickly and completely as residential real estate. Some 90 percent of home buyers use the Internet today and only 27 percent review print or newspaper ads. The same is just as true for tenants, who tend to be younger and take less time to make a decision. A primary reason consumers look online first is that’s where the listings are. A majority of renters (72%) say they begin their search online. In fact, only 17% go to the newspaper, 5% look for yard signs, and another 5% rely on referrals from friends and/or family, according to a survey conducted in 2008. No doubt those numbers would be higher today.

Online currently accounts for 55 percent of all real estate ad budgets while newspapers have dwindled to 14 percent, according to Borrell Associates. Moreover, online media are expected to continue to grow their domination of the real estate space by an additional 15.2 percent this year.

Think about it from the tenant’s perspective. If you were looking for a home to rent today, where would you look? Would you spend time looking at print ads that provide you only a few words and a price for a small sliver of the properties available? Or would you go online to peruse millions of fresh rental listings, complete with photos, maps and amenities on several web sites? Instead of a few words and a price, you find as much information as the landlord makes available: amenities, neighborhood, transportation, schools. You can shop around and look at other units that are available, and you can register to receive updates and new listings as soon as they are posted. You know that the information you see online is current and the properties are available at the terms listed.

The Perils of Real Estate Print Advertising 

On the other hand, to access a print ad a prospective tenant must first be a subscriber or purchase a copy of the publication, unless it is a free advertiser. Newspaper and magazine ads are often placed 1-2 weeks in advance; the free advertisers you find at supermarkets and drug stores have a longer lead time.

Print ads typically cost double to triple the amount that an online ad would cost. For example, a local Classifieds ad in the largest news print in Minnesota (Star Tribune) is $78 for a 7 day run in the with one posting in the popular Sunday edition. This ad includes no pictures, and will be limited to perhaps 60-100 characters. Its reach is limited to the state of Minnesota where it can be purchased retail and the newspaper’s subscribers. On the other hand, you can reach 79% of the national population in all 50 states, and international audiences as well by using an online listing service specifically dedicated to online rental property ads. Sites like, which also owns, allow you to post multiple photos, and provide generous space for content, descriptions, logos, phone numbers, email address, web links, etc. Not to mention, most ads are for 30 days, and featured nationwide, and cost just $59.99. That’s a savings of $18 compared to the newspaper for a longer and more robust listing that reaches the entire planet.

Most newspapers and magazines today have web sites and will post your ad on their sites as well as in their print publications. Ask yourself, are you really getting something for nothing? Unless you know for a fact that your local newspaper site is the place to be in your market—and that’s easy to find out by checking the volume and quality of their rental ads compared to leading web-only sites—you’re not getting a good deal. Rather, you’re paying for two advertising mediums and neither one will do the job for you.