Landlording & Rental Properties

How to Find a Tenant in Any Market: A Comprehensive Guide

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Development
35 Articles Written

Whether you’re managing properties for another real estate investor or handling the day-to-day operation of property management for your own rental units, almost anyone with experience will agree that success in the rental property business hinges largely on your ability to find the right tenants.

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Of course, it’s important that you know how to identify, evaluate and acquire the right rental properties in the first place – but ask any experienced landlord or property manager, and they’ll tell you their long-term success has everything to do with finding the right tenants.

In order to find the right tenants for your property, you’ll need to understand some basic functions of real estate marketing. Your goal in this initial phase is to catch the attention of the prospective tenants in your market who are a good fit for your property, and in order to do this effectively, you’ll need to be proficient at two things:

1. Creating an eye-catching, informative property listing.

  • Including quality photos and/or a virtual tour of the property.
  • A detailed description of what tenants can expect from the property.
  • A full list of the features and benefits that come with your rental unit.
  • An appropriate price that falls in line with the market’s supply and demand.
  • An eye-catching headline that will get noticed by the masses.

2. Promoting the listing to the highest-traffic platforms.

  • Getting your listing in front of the largest, most relevant audiences.
  • Keeping your listing front-and-center on your prospective tenant’s radar.

Depending on the current supply and demand for rental properties in your area, finding a good tenant for your property can be a greater challenge in some markets than in others. Nevertheless, the same general principles will apply across the board in terms of how to create a solid listing, where to advertise your listing and how to draw in the most attention from the best renters in your market.

Related: Are You Still Struggling to find Great Tenants? Struggle No More!

How to Find a Tenant Part 1: Creating the Listing

To create a compelling listing for your rental property, you’ll need to give your prospective tenants a solid case as to why your property is the right choice for them. Start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Why would someone want to call your property “home?”
  • What kind of unique benefits does your property have to offer?
  • How can your property stand out from the hundreds of other rental units in your area?

In short, you’ll have to sell them on it.

The good news is, most properties are quite capable of selling themselves, but only if they’re priced right, promoted adequately and represented accurately with a top-notch listing.

It’s also worth noting that while it’s important to make your property look as appealing as possible, it’s equally important to represent your property in an honest way. When real estate investors are wearing their “marketing hats,” they need to constantly fend off the temptation to embellish what they’re selling, and when it comes to finding tenants for your rental units, the same rules apply.

The truth is, you’re not doing the world any favors by misrepresenting your property or “tricking” renters into thinking it’s something better than it actually is. A good landlord/tenant relationship is built on trust, so if you feel the temptation to give off false impressions about your property (however vague or innocent they may seem to you), don’t do it.

Getting Great Pictures

Most of us instinctively know that a decent set of property photos is an important component of a good property listing (I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t include images in their rental listing). With that said, I think it’s worth reiterating just how influential a good visual portrayal of your property can be.

If you want to stand out in the market and find the right tenant NOW, you must give renters a good visual portrayal of your property. Great photos won’t just be informative; they will set you apart from your competition. If you want to catch the attention of the best tenants your market, there is no better way than to give a memorable first impression they simply cannot ignore.

Especially if your property has any kind of “beauty” factor to it, it can be very much worth your while to invest in some higher-end images and even videos of your property (this is precisely what most billionaire real estate investors do—just check out any of Donald Trump’s websites). Even if you need to hire a professional photographer or videographer, there are many instances where this can absolutely be worth the extra cost.

Typical Property Photos:




Source: terriblerealestateagentphotos

Extraordinary Property Photos:


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fair (4)

fair (2)

fair (8)

Source: Unsplash

Think about it—when was the last time you saw photos of this caliber on Craigslist?

When you give a great visual representation of your property (as if viewing your listing is an “experience to behold”), the value proposition will be obvious.

Related: 12 Easy Tips to Reduce Your Vacancy Rates and Find Great Tenants

It’s also worth noting that the subjects of your pictures don’t necessarily need to be beautiful (although beauty certainly doesn’t hurt). If the quality of your pictures are high enough, you’ll find that most things can be made to look surprisingly remarkable, which can add a new element of perceived value to your property.

When you’re compiling these pictures of your property, be sure to include enough images to give a thorough overview of the entire unit. At the very least, you should include pictures (preferably, with multiple angles) of these areas:

  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Front Yard, Side Yard & Back Yard
  • Extras, e.g. New Appliances, Pool, Patio, Porch, Garage/Parking Area
  • A Floor Plan of the Unit (if available)
  • Exterior Shots of the Front & Back of the Property
  • The Address of the Property (along with the nearest major intersection)

At the time of this writing, Craigslist allows for up to 24 pictures per listing, so don’t be bashful! Show your prospective renters as many pictures as they’ll need to understand what your property is all about.

Detailed Description

A good description of your rental property should be both accurate and informative without misrepresenting what the tenant will get if they choose to rent the property.

Along the same lines as your photos, the description should talk about the primary features that the property has to offer. It helps to include a bulleted list, like this:

  • Kitchen (including any special features)
  • Number of Bedrooms/Bathrooms
  • Square Footage of the Building
  • Lot Size (typically in acres)
  • Location/Neighborhood/Schools
  • Garage (if any), Parking, Number of Stalls
  • Extras, e.g. New Appliances, Pool, Big Yard, Back Deck, Fireplace, etc.
  • Any Recent Updates or Renovations, e.g. Windows, Doors, Appliances
  • Any Unique Characteristics, e.g. Scenic Overlook, Basketball Court, Lakefront Lot

Describe the property in a way that inspires people! Words can do an AMAZING job of selling real estate, and your ability to help people see the value of what you’re offering can be a major asset in your effort to find the right tenants.

Most of the listings you’ll find online have some pretty lackluster property descriptions. This is good news because these amateurs are making it all the easier for YOUR listing to stand out. Take a look at this real life example I pulled from Craigslist earlier this year (this was the FULL property description, spelling errors and all):

“new refrigerator. all appliances includes. Huge backyard. walk out in basement to back yard which is fenced in. Lots of updates. 2 stall attached garage.”

Pretty pathetic, huh?

Now let’s take a look at a well-written description for the exact same property:

You’ll love this peaceful, cozy bungalow overlooking Riverside Park. Spend your summer mornings on the front porch with a fresh cup of coffee and your winter evenings snuggled up by the stone fireplace with a good book. Situated in a friendly community on the outskirts of Robertson Township, just thirty minutes from Springfield – this house offers everything a homeowner needs to maintain a happy and comfortable lifestyle. Some of the perks that come with this home include:

  • 2,000 square feet with an open floor plan
  • Large kitchen with recently updated appliances
  • 4 Bedrooms with fresh paint and new carpet
  • 3 Bathrooms in new condition
  • Award Winning School District
  • 2-Stall Garage with overhead door
  • Short walk from Riverside Park
  • Large back deck, surrounded by trees for maximum privacy
  • Walkout basement to back yard.

As you can probably see, even though both of these listings are describing the same property, they’re not created equal. It takes real effort to be creative and think of descriptive words that will make a property sound appealing. Most landlords and property managers just don’t have the patience (or just don’t care enough) to put forth the extra effort to write a great property description, but those who do will likely find that it can make a HUGE difference in the eyes of prospective tenants.

Pricing the Property

As obvious as it may sound, you should always include the rent price in your property listing.

I’ve seen some ads that include every component of a great listing except for the price (sometimes with a “call now for price” teaser at the bottom). In my opinion, this is completely unhelpful to the potential tenants who are looking at your property.

If you want to attract the best renters your the market, you shouldn’t be throwing up obstacles that make it difficult for them to make their decision and take the next step. I see very little benefit in hiding this kind of information on the front end.

The price of your property is a very important component of your listing. Luckily, coming up with a reasonable rent price doesn’t have to be complicated. You’re essentially looking at the location, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, square footage of the unit and the condition.

If you’re not sure how much you should be charging for rent in your market, there are a few ways to nail this down with relative certainty.

  • Look at some similar properties for rent in the near vicinity. You can find these listings easily on websites like Craigslist, Zillow, Trulia and (among others). How much are they charging for rent? How do their properties compare to yours?
  • Call a local property manager and ask their opinion. These people are probably the best-informed, most-qualified individuals to answer this kind of question.
  • Check out a website like Rent-o-meter and see what it has to say. Just don’t rely on this as your ONLY source of information. It can be a great starting point, but it’s not the ultimate authority (not by a long shot).

If all else fails, a final indication as to whether you’re asking a fair price for rent is to gauge how many inquiries are coming in from interested parties. If nobody is calling, it could be that you either need to lower your price OR do a better job of communicating the value of the rental unit in your listing.

An Eye-Catching Headline

When you’re posting your listing on sites like Craigslist, it is imperative that you use a headline that looks different and gets noticed.

A good headline is an extremely important aspect of your listing because in a very real way, this will be your only shot at getting prospective tenants to notice you. If you aren’t able to stand out from all the other mundane headlines in your market, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle. When you only have a split second to engage someone to click on your ad, standing out and making an impression is EVERYTHING.

If you’re not sure how to come up with an eye-catching headline, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are the positives and negatives of the property you’re trying to rent out?
  • How can you use humor to your advantage?
  • Can you say something that will make people do a double-take?
  • Can you say something obnoxious that will make your ad stick out like a sore thumb?

Here are some examples I’ve played with over the years with some pretty good results:

  • ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! 2-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side for HOW MUCH??
  • TAKE ADVANTAGE OF MY STUPIDITY. This property is my loss, your gain.
  • CHECK THIS OUT! Rent this amazing 1-stall garage w/ FREE HOUSE ATTACHED!!!
  • AM I INSANE?? 3 bedroom / 2 bathroom house at this price?? YOU TELL ME!!
  • My wife thinks I’m crazy – but we need a tenant RIGHT NOW!
  • YOU CAN’T AFFORD THIS HOUSE (but if you act now, you might get lucky).
  • MAKE YOUR FRIENDS JEALOUS! This is the apartment you’re looking for!

Take a look at this example in action. What do you think? Does it grab your attention?


If you need more inspiration, just take a few minutes and browse through the ads in your local market. What kinds of headlines stick out to you? What makes you notice them? Can you apply any of these same principles to your headlines?

How to Find a Tenant Part 2: Promoting the Listing

The idea behind any good promotional campaign is to get your rental listing in front of as many eyeballs as possible (and ideally, without incurring any significant costs).

Related: 6 Tips to Protect Newbie Landlords Against Bad Tenant Situations

Probably the most tried and true method that occurs to most new landlords is to simply place a “FOR RENT” sign in the front yard. It’s not a bad idea, but this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your promotional efforts. A sign in the front yard will do a great job of notifying the neighbors and those passing by that the property is available, but it’s not the most effective way to notify the masses (i.e. anyone who isn’t already in the vicinity of your property on a regular basis). In other words, it may be worth doing, but you shouldn’t stop there.

In my experience, the most effective website for advertising your real estate in any capacity is one that many of us are familiar with: Craigslist.

Some other websites that are probably worth trying are:

Postlets is a great resource because it provides free ad syndication to a number of other high-traffic websites like Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, Enormo, RentJungle and many, many more. These ads are easy to create, they look great, and I really can’t think of a good reason not to go through the motions of creating a good Postlets ad (considering the effort you’ve already put into getting pictures and writing a good property description, why not spend an extra 10 minutes and put this together?).

Websites like Backpage, eBay Classifieds and your own website may be worth the extra effort in some scenarios (e.g. if you’re in desperate need of extra promotion or if you’re running a full-blown property management company), but I’ll be honest… it isn’t always necessary to take these extra steps if you’re already hitting the biggest outlets like Craigslist and Postlets.

Try to gauge how much of a response you’re getting from what you’re already doing, and you can decide from there whether it’s worth taking these additional steps.

Re-posting the Listing

A big part of your success with promoting your listing with websites like Craigslist is that you also need to pay attention.

When you post an ad on Craigslist, it starts at the top of the list and then slowly moves down to the bottom of the search results as other users post their newer ads above yours.

Since the first page of Craigslist’s ad results only shows the most recent 100 posts, this can create an exposure problem for landlords, because in most large real estate markets, there can be thousands of new ads posted each day (which means it won’t take long for your listing to move down the list, off the first page and into oblivion as fresh posts hit the system).

To combat this problem, it’s important to delete the ad and re-post it as frequently as possible, keeping it front-and-center and near the top of everyone’s radar.

Even if you don’t go through these steps, your ad will still appear in the search results (for those who happen to be searching for exactly what you’re offering), but since most people are looking primarily at the first few pages to begin with, it’s important to take every step necessary to keep your listing fresh.

Running a successful ad campaign on Craigslist generally takes more than posting one ad and forgetting about it. You’ll need to monitor your post on an ongoing basis, renew and re-post it as frequently as possible and continue to change/edit the content of your listing if you’re not getting an adequate volume of inquiries.

An Effective Solution For Finding Tenants Any Market

When demand for housing is high and the supply of rental properties is low, most landlords will find that it’s not necessarily all that difficult to find tenant. On the same coin, real estate can be very cyclical in nature. If 2009-2012 taught us anything, it’s that real estate isn’t always the hottest commodity, and good tenants aren’t always plentiful in every market.

Regardless of what your market looks like today, these steps have been tested and proven to produce results that will get you the exposure and attention you need to find the right kinds of tenants in your market.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer readers.]

Now that you’ve made it this far, leave me a comment! What are your best tips and tricks for finding quality tenants for your rentals? 

Let’s talk in the comments section below!

Seth Williams (@retipsterseth , G+) is an experienced land investor, commercial real estate banker and residential income property owner. He is also the Founder of - a real estate investing blog providing real world guidance for part time real estate investors.

    Alex Craig
    Replied over 4 years ago
    You nailed it. I still get amazed by people who still shoot pictures of houses with iphones in the dark and shoot front of house pictures from the drivers side of the car. Every landlord or PM should own a high res camera and wide angle lens.
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks Alex! I’m with you – some people just don’t get the impact of great images. It’s frustrating for prospective tenants and it’s hurting the landlord! I’m glad this stuff is resonating with you.
    Alex Craig
    Replied over 4 years ago
    You nailed it. I still get amazed by people who still shoot pictures of houses with iphones in the dark and shoot front of house pictures from the drivers side of the car. Every landlord or PM should own a high res camera and wide angle lens. Reply Report comment
    Jennifer T. Investor from New Orleans, Louisiana
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Some of this is great advice for people selling a home. I am currently looking for another rental property and saw an ad with a headline that said, “You won’t believe this price!” No sales price listed on the headline or in the ad AT ALL (rolling eyes). I couldn’t stop laughing. Tons of ads with either no pics, really bad pics, or one pic of just the outside of the house. And yes, as Alex Craig pointed out, the infamous one pic taken from inside a car. Unbelievable someone trying to sell a house and can’t even be bothered to get OUT of their car for 30 seconds. I write great rental ads, if I do say so myself. I use descriptive phrases and write in complete sentences, unless it is a bulleted list (like above). I also offer a lot of information, but use lists and very short paragraphs to still keep it easy to read. Something else I did this year was look at the “housing wanted” ads on CL. If someone was looking for a rental similar to what I had available, I would e-mail them with my elevator pitch about what I had. I also made sure my response was personally tailored to what THEY were looking for, not just a random generic response that looked like I blasted it to everyone.
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    That’s hilarious Jennifer! I’ve seen the same kinds of pathetic listings all over Craigslist (most of us probably have at some point). It’s really just amazing that people don’t use their common sense and just TRY to make their property look appealing with a somewhat informative listing. It’s really not that difficult to write good ads, it just takes a little bit of effort and that seems to be the key element that is missing in a lot of the listings out there.
    Jason C. Investor from Austin, Texas
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Jennifer, great tip on the ‘housing wanted’ section of Craigslist. I’m putting that one in my tool belt! Seth, great article. I always put pride into my pictures and listings when I write them up.
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Nice work Jason! Keep it up buddy!
    Dante Pirouz Rental Property Investor from Fort Gratiot, MI
    Replied about 4 years ago
    @JenniferTornus Thanks for the great tip about looking at housing wanted ads on CL!! I would have never thought of that and there were a number of great prospects there that I could reach out to rather than waiting for the phone to ring!
    Jennifer T. Investor from New Orleans, Louisiana
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Oops, forgot to mention I found my current tenant that way and didn’t even have to post my own CL ad.
    Sharon Vornholt from Goshen, KY
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Hey Seth – You have put together an awesome comprehensive post. I love the Craig’s List headlines. Sharon
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks Sharon!
    Anna Watkins Investor from Atlanta, Georgia
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Great post (saved to Evernote!). I have been working on writing appealing descriptive ads (with help from BP), and with a few decent (not great, but decent) photos, a nice description, and a Postlets flyer on Craigslist, I’ve rented both of my rental houses this fall, each one in under a week. To be sure, the rental market for my area must be heating up, but I gotta give myself some credit too. Postlets is just great for easily creating an ad that’s attractive and clear, and since it now distributes to most of the major sites and has an easy way to put the ad into Craigslist, it’s my #1 go-to site. I HATE putting a “for rent” sign in front of my houses. In my view it either advertises a vacant house, or invites folks to wander around invading the current tenants’ space. I have never done it (in over 10 years) and still get the places rented. I do talk to the neighbors and give them info, in case they know possible tenants. And I would NEVER do an all-caps heading like the ones you’ve shown! When I see headlines like that, I immediately steer away — it just reminds me too much of cheesy used car (or Ginsu knife) sales ads and I think “Low Quality.” I do tend to want to rent to people more like me (or as I was when I was younger and in the rental market), so I’m not attacking you at all, Seth, but boy oh boy, that approach wouldn’t lure me in at all!
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    That’s awesome Anna! A great example of how a good listing can work wonders (though I agree, it is tough to know how much credit to take when the rental market is heating up – I’ve got the same thing in my market right now). It’s good to hear your perspective on the “all-caps” approach too. Though, I’d point out that none of those examples were using ALL caps, only a portion of each headline. I realize this is an issue of different perspectives, but I personally don’t see it as much of a detraction (i.e. – I wouldn’t avoid clicking on a listing simply because it was using some capitalized words). I just see it as a creative way to add some variation to the post and look different from all the other painfully-boring headlines out there (because let’s be honest, most of them are going to be very, very generic). Thanks again for sharing. Those are some great things for all of us to consider.
    Frankie Woods Investor from Albuquerque, NM
    Replied over 4 years ago
    WOW! This was one of the best articles I’ve read on this site. This advice is to the point, relavent, and actionable. I couldn’t thank you more for the useful content! You rock!
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks Frankie, I’m really glad you found it helpful! I appreciate the positive feedback. 🙂
    Gus Guley Contractor from Binghamton, New York
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Hi Seth, there seems to be one little glitch with your advice about CraigsList ads. When an ad is renewed it merely reposts in the same location on the original page it was on, it does not go to the first page as if it was a new ad. An effective way to get around this is to delete the ad and then repost (not renew) several hours later. Great article & advice overall!
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks for the heads up Gus! You’ve got a great point, I probably ought to re-state this in the post, ad I realize Craigslist has updated the way this renewing function works. Thanks for pointing this out.
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks Seth, great advice! This is my first to find a tenant by doing it myself. I used to have a property manager until I terminated him. I advertised my property in CL only in December and it is still vacant up to now. I will modify my ad and post my property again in CL according to Gus advice and to the other websites mentioned in your article. Reply Report comment
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks Seth, great advice! This is my first to find a tenant by doing it myself. I used to have a property manager until I terminated him. I advertised my property in CL only in December and it is still vacant up to now. I will modify my ad and post my property again in CL according to Gus advice and to the other websites mentioned in your article.
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Hi Ed – sorry to hear about the problems with your PM, I know they’re definitely not all created equal… that’s part of why it’s important to know how to take things into your own hands when needed. I’m glad you’re seeing the power of this stuff!
    Replied over 4 years ago
    THANK YOU for this information on how to get my property rented out ! I will now ask the Management Companies How they will market my home and if they only use the MLS for a rental, now tells me they are a LAZY Manager that doesn’t want to get a tenant for me with any effort, just lock it off the market for their sales or their own rentals..which has happened to me for the past 4 months. Not one tenant inquiry they said due to fall and winter months…in an are where homes sell within 2 weeks! 2 blocks from Dell Computer Corp headquarters in Texas!
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    No problem Sunnie! That does sound like an odd problem, especially if properties really are selling that quickly in your market. Hopefully you can make the necessary changes in your business and property management to get that resolved ASAP. Good luck!
    Julia Rowling Real Estate Investor from Greenville, SC
    Replied over 4 years ago
    I have to say it’s reassuring to know that something as simple as high-quality photos and a thorough, accurate description can set one so far ahead of the competition!
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    You got it Julia – put that knowledge to work and you’ll be way ahead of your competition!
    Kevin LIVINGSTON Investor from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Wow! This is spot on. Thank you. I will use a lot of this info for our next one. I love the info on keeping the add on top with CL. It took 2 months to get the last one rented. But we did turn away a few that did not meet requirements. We did use the Open House on the first rental and got a great tenant. It work well in nice weather but late fall was not so great.
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks for sharing Kevin – I’m glad you were able to find some good ideas in this post! I hope it’ll work to your advantage in the future. 🙂
    Pyrrha Rivers Investor from Yokosuka, Japan
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thank you for the detailed post! The visuals really drive things home for me. I am in the process of firing a lazy PM I hired two months ago. Yes, I know that winter and holiday season make for slow times, but their advertising of my home has been dismal. I created and posted a Postlet which I decided to take down and hire them for no other reason than the in depth background check. The pictures they took and put up are quite generic and the kitchen photo shows a paper towel roll on top of the refrigerator, what looks like a soda can on the counter and a rag hanging from the oven door handle. Not only that, there was even a picture of a totally different kitchen in the mix and the very bland ad description says the home has 2.5 baths when in fact it has 3 full baths. I have addressed these issues with the PM on several occasions and here it is January and the only change has been the removal of the random kitchen photo mixed in with mine. Needless to say, the interest and inquiries declined since I placed my property in the PM’s hands and I strongly believe my Postlet was a better quality ad and with these suggestions I can certainly do a better job of promoting my rental without paying a lazy and disinterested PM. Thanks for the tips which I will follow very diligently.
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    I’m with you Pyrrha – the visuals do A LOT for me as well. It doesn’t take much to see how powerful the right images can be in selling and attracting the right kind of attention from the right kinds of tenants. Best of luck with your PM – I hope you’re able to find the right solution soon!
    Lee Badragan Real Estate Investor from Harwood Heights, Illinois
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Is it routine to put the rental on the MLS and therefore pay a Realtor or Property Mgmt company for that service? Or do landlords usually post it on Craigslist and other sites? I will be renting out my house soon, and need to figure out what whether it’s worth paying a RE agent to put it on the MLS. Thanks!
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Hi Lee! Personally, I’ve never done it this way because some of the free options out there are way more effective… but that’s not to say that some markets and properties may warrant this kind of approach through the MLS. If I were in your shoes, I’d just start with the Craigslist approach I’ve outlined above and see where it gets you – you might be surprised at how far you can get by yourself.
    Lee Badragan Real Estate Investor from Harwood Heights, Illinois
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Excellent, thanks for the advice! And thanks for writing the article… I read it twice.
    Anna Watkins Investor from Atlanta, Georgia
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Hi Lee — I’m not nearly as experienced as Seth, but I would totally try Craigslist and the Zillow/Postlets affiliates before paying to be on the MLS. My guess is that more renters use those sites than would hire an agent to help them find a place. I sure would if I were looking to rent and not buy. If your house appeals to a certain market (people who have previously bought and sold houses, for instance, so they’d be familiar with RE agents and MLS listings) it might make sense, though. See if you can identify landlords in your area who have similar rentals and find out how they advertise. Asking for advice is a great networking opener 🙂
    Lee Badragan Real Estate Investor from Harwood Heights, Illinois
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Matthew Hux Engineer from Durham, North Carolina
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thank you so much for this post. I have struggled making listings in the past (huge fan of Postlets btw) mainly because I knew most of my pictures were not up to snuff. I loved the way you walked through it with examples to show exactly what you mean by great pictures. I have to admit my pictures always turn out like the generic examples as I tried to give the viewer a good idea of the entire house. I now realize that since I mainly want to get the viewer to come and look at the house, the goal should be to highlight the best potential to create the initial contact. I am going to be referring back to this for my next listing creation. Thank you!
    Seth Williams Specialist from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied over 4 years ago
    You got it Matthew! Good pictures aren’t always easy to get (and honestly, a few sub par pictures are probably better than no pictures at all), but it’s a good lesson to be aware of nonetheless. If/when you have the time, money and resources to get better pictures for your listings (whether you take them yourself or hire a pro to do it for you), I would definitely recommend it. Good luck!
    Kevin Izquierdo from Hillside, New Jersey
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Curious, do you leave your email or phone number? Do you pe screen that as well? Like, when they write you an email, how much do you rely on correct grammar? Or when they call and they have bad manners or speak with a slang?
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    “Why would someone want to call your property “home?”” That is the number 1 question a landlord should ask about the property. Too many landlords offer units they themselves wold never call “home.” So why should a potential tenant, especially a high-quality tenant. The time-tested Golden Rule works.
    Jiri Vetyska Investor from Normandy Park, Washington
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Thanks Seth, great article. However, a lot of things have changed, and there is not as much weight on making sure you are at the top of the listing on craigslist due to the fact that you can now search for rentals on the map by location rather than plain list. Which is also a good way to landlords to find comparative units and figure out how to price their property. And I agree, 2009-2012 has served as a good lesson, as it was much harder to find good tenants and those who made it through it without vacancies now have also gained valuable experience that serves them well in the hot market of today and into the unknown future. As far as pictures go, It’s almost never a good idea to post pictures of empty rooms, they all look dull and drab. If it’s a regular apartment, ok, you might be able to get away with it. For SFR, this could mean a chance to compete with higher priced homes and and chance to charge higher rent. It worked for me well, and I was always able to charge higher initial rent than even my most optimistic estimate before purchase. Happy listing!
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    The ability to search by location depends on the quality of the listing. A lot of listings do not properly identify the location, so tenants still have to slog through them one by one on nearly a daily basis. Tenants appreciate pictures even if they are of empty rooms. Seeing the kitchen is especially informative. Some comments suggest avoiding Craigslist, saying they do not get quality tenants from Craiglist. Quality tenants DO rely on Craiglist. Since newspaper listings have gone by the wayside, Craigslist has become the go-to source. Many quality tenants do not even know about other alternatives such as postlets.
    Anna Watkins Investor from Atlanta, Georgia
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I only post pictures of empty rooms these days. Every time I’ve included pictures with furniture, I invariably get the “is the furniture included?” question, even though the ad clearly says “unfurnished.” I’d rather avoid that dumb question than have it make me grumpy. If you create a good-quality informative listing for Craigslist, it should have all the appropriate keywords needed to have your ad show up in even an unsophisticated search. Personally, I think it looks pretty lame and desperate to do the search, and see the same ad show up in the list a zillion times because the poster keeps trying to be at the top of the unfiltered list and didn’t delete the older ones. IMHO, naturally.
    Nicole A. Rental Property Investor from Columbia Maryland and Tampa Florida
    Replied over 3 years ago
    I strongly agree on using good photos. Some of the “extraordinary” ones in the examples though I have seen and find annoying because they’re more artsy and don’t actually show the space. A shot of a window and top of a chair? That doesn’t really tell you much. Also, I suppose if it worked for the author, it must work, but I find headlines like those pretty spammy and unprofessional. Not my style. Including important details, but not being too wordy/long is a delicate balance as well!
    Patrick Soukup Rental Property Investor from Fort Collins, CO
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Thanks for sharing. I think I am going to give this article to our leasing agents.
    Richard Cook Investor from Wichita Falls, Texas
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Curious if anyone does this in conjunction with having a PM – any tactics to make it worth your effort? Obviously the sooner a unit is rented, the better, however it would be nice if my PM isn’t willing to put in all the extra work, we can do this from afar and then get compensated by -reducing the first month rent placement fee if tenant came from our advertisement? Or could just tell PM to not perform any marketing the first two months while we try to generate leads…
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Very nice post. From my experience I also want to share people my thoughts for finding the right tenant in a tough market, the following points may be helpful:Choose new tenants wisely,Keep quality existing tenants,Set the correct asking price,Enhance the value of your offering etc.
    Tim Sabo Rental Property Investor from Johnstown, PA
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    So now I know how to do a great ad on Craigslist and keep it up to date. What you missed by a quarter-mile at least was how to ACTUALLY FIND TENANTS IN ANY MARKET! Creating and placing ads is a great start to getting your product in front of prospective buyers, but you have completely missed your own point; finding tenants implies you know FIRST what you need in a tenant versus what kind of tenant you will actually get in the market where you own property. There are various markets around this country that creates different rental products and therefore different tenants. For example, you may have a property inside the beltway in DC, and you may decide to focus on tenants who are looking to be able to come in and go quickly, based on the needs of the government. In that market, it would benefit the tenant to do ‘fully-furnished’ rentals, so you would be a step ahead of the rest by providing a turn-key approach. In other areas, like where I have property, the economy is poor; good jobs are hard to come by, and depending on the part of town where your property sits, you may rent to low or no-income folks who need you to provide inexpensive but safe housing, or you may need to provide single-family units for those that have jobs, but still can’t afford too much. Knowing your market and those buyers in the market IS always the driving force behind being able to find customers and sell what you have. You have missed that critical point with your piece. I’m sorry, but today you get a C-. Care to re-work it and turn it in again?
    Robert Polyack Investor from Kingsburg, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thanks for the post and comments.
    Antonio Coleman Specialist from Sibley, LA
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Seth..I’m a big believer in having great property photos to peep interest. I’m just like you when it comes to photo that need to be beautiful, and appealing to the masses. Those old craigslist photos from back in the day don’t work and more, you must step your game up with more attractive images.
    Nicholas Colantonio from Charlotte, North Carolina
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Great information! I’m young and looking to invest in my first rental home within the next couple years and I have asked myself how I will attract the great tenants I want to have. You offered insight that makes sense to me, the high resolution – almost artsy – photography gives the property character. It almost seems to me it’s not about the physical condition or quality of the property always, but more the integrity of the property and the value it would hold to specific groups of individuals as opposed to a larger market.