Troubleshooting Your Rental Advertising: How to Figure Out Why You’re Not Filling Vacancies

Troubleshooting Your Rental Advertising: How to Figure Out Why You’re Not Filling Vacancies

4 min read
Drew Sygit

Drew is a classic overachiever, bringing intensity and passion to everything he does. While in the mortgage business, he rose to a VP position at the first broker he worked for and then started his own company.

In the pursuit of excellence, Drew obtained several mortgage designations and joined mortgage and several affiliate association boards. He also did WebX presentations and public speaking engagements. It was during this time, he started personally investing in single family rentals, leading him to start Royal Rose Property Management with two partners. He also joined the board of a local real estate investors association, eventually becoming its president.

The real estate crash led to an offer from the banking industry to manage a Michigan bank’s failed bank assets they acquired from the FDIC. The bank went on to eventually acquire four failed banks from the FDIC, increasing from $100MM in assets to over $2B while he was there. After that he took over as president of Royal Rose Property Management and speaks at national property management conventions.

Former board member of Michigan Mortgage Brokers Association, Financial Planners Association of Michigan & Mariners Inn (nonprofit)

Former taskforce Member of Michigan Association of CPAs (though not a CPA)

Involved in mortgage business for over 18 years, obtained mortgage designations: Certified Mortgage Planner, Certified Mortgage Consultant, & Certified Residential Mortgage Specialist

Board member of Real Estate Investors Association of Oakland; President since 2012

2009-2012 Shared-Loss Manager for Talmer Bank (now Chemical Bank) handling FDIC failed bank loan loss strategy, reporting, REO management, collections, & gap analysis

Started investing in real estate in 1996

President of Royal Rose Property Management since 2001

Drew received an MBA from Wayne State University, concentration in Finance & Marketing.


Read More

When you put the time and effort into crafting your rental advertising and you don’t see any movement on it, well, everyone loses. Rather than just let it sit there and waste away, it pays to have a troubleshooting system in place that can help you get to the bottom of why that property isn’t selling. Here’s what that could look like:

Where is the Breakdown?

The process of renting out a unit can break down in several places:

  1. No one is calling about the unit in the first place.
  2. People are calling, but not scheduling a showing.
  3. Showings are happening, but no one is submitting rental applications.
  4. The applications received are not acceptable.

Each of these breakdowns is indicative of a different set of potential problems. Let’s check them out:

No One is Calling

If you put an ad out there and get literally zero response, the chances are pretty good that for whatever reason, your ad didn’t actually reach the audience. Maybe it was never posted in the first place (i.e. your web flunky didn’t notice that Craigslist gave him an error message instead of a “post complete” message). Maybe the ad accidentally got posted to Wayne County, Iowa instead of Wayne County, Michigan, or for some other reason it didn’t actually reach your intended audience. In the end, precisely why it didn’t reach the audience is a largely academic concern — the important part is to get it out there as quickly as possible (and this time, make sure it worked)!

On the other hand, if you are getting a few calls, but only very few, it might be that your advertisement itself just plain sucks. If you put an ad out there with no interior pictures, for example, or with no explanation of the duration and rent of the lease, people just won’t care enough to pursue it. They’re busy, usually frantic searchers, and they can’t afford to waste time on listings that don’t tell them everything they want to know up front. Improve the quality of information — and the appearance — of the ad (and if necessary, the house itself), and you’ll see better results.

Related: 5 Expert Tips to Attract Cream-of-the-Crop Tenants

Finally, the most obvious and painful reason you could be getting no calls is that the rent you’re asking for is simply too high. Try knocking it down to the levels your neighborhood seems to be running for — or just slightly below average if the house has issues — and give it a few more days.

No Showings

If you’re getting inquiries, but then no one actually wants to see the home, there are really only three possible problems:

  • No one is answering the phone or responding to emails quickly enough. Now more than ever, prospects expect immediate gratification, and if they aren’t getting it, they move on quickly.
  • Prospects are finding out something about the home or application process that wasn’t disclosed in the ad. Fix this by adding the information to the ad so it’s not a deal-killer when they inquire.
  • Finally, whoever is answering the phone or responding to emails rubs prospects the wrong way or is terrible at appointment setting. Double-check your ad, and if it seems OK, try calling your own agent and pretending to be a customer.

No One is Applying

If prospects see the home but aren’t interested in submitting an application, the problem is pretty clear: The home isn’t living up to their expectations:

  • The ad might not be clear on the condition of the home, so you’ll need to either lower the price or spruce it up a bit.
  • The ad may be misleading, referring to a room as “huge” when it’s only slightly larger than standard, etc.
  • The home may have a buzz-killer like a walk-through bedroom that isn’t mentioned in the ad.
  • There’s some external factor you can’t control that is driving people away, like being downwind from a mushroom farm.

All of the above can usually be addressed by lowering the asking price to match the expectations of the prospects. The easiest way to test this is to ask prospects for feedback on what they like and don’t like about the home and given what it is, how much would they pay for it.

There is one other potential issue — the person doing the showings is driving prospects away — but that’s much less common. If you can’t figure out any other reason you’re not getting applications, however, it is worth looking into.

Related: How to Best Prepare an Investment House for Rental (As Opposed to Sale)

The Applicants Aren’t Passing the Screening Process

Finally, you have the least likely but also the most pernicious problem: You’re getting applications, but they’re consistently not passing the screening process. The usual problems here:

  • Your advertising is reaching the wrong demographic.
  • The qualification requirements aren’t being covered at every step of the process above — the ad, during appointment setting or at the showing.
  • The home’s location may only be attractive to a demographic that is below your qualifications. So, you may need to adjust your expectations.

This is actually the same problem as the previous one, only this time your rental advertising is also somehow attracting a decent number of actual no-goodniks who think they might be able to sneak in under the radar. You need to carefully go over not just your advertisements, but also your reputation — online and otherwise — and find out why these folks think you’re a decent bet.

Have you ever successfully trouble-shot your advertising funnel?

Let us know about your experiences with a comment!

When you put the time and effort into crafting your rental advertising and you don’t see any movement on it, well, everyone loses. Rather than just let it sit there […]