I'm having trouble finding tenants...

27 Replies

Hello,

I purchased a duplex (each has 3brs/1ba) last April in a city with 5+ colleges, a university, 2 hospitals, and state offices.

I decided to rent one and live in one for the first year. I advertised the place on Craigslist's last May and had tenants within a week. They recently told me they want to renew their lease for the 2nd year.

Now I want to move and rent the one I've been living in. I've been trying to rent it for more than a month now (for the same price as the other one) to no avail. I've had around 8-10 showings. Most say that it is a very nice place, but I get no call backs.

The rent cycle here starts in June because of all the colleges.
I am getting nervous now but don't want to lower the rent price. What I am asking for it is not unreasonable, and it rented out very fast last year.

I feel like I should put more effort into renting it than simply putting it on Craigslist. What are good ways to advertise?
What are some things I could do to attract more potential renters (ie open house)?
Thank you!

Have you tried Postlets? It actually posts it on Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, etc. for you so you don't have to do all the work of individually posting on each site.

I have been getting a lot of calls from doing that...mostly from Hotpads and Trulia....haven't gotten any responses from my Craigslist ad though.

No, I haven't used that.
I will definitely try it now.
Does anyone advertise with physical media any more (newspaper, flyers, etc)?

@George Pan whats a newspaper? : p

I hear flyers work well in college towns....put them in the grocery store, coffee shop, pizza joint or maybe if there's a little indie record store, used book store, etc....kinds of places college kids hang out in.

Was the other property vacant when you advertised it? Sometimes that can make a big difference. It's one thing for a landlord to show property they own, it's another to show it while they are occupying it.

The one rented last year was empty when I was showing it, yeah.
You said there is a difference. What's the difference?

@George Pan only 8-10 showings in a month. How many calls? If not a lot more calls then something is wrong with your price (too low or too high) or your ad (no pictures). You should have that many calls in a week. What is your rental market like there? How do the prospects that viewed the place stacked up against your other tenants? Are they from the same socio-economic demographics, above or below? If below then raise your price.

Look at your property. Are there obvious issues that you are telling prospects will be fixed when you move out? You can't do that. Fix anything and everything that is visibly an issue before showing it to anyone. What about neighbors? Have they changed in the last year? Tons of junk and people hanging around?

Rarely is it your means of advertising although that can hurt you.

@Bill S.
I just communicate through email before meeting in person so I don't post my number. So I've gotten 8-10 showings plus 2 no-shows.

I had 6-7 in one day last year when I rented the other apartment. Only difference was that I posted it first week of May.

I have 10+ pictures on the showing. Only thing that is not in the apartment right now is a dryer as the one I had before recently died. That is the only thing I tell potential tenants that will be "fixed".

The property is in a residential neighborhood. Not student ghetto. It usually attracts college grad students and young professionals.

My tenants have been model tenants.
Place looks good, no trash, noise, etc.
And yes, these potential tenants have been in the same socioeconomic group (grad students or just out of college, middle-middle class).

@George Pan Contact the schools and get on their housing list, assuming you want to rent to students. Here in Milwaukee, UWM provides their students a list of rentals in the area.

@Dale G. does it cost anything to be added onto a housing list? at least where you're at

I agree with Kristine Marie Poe . 8-10 showings might not be a huge number but you should have received at least 1 call back... unless the prospective tenants did not like what they saw inside the apt. My guess is that the place doesnt show well! That is the difference between the empty apt you were able to rent right away and your unit.

Since you live in the apt, maybe the way its decorated, organized is not appealing to prospective tenants specially if there are other units available nearby. If you have bold colors, repaint in neutral colors, de-clutter the apt, clean the bath and kitchen, etc... Also, check your competition for price, condition and amenities. Finally, call back those who came and ask them nicely why they were not interested? You will hear it directly from them whether was the price, the condition, etc...

You can also post some flyers at the hospital ( in addition to the coffee shops etc). If its a teaching hospital, they will have new residents starting in June.

Good luck!

As far as I know, there is no cost. But I'm just the parent of a student not a property owner getting on that list. Doesn't cost anything to call them up and see.

@George Pan When you place your ad on Craigslist do you renew it every day to keep it at the top of the list of apartments for rent? I've always had great luck with Craigslist and have never needed anything else.

Definitely use Postlets as the others have suggested. De-clutter the place as much as possible so that it's not so personalized when you show it. Get the dryer in there pronto so potential tenants see the place as it will be when they move in (minus your belongings, of course). Place your phone number in the ad so that the people who are too impatient to wait for an email response can get in contact.

Do try the schools for doing listings. the off campus housing office on their web site usually has some information and you can see the other listings for free. In some areas it is the primary place students look. For the landlord there is a fee at URI of 60$ for 6 months listing so don't be surprised if there is a fee to list. It used to be the best way to get student tenants now they upgraded their web site and it is lousy for students and landlords alike, too bad. Look at the site before you list if there are lots of houses listed how does yours stack up. Is it in the right area, students are very localized, grad students branch out a little but in general there are places they want to be. More houses listed more likely that it is effective for finding tenants. Other option is local bulletin boards like at a coffee place

I would second the suggestion to make sure to redo your craiglist ad every day so it is always at the top.

And not having your phone number on their probably costs you some leads.

Hey,

thanks for the replies!
I have 2 identical ads in rotation on CL and renew daily.
I don't have my phone number listed. I will add it. I figured people, especially younger people, would rather communicate using the internet.

I actually got a call back last night from one of the showings from last week. About 5 days after the showing. Hopefully it works out.

Some of you mentioned decoration and personalization of my apartment. Since I know I will be moving, I have kept it very minimalistic. I would say it lacks personality and have thought this might hurt me at the showings.

I built a website, which was incredible easy to do and inexpensive to host, where you can find interior photos, all information about the property and the rental requirements. I put an add on Craig's List with just the specifics and a note to see the website for additional details. Anyone who just responds through CL, I direct to my website, to see the photos, review my rental requirements and let me know if you're still interested. Most don't respond. The ones that do, I phone screen. The only place that you can find my cell phone is at the bottom of my rental application, which you can view on the site. I have had a couple leave me messages on my cell after reading the rental app. This helps to weed out a lot of the unqualified responders.

I put an ad up on Friday night at 10:30 and had 27 responses by the end of the day Sunday. Of the 27, I've phone screened 8 and will only be showing to 3.

Hi George,

The best way to increase your marketability is price. You have to ask yourself this question: Would I rather have a vacancy for X amount of months to get X amount of rent, or would I rather rent it ASAP for lesser than i want?

I manage hundred of rental units in New England and a price drop is always the answer. What you obtained last year for rent is irrelevant. Your unit is only worth what someone is willing to pay. Craigslist is where we find 90% of our tenants. I am very comfortable saying that the amount of inquiries you get from craigslist tells you if your unit is worth what you are asking. If you are having showings with no call backs it is likely that your advertisement is not detailed enough (plenty of pictures, explanation of features, neighborhood, etc.) You want to make sure your advertisement is a mirror image of the unit. I also find that a thorough pre-screening conversation also saves you time and gives you the ability to explain the unit in better detail. You are competing with thousands of other units in that area; you have to provide a VALUE!

It is all about price, matching, and details! Hope this helps!

By adding the property address would help alone with a phone number that you can answer 24/7.

Joe Gore

you said it yourself... the cycle starts in june. you are too early. with that many schools, it will rent immediately come june.

i got 99% tire kickers from the sites mentioned above. i rent mine with a realtor.

Originally posted by @Mark Derby :

I built a website, which was incredible easy to do and inexpensive to host, where you can find interior photos, all information about the property and the rental requirements. I put an add on Craig's List with just the specifics and a note to see the website for additional details. Anyone who just responds through CL, I direct to my website, to see the photos, review my rental requirements and let me know if you're still interested. Most don't respond. The ones that do, I phone screen. The only place that you can find my cell phone is at the bottom of my rental application, which you can view on the site. I have had a couple leave me messages on my cell after reading the rental app. This helps to weed out a lot of the unqualified responders.

I put an ad up on Friday night at 10:30 and had 27 responses by the end of the day Sunday. Of the 27, I've phone screened 8 and will only be showing to 3.

 Are you tech savvy or is the web site you describe easy for the average person to build?

Thanks 

Originally posted by @Pyrrha Rivers :
Originally posted by @Mark Derby:

I built a website, which was incredible easy to do and inexpensive to host, where you can find interior photos, all information about the property and the rental requirements. I put an add on Craig's List with just the specifics and a note to see the website for additional details. Anyone who just responds through CL, I direct to my website, to see the photos, review my rental requirements and let me know if you're still interested. Most don't respond. The ones that do, I phone screen. The only place that you can find my cell phone is at the bottom of my rental application, which you can view on the site. I have had a couple leave me messages on my cell after reading the rental app. This helps to weed out a lot of the unqualified responders.

I put an ad up on Friday night at 10:30 and had 27 responses by the end of the day Sunday. Of the 27, I've phone screened 8 and will only be showing to 3.

 Are you tech savvy or is the web site you describe easy for the average person to build?

Thanks 

 I'm not tech savvy at all. I'd say that if you can put together a power point slide show using Microsoft Power Point, you'd have no trouble at all building your own website.

I used Wix.com to build and host the site, which took me about 12 - 14 hours total. They have tons of online tutorials showing how to do every step. Here's a link to my site http://www.otmproperties.com. I've taken down the interior pics because both units are rented. The copy of the lease is just a standard lease and not the one I actually use. I didn't have time to post the amended lease before signing leases and haven't been back to it.

I fund this pre-screening method much easier than having the conversation on the phone about the rental requirements and screening process,etc. It also opens the door to have that conversation when you do show the apartment to someone since to get to a showing, they have to verbally agree that they've read and have no issues with the requirements.

Good Luck.

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