Attracting rental tenants

12 Replies

Hi everyone,

My brother and I are just getting started in the wonderful world of rentals.  BP has been am extraordinary source of i formation  we have been at it for a few months and will have two properties ready to go in a month or so  What is the best way to attract prospective renters? Currently using Craigslist and Facebook market place. 

Thanks for all the input. 


@Greg Edwards If you are just getting started in rentals it would be wise to hire a real estate professional to assist you with the first few rentals. Could be money well spent in my opinion. Good luck!

I agree with @Jack V. Ospina and you can consider a PM.  Think about your time and what it is worth.  Do you have time to create the listing, due diligence, background checks, maintenance, problem resolution etc.  If you don't have a good process already in place you could lose time and money trying to get going.  A professional can help you along the way on these first projects and once you get a good feel you can take it on yourself.

Here is an article "How to Find a Tenant in Any Market" right here on BP.

Welcome Greg and congrats on the two units!

I know it may seen like a hefty fee to pay one months rent to place a tenant but the alternative is risky and can be expensive. If you use a solid leasing agent then they will advertise, show, screen and place your tenant. The only thing you need is criteria (are you allowing pets, past evictions, etc.) and to approve the prospective tenant. The agent will help you through the process which is why I always recommend either a very experienced agent or a hungry agent with a great support team. 

Note of caution: agents are incentivized to fill a vacancy, not produce a great long term tenant, so don't agree with every single thing he/she says, use your judgement and get advice from other investors or the BP community. 

Best of luck!

Use for publishing ad out to the rental sites as well as credit & background check. Do research on what is appropriate for your market regarding score & minimum income. Network with other local investors. Or hand it all off to a PM. What are your goals?

Craigslist is a hot bed of scammers so take precautions. One of the best things you can do is learn to watermark your photos so they can't be stolen and used for a fake rental ad.

You can list rentals for free on Zillow. Newspaper ads are inexpensive.

Note: develop your rental policy to avoid people wasting your time (3x rent, pets, smokers, application fee, proof of income, credit/criminal background, etc.) By telling people what your requirements are up front, the majority of them will walk away because they know they won't qualify.

I'm from the school of manage yourself until you don't have to anymore. Learning how to do this will allow you to not only teach someone else, but will also set a standard for your company. Handing this off to someone else from the get go leaves yourself open to their systems, fees, etc... without really knowing how to manage them.

Establish your rental criteria, rent costs, pet rent, deposit amount, etc... and build the listing. Craigslist, Zillow and usually bring in traffic. List it now - with good (not iphone) photos, description and your criteria. You'll hear from a lot of "tire-kickers" for sure, but a piece of advice I picked up on the podcast that I love is to write back to them and say, "Thank you - please call me on XXXX (a few days from now) at XX pm for a phone screening." Then set aside an hour or so for calls. In my experience, you will get 1 call for every 6 that write you - tire-kickers. Brandon's book on managing rental properties comes with a lot of great forms/paperwork - including a list of Potential Tenant Phone Questionnaire which I used on all prospective tenants to help vet. Best of luck to you!

Thanks for all feedback and input. A lot of valuable information and things to consider from each one of you. @Christen G, I am of the same school of thought. I will be managing them and intimately involved in every part of the process until we don't have to.  Learning and establishing the standards to build a foundation are key elements for me. I have started reading Brandon's book and it is filled full of a tremendous amount of usable practical information. Again thanks to everyone for feedback and looking forward to continuing to fill my brain with the wealth of knowledge the BP community has to offer and to surround myself with people that have the same passion.  It is truly fullfilling to be able to share and teach others and watch them build success through real estate. 

I've had good luck listing on zillow, which as mentioned is free.  Take the time to get good pictures - get the house cleaned up pristine and take good pics with good lighting.  If you aren't good at taking pics see if you can get a photography student do help you for cheap.  Also a yard sign.  In my (limited) experience the majority of my leads have come from zillow (and it's affiliate sites - trulia, hotpads etc), followed by yard sign, with craigslist a distant last.  Consider a google voice account so you don't have to give out your phone number - the google voice account can be setup to ring to your phone and you can text and listen to voicemails via the app.

Read the ultimate guide to renting your home stickied at the top of this forum. I am an amateur myself and have found I have not needed a property manager and have not missed having one. This is something you can do yourself - it takes some work and some reading, but can be done yourself. Personally if I didn't like doing it myself I'd just buy something passive like a REIT etf or something. Individual rental properties are not passive investments.

I realize that this is an old thread, but I connected with @Greg Edwards brother and fond this post.  

My wife and I started a few years ago with a rental property we managed on our own for a few years. We got the tenants through Craigs List and managed it our self. The experience was not horable but often called and asked to delay the rent. My wife was good to remind them they comeitted to a payment date and it always got paid on time. However, when the tenant moved out due to a criminal action, and we were left with fleas, it became a big deal. We were not discouraged believe it or not, but we did start educating ourselves. I got connected to BP and started listening to pod casts and audio books a lot. We went to some REA Group meetings and met some people who introduced us to the idea that especially as new investors, we should never rent to anyone with out a background check and rental history. Then purchased a small SFR through a Realtor/Property Manager we met. We used them to find, vet, and rent it Section 8. To me with a full time job, this was the best move we ever made. Yes it does cost. But for us, each property is an income stream. So the fee for the PM is just a cost like insurance. We calculate that in up front as a fixed expense for all of our houses. So now we have 5 properties and are always calculating that cost in. I am happy to pay the fee for the fact that we do not have to call or get called by our tenants. They call a recorded line, and the PM sends me a text. I let them know if I want them to send a repairman, or if I will call our normal handy man. That is really the extent of our envolvment.

I guess even if you do manage your own properties, and do your own maintenance, do not skip the step of having the tenant professionally vetted by a real property manager.  If you need the name of one let me know.  I got that from a person who has 30 rentals.  He said, he vets every one no matter what through one company, Landlord Tenant Services.  In his time as a property owner he only bypassed them two times because he thought the people were great and would make great tenants.  Both of them were his only truly  bad tenants.  That spoke volumes to me and it tells us all we really needed to know about our tenants.

We enjoy finding houses and having them rehabbed, as landloards it is so nice to call our PM about a week before we complete a house and within a couple of weeks of being completed, the house is under lease with tenants we are confident in.  Plus they can help with things like scheduling showings, and inspections, etc.  


@Greg Edwards

I'm going to disagree with the advice to hire a real estate professional. At least in our area a nicely renovated unit that is priced right for the neighborhood rents in a matter of days. I put a unit on the market last Friday and today I took a non-refundable reservation fee (1/2 month rent) from a fully vetted applicant with a move in date of 3/22; I had completed applications from several other qualified applicants that also wanted the unit if the first guy didn't come through with the cash. I had twenty or so other inquiries some of which could have been turned into applications with follow up had it been needed. My unit was priced at the high end of the market for the "C" neighborhood. We use Buildium for property management which posts to zillow group (zillow, trulia, and, craigslist,,,

lol, just saw how old this thread was... hope you're rented by now.