Securing a renter - pinging for ideas

32 Replies

Closing on my first SFH in Richmond Va in a few days. I'm using the site to market for renters. So far I've got seven prospects in a week but none panned out or even wrote back to me after I sent them an initial email. Here are the details.

3/1 SFH in C- area.

Average rent based on CL, zillow is 825.  I'm asking 875 due to the home being in great condition recognizing this is a rough time of year to find renters.

When I get inquiries I send them an initial email asking them and any other adults in the house to fill out an application at no charge.  Tenantturner does the background check and charges the applicant $40.  I'm wondering if that is kind of high for each adult (2 -3) in this area?  However, the cost doesn't kick in until after I've shown them the place and they want to move forward.  My cost is $60 per home per renter flip.

In what increments should I drop the rent if things don't pick up?  I was thinking $25 per week.

if the market rent is 825, then your 875 is too high.

FREE application that costs $40?

Is tenant turner work well? I am considering using.

Do yoi show the place before the application?

If you are getting activity/responses price might not be problem

tenants don't like to jump through hoops. As a landlord sometimes you want to ad hoops to screen out the ones that are not serious.


If your going to price yourself above the market I would remove ALL hoops and be the easiest guy to do business with.

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@Richard Vang so all 3/1 SFH should rent for 825? Doesn't make much sense. The AVERAGE is 825, that's what I wrote. My house is nicer than most so possibly appeals to a higher end renter. Possibly.

@KirkR my application is free.  Tenant turner charges $40, not me.  Not sure what the confusion is.

If you require the tenant to use Tenant Turner and they pay $40 per applicant then your application is not free. Also, I've found that higher end tenants don't rent in lower end areas just because the house is the nicest one on the block. They find nice houses in nice areas. You may be outpricing your target market at $875.

@Adam Stanton  

People are lazy.  Use a company like

Collect the fee and run the app.  If approved, I apply it to the first months rent.  Serious applicants will pay the fee.  I have a townhome that is $75 above market rent and can have a lease signed in two weeks.  It's higher, because it's nicer then the ones around it.  Also, around here it is mostly tire kickers until the last two weeks of the month.  Use postlets and craiglsit to advertise.  In my area zillow, ttulia, etc you get emails all day long and nobody replies for the most part.  Craigslist is usually the money maker.  If your phone/email is going off daily (or close to that) your priced right.  If you are concerned drop $25 and the traffic may increase. 

@Bryan Neal

Good feedback, just what I was looking for.  If it were spring I could probably get 875 but right now I suspect I'll have to drop it a bit.  

@Bryan N. , well said. Tire kickers right now like you wouldn't believe. I do ask callers when they are looking to move, and I won't show the unit unless it's within 2 - 3 weeks. A tenant's *need* to move is a much different motivator than even the nicest unit.

We have a renovated condo that is about $100 above what says, but they do concede a higher price for renovated properties. We first listed it for $1700 and had no calls/emails. Dropped it to $1650, nothing. $1600 got calls and a few showings, no takers. $1500 seems to be the sweet spot. Good amount of calls, several showings, one couple said they wanted an application but never followed up.

We posted it craigslist, Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, Postlets, Rentlinx, and Padlister. Most emails from Trulia never reply. Craiglist has filled our vacancies over the years to the exclusion of all the others, but hey, they're all free so why not use them.

Craiglist is the best one.  I wouldn't drop the rent yet.  It's tire kicking time of the month.  Wait until the last week or so but ONLY if needed.  Advertise on postlets (which hits most of the sites for free).  Post a fresh ad on craiglist daily.  Usually after 10am and 3pm are the best in my area because everyone else has posted 500 times at that point.   If emails and calls are coming in your priced right.  Just be patient and stick to your screening criteria to find the right tenant. 

Aly NA  post and mine should have you on the right track. 

I have several rentals in the Richmond area. We used craigslist for years with good success. Then on one we did in the spring of last year we just weren't getting the same response rates or good leads. We switched to postlets/zillow and things took off really well. For the past couple of rentals we have used both. And both sites are a good source for finding out what rents are in the area. We had planned to ask $1000 for a 3/1 in the city of Richmond but based on the "comps" we saw in the other advertising we decided to move up to $1200. We had tons of interest and ultimately got a two year lease at $1200 per month.

Also, our ad includes the requirement that the household income be at least three times the monthly rent. So that helps to screen out some people from the start. We do have the prospective tenant pay the credit/background check and we credit that toward the first months rent if they wind up being the renter. What we do (and we tell them we do this) is to work through our applicants in our order of preference so we are not asking someone to pony up the application fee if they are not a serious candidate for the house.

Hope that helps!

Consult with a realtor to perform rental comps. Base your starting rent amount off that not Zillow. As Zillow is often not accurate.


@Adam Stanton  undefined

Just curious where in your rental application process potential renter pays $40

@Shera Gregory @Bryan Neal @Aly L

Good info, plenty to think about.  I'm convinced I'll get it rented, just would like to do it soon so I'm not stressing over the holidays and losing money.  I'll send you all Christmas cards.

@Kirk R (TT) posts my listing on a bunch of sites (CL, Zillow ect).  Potential renters are driven back to TT from these sites and contact me.  I email them with some basic info and my application.  If everything looks good including income I show the house.  If they want it I go back to TT and click on "perform background check."  At this point the tenant is charged the $40.  

Try Rentometer to price your rent. Just looking at whats on the market right now is inaccurate, because all the cheaply priced units already got rented out and are off market.

I never try craigslist. I usualy list with a realtor and giving the highest commission to the tenant's agent. I found that quality tenant usually goes with the realtor especially there is no cost to them in Vegas ( while tenants in other state like NJ has to pay one-month rent fee to the realtor).

Even my rental property's condition is better than most available comp, I still price very competitively so usually I would get several tenants willing to put an application within the first 2 weeks. I would screen them and declined not so good tenants (based on credit/income...) and waited for the stellar ones even if it takes a bit longer. It works wells so far and I usually  get tenants moved in within a month. They also stay longer, keep the house in great shape and pay on time.  It may cost more up front but save me from lots of headache. 

@Adam Stanton  

I am a big believer in pricing anything just below the market, since vacancy is the ultimate profit killer. For instance, average rent is $825, say you go for a slight reduction at $815. In this case, when compared to $875, you are 'losing' $60/mo. Over 12 months: $720 loss. The thing is, this is still lower than a month of vacancy.

Also, I would absorb the price of the application fee yourself. C-class tenants are looking for affordability, both points are in that vein. All of a sudden, the floodgates of tenants will open. Still screen hard, but this way you just have a bigger pond in which to fish. 

@Adam Stanton

There was some good advice earlier from several different perspectives so I won't rehash that. Obviously I know a little about the house. With what we get for rent in that neighborhood I would think lowering either $25 or $50 will get you a lot more applications and hopefully get it rented quickly. In lower income areas $25 makes a huge difference. Keep us posted.

All the best,


Hey @Brian Rhodes. Agreed, all this is good stuff. BP is an I credible resource and made this experience much more enjoyable. Got a couple more biters this weekend. I changed the description a little and added the income requirement. Also decided to take background check costs off 1st month for the who are approved. Going to add some. Ore pictures soon too. 

I like @Trevor Ewen  idea of going just below market. Think I may do that. 

@Bryan N.  when using my, do they require prior authorization from the prospective tenant?  Couldn't find the answer on the website.  Sites like tenant turner and mysmartmove do.  Just curious.  

I do things differently.  First, I took a look at the tenantturner website.  Interesting, but not a direct I would personally go.  I think having direct contact with a potential tenant right from the start gives advantages.  In my ads, I always put that I respond quickly.  Do you know how many times you can call an ad and get no response at all?  I advertise on Craigslist.  I use alot of pictures.  For the last number of years I have not had any tenants that did not come from Craigslist.  My experience with email is that most of the time you don't hear back from them.  But in your case, you're asking for an application upfront.  I don't do that either.  And I suspect that has possibly become a barrier.  Personally I wouldn't want to fill out an application until I knew I wanted the property.  I encourage people to either call or TEXT.  Text is a big thing these days.  I love it, easy for people to contact you, a record of your conversation.  And during the phone call or text, I ask screening questions.  As far as rent goes, I have some properties that in some cases are much better than the market.  But I don't price them above my market.  I price them at the higher part of my market.  And trust me, I know the market in my area.  Why?  I call other rentals.  I drive by and look at them.  I've even walked thru a few times.  It's the only way you're truly going to understand your market.  I don't use trulia, or anyone else to tell me what my rent should be.  I determine this on my own.  I also don't charge any type of screening charge.  I simply absorb it as a cost of doing business.  I can do credit, nationwide eviction, and criminal search for around $25.  No application fee is something I sell as an advantage.  When you actually get them out to the house or apartment, you've got a better chance.

All too often we forget what this business is all about.  This is a PEOPLE BUSINESS.  We as landlords make a difference.  It's not just about houses, buildings, etc.  It's about people who need a place, sellers that need to sell and so forth.  It's all about the people.

I'm pretty green in that I only have one rental and have only been a landlord for three years, but I have always gotten my tenants from CL.  In fact, I didn't even know about the other sites until I read this post (example of my greenness, lol).  I also throw up a "For Rent" sign in the front of the house...but that is more so my potential renters from CL can find the house easily.  I do get calls directly from the sign also but, it seems like it is only low-income renters who call from that (mid-income area, nice house).

I post a lot of pics and write an enticing ad with descriptive language.  I always get tons of responses.

The very first time I put out an ad...this is my first home and first rental property...I think I had it priced slightly too high ($900).  I did a lot of showings, but no bites.  I lowered it by $50/month and my phone was ringing off the hook.  Found great tenants just a few days after that. 

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