How do you find renters?

11 Replies

Hello, First time poster, real estate investor. What method works best for finding potential renters and what do you require for move in....First, Last, & Security? I’m in the greater Seattle area and this seems like a lot of money up front? Thank you!
Originally posted by @Margaret Nagel :
Hello, First time poster, real estate investor. What method works best for finding potential renters and what do you require for move in....First, Last, & Security? I’m in the greater Seattle area and this seems like a lot of money up front? Thank you!

 Finding renters is the easy part. Do this: Post your rental on craigslist and zillow. Also join all your local Buy/Sell/Trade groups and post it there. Doing just this method had my phone ringing off the hook and my website had 1000 people fill out our form for that rental.

As for what you require for move in is usually first/last & deposit but I've seen people say first and last with no deposit or that the deposit could be added to their monthly over the year. Whatever you feel comfy doing.

Margaret, everything depends on what kind of property you're renting. If you're renting out a class C-D property, you'll want to market on Craigslist, and require first month's rent + security deposit equal to 1 month's rent or more (check your local restrictions for SD amounts allowed). Set your application fee to cover your costs and time to process them, and have applying be the first step. 

If you have a class A-B property (new build or renovated completely in the last five years), you're going to want to advertise on Hotpads, this is a rental friendly site owned by Zillow, and once posted on there it will automatically send your listing to Zillow and Trulia. Make sure your property is adequately priced, you should not be receiving thousands of inquiries, that is an indicator that you're priced too low for the market. With this rental, you'll still want to take first month's rent and a security deposit equal to one month's rent. I also charge a non-refundable cleaning fee from $350-$500 at move in so they aren't responsible for deep cleaning the unit at move out, I send a professional crew in. This does not include pet fees if you choose to accept pets. 

Receiving high rents and quality tenants start with your listing, so make sure it's professional, informative, and touches on all of the selling points of your rental. 

Good luck!

Hi Margaret! There is free landlord software out there that will perform market syndication for you. This means that with one click, your listing will be posted to multiple listing sites (zillow, trulia, hotpads,, etc.). If you need any recommendations, please feel free to reach out through PM!

At the apartment complex where I worked, we asked for last month's rent plus a security deposit equaling one month of rent for those without a cosigner. If the applicant had a cosigner, we would reduce the security deposit and not require last month's rent. 

Looking forward to hearing about your investing journey! 

@Margaret Nagel

Forbes article.

I still mostly do craigslist and post on Zillow and Trulia just to be thorough. What I don't like about Zillow and Trulia is that I lose some control. On craigslist I completely control my posting.

In my market rent is quite high and there are lots of young professionals. I ask tenants for first, last and a $500 security deposit. The $500 is enough that they have "skin in the game" but not so much to make it feel onerous. 

This is an excellent thread, and very timely for me because I'm getting ready to look for tenants for my first property. I noticed that Zillow offers a service for prospective tenants to apply directly through that site. I'm wondering if that helps, or it it's better to control the entire process.

Personally I think it depends on your market, when I have vacancies I’ve been using Craigslist, Zillow Group (Hotpads, Zillow & Trulia) and recently Facebook.. I’ve found renters from each of the channels (which is why I use all of them), in my experience, Craigslist has decent volume but the folks are most likely to flake & not show up for viewings, Zillow has pretty solid flow & gives some good stats on views vs comps which is helpful if your testing pricing & in my area Facebook had the best volume (also a lot of property managers don’t seem to be using it yet) - I received over 50 contacts for my last rental & the integration with FB messenger made it pretty easy to address questions & schedule appointments.

@Tom Soule

I tried the application once & had to revert back to paper, at least for candidates in my area it wasn’t user friendly enough & they give 0 tools to the landlords to help troubleshoot & help point out what tenants are missing to complete the application. I had about 15 people who attempted the process & only got 1 application all the way through vs my previous method which would have yielded 15 applications.

I love the concept but for me, it’s not fit for purpose yet.

Hey Margaret, I agree with what others have said that it depends on your area and the type of property. For my area, my best renter inquiries came from Zillow, Hotpads and Trulia. I tried posting on Craigslist and putting signs on busy street corners in the neighborhood, but those responses weren't serious inquiries. And I sent a direct link to our application on Cozy only after a potential renter had come in for a viewing.

For move in, I require first month's rent and a security deposit, plus a pet fee (if applicable). Hope that helps!

There are two aspects to what to use to market your rentals what potential tenants go to in your area and what sites you find bring you the best quality tenant and are easy to work with. I get good prospects from craigslist. Zillow syndicates but deletes too much of the ad sometimes to be useful. I hate facebook messenger but others love it. I could force myself to use it but other things work just as well for me.