If you’re like me, you may prefer to find tenants without the use of a property manager or real estate agent. Over the years I have found that it’s really not that difficult to locate good tenants if you put a little bit of effort into it.
Most landlords know the two basic methods for advertising a rental home; either you have an agent place a listing in the local MLS, or you take out a classified ad in the local newspaper. While there is nothing wrong with these methods, I’d rather save the commission or the advertising cost and be a bit more creative. Also, I think with slightly more aggressive techniques, you can actually lease the property sooner and with less expense.
Here are three great alternative marketing techniques for quickly getting a renter in place:
- Bandit Signs – These are the small corrugated signs you typically see placed at intersections and on telephone poles. We’ve had tremendous success getting tenant leads from bandit signs over the years. For our business it’s worked well buying blank signs and hand writing the information as opposed to special order signs purchased from a printer. You can shop around online and typically find blank signs for about a dollar each. I suggest putting up 10-20 signs within a mile of the property; especially near shopping centers and highly trafficked street intersections. (You should check out local ordinances that may prevent you from placing signs in certain locations or on certain days.)
- Online Classifieds – Most people in our industry know that there are hundreds of real estate related sites where listings can be posted. The selection process, however, can be overwhelming and leave one unsure of where to begin. If I had to pick one free method for advertising my listings online, I’d recommend Craigslist in tandem with a great tool called Postlets. On Postlets.com you can create a free online flyer that can be copied and pasted as a Craigslist ad. In addition, your ad can be syndicated automatically to other websites such as Backpage, Hotpads, Trulia, Zillow, etc. I would recommend posting a new ad to Craigslist every day so as to insure as much exposure as possible.
- Neighborhood Referrals – Many investors don’t realize what a great resource existing neighbors in the area can be when trying to locate a tenant. If you already know some of your neighbors, I’d recommend knocking on their doors alerting them to the fact that you are advertising for a new tenant. You can also print some flyers off your office computer and distribute around the community. In the past I have offered referral fees to neighbors, but have found that it’s not necessary in most cases. Usually, people are inclined to mention the available house to friends or family simply because they like the idea of having somebody they know (and trust) in their neighborhood.
Finding tenants isn’t as daunting (or expensive) as most new investors may think. With a little creativity and a small investment of time, you can expect the phone to be ringing with tenant leads fairly quickly. However, once you begin taking calls, be sure you have a plan of action for showing the property as well as screening tenants. Getting the phone to ring should be the easy part … picking the right tenant is an entirely different topic! For more on this, you can search the BiggerPockets archives for articles that relate to screening tenants. Happy investing!