The most expensive season in real estate investment is…when your rental property is stuck with a vacancy.
No one wants an extended vacancy.
With extended vacancies can come even more problems and more problems can mean a full year’s income wiped on a property in one quick hit.
There is a high turnover rate for rental properties during the late spring and summer months – from May to September. During this time, college students are moving in and out of apartments near campus and many families opt to move because their children are out of school for the summer. Vacancies are simply part of the business and a necessary hazard if you want to be a buy & hold real estate investor.
This turnover can be blessing or a curse for you as a real estate investor. On the one hand, if your tenants move out during a dynamic rental market, you will probably have an easier time finding new tenants to take their place. On the other hand, you may have to wait some time with a vacant property before new renters move in.
To compete with other rental properties on the market, making your rental property stand out in the crowd with effective publicity is essential. Marketing real estate takes time, effort and money to do well, but it is a worthwhile investment to solidify your positive cash flow. A bad property listing won’t do you any favors. You’ll have spent your resources on producing an advertisement that readers won’t give a second glance.
Property Listings – Only One Piece of the Puzzle
Usually, an article like this is going to just run right over the top of good ideas and a quick list of how-to’s when it comes to marketing your properties. For today, I am going to focus primarily on one small piece of the marketing puzzle – the property listing. Know what makes a good property listing, can help you to minimize the gap between tenants and keep your real estate investments profitable. Consider all aspects of your property listing, from the quality of your photos down to the grammar of your description and even the specific words that you use.
So what should you include and avoid when writing an online listing for your rental property?
Effectively Marketing Real Estate and Rental Properties
What are the necessary elements of a property listing? Even if you already know what to include in your rental listing, there may be something holding you back.
Many people won’t seriously consider a listing if it doesn’t include a picture.
In print, you may be limited to how many photos you can use. In fact, you may only be able to have a single photo. If that’s the case, make it a high-quality exterior shot. Online listings, however, often allow for photo galleries. While you don’t need to have 80 photos of every nook and cranny of your property, having detailed photos of the exterior and major rooms and amenities will increase the appeal of your property. Aim for 15 to 20 quality photographs of your property.
The Making of a Quality Professional Photo
A good property photo looks professional. If you’re not a professional photographer and not prepared to hire one, take these tips for making your photos count.
Remove time stamps and dates. Not only do they look unprofessional, but they’re a reminder as to how long your property has been on the market. Keep your photos evergreen and ditch the date.
Take multiple shots. Having a variety of photos to choose from when you’re looking for the best to showcase is always better. You can weed out any blurry or under/overexposed photos. Take your time with each shot to get it right.
Show the whole space. Avoid cramped photos that show only a corner or side of a room. Viewers want to get a sense of the space, which they can’t do with a narrow photo. Take your photo from a corner of the room, or outside of it, preferably with a wide-angle lens.
Use light to your advantage. Time your photos for when the property receives the most soft natural light from windows – often morning or late afternoon. Turn on interior lights to brighten things up and beware of mirrors that could reflect flash if you have to use one.
Delete bad photos. Blurry, small, overexposed and underexposed photos won’t show the best of your property. Get an in-focus photo at an acceptable resolution.
Avoid photos of cluttered or unfinished rooms. We know you want to market your property as soon as you know it’s going to have a vacancy. For the sake of your listing, though, remember the importance of staging your photos. You don’t want to photograph a cluttered room with the current renter’s belongings scattered everyone. It’s also not a good idea to take pictures to advertise your property in the middle of renovations. Renters want to see a property that’s move-in ready, not a work-in-progress.
Good Grammar Matters
You won’t find a “walking closet” in our listings.
Research shows that grammar in a real estate listing matters. Photos are most important, but people are less inclined to consider a property that has silly spelling and grammatical errors in the descriptions. You can’t always rely on spell check to catch your mistakes, so make sure to read and re-read your description before posting it. Reading out loud may help you as well. I am a horrible speller and I love typing out articles quickly while my brain is working on over-drive. However,….that leads to mistakes such as grammar errors, spelling errors and silly sounding sentences. I try to have someone else read over everything I publish, just to help me catch those mistakes and even then, some still get through. You can not rely on the goodwill of someone who does not know you. You have to use good grammar if you want a prospect to follow your ad.
Beware of homophones, incorrect or lacking punctuation, and writing in all-caps (hint: don’t do it. The Internet reader interprets all-caps as shouting.) Also avoid obtuse, industry-specific jargon and abbreviations. You don’t want to alienate potential readers with confusing terms.
Energetic and positive words are an absolute must. Careful though, be sure you are accurate! A prospective tenant reading your ad wants to read how much you love the property and believe in it as a property. If they arrive for a showing and find a dump instead of the glowing review you gave the property in your ad, you can kiss that tenant good-bye. Be accurate and you should be fine.
Including all of the right details in your property listing won’t do you much good if those details are poorly delivered. Never underestimate the impact of good photographs and competent descriptions. Keeping your listings polished and professional will keep the gaps between tenants small and your investments going strong.
What tips do you have for posting rental listings? Shoot ’em to us in the comments below…