You’ve found the perfect house to buy. The negotiations go exactly as planned, and you get the price you want. Closing is flawless, on a sunny day. Your contractor can begin on time — and ends on time, on budget. You’re able to remove all the terrible dog smells out of the “dog room,” the 40-year-old carpet is gone, the badly stained wood floors are redone. The kitchen cabinets were the right call, and bathroom is redone with modern but timeless tile and a killer vanity. On-point colors adorn the exterior, and the shutters you’ve dreamt of putting on the exterior are purchased on sale and installed without a hitch.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all the rehabs went like that?
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Know Your Market
The first part of marketing is knowing your market. We don’t put granite in every house, but we do put them in some rentals. We also don’t put tile in every house, but we put it into ones where it makes sense for the area, comparable properties, and the type of client (tenant) we want to attract.
The rehab sets the tone for everything. No matter how great of a photographer you have, when the potential tenant drives to the house and then walks in, what is their first experience? Is it clean? Are the lights on? Do the plugs and outlets, fans, or light fixtures look dated or dirty? Does the home smell of cleaning products and fresh paint or of the last tenants bad smoking habit and dirty socks?
Take Killer Photos
The saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words. Pictures also tell the truth (usually).
To me, the pictures are just as or more important than anything else. Most people now search online for their rental home and likely from their cell phone or tablet. For most of our properties, we even choose to have a professional photographer take pictures of the property so our listings have the best possible pictures.
If not, there are a few things to remember as you are taking pictures yourself. You can likely get amazing pictures with your cell phone, as cameras and filters have gotten quite good. You might want to pick the first part of the morning to take pictures so you have nice (but indirect) light in the property.
I like the listing to lead with a picture or two of the front, usually one from the front of the home and one from the side angle of the home. If it doesn’t show well with the picture, first ask yourself why and investigate whether you should be doing something with the property itself. Let’s say the house just doesn’t frame up well in the picture with the neighbor’s house in view, or it’s a duplex and the other side is pink. Use the next best picture. I like the overall order to go like this:
- Front of home
- Front of home, at an angle (if it’s a helpful addition to first picture)
- Inside of living room or entryway — wide angle shot showing floor to ceiling, including light fixtures/fans
- Kitchen shot
- Kitchen shot showing more details of appliances, wet bar, whatever is specific and special
- Hallway (floor to ceiling again, square in the shot, showing finishes and possible transition of flooring/color)
- Bathroom, second shot (if necessary — huge shower, large space, etc.)
- Bedroom 1 (usually the master bedroom — large, nice picture, wide angle of entire room, floor to ceiling)
- Bathroom 2 (if nice and near master bedroom)
- Bedroom 2
- Bedroom 3
- Basement (if decent, clean shot is available)
- Garage (only if really special; people know what a garage is — they aren’t really ever pretty)
- Contact info for rental
You don’t need 25 pictures. Ten great pictures trump 20 bad ones all day. If you can get a great shot of the floors in the third bedroom but you have pictures of the other bedrooms that look similar, leave it out! You don’t need it. The potential tenant can read how many bedrooms and bathrooms the property has from you listing.
The main goal with your pictures is to give as close to an actual visual representation of the property as is possible to the potential renter. They experience walking the property via the pictures, letting them get attached to the beautiful bathroom, kitchen, or large, open kitchen.
Write a Stand-Out Listing
Hello, pet peeve land. I am a pretty picky guy anyway, but the writing of these listings is so important.
If you are using Zillow rental manager or something like it, you have the opportunity for a title line, then the description, and then additional information or instructions.
The title line needs to stand out, be 4-8 words, and be specific and “sexy” as possible.
Sharp Hyde Park 4/3 Two Blocks to Central Park
Totally Renovated 3/1 Mid-Town Charmer Near Restaurants
PERFECT 4/2 With Massive Walk-Out Basement in the Northland
To the point.
Paint a Picture.
Not too many words.
Doesn’t tell a story.
Gives the viewer off a bad first impression of your offering.
Make them want it. Dang, I want to live in mid-town, and this house is totally renovated? WOW! That’s what you want the tenant to be thinking.
In the body of the marketing, use real words, actual punctuation, and explain about the home:
This totally renovated 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom home in the heard of Raytown sits on the end of a dead-end street and has a massive yard and room for the whole family. Prepare to cook your favorite meals in this cook’s kitchen, and then spend the evening playing a friendly game of soccer in the yard.
Our extensive rehab includes a totally redone kitchen, new bathrooms, neutral Pottery Barn colors, and dark hardwood floors. If you are looking for a safe, functional, healthy home (that’s perfect!), then welcome home. We have the best properties, best tenants, and best owners in the city.
Our properties don’t last long, so please contact us today to schedule a showing. We can’t wait to meet you.
Set the tone for what you want tenants to experience and the kind of people you want to attract from the beginning. Have fun with the listing, be creative, tell the story, and let the words make the potential renters dream about the house and immediately desire to see the property. Interest creates demand, which then helps drive you to get the best prices.
In the 21st century with our technology and cheap but high quality photography, make your rental properties stand out, be perfect, show well on paper and in person, and crush the competition.
Investors: How do you ensure your listings stand out from the others?
Let me know with a comment!