Tips on Listing an Apartment, Condo, or House for Rent
Last weekend was a wild success! Thirteen solo hours driving round trip were successful with a two year old. We had a lot of quality girl time from making s’mores to dancing while waiting for a Banzai Bowl. My daughter experienced her first waves from the Pacific Ocean. However, we did not get to see as many apartments as we had hoped.
In my mind we would see at least half a dozen. Reality on the ground: two.
For those of you not familiar with the LA area–zoom in on Google Maps with the satellite feature enabled. Real estate is at a premium so each parcel is maximized to handle as many people as possible. Along the beach the lots are long and narrow, often with a multi-story building divided into several units or a house on the front with a couple more units in the back side along the back alley.
So there we were standing in the back alley at our first appointment. Me, my friend, and my daughter who was entertaining herself by running up and down the alley hiding behind trash cans. My friend had contacted the listing agent, waiting for her “system” to send us a code for the lock box. Fifteen minutes later she contacted the lady again and the listing agent tried to send another message through her “system”. No dice. We had to move on before we were ridiculously late to our next scheduled appointment.
It was the start of a disappointing apartment hunting day.*
So here is a list of gotcha’s as to why we did not see more listings and how to attract high quality renters when you are listing an apartment, condo, or house for rent.
#1 Answer the phone.
Whatever means of contact you provide in your advertisement should be constantly monitored with a reasonable response time. Once a day at a minimum. Even on the weekends. Why? Because people have to make money to pay for the apartment/condo/house. Generally they work an 8 to 5 Monday through Friday job to pull in that money. So, be nice and let them see their new digs in the evenings and on weekend when they are available–not just during the normal work week.
#2 If you have a “system” make sure it works.
Perhaps this is the reason that first listing we attempted to view was still available! If the listing agent had tried to send herself a message through the system to make sure it works. Or better yet, just give us the number straight out and cut out the wasted time and extra expense of whatever this “system” is. I mean once we have the number we can get in until someone else physically stops by to change the number. So what’s the difference? For the listing agent, the difference is the unit sits and more potential tenants are frustrated and walk away without even saying, “Hey, we never got it. Good luck!”
#3 Post pictures.
People love pictures. A picture is worth 1000 words…and at least an hour of time. A listing with no pictures is one where callers must be desperate. Why spend time calling someone, setting an appointment, driving over, and realizing you will have to hand wash all your dishes because there is no dishwasher. Or perhaps half of your cabinet space will be used by a countertop microwave you have to buy since there is not a microwave installed over the range. One picture saves you at least an hour of wasted time.
Or assumption #2 in this situation: the listing agent is trying to hide something. How about fix the place up so the most exciting part of creating the listing is debating which picture is the best one because there are so many to choose from?
#4 Post a lot of pictures.
Upload a picture of every room– if not more! Show a potential tenant the layout of the kitchen. How nice is the tile in the bathtub/shower surround? Is there a balcony? Is there a view or are you looking at the trash dumpster? We want to see it all!
#5 Post high quality pictures.
You have worked hard to make your listing top notch. Clear and bright photos capture attention and helps the renter easily imagine how nice it is to live there.
Also, make sure to take the photos during the day. Daylight pouring through the windows makes a huge difference in comparison to taking the same photo at night. Unless you have some wicked mood lighting. Then just add multiple pictures of the same shot.
#6 Answer the phone.
If done right this is not a long term commitment. With an apartment offered at the right price, along with carefully screened tenants this is just a blip in the calendar when the next rent check is coming soon. But only if you answer the phone.
#7 List amenities.
Take parking in Long Beach, CA, for instance… after a long day at work you NEED a parking spot. Sharking the nearby streets in hopes of snagging a spot instead of lugging groceries across several blocks is a luxury many people rather enjoy. Of course, if you ride a bike like I do, this is no problem, but if a parking spot is a deal breaker it better be specified in the listing.
What kind of laundry facilities are provided? Is it in the unit with washer/dryer or are there only hookups. Perhaps there are no facilities on site, or are community coin machines available?
Unit location helps, too. Is the unit located on the first, middle, or top floor? This is necessary information if a potential tenant has a pet peeve of someone sounding like an elephant stampeding through the ceiling above. Or, maybe they don’t care as much about sound, but the second or third floor is more appealing because your new tenant likes sleeping with the windows open?
Use attractive words in the listing description (that actually represent the unit): “granite”, “hardwood floors”, “stainless appliances”, “washer and dryer in unit”, “garage door with opener”, etc.
Details of what is, or is not provided matter in a listing! Likewise, if anything is provided, but it is not in the listing, your listing may be inadvertently passed over when one of these amenities is a deal breaker to a potential tenant.
#8 Take down the listing once the unit is not available anymore.
It’s frustrating to call and hear nothing back because a listing is already off of the market. Isn’t it frustrating to be contacted if you are the listing agent with a really nice unit priced right with tons of phone calls?
#9 Answer the phone.
We would have seen a lot more potential apartments if tip #1, #6, and #9 were actually followed. We might have considered quite a few more listings if all of the tips were followed in every listing.
Are you listing an apartment, condo, or house for rent? Consider using these tips to help you make the most of your time and maximize the number of high quality tenants lining up at your door.
Or are you about to embark on a hunt? Let’s hope the property managers in your area are already using these tips.
*In fairness, the other two were decent. Just not quite everything we had hoped. The pictures were nice, but they ended up being compromises. One was not a top floor unit as we anticipated. The other looked good in photos, but the finishes were not as polished in person and the other had more amenities. The biggest disappointment was the lack of communication from listings we tried to contact and still have not heard from a week later.