How to Market Your Rental Property for Top Dollar.
You’ve renovated your flip or vacation property and now it’s time to test the market. Will it command what you need to make a profit? After investing hard work, time and money to get it ready, naturally you’d love to get top dollar. The question is; what’s the best way to make sure your hard earned investment pays off?
It doesn’t matter how gorgeous and updated your rental property is; unless you market it correctly, the right tenants won’t be able to find and book it. How often have we heard the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”? If you want your rental snapped up, your marketing needs professional photography, a great description and more. Here’s what it takes.
How to Market Your Rental Property
Finish your property to a high standard
Make sure it’s squeaky clean and move in ready
Take professional grade photos
Write a complete and compelling description
Advertise, advertise, advertise
Respond promptly to inquiries
Finish Your Property to a High Standard
Think about what your potential renters may be looking for. Let’s say you have a beachfront property; they’ll want a laid back casual beachy vibe. Your upgrades need to be resistant to water and sand AND look like a seaside dream.
I remember renting a friend of a friend’s beachside cottage. The cottage itself was extremely modest, with barely a kitchen, no back or front yard, but it was steps to the beach. The owner had decorated the entire cottage with a tasteful beachy theme that made it feel like a much more expensive pad. Because of it’s location and wow factor, they got top dollar.
Yes it’s important that all systems function well, but air conditioning and a new roof don’t make for great photos. Find a designer or friend with good taste, and invest in the kind of home decor that will make your photos shine. Appeal to the needs and desires of your prospective tenants. Give them the vacation home they dream of and watch your bookings explode.
Make Sure It’s Squeaky Clean
Don’t run out of steam after your renovation. Make sure your property is clean as a whistle before you rent it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had buyers comment on how a place smells. Even if your prospective tenant isn’t Mr Clean, he’ll appreciate a home that is.
Clean means no smells other than pleasant ones. Dirt, debris, trash and wear and tear are no bueno. A fresh coat of paint goes a long way towards creating that all important move in ready aura.
Take Professional Grade Photos
It’s amazing what great photos you can get from a phone these days. If you have a great eye or you know someone who does, by all means give it your best shot.
When I first started staging, I bought a cute little Canon camera and took my own “after” photos. Looking back, I realize they were just OK. I’ve learned a lot about taking photos, lighting and Photoshop since, but I still can’t compete with a professional who has the latest equipment.
Trust me. Your photos will sell your listing like nothing else. Invest in some professional photography. Airbnb knows it’s so important, they’ll offer that service to you. If you don’t know of a local photographer, check in with a realtor friend.
Write a Compelling Description
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at incomplete listings and wondered why the owner didn’t bother. My advice is write it down on a piece of paper first. It’s easy to freeze when you’re trying to fill in a form online.
Write out all the good qualities of your rental. Talk about the location and all the great amenities nearby. Create some buzz. What’s unique about your property? Is it steps to the beach or within 5 minutes of a tube station? Do you have bikes your tenants can use or a quirky neighbor who makes homemade ice cream. You get the idea.
Be sure to list all the features of your home. Most of us want to know – what size are the beds? Or maybe that’s just me. Is it an American King or an English King (American queen-size). Spill the beans!
Advertise, Advertise and then Advertise Some More
You’ve finally got your property looking pretty spiffy and then crickets. Nothing happens. No bookings, no bites. Time to advertise your fab listing! There are two routes to try.
One is DIY, the second is to list your flat or beach house with an agency. DIY takes more work but will net you more profit. An agency will potentially screen your tenants but will take a cut of your bookings.
If you decide on “do it yourself” advertising, I’ve put a list of online sites at the bottom of the page. There’s cost involved in most online listing services. Working with an international vacation or short term rental listing service gives you access to a worldwide pool of renter tenants. Pretty sweet right? With these services, they’re paying for online advertising so you don’t have to.
If you decide to list your property with an agency or allow an agency to put your home on their website or books, you hand over the running of that property and sit back and wait for the checks to come in. You’ll still need to pay for upkeep and cleaning, but you’re giving the responsibility to the agency to find you a steady stream of tenants.
The downside to an agency is this. Although they may be online, their pool of potential renters will be smaller than the big sites. I would Google “short term rental in your town” and see who comes up. Meet with them and get a feel for what they can do to advertise your investment property and keep it booked.
Once you’ve listed your property online with one or more sites, keep your calendar availability up to date and respond promptly to any inquiries that come in. The sooner you get back to a potential renter the sooner you can secure the booking.
It requires having a smart phone, access to internet and a willingness to check email often. Sites like Airbnb have their own app which will ping you with notifications.
If you’re not comfortable with the tech side of property management and you’re doing it yourself, get help. When you turn over management to an agency, they should earn their keep by making sure your property inquiries get prompt responses.
It’s All In The Follow Up
You’ve got your property move in ready, you’ve listed it online and you’re getting a steady stream of interest from potential renters. Boom. You’re in business. Nice!
Now all you have to do is be a demon at follow up. Follow up every inquiry, question and complaint within 24 hours or less and you’ll have a devoted pool of return renters. Soon you’ll have regular repeat business and your year round bookings will soar. It’s so much easier to have a steady stream of fans than to constantly have to fill your calendar.
Again if this kind of constant communication and follow up isn’t your cup of tea, hand it over to someone who will manage it for you.
That’s it! You’ve learned how to market your rental property for top dollar. Now it’s time for your next project!
Vacation Rental Sites to Advertise & Market Your Rental Property
All of these sites cater to both the renter and the landlord (you). Some sites like VRBO and Homeaway are the same company. Sites such as Homeaway and 9Flats are aggregate sites which host multiple booking sites. Their model is similar to Booking.com or a hotel booking site. Flipkey is owned by TripAdvisor. Evolve is a Denver based company which also offers property management. The only site which is uniquely structured for owners is Airbnb.
I’m currently staying in an Airbnb casita which I see is almost fully booked for the months ahead. Nice little profitable venture!