Advertising Rentals

A few ? concerning rentals:

After a rehab and and everything is “new” What is the most common way of advertising the availability of the unit? Newspaper, web site, realtor???

How long does it usually take to find a suitable candidate, and how many do you have to sort out to find that one? ( Your best guess for your area and with the market as it is now)

The newspaper and a “For Rent” sign are the most common way to advertise vacant rentals. In my area, the rental market is very good and it is taking less than a month to fill vacancies.

I weed out about 95% of people I talk to on the phone. A lot of the applicants in my area have previous evictions and criminal records. My goal is to spend less than 1 minute on each call and weed out those that don’t meet my screening criteria. For the applicants that I actually show the property and that apply, I eliminate about 50% (of course that’s after the 95% phone screening).

Good Luck,


It depends on the area. I’m in the NYC area, and I can easily rent a unit out.

I advertise in one of the local papers that I found thru the years that gave me the best response. I now also list it on “Craigslist” on the internet, though the response still does not compare to the paper, but better than no reponse of several years ago. Up in MA where things are slower, I posted on the employee bulletin board of a major employer, and actually got a tenant that way.

I don’t use “for rent” signs for the simple reason I don’t want to advertise to neighborhood vandals the place is vacant. Another reason is some people won’t take no for an asnwer, can be dangerous when disappointed, I don’t want “wiseguys” to know where my rental is, come by to harass me, so I don’t give out the address until after I qualify them over the phone.

I do my showing via weekend “open houses” rather than individual showings. Like Mike, for one reason or another, I don’t care for 50% of the applicants showing up, and then, 50% that I like found they don’t like it for whatever reason, resulting in only one possible tenant after four trips. With a “open house”, I spend so many hours, and for one weekend, I see 20 or so applicants on the average, rather than make 20 trips running back and forth. Often, when one applicant sees another wanting the place in a open house, they make up their minds faster.

The quickest way to rent it is to do at at 10% below market, and sometimes, I got one guy moving out in the morning, and another moving in later in the afternoon.

Keep in mind regular hazard insurance will not cover a vacant house over 30 to 60 days, and if you take too long to rent the place, say over 30 days, and vandals come by to set fire to the place, you may be out of luck, and find you’re not covered, once the insurance company find out about it, unless you got “builders’ risk” insurance for doing rehbabs…

Thanks! This will definately help.

I advertise in The Greensheet (this is a free paper that most of the renters in my area look at). This ad has a description of the house, a price and directions to the house. There is a phone number in the ad that rings at an automated answering service with a prerecorded outgoing message. This message describes the house and gives directions to the house. I have a for rent sign in the front yard and flyers in the holder. The flyers have my cell phone number. What this means is that I never get a call from anybody that has not been to the house. Anybody that calls me has seen the price, they have driven past the neighborhood pool, parks and schools and they have walked around the house and looked through the windows. They call me because they want that house. I don’t ever get a call from somebody that wants to know what color the walls are, or if the schools are close. They normally start with how much is the house, but that is just because they really don’t know how to start the conversation. I ask them if they have a flyer, they say yes, and I ask them to read me what is on it. They do and I say that is the deal. If they are still interested I make an appointment to show them the inside. I ask them to bring the application fee and I have them fill out an application. I then screen them out or in. I have always had perspective tenants within 2 weeks of going on the market.

In 9 years the only place I’ve ever paid for advertising is on the local newspaper’s website…Costs $95 per month with 5 pics and it’s worked every single time…Before that, I went to Home Depot and put “for rent” signs around about a 3 block area…Costs about $5 per sign or so, or you can make them yourself out of cardboard (white cardboard from various boxes you may have laying around your house works best for readability)…Be sure to pick up the signs after the unit is rented…

I forgot to mention using "rental agents. Here in NYC, the tenant pays from “one months rent” up to 10% of the annual as the fee.

A few points in time, such as around 2001, when the market was very hot here in NYC, a newspaper ad would generate 150 calls, and 50 to 75 applicants coming. While it sounds good, I needed help just to control the throngs showing up.

So, if I can get the place rented BEFORE i place the ad, I would save myself a bit of stress.

In one funny incident, we had up to eight people on line waiting outside to see the place. When the wife got to the last one, an elderly couple, turned out they live across the street, and was curous what all the commotion was, and why people were waiting on line for. She gave them a tour.

While I usually prefer to show the place after cleaning and painting, I give these rental agents a 30 day head start, in fact right after the prior tenant gave notice. And if the new tenant is in a real big hurry, i give them a painting allowance to paint themselves rigtht after they move in.

One big benefit I found is these tenants, who paid a substantial fee, stays the longest. The shortest tenancy for one of these is two years. I got a tenant right now for over six years, that found my place via such an agent, took my paint allowance, but didn’t paint. The only thing I did, well, my wife did, was to clean the oven. The prior tenant moved out as of noontime, and they moved in later that evening.

Thinking about it, a tenant would think hard before spending such a “rental fee”, and then stay for a few months. Furthermore, the fact that they can pay the fee, pay my 1-1/2 month security PLUS the first months rent is in itself a way of qualfying.

Another thing I found is there’s several types of tenants using these services. They include people relocating with employers paying the fee, people having trouble with English needing an agent to speak for them, and business and professional people with little time. Indeed my current tenant of six years owns a dry cleaning business, works long hours at it, six days a week, and has little time to search for an apartment.

However, up in MA, where it’s harder to get tenants, the landlords pay the fee, and even though I gave it a try. I haven’t gotten any tenants tha way.

Frank Chin

Thanks Frank and all,

What would you say is your average stay for a tenant? (Good tenant and bad)
Just curious.


I aim for an average of two years, and the average is nearing three years right now. There’s a penalty of 1-/12 months rent if the tenant moves in the first 6 months.

I look for situations where they’ll stay for a while, such as having a child just starting high school in the area, have relatives nearby that babysit, or people at steady jobs that stays for years at years such as a mailman. I weed out situations where they’ll move quickly, such as a recent college graduate that’ll just jump at that job offer, a young attractive girl that’ll move on with a boyfriend, or those that based on the application moves around frequently.

I had this 1-BR in the beginning where young tenants were moving every few months due to job changes, moving in with boy friends, get promoted or fired. So I decided to rent to tenants that would not have job changes, would not be promoted, and would not move in with a boyfriend.

I next rented to this “not too good looking” grandma who worked at a local diner as the “head waitress” for over 20 years. She was with me six years, till she got MS. The next one was a 55 year old door man on the same “union” job at the same location for the last 20 years. He was with me over seven years till he retired, and went to live with a neice. Certainly, these two would not have job changes, get promoted, or move in with a boyfriend or girlfried any time soon.

So I went from three tenants in 18 months to two tenants over 12 years just by looking at the tenant’s situation. I don’t make money renting out an apartment every six months.


Rent to ugly people with dead end jobs, and they’ll stay longer.

I guess thats one way to look at it!!! :lol

Rent to ugly people with dead end jobs, and they'll stay longer.

Hahaha, don’t rent to me then. :cool

One more point…I always add the words “credit check” at the end of the ad I place…Probably cuts out 50% of the potential calls…Gives me more time to watch football during the season…:slight_smile: