By Jay Young

Finding new renters for your residential rental property can be one of the most difficult tasks that landlords have to manage. It’s tough, it’s tiring, and often it’s troublesome. The entire process can make you dread people ever ending their tenancy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you know how to advertise, the task of advertising no longer has to be an issue.

Why advertising matters?

Because when renters leave, it gives a landlord an opportunity to use their marketing skills to find better higher paying renters. And the best way to do this is to properly advertise your rental to a large pool of new renters. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to advertise yet, where to advertise it or who to, we are about to share with you how to market your rental property like a pro.

There is one important thing that you need to know. And that is where and how you advertise has a big impact on the kind of renters that you can get. When you advertise your investment property, rental home correctly, you don’t have to settle for the first or only applicant, but you will have more renters to choose from for your very best applicant.

How you should not advertise your listing

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s try and make one thing clear. Times have changed. For those landlords which began managing rental property before Craigslist became a thing. Advertising consisted of little more than putting a sign up on the front lawn. Before Craigslist came along, that was all a lot of people did. And back in the early 2000s, that worked. But today is a different story. If you want to successfully advertise and get the best quality renters possible, only advertising on Craigslist is not an option. It simply doesn't work.

So what does it take to market your rental in the 21st century? It needs a comprehensive and targeted approach that makes use of all of the online portals that people look at when finding a new home to rent. And no, they don’t include Craigslist. But getting applications is only half the battle. You also need to adopt a personal approach that sees you communicate well with potential renters, identify the kind of tenants that you want, and then go out and get them.

Start with a clean home

Have you ever looked at some of the portal websites like Zillow and Have you seen how competitive the market is in Seattle? There are a lot of options out there for renters in Seattle. That means if you want to attract the best renters, you need to make sure your listing stands out.

And the best way to do this is to make sure you have high-quality photos of your rental looking fantastic. If you haven’t had it professionally cleaned in a while, I highly recommend that you do so first. It is always best that you wait until renters have moved out before taking pictures. As good as it is to show what it will look like when lived in, we think you’ll have more success when the pictures show it empty and well maintained.

Once the house has been cleaned, focus on taking high-quality pictures of every single room. There is no bigger turn off for a potential tenant than clicking on a listing and seeing just one photo. It screams that something is wrong with the house that the landlord is trying to hide. If your investment has any positive features, a patio or balcony, for example, make sure that you go out of your way to capture them.

You shouldn’t be using your phone to do this. As good as the latest iPhone cameras are, a quality DSLR camera should be used at a minimum. If you don’t think you have the skills to take the photos yourself (and yes, it is a skill) then hire a professional. Seriously, there is no point working hard to advertise your residential house if you don’t start out with good photos.

So how do you make sure your photos look good? Here are some quick tips:

  • Make sure that the lighting is good. You want lots of natural light where possible. It doesn’t just make for good photos, it shows that the house actually lets in light to begin with
  • Clean and organize rooms. This includes making the bed nicely and making sure desks and tables are clear of clutter
  • Shower doors shouldn’t show signs of soap scum or mold. Toilets should be in working order and look clean

Another way to make your ads stand out is by capturing a full video walkthrough of your house. This is something very few landlords and managers do and it can really make the difference between attracting good renters and attracting amazing renters. If you feel confident enough, you can even provide a commentary of your walkthrough, pointing out interesting features and in effect selling your home.

Define Who Would Be a Perfect Match for Your Property

Before we get to creating adverts for your investment home online, a word on the importance of defining exactly what you are looking for in a tenant. Because there are so many online portals and sites now, it is important to have a hierarchy and focus your attention on the most important ones. Which of these sites are most important for you will be determined by who your perfect tenant is.

So what is your perfect tenant?

  • Are they a family, a professional couple, students?
  • How many people do you want living in the home?
  • Do they need to have a certain income?
  • Do you care if they have rented before?
  • How long do you want them to rent for?

Answering all these questions can help you to build up a persona about the type of tenant you want. For instance, maybe they are a 20-something professional couple in high paying jobs who will rent for two years. Or perhaps they are a family with two kids and one income who will rent for five years. Or maybe they are students who haven’t rented before but will pay a premium for only renting for a year.

Get the word out: Advertise your rental property online

Now it is time to start creating online ads. The aim here is to create a massive net that catches as many fish as possible. The more people you have enquiring about a tenancy, the better. Here’s why:

  • If you have loads of viewings you can organize open house viewings rather than worry about individual bookings
  • The more applicants you have, the more likely you are to find a very high-quality renter
  • You’ll find a renter much faster than by just relying on one or two sources

So if you want to get as many people to respond as possible, which websites should you be posting adverts on?

Which websites to use?

Here is a pretty comprehensive list of websites you will want to consider posting to:

  • Trulia
  • Zoopla
  • Hotpads
  • Walkscore
  • RentBits
  • RentJungle
  • Rentenna
  • Zumper
  • Yahoo! Homes
  • LiveLovely
  • Trovit
  • RentMatch
  • Vast
  • Enormo
  • com
  • Doorsteps
  • Oodle
  • Craigslist

Make it easier with syndication

That’s a lot of websites, right? Imagine going through all of them one by one and creating a new advert every time. Luckily, you don’t have to. There are several syndication websites that will let you create an advert once and then have it posted to dozens of sites at once. Which sites should you look at? Well, we recommend starting with sites like Cozy, Rentberry and Zillow Rental Manager. Although a lot of these syndication websites will charge, they are pretty easy to use and can seriously speed up your advert placement.

Or you may want to consider all of the benefits a property management company offers

One of the biggest benefits of using the Seattle property management services offered by Real Property Associates is that we’ll do all of the advert creation and posting for you. As you can see from this post, a lot of work needs to go into creating and posting quality advertising for your rental property. For many landlords, this is a hassle they don’t want to deal with. By hiring a property management company like Real Property Associates, they can relax while RPA does all of the hard work for them.

But not only that, we can even interview prospective tenants on your behalf and complete other important tasks such as background checks to ensure that you get the very best renters.

Other tactics to use when marketing your home

These online websites aren’t the only tactics you can use to advertise your property like a pro. While you will definitely see the most responses from these kinds of sites, you may be able to find better or more reliable renters through other means. What kind of tactics are we talking about? Well as one of Seattle’s leading property managers, we have found success with the following methods:


Referrals can be a fantastic way to advertise your listing. You’ll usually need to grease the wheels with some form of monetary reward but referrals tend to result in excellent renters. Who can you get referrals from? Well, your existing or previous renters are one source, assuming you are on good terms with them. Another is from friends or fellow landlords. If their tenants are looking to move to the area where you have a home, you can reward them for sending them your way.

Holiday rental websites

Sites like Airbnb and HomeAway can be great for investors that don’t want full-time renters or who think they can make more by renting their house out on short-term lets. Even if you don’t want this to be the basis of your income, they can be handy to use as a last resort.

Social media

Some managers and investors spend time growing social media profiles in the hope of getting more business. Yet we see very few investors actually use their social presence to get more tenants. Facebook and Twitter can be great sources of finding tenants. Not only should you create ads for free to promote your rental, you can also ask your followers if they know anyone looking to rent.

Sit back and wait for the responses to roll in

If you have followed this guide, use awesome photos to create great adverts and listed them in all the right places, then you should have a great shot at finding more of your preferred renters.

Now all you need to do is to spend time going through each one and comparing them to the ideal tenant profile that you decided upon earlier. Or you may decide to simply hire the property management services offered by Real Property Associates Inc.

Related Topic

Rental Marketing How To – Seattle Property Management Advice
VIDEO by Jay Young Co-owner, Real Property Associates

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