Investing in rental properties is one of the most valuable financial strategies you can manage, but it’s not a flat guarantee of success. Persistent vacancies can crush even the most potentially profitable property. If you can’t find residents to fill your open units, you’ll end up spending far more money than you make on a regular basis – and your entire strategy will collapse.
So what strategies can you use to find residents more reliably?
Important Strategies for Finding Residents
Try these strategies to find residents for your property more consistently:
1. Invest in SEO. One of the best apartment marketing strategies available to you is search engine optimization or SEO. As the name implies, SEO is a collection of strategies that help your property get more visibility in search engines. With the right approach, you can ensure that your apartment building ranks higher for local searches – and therefore gets more applicants. This is also a cost-effective strategy, requiring little in the way of upfront costs. With better technical onsite optimization, some high-quality onsite content, and plenty of external backlinks, you’ll start to see momentum in as little as a few weeks.
2. Know your audience. Not all buildings should be marketed the same way. If you want to reach your audience and communicate with them effectively, you have to know your audience first. Who are the types of residents who would find value in this property? Where would they search for this type of property? What kind of message would be most effective for them? You need to do your market research in advance if you want a chance to succeed.
3. Utilize multiple channels. SEO is a powerful strategy for marketing your property to the masses, but it’s not the only marketing or advertising channel available to you. If you want to reach the widest possible audience and get more resident applications, you should utilize multiple channels at once. For example, you can also invest in social media marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) ads in Google and other search engines, and even printed and traditional advertising. You’ll also want to take advantage of classified ads and property listing platforms – especially if they’re free or inexpensive. Try to funnel all these channels through the same endpoint, so you can stay organized as you sort through resident applications.
4. Look for referrals. If you already have residents occupying your property, consider asking for referrals. Chances are, someone in your building knows someone or has a friend of a friend interested in renting a unit like theirs. Referrals are powerful because they can help you instantly find a good fit – and because you’ll be getting an implied recommendation for the new resident as well, you’ll increase your confidence that this is the right fit for your community.
5. Be open to all options. That said, you shouldn’t dismiss the possibility of a certain type of resident. Depending on where you live and what type of property you offer, you may be able to appeal to residents taking advantage of vouchers or assistance programs. These can be valuable ways to fill your property, so do your research and figure out if this approach is right for you.
6. Offer flexibility. You’ll attract more residents and fill your vacancy faster if you offer as much flexibility as possible. For example, can you offer your residents month-to-month leasing terms instead of demanding a minimum one-year lease? You can also allow pets or offer more flexible rules and regulations. If a resident inquires about other points, consider offering compromises to secure them as a renter.
7. Vet your residents. Before allowing any new resident to join your community or move into your property, you should screen and vet them. Start by talking to them on the phone and get a feel for their current financial situation. Look at their income, job history, and credit score, and consider calling up some references. It can help you find the right fits for your community.
The Importance of Resident Retention
Most of this article has focused on resident acquisition – the process of finding new people to occupy your property. But don’t forget about resident retention. Keeping your residents happy and willing to stay in your property is just as important, if not more important than finding people consistently. After all, if you can keep a resident happy for 10 years, you may never have to find a resident to replace them in all that time. There are many ways to increase resident retention. For example, you can invest in upgrades, you can address and resolve issues quickly, and you can communicate with residents proactively to get to know them and determine their needs. But the bottom line is that you have to keep them happy.