Three online rental sites you can’t afford to miss

Geoff Roberts
Geoff Roberts | 5 min. read
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Published on September 14, 2009

In so many ways, property managers have it easier today than they did a few years ago. As opposed to earlier times when marketing vacancies generally consisted of taking an ad out in local newspapers and advertising on bulletin boards, today there are a variety of online mediums to utilize. This means more vehicles through which to market your properties and, subsequently, more visibility. Think, for example, how much easier it now is for potential tenants moving from out of town to find your properties. If there’s a downside to this increased technology, however, it’s that there are so many online rental marketing options, sometimes it’s hard to determine which ones are going to be the most advantageous to you and your business. Following are a few of our favorite online rental sites, how they work, and why you should use them.

RentWiki.com
What it is:
Founded in January 2009, RentWiki may be a relative newcomer, but it has entered the online rental marketing scene with a bang. Co-founder Eric Wu attributes this site’s early success to building RentWiki around user-generated content. Wu explains, “Typical online rental sites’ information is supplied by property managers; we’re trying to build a rental search engine powered by renters.” With that in mind, RentWiki uses popular forms of online information sharing (such as wikis and social media) to provide information through peer review. Potential renters come here to find out not only about available units, but also about the things that really matter to them: a neighborhood’s vibe, social scene, and amenities.

Why you should use them: Consumers like to know they’re getting “the real deal,” and the peer review element of this site allows potential renters to get the down-low on a neighborhood from the people who will give it to them straight: residents. This means that by the time potential tenants find your listing on the site, they’ve already identified your neighborhood as one they want to live in. Chances are the referrals you get from this site will be from renters who are more educated about your neighborhood and, therefore, more likely to fill out an application. Best of all, with this site, you only pay when you get a lead (i.e., a phone call or email from an interested party). Wu encourages property managers to make the most of RentWiki by taking a couple of simple steps. “First, identify and reach out to your evangelists and have them contribute to the community.  Second, listen and engage in the feedback loop.”

RentalHomePros.com
What it is:
Commissioned by the National Association of Residential Property Managers, it makes sense that, more than any other site, RentalHomePros has the best interests of property managers in mind. And part of your best interests includes creating a site where renters know they can come to find exactly the information they’re looking for. RentalHomePros.com makes it easy for renters to target their ideal property by allowing them to narrow vacancy search results down to exactly what they’re looking for (this site allows renters to get as specific as choosing whether they want a smoking or non-smoking building or a lease-to-own scenario). Best of all, it’s proactive; apartment seekers can enter in search parameters and properties that fit that criteria are sent directly to potential tenants via email as soon as a listing pops up.

Why you should use them: Because this site has property management professionals in mind first and foremost, they offer services that will benefit you. Not only do they place your listing on a number of different websites (in other words, more exposure for less work), but they also take care of all the research you need to do when listing a property—rental rates, average days on the market, rental trends, and more can be found on RentalHomePros.com. Mike Nelson, president of Rental Home Professionals, explains, “[The site is] designed to set property managers apart from the competition by offering access to information that other property managers simply don’t have.  Our statistics engine, comparative market analysis reporting, and market vacancy utilities allow a property manager to make better, more informed decisions, in a more professional manner, with the kind of immediate response property owners so often demand.  To maximize your chance for success, use RentalHomePros.com for what it is: much, much more than an advertising engine.”

Craigslist.org
What it is:
As the eighth most-visited website in America with an average of fifty million unique visitors per month, chances are you already know what Craigslist is. Founded in 1995, Craiglist ranks among the few early websites that have consistently stood the test of time. This simple site is a hub for all things classified, broken down by city or region.

Why you should use them: Online users are programmed to go to Craigslist—after all, they’ve been doing it for years. No matter what area of the country they live in, this is one of the few websites potential renters know to go to (no Googling required) to find a comprehensive list of available units. Which means you need to be there based on sheer numbers. Also of note, Craigslist postings are free to you (with the exception of apartment listings in New York City, which are $10 per listing). For tips on writing successful Craiglist postings, check out our post on writing online listings that sell.

Of course, it’s also important to utilize any local online marketing sites that have a proven track record and offer efficient and affordable marketing options. Combined with the use of any or all of the above sites, filling vacancies has never been easier.

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Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

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