When I entered the landlording business back in 2000, my rental marketing program consisted of the following:
- Place a For Rent sign in the yard
- Wait for calls
If we were having trouble renting a particularly stubborn property, we would take out an ad in our local newspaper to help.
But, mostly, we relied on signs to rent our homes. And, generally, they worked just fine.
Over the years, and as we grew, we invested thousands of dollars in For Rent signs. We transitioned from the stock signs at Lowe’s and Home Depot to custom signs with our logo, website address, etc.
Pretty fancy stuff.
Soon, the majority of our rental leads started coming from our website, but we still put a sign in the yard. It was simply second nature.
Until last year.
For a variety of reasons, we decided to stop using For Rent signs. We did a lot of analysis, had multiple discussions with our staff, and finally decided to pull the signs and place them in storage.
And really, we haven’t missed a beat and have no regrets.
It was the right decision for us and may or may not be the right decision for you.
To help you determine if using for For Rent signs is right for your rental business, here’s a list of the pros and cons of using For Rent signs in our ever-changing world of rental marketing.
For Rent Signs – Pros
- Neighborhood help. There’s no question that neighbors have a vested interest in who lives next to them. So, if a neighbor sees a For Rent sign, they may very well help you find someone, or may even know someone, who is interested in your home. Word of mouth referrals are known to generate good leads, according to Nielsen research.
- Cost. As you probably know, For Rent signs are generally inexpensive. For $20 or less, you can purchase a generic sign and frame from a local hardware store, write in your phone number, stick the sign in your front yard and, voila, you are marketing.
For Rent Signs – Cons
- Magnets for theft. Thieves like easy targets. For Rent signs, in some cases, advertise that the home is vacant and vulnerable. While I’ve never had the pleasure of interviewing someone who has broken into one of our homes, my guess is that a For Rent sign provided a nice little carrot.
- Unqualified Leads. While For Rent signs will generate phone calls, they will also generate a lot of unqualified leads. Even if you have a flyer box beside the sign, stuffed with brochures that contain all kinds of helpful information about the home, some people will just drive by, call, and waste your time.
Alternatives to Using For Rent Signs
So, if you are like us and decide not to use For Rent signs, are are a few alternatives that you might find useful.
If you have the time, energy, and resources to create and maintain a user-friendly website, it can be a highly effective marketing tactic. The way people shop for rental homes has changed drastically due to the growth and popularity of the internet. Having an online presence is almost a must if you want to stay relevant in today’s rental market.
Depending on your demographics and the area where your property is located, flyers can be a great way to market rental properties. They are relatively inexpensive and offer an easy way for people to get information about your homes. Include some good photos, a detailed description, and pull off tabs with your contact info.
If you don’t have the ability to create your own website, or even if you do, utilizing other listing sites is a great way to get your property visible to a large group of people. Websites like Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, Craigslist, etc., are all great platforms to advertise your rental properties.
Open Houses are highly popular on “For Sale” listings, but they can be equally popular on the rental side of things. The key is awareness… you’ll have to ensure that you post the Open House on multiple websites in order to generate traffic.
We made the decision to stop using For Rent signs and don’t regret it. But, if you own rental property in a market that responds to For Rent signs, using this classic marketing technique can still be a viable way to get your homes rented.
Luckily, there are numerous alternatives and different ways to market rental properties, you just have to find the ones that work best for you and your specific situation.
What methods do you employ? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author
Jeremy Tallman is the President and Co-Founder of T&H Realty Services, Inc., a full-service property management company located in Indianapolis, Indiana. He, along with his partner Scott, have been active in the real estate industry since 2000 and have bought, sold, and managed hundreds of properties. Jeremy’s years of experience have made him incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the Central Indiana market. To learn more about Jeremy and T&H Realty Services, Inc. visit www.threaltyinc.com.
Zillow has worked fantastically for us in generating leads and good tenants. It is better than any real estate agent or company has ever done and the cost is effectively near zero once you do the upfront work of creating a listing.
I think Zillow is a great service too for finding new tenants for rentals! What city do you live in Mike? I wonder if certain rental listing sites work better in some cities than others. In my small town of Oregon, I think a lot of renters look to Craigslist for rental ads. But I have heard that Craiglist can also generate a lot of unqualified leads.
May I ask which state you live in Mike? We’ve always used Craigslist with excellent success but had to add Zillow this time. We’ve gotten 90% fake names with no social media presence, no connection to a phone number, etc. Our rent is not inexpensive but not high end either. We live in Upstate New York. We’ve only gotten unqualified leads and we’re frustrated. We’re also on Hot Pads – same thing.