Getting Clicks on Your Ad
In Seattle, your ad must include your screening criteria. For everyone else, you only have to supply it to the tenant prior to taking an application and only if you charge a fee. However, after that, the rules of marketing still apply! The headline should be eye-catching. Rather than, "House, good shape, for rent." you might try, "Attractive Single Family Home in Tukwila with Attractive Yard" or "Clean Apartment in Quiet Neighborhood." If your unit has anything special that might attract someone to it, like an amenity or historical status, use that to get clicks on your ad.
Now that you have a great title, let's get into nuts and bolts.
There are several nuts and bolts items to put in your ad:
Location, Location, Location
The ad should clearly state where your property is located. Putting in the address will enable sites with mapping functions to display your property on their map. It's also helpful to put the address in your ad so that people can drive-by and see the property. This cuts down on phone calls asking for this information. If the property is in a well-known, named neighborhood, it can be helpful to list that as well. Not only does it help draw potential tenants but it helps your ad appear in popular search results.
Your ad should include all the major details about your property. This includes how many bedrooms, bathrooms, and any amenities in your home. For urban properties, the location and cost of parking is vital. How long your lease should be front and center. Deposits and other move in fees also should be clearly listed.
Putting your criteria in, or attached to, your ad is required in Seattle, but it's a good idea for everyone to include it. It can save you time because people will self-select and not reply to your ad if they don't think they meet your criteria. The best way to get a group of qualified tenants is to be explicit in your criteria. When you're ready to screen them, don't forget to use RHAWA's Tenant Screening service to help you screen your applicants quickly and easily!
Your ad should include what utilities the tenant is responsible for and what utilities you are responsible for providing. You can even provide cost estimates if you like to help tenants understand what their monthly cost might be. If you keep all the utilities in your name, you should let them know it will be added on to the rent. This is particularly important for shared houses or other situations where the utilities are not metered by the unit or tenant.
For single family homes, the responsibility of yard work and other duties around the property should be clear in your ad. If you want your tenant to keep up the yardwork to your satisfaction, it should be stated in the ad, and documented in the lease.
A best practice is that you take no less than 15 before and after pictures and keep them with the tenants file.
If your property has been approved for a voucher program, it would also be good to list that in your ad. If you are looking to attract an application with a voucher, you may wish to place that information higher. This is also the time to list your pet policy. Some places like Craigslist will have options to select your pet policy so that people searching can find your property based upon your pet policy. If your property is no smoking or sober living, it's wise to list that and possibly include in your headline.