One of the 11 responsibilities an apartment syndicator has as the asset manager of an apartment community is maintaining and maximizing the economic occupancy. For value-add investors, this involves renovating the units and upgrading the community amenities in order to increase the rents, thus increasing the cash flow and returns.
However, no matter how beautiful the newly upgraded apartment community is, the syndicator still needs to implement a marketing strategy in order to fill the units with high-quality residents. Ideally, the syndicator hires a property management company that already applies the best marketing practices. But it is still their responsibility to oversee the management company and make sure the marketing strategy is being implemented properly.
Therefore, whether you are an apartment syndicator or a passive investor in syndications, it is helpful to understand the main ways to effectively market rental listings to attract the desired resident – one who pays rent on time and is courteous to their neighbors – and increase overall economic occupancy.
Here is a list of 18 creative ways to market an apartment rental listing to accomplish the above stated goals:
- Create a landing page, either standalone or as a part of your website, that captures the information of potential residents
- Create a direct mailing campaign and send it out to people living in similar buildings, inviting them to move into yours by offering some sort of concession (i.e. reduced rent for the first month, reduced security deposit, waive the application fee, etc.) and highlighting the major selling point of your community compared to theirs (i.e. direct garage access, new fitness center, BBQ pit, etc.). This strategy could anger local owners, so if you decide to do this, don’t expect to be popular and expect others to do it to your residents
- Contact the Human Resources departments at all the major employers in the area, letting them know that you own an apartment in the area and asking if they can direct new hires to your community
- Create a resident referral program where you offer current residents a flat fee ($300 is standard) if they refer someone that signs a lease
- Set up an open house and invite members of the local community to attend. Having a model unit and offering refreshments is helpful
- Offer special pricing to soldiers, police and first responders, like 50% off the first month’s rent
- Design a “for lease” banner and put it near the entry of your property, or near an area that has high foot or car traffic
- Design and place flyers at local establishments that are frequented by your resident demographic, like laundry mats, hair salons, nail salons, gyms, coffee shops, etc.
- Purchase advertisements in the local newspaper
- Post “for rent” listings to Craigslist, Zillow, Realtor.com, Apartments.com and other free online rental listing services
- Partner with a real estate broker or agent and advertise your apartment community on the MLS
- Create a Facebook advertisement, which allows you to select criteria to hyper-target your preferred resident
- Create a Facebook page for your apartment community, posting weekly content to generate a following and posting your rental listings
- Pay close attention to the nearby landmarks to cater to that audience, like colleges, military bases, large corporations, etc.
- Provide good old-fashioned customer service. Be responsive and timely with requests and questions. If doesn’t matter if you are a marketing wizard and get hundreds of responses to your rental listings if you don’t pick up the phone or respond quickly to emails, politely answer their questions and get them one step closer to viewing the property and signing the lease
- Call all residents who have previously notified you that they plan on leave at the end of their lease, asking them about their reason for leaving to see if it is something that can be addressed
- Send marketing material or gift baskets to businesses and employers surrounding your community
- Follow-up with old leads that are older than 90 days
Some of the strategies are free and just require effort on the part of the syndicator and/or property management company. Others will require an upfront investment or result in a short-term reduction in income. Therefore, it is important that the syndication team understands the marketing strategy prior to closing on the deal so that they account for these expenses in the underwriting.
What about you? Comment below: What strategies do you implement to fill vacancies at your rental properties?
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