Expat Rental Guide: Part Three
How successful your venture is largely depends on how well you market your rental property.
It may seem daunting (particularly with the amount of online advertising opportunities available) but investing a little time and money into your marketing can make all the difference.
When it comes to successfully marketing a product (in this case your property) it never pays to invest too heavily in one area. People learn of rental properties through a variety of formats. Do some research to see what format is most popular with the demographic you’re targeting and invest most heavily in that, but hit as many of the other avenues as you can to maximise your potential revenue.
As well as using internet property portals consider printed materials and social networking sites. Set up dedicated accounts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and build up followers. This can be hard going at first but you may be able to come to a commercial agreement with someone in similar circumstances that already has a large amount of followers.
Also, never discount the power of word of mouth recommendation and referral, see if you can advertise through local businesses and strike up friendly relationships with the owners of other rental properties in the area – if they can’t accommodate a potential tenant they might pass them on to you!
That being said, as a general rule advertising online provides more space to describe your property than most other marketing forms and a greater variety of ways to promote it through the use of photographs, videos and testimonials.
Property Portal – Selecting your property portal partner is crucial to your overall success. Don’t just settle for the cheapest option, if the site doesn’t get any traffic you’ll just be throwing money away. Before selecting a property portal look through all the options, ask around for personal recommendations and find answers to the following questions:
How do they rank on Google?
Do they allow you to manage your bookings yourself?
Do they allow you to modify your details?
How much do they charge?
What do they do to promote your property? (Blog, press releases, featured articles etc.)
Whatever portal you decide to advertise through will need photographs of your property, but providing them with bad photos can do more damage than good! If you can, hire a professional photographer. It will be an investment in the long term and the photographs will be of high enough quality to be used in a variety of formats, like printed promotional brochures and leaflets and on social networking sites.
If you can’t afford that then take your own photos but follow these tips:
Consider the time of day – Obviously daylight hours are best, but picturesque shots can also be achieved in the early morning or early evening. Natural daylight is best for photographs but be aware of shadows.
Use Props to set the scene – Make the area/room you’re photographing look luxurious and attractive by strategically placing things like wine bottles, fresh bread and soft furnishings. Put some thought and creativity into showing off your property.
Try and wait for sunny days – the sun will make your property look better and make its location seem more appealing.
Remember outside – Take a range of photos of your property, both inside and out. You want to show the entire property in its best light, but bear in mind the fact that it’s better to take realistic photographs so people aren’t disappointed when they arrive – don’t make a tiny room seem huge through clever camera angling for example.
Toilets – Elderly and disabled tenants may be interested in seeing the layout of the bathroom. You don’t need to get carried away taking snaps of the loo but you may shut yourself off from certain markets if you don’t include at least one photo.
A rental property’s write-up can make or break its success, so think it through!
If you can, get a professional to write it and give them specific guidelines to make sure it isn’t generic. If you can’t afford a professional plan it out and write a few drafts until you’ve got it right.
A few things to remember:
Be unique – You’re going to be advertising your property alongside many similar properties in the same area. You may know why yours stands out but until you tell the reader they don’t have a clue.
Be creative and avoid lists – On rental portals people often just list the features of the property. This is not only dull but can be pretty unhelpful for a potential tenant. Rather than listing the features of your property highlight its benefits, the things it offers which others don’t.
Be honest – If you’re not upfront from the start it will just cause complications later. You can’t hide the location, size of the property and costs, so be upfront about them. Be very clear, very precise and very honest. Nobody likes hidden costs, and no one wants to turn up expecting a view of the sea to find they should have packed a telescope!
Events and attractions – Remember to tell people what local events they can expect at different times of the year, even if you think it might deter some clients. Some people might go to Spain for the Fiesta season, for example, whilst others might be put off going because of it. All of them will respect your honesty!
Keep it current – Out of date content can make people think the property is drab and outdated too. Check that your content is still current, relative, upbeat and working on a regular basis.
Consider Google Ad Words – If run correctly, Google Ad Words can be a very complimentary marketing strategy which can direct traffic to your specific page on the portal.
In Part Four of our guide we’ll be discussing how to manage bookings and going through the legal stuff!