So a year after I found my perfect studio, I am on the apartment hunt again. CB and I are looking at various vacancies and hopefully we will be able to find the right unit at the right price. Since graduating, this will be my THIRD time apartment hunting. I look at a lot of Craigslist ads. I’m constantly struck by the difference between the best apartment rental ads and the poorest ones. Landlords don’t need to put up fancy multimedia slide shows of their place, but a few simple steps can make a real difference to prospective renters. Seeing how it’s a renter’s market in many areas of the country, an effective ad makes sure that your apartment stands out.
1. Use proper spelling & grammar
I’ve seen ads WITH ALL CAPS or wRiTteN LiKe tHiS. When I was in middle school, I went through a brief phase when I used randomly placed capital letters. Hey, I thought it was cool. Are you cringing? Because I am. Posts that are hard to read will be glanced over.
2. Don’t be too nitpicky
One ad I read had a laundry list of “thou shalt not’s” (although this is more common with renting rooms or apartment sharing) – the renter cannot have overnight guest, cannot have guests after 9pm, cannot cook too much, cannot use the laundry facilities, cannot parking the parking lot. It seems as if the renter’s sole responsibility is to sleep in the room and pay the landlord a not-so-insignificant amount of money every month! I understand such situations when the rent is drastically reduced to make up for the inconveniences, but when it’s not, rational people will pass up the ad. My thoughts are: if the landlord seem so difficult to deal with in an ad, what will he/she be like in person?
3. Provide enough information
Some of the information at a minimum should be: (1) rent, (2) security deposit, (3) hardwood or carpet? (4) fridge included? (5) laundry on premises? (6) # of parking spots and parking situation – street parking, carport parking, subterranean parking? (7) available move-in date (8) specific address (9) proximity to freeways, (10) availability of AC, (11) utilities – what will the tenant be responsible for and what is the landlord responsible for? (12) upstairs or lower unit, (13) length of lease required
Here are some information that is good to provide: (1) proximity to shops, nightlife, notable attractions (museums, zoo’s, colleges, etc.), (2) number of units in the complex, (3) cost of credit check, (4) phone number for prospective renters to call
Some apartment hunters will bypass ads without pictures. As to the number of pictures, I always like 4-5 pictures: 1 picture of the outside of the complex, 3-4 pictures of the interior (kitchen, living room, and bedroom). Be sure to take pictures when there is plenty of natural light so you can show off the unit to its best advantage. Pictures of the floor plan are also a plus.
5. Link to address in Google Maps
I love this feature and heartily applaud any landlord who makes apartment hunting just that wee bit easier.
6. Be upfront with the monthly rent
This is a personal pet-peeve of mine (and might not extend to other renters), but I don’t want to see $1,000 as the “effective rent” when the apartment is normally $1,300 and is offering a 1-month free deal. If I expect to stay in this apartment for longer than a year, this is something I’m concerned about. Because I don’t want the second year rent to suddenly jump up from $1,300 to $1,500.
And lastly, a word on rent. If you overprice your unit, prospective renters will know. We saw one unit that was small, dark, and not well-maintained. It was 2 blocks from a bigger unit, priced $25 lower, that was bright and cheery. Anyone who is looking seriously at Apartment Dark & Dingy will probably come across Apartment Big & Bright in their search. And I can’t imagine anyone choosing the first apartment after they’ve seen what they can get with their money with the second. If you can afford it, try to price your apartment $25 to $50 below the market rate. My parents did this with a house that they are renting out (they priced at $1,750 instead of $1,800, which was what a similar house across the street wanted), and within a day they had two applications. They rented out the unit in 2 days. A good tenant is worth $600 a year.