What you already know.
Millions of renters under the age of 35 simply don’t see home-ownership on their horizon. It’s not their goal to own a home. Sounds great for owners of apartments, right?
Here’s what you might not know: They’re sophisticated, have a value system different than previous renting generations, and will easily lock you out of their spectrum if you don’t fit their profile.
What you need to know.
Okay, so we’ve been told they’re tech-savvy. What does that really mean to you when you’re advertising for them? Well, number one, you’re not going to catch them with just a sign out front. It’s more important than ever to make sure your rental appears on as many websites as possible. We post our vacancies on a core of 12 websites initially, and then these websites have their listings copied to other websites as well. So, maximum exposure is key.
Internet advertising is an art, not a science, and it takes work. Constant updating is required if you want your ad seen consistently at the top of the charts. And with so many new rentals popping up every day, the prospective tenant can feel overwhelmed.
Five Simple Keys:
- Select a unique headline. Just this can separate you from other ads, and drive traffic to your door. Take the time to wordsmith your ad, being honest, but at the same time, presenting it in its best light. It’s okay to see what the competition is doing before you write yours. See what looks catchy, and will be appropriate for your unique unit.
- Professional-looking photos are critical. Cloudy day? Don’t bother. Wait for sunny skies when shooting outside shots. Old camera phone? No way. Crisp, bright exterior photos are critical. Look at the before and after of this home we did work to.
Sure, the property looks much better in the ‘after’ picture because it’s been improved. But look how crisp the ‘after’ photo is, and see how important the sunny blue sky becomes? And maybe you should add a little spice in the form of flowers and landscaping if possible.
- Be priced right. You can’t just do a cursory study of what comparable properties are being advertised at. You want to find out what prices tenants are actually signing leases at. This can be tricky, but sometimes a little detective work becomes important. We’ll sometimes call on old ads we’ve archived to find out what they really rented at, weeks after they’ve been taken off the market. Again, this is the difference between a listed ‘for rent’ price vs. what someone actually signs a lease at, and it can be critical to know what lease rates are being signed at versus advertised at. Sometimes, pricing a unit right, right away, can put an additional month of rent into your pocket.
- Be prepared when talking to them. Have maps that cite the local gyms, dog parks, and even public transportation hubs. All are more critical to the Gen Y crowd than they were the generations that preceded. Do you recycle? It’s good for your business, and shows up on their radar. Can they make payments online? You should have this set up with your management company, or if you’re self-managing, talk to your bank. We don’t charge tenants to pay online, and that’s attractive to them. (We even offer a bar-code that allows tenants to walk into any 7/11, swipe the code, and walk out with a receipt for paying their rent.) Let’s go back to marketing units. Do you have an online application process? At least have your application handy to email to serious prospects.
- Create a sense of urgency. We like to stack our showings, arranging several prospects to show at one time, causing a sense of competition. Again, when exposed on multiple websites, hopefully you’ll have good traffic. There have been many instances where we end up renting a unit to the first prospects who viewed it, because they had all their ducks in a row and felt the need to go above and beyond when pursuing the unit. Like applying online immediately, attaching all the necessary documents. Or offering a holding deposit the same day. Or offering more per month. Or offering to pre-pay 6-12 months of rent in advance, which has occurred several times with our company in the last year.
Not only does this minimize the amount of hours spent marketing and showing a unit, it streamlines the approval process as well. Organized applicants often become very trustworthy, responsible tenants. Thorough applicants make certain to provide very clear documentation verifying their income. The longer they’ve been at one job or one place of residence, the more consistent they will likely be as tenants. I look for applicants who take the time to write a quick note about their situation, so if necessary I can describe them to the owners. The winning combination is employment/rental longevity, high FICO score, stable income, good communication and providing me with what I need in a timely manner.
Take heed to these tips for courting the Gen Y prospect. In my experience, meticulous, enthusiastic marketing translates into meticulous, enthusiastic tenants, Gen Y and others.