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How to Attract Tenants – that was then this is now

If you just bought your first rental property, you’re probably wondering how to attract tenants. There have been significant changes in where and how to attract tenants over the last 15 years and landlords who adjust with the times not only survive but thrive.

That was then

In 2006 I bought my first rental property in Fort McMurray. At that time, landlords would attract tenants by advertising in the local newspaper. Specifically in the classifieds “places for rent” category. Prospective tenants would travel to their favorite grocery store, buy a local paper, and search for rentals by calling the phone number listed in the printed ad. The paper went out on Wednesdays, and a few days later, my phone would start ringing.

A few years and some technological advancements later, Alberta landlords would attract tenants by advertising in Kijiji online. There was a trick to advertising for free while keeping the ad on the first page. This involved removing the ad every day and reposting it. It was a little time-consuming, but it worked. If your ad was in the first couple pages, interested tenants called or emailed to inquire about rentals.

Fast forward two years later  – rental ads were 100% digital, and there was competition. In addition to Kijiji, and (among others) were popular platforms that catered specifically to landlords and tenants. To post ads, landlords fill out specs’ tenants seek in a rental property including square footage, community, amenities such as a washer/dryer, dishwasher, utilities included in the rent, and whether pets are allowed, etc.  Most Fort McMurray workers come from larger centers where they are familiar and comfortable with Rentboard or Rentfaster and most of my tenant leads came from these two platforms.   

While advertising, I learned there was a significant difference in the type of tenant each platform attracted. For example, there were far more “lookie-loos” in Kijiji. I also discovered potential Kijiji tenants wanted to haggle over the price before seeing the property,  and most prospective tenants didn’t pass my pre-qualifying questions. Rentboard and Rentfaster seemed to attract tenants of a much higher caliber who were serious about finding a quality place to live/rent, could afford the rent, and were willing to complete the application process.

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This is now

Two weeks ago, in April 2022, I ran ads for the same Fort McMurray property in both Rentboard and Rentfaster. The first week, I received a half dozen inquiries, resulting in three showings and two incomplete applications. I dropped the price by $50 a month and also ran ads in a private Facebook Group called Fort McMurray Places for Rent, and Facebook Marketplace. Literally five minutes after publishing the ad on Facebook Marketplace, my phone started pinging. A week later, my property rented through a tenant found on Facebook Marketplace.

All this to say, there have been huge transformations in how Alberta landlords advertise and where they advertise. There is also a tremendous difference in how tenants search for properties and how they choose to communicate with potential landlords throughout the rental process. In 2006 tenants read newspaper ads and used the phone to communicate. In 2022, tenants conduct their searches online and primarily communicate by texting or private messaging.

Bear in mind every city, town, and country does not utilize these self-same platforms or advertising methods exclusively, as each area is unique. But as landlords, we need to constantly keep informed of where and how our niche of tenants in our specific cities/towns look for rental properties. The economy, the culture, and the digital sophistication of our tenant population play a key role in determining where we advertise. Like it or not, technology is here to stay –  and as digital technology evolves landlords must adjust and adapt to attract quality tenants who in turn, impact our vacancy rates and profitability.

What are your thoughts on attracting/advertising for tenants? What do you do? I’d love to hear about it [email protected]

If you know how to advertise for tenants but don’t know how to screen tenants – sign up for my 5-step tenant screening process now to increase your profits and decrease your headaches.

To take advantage of helpful tips, tools, and educational resources for DIY landlords, sign up for a membership for Landlord Fundamentals 101. To save even more time and money, combine Landlord Fundamentals 101 with one-on-one coaching to qualify for the Canada Alberta Job Grant. Contact me today to find out how [email protected]

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