End-of-Year Lease Check-Up

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Lease_RenewalAs the year comes to a close and a new one is set to begin, it’s a good idea to make sure your tenant leases are in order.

Simple oversights or non-compliance can lead to headaches, lawsuits, and if you’re not careful, thousands of dollars of losses.

Here are a few items you need to review:

1. Security Deposit Terms
Security deposits are perhaps the biggest bone of contention for both landlords and tenants.

One of biggest issues that often comes up is the actual amount of the deposit. Make sure that you are not overcharging tenants for their security deposit, or you could end up in hot water.Each state has very specific laws that regulate security deposits. It is worth a quick check to make sure your state has not changed their laws over the last year, and double check that you are compliant with any limitations written into the law.

Another hot button is when the security deposit needs to be returned. Make sure your policy is in line with state law.

If you allow pets, be sure to clearly stipulate whether a separate pet deposit is required, what the deposit covers, and when it will be returned upon acceptable surrender of the unit.

Be careful to check that your security deposit is clearly delineated from other fees that you may be charging, especially the non-refundable fees.

2. Who is Actually Living in Your Unit?
It is extremely common for tenants to flow in and out of a unit, without the landlord’s knowledge. One tenant moves on, and another one takes their place…but nobody notifies you.

In order for you to be able to enforce the provisions of your lease, every adult tenant in the unit needs to be listed on the lease.

So, it probably can’t hurt to send a friendly end-of-year notice to your tenants, confirming who is supposed to be living in the unit, based upon the names on the lease.

If you suddenly learn that the tenants have changed, you should run a tenant check on the new tenants and amend your lease to reflect the changes (assuming the results of the tenant background check are acceptable).

3. The Potential for Crime
Make sure your lease is compliant with the laws of your state in regard to criminal behavior.

Many cities and states are enacting ordinances that make landlords responsible for tenant crimes and other actions. It is not uncommon for these laws to require landlords to take legal action against a tenant in order to avoid hefty fines on the landlord.

In light of this reality, it is especially important to confirm that the tenants who signed the lease originally (those who passed a criminal background check) are still the same tenants that occupy the unit.

If not (and if they have unacceptable criminal backgrounds), you could find yourself in a heap of trouble if they commit a crime in your unit.


About the American Apartment Owners Association

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for all your property management needs. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

The Future is Here: Property Management Goes Mobile

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Jason Randall | VP Product Management AppFolio

It wasn’t long ago when “mobile devices” and “property management” wouldn’t have been used in the same sentence. But as tablets and smartphones have grown both in power and capability, they’ve transformed the field of property management.

If a renter is searching for their next rental home, they’ll likely open up their smartphone, tablet or laptop and start investigating properties. Renters have the power to search by neighborhood, read online reviews, look into crime reports and view 3D previews of available units – all on their mobile devices.


San Francisco Area Map Search with Crime Filter

Once they find a potential home, they can use their mobile devices to fill out applications, scan drivers’ licenses and send it off to the property management company – all without ever setting foot on the property. And after they’re moved in, they’re just as likely to use a mobile device to make rent payments, enter maintenance requests and communicate with property managers.

Property managers have also benefited greatly from the convenience and flexibility that mobile devices offer. Mobile apps and management portals let property managers screen prospective residents and access client accounts without even visiting their offices, resulting in expedited background checks and quick resolution to billing questions. And since long-distance residents can now apply for rentals remotely, property managers have a larger pool of potential renters. Property managers can use mobile payment apps for both accepting and processing payments, freeing them up to pursue other business.

If you’re new to mobile apps, all of this might sound like behavior that’s limited to just a few tech-friendly firms and residents. But mobile apps have really gone mainstream. At AppFolio, we’ve seen firsthand the increase in mobile usage and demand with the thousands of companies who use our Web-based property management software every day. We’re tracking the rapid growth of mobile across our customer base as well as with their residents and have gathered some interesting statistics:

  • The number of residents who submitted rental applications from a mobile device rose by 22.37 percent in 2013
  • Residents using online “Resident Portals” from a mobile device to submit maintenance requests or payments rose from 22.61 to 27.88 percent in one year
  • Residents paying their rent from a mobile device rose from 16.96% in 2012 to about 25% in 2013 – a whopping increase of 45.34 percent
  • Property owners are going mobile too, with a 29 percent increase in visits from mobile devices to owner portals to receive monthly statements

At this point, there’s no doubt that smartphones and tablets are becoming embedded in every facet of property management. As the world goes increasingly digital, modern residents will expect – and even prioritize – mobile convenience when choosing between properties. Luckily, it’s a convenience that benefits property owners and managers too.

jrandallJason Randall is the VP Product Management with AppFolio, providers of Web-based property management software . He is responsible for setting the product and market entry strategy for all AppFolio products.

Essex seeks to buy BRE in $4.48 billion apartment deal that points to economy’s strength

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By George Avalos | Oakland Tribune


In the Bay Area, Essex Property Trust owns complexes such as San Jose’s Esplanade, seen in this 2005 file photo (RICK E. MARTIN/SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS)

In what would be a $4.48 billion deal that is a reminder of the strength of the Bay Area economy, Essex Property Trust said Monday it has made a formal offer to buy a rival apartment realty investment firm, BRE Properties.

Palo Alto-based Essex Property and San Francisco-based BRE would coalesce into an apartment property giant with its apartments concentrated in the gateway markets of the West Coast, primarily the Bay Area, at a time when rental rates are rising strongly in the nine-county region amid a job surge.

“Essex Property Trust has made a nonbinding proposal to acquire BRE Properties in a negotiated strategic business combination,” Essex said Monday. BRE said it was continuing an ongoing process to explore strategic alternatives, and confirmed it had received a “nonbinding proposal” for a sale to Essex. On Monday, shares of Essex rose 0.2 percent to finish at $154.26, while BRE fell 2.3 percent to finish at $57.99.

According to a public filing in November, Essex owned more than 34,000 apartments and had about 46 percent of those in Southern California markets, including Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego.

At the end of September, BRE owned or had stakes in more than 21,000 apartments, and about 28 percent of the company’s operating income was derived from apartments in the Bay Area.

The deal would give Essex a much bigger footprint in the Bay Area than it now has. Industry experts said this is a clear indication of investor desire for investment property in this region. The area’s economy underpins all of this.

“There is a lot of job growth, you have a lot of hiring in tech, biotech, software and social media,” said Mark Feldman, a senior vice president with Colliers International, a commercial realty firm. “Then you have the apartment market. The Bay Area is supply constrained, there is a high cost of housing, apartment rents are rising.”

BRE's The Landing at Jack London Square in Oakland. (BRE Properties photo)

BRE’s The Landing at Jack London Square in Oakland. (BRE Properties photo)

The relative newness of the BRE apartment portfolio could be an attraction for Essex, said Ryan Wagner, a vice president with Colliers.

“Essex would be able to own a lot of BRE properties for a lot less risk and less money than it would cost to build brand-new units in those markets,” Wagner said. “Essex has been aggressive in buying apartments and they still hunger for more to buy.”

The pace of rental rate increases has slowed but remains sturdy. In 2010 and 2011, rates for apartments were rising by about 10 percent to 12 percent a year in the Bay Area. The rate of increase is expected to be 3.5 percent to 5 percent in 2013, Feldman estimated.

Average rents are now around $3,000 for a one- or two-bedroom unit in San Francisco, according to Colliers, while they are around $2,700 for one- or two-bedroom units in San Jose.

“Essex and BRE are going to be in the markets where jobs are being created,” Feldman said. “The Bay Area is one of the economic epicenters in the United States.”

Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167. Follow him at Twitter.com/georgeavalos.

Resident Retention Trends | How to Hold on to Your Best Tenants

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog


The best renters, those with high credit scores and low maintenance needs, are highly sought after in the new rental market. Renters report that they don’t mind paying a premium for a home where they feel safe and comfortable, but keeping those tenants will take more than amenities. Adding bells and whistles is just as much a dead end game as lowering the rent and no property owner will survive long without a strategy to attract and hold onto the best tenants.

Great tenants are getting harder to find and the competition is heating up to find them, even if they are not in the market for a new apartment currently. Big data and aggressive marketing techniques are the hallmarks of the emerging rental market. At the recent Apartment Rental Management conference in Miami, Kelly Maguire, an executive director at SAS, clearly laid out the future of the rental market, where owners “need to be more strategically oriented, consumer focused and be more technologically advanced.”

The new renter is older and ready to settle down a bit, according to 2012 statistics from National Multi Housing Council . For those under 30, just over half, 57 percent, are renters. That percentage increases with age. From 30-44, almost two thirds are renting at 63 percent.  Those numbers jump up to 78 percent for baby boomers aged 45-64 and the really surprising number is 84 percent of seniors are now in the rental market. We can expect those to stay high or increase as the population bubble ages. The new renters are older, wiser and accustomed to being treated with respect. Here are three suggestions for making the ideal tenants feel at home for the long haul.

1. Make it personal

The rental market has moved from one of price sensitivity to value sensitivity. Renters say they want reasonable rents, but they are more concerned about how they are treated. They could easily get lower rent or more amenities elsewhere, but most stay for  the way they are treated by the staff.

The wise owners will retain these renters by personalizing the interactions, with things like thank you notes, flowers in the apartment when new tenants move in or an online presence that covers relevant activities in the neighborhood. Remember that the new renter cares about local, mobile and social information.

2. Be an early responder

The world outside is unpredictable enough. The new renter finds uncertainty about issues in their home extremely stressful. Respond quickly when they contact you and clearly communicate a policy about call back times.

Remember that tenants will be focused on results instead of explanations. Even if you only want to assure tenants that the circumstances that led to the problem won’t be repeated, don’t. Explanations tend to sound like excuses to the renter. All they really want to know is when it will be fixed.

3. Start now

Consider your lease renewals as new sales rather than administrative burdens. Good tenants are those who plan ahead, and they may well be planning for a new apartment six months before the end of their lease. Ask how they like living there and what would make their lives easier to begin discussions about renewal.

Remember that how you ask matters as much as what you say. Alex Jackiw, managing director of residential client services at McKinley, pointed out that 67 percent of clients in a recent survey chose email as their preferred method of contact from leasing offices.

Today’s advanced databases for rental management are able to handle a great deal of information about tenant preferences and interactions. Use the tools at your command to learn who your best tenants are and what they need to feel at home.

JustinAlanis Justin Alanis | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Justin Alanis is the Co-Founder and CEO of Rentlytics Inc.  Rentlytics is based in San Francisco, CA providing deep analytics for apartment property owners and managers. View and analyze property operational and financial metrics more effectively and identify issues.

Find the “Cup Holders” and Find More Sales

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog


You probably know someone who has recently purchased a new vehicle; it’s all about the touch screen features, navigation, adjustable cup holders and maybe the average miles per gallon. No one has to tell you it has a motor, four wheels, or even a transmission.

If you apply this descriptive process to our apartments; how often are we focusing on the cup holders?

Are you selling the extra shelf in the refrigerator, the energy star appliances or the hundred lineal feet closet storage?  Or are you giving them the “four wheels” – Here is the kitchen, There is the closet…

Finding the “cup holders” will make you stand out from your competition.

  • How many shelves are in your cabinets?
  • How many racks in the oven?
  • Calculate the cubic feet of storage space in the cabinets, linen closet or pantry.  Know the potential savings from the Energy Star appliances.  ([1]Energy Star)

Focusing on the cup holders for yours sales presentation creates an individualized memory for your prospect. They will leave your property remembering the special details you have described: 1200 lineal feet of closet storage, not another vanilla square with four walls and kitchen appliances.

Find a cup holder!  You’ll be surprised how many you’ll find once you start looking!

Lori_Hammond Lori Hammond | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Lori has 30+ years’ experience in the Property Management Industry, working with both market rate and affordable housing.  Lori has been privileged to work with some tremendous industry leaders during employment tenures with Oxford Management, NHP Management, AIMCO, Alliance Residential, Boston Capital, The Sterling Group, P.K. Housing and currently Management Resources Development.


The Value of Public Relations in the Multifamily Industry

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog


Contrary to popular belief, public relations (PR) means more than just press coverage and media interviews. There are several aspects of PR, from press releases, to internal communications, to reputation management, and many things in between. PR builds your brand’s visibility and fosters a positive perception. In the multifamily industry, there are a variety of reasons why PR is relevant to you. Here are a few instances where PR is valuable:

Market Launch. If you are in the process of building a new apartment community, having a focus on PR is extremely valuable for the development of your brand. You’ll need to put a launch strategy in place that includes communication efforts internally as well as externally. Pitch information about your new community to local newspapers and lifestyle magazines, and consider participating in events within your neighborhood to spread the word about your new apartment community. It’s always best to begin planning a PR strategy as soon as possible, in order to build anticipation and interest before you actually begin the lease-up.

Brand Awareness. Whether your community is newly constructed or well established, you want people to know about it! It’s critical to stay at the top of people’s minds in order to build your community’s visibility in your local area. From participating in local events, to branded materials, to media coverage – it all plays a role in reinforcing the power of your presence. Scope out events or media opportunities where you’ll be able to showcase your community and draw the attention of potential renters. Occasionally, you may find that your community has important or exciting news that is worthy of writing and sending a press release to the media. MultifamilyBiz and PitchEngine both offer free press release distribution services.

Reputation Management. Managing your reputation is arguably the most important aspect of PR – regardless of whether the buzz about your community is positive or negative! You should have a social listening platform in place in order to accurately track what renters and prospects are saying about your community. If you’re receiving positive feedback, that’s great. But don’t stop there – let the positive reviewers know that you appreciate them sharing kind words about your community. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way! If you have any negative feedback, be sure to address the concerns of the reviewers and do what you can to correct the situation. You would be surprised at how easily you can turn a negative into a positive by showing that you truly care about the situation and are willing to work hard to fix it! Take a look at this Reputation Management eBook for more tips on how to build and maintain a positive brand reputation.

Utilize PR as a vehicle for growing your company. Every press release you send, every consumer interaction you are a part of, and every event you participate in contributes to the establishment of your brand. Always seek ways to put your community’s name out there – often, you can find PR opportunities that are no cost or very inexpensive. Try your hand at blogging, create social media pages for your community and engage with fans and followers, or cross-promote with other brands to expand awareness for your community – all are great, inexpensive forms of PR for your community!

Brittany Worrell Boyce | Company Website | LinkedIn | 
Brittany is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at For Rent Media Solutions. She specializes in creating internal and external communications for the brand, including press releases, industry articles, sales collateral, and email marketing. Brittany holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Tech.

Why You Need a Digital Detox!

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Digital Detox

When I managed an apartment community I frequently had the urge to check my email at nights and on weekends. I told myself that I was trying to reduce the shock on Monday morning of having 100 email messages waiting for me. So I’d steal myself away from my personal life for a few minutes and “log in.” Do you do this, too?

I thought I was helping myself-but in looking back I’m sure I was actually hurting things. Let me explain more…

A few months ago, I recently attended a men’s retreat in the moutains of Northern California. One of the basic principles of the retreat was the importance of unplugging from the outside world for a few days; so we were discouraged from using technology like cell phones, computers, and tablets and our rooms did not have a television or telephone.

Get off the Grid

At first I found myself in technology withdrawal! I wanted to keep checking my phone. It’s amazing just how addicted I have become to my smartphone. I mean, just the other day I realized that I was checking my phone while waiting in a line at McDonalds. (What was my wait, 15 seconds??)

On day two I decided to leave my phone in my room. As the day progressed I realized that the need to check my phone went away! I used the time I might have spent “on the grid” hiking, relaxing and just savoring the peace and tranquility of the moment.

At night I would head over to the campfire, looking to connect with the men I had met and/or to make some new friends. Even though I was physically tired at the end of the night, I found myself completely energized from meeting and having incredible conversations with men from all around the country. It was a great experience.

The Benefit

When I came back home I was pretty reluctant to plug back in, to be honest. It felt really freeing not to be checking my phone every five minutes. Unplugging meant I had time to think, reflect, refresh, renew, restore and connect with people and myself; which made me better equipped to handle all of the realities of daily life.

How Can You Unplug? 

When you get the urge to call the community or pull up your work email for the millionth (and not necessary) time:

  • Read a book
  • Go for a walk/hike
  • Spend more time with family
  • Have a conversation with a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile
  • Pray
  • Enjoy relaxing and being “still”

I know how time consuming your career can be…but it’s amazing how just a little time away from the grid can make such a big difference. Your community, your department, and/or your company, will be just fine if you don’t routinely check emails or consistently call to see “how things are going” over the weekend and you may feel just a little bit better come Monday morning.

Oh-and your people may appreciate not having your checking in during their times when they’re free from you. (You know it’s true.)

Rommel Anacan is the president of The Relationship Difference; a corporate training, motivational speaking and consulting firm in Orange County, California. He is a multifamily industry veteran, having worked at all levels of the industry from onsite to corporate, where he developed a reputation for tackling common challenges in an uncommon way. For more information please visit www.RelationshipDifference.com.

The Power & Importance of Likeability

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

People do business with people they like

It seems obvious doesn’t it? Don’t you automatically gravitate towards people who you like? Don’t you just find yourself attracted to people that you perceive to be friendly and nice?

Think about it…if you walked into a store and one associate smiled while the other had a snarky smirk, who would you ask for help?

So I ask you…why do so many apartment communities still insist on hiring people who aren’t all that likeable? I bet right now you have an image of someone in your mind who you worked with, or worked for or managed that just decided s/he didn’t need to be nice to anyone-except maybe for the cute residents in the community.

Less Than Half

According to an Apartments.com white paper (Preferences of Today’s Renter) less than half of prospects who visited a community left with a favorable impression. Is it just me or is that just unacceptable? Why do we tolerate this?

A couple of weeks ago I walked into a client’s community to begin a video project. I went up (wasn’t greeted) to the leasing consultant, introduced myself and let her know the reason I was in the community. She did not introduce herself and just gave me the vibe that she wasn’t all that interested in helping me. There was really nothing about her that gave off the impression of warmth or friendliness.

Later in the day we had to film in the office, so we were around this leasing consultant quite a bit for about a half-hour. I don’t remember her smiling at all, incidentally. Once when I tried to make conversation with her, she pretty much ignored what I had to say. In fairness, I will say that she wasn’t overtly rude to clients or residents. She just wasn’t friendly, and I couldn’t wait to get out of the office and the negative vibe around that associate.

That’s What Friends Are For

The following week I was working in another community managed by the same company and what a difference! The assistant manager called me the day before to offer her help. When we arrived both the assistant and the leasing consultant were friendly, welcoming, engaging and went out of their way to help. They were also a lot of fun to be around!

I noticed that residents and clients seemed to genuinely enjoy being around them as well. (As a former community manager I always eavesdrop on what the onsite teams are doing and saying!) There was such a different feel and vibe to this office as compared to the other one; and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a prospect visiting both communities would feel the difference too. According to the Apartments.com white paper I quoted from earlier, only 47% of prospects rated their overall experience as excellent or very good. I know we can do better…and it starts with better people.

The next time you have to bring on a new associate, or if you’re currently evaluating whether to retain an associate remember these things:

  • You can train sales skills.
  • You can train closing techniques.
  • You can train how to answer the phone in the most effective way.
  • You can’t train “nice.”
  • You can’t train “friendly.”

Multifamily housing is such a people-driven business … doesn’t it make sense to have associates who are good around people?

Rommel Anacan | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Rommel is the president of The Relationship Difference; a corporate training, motivational speaking and consulting firm.  He is a multi-family housing veteran, having worked at all levels of the industry from onsite to corporate, where he developed a reputation for solving common industry challenges in an uncommon way.

Millennial Renters: Marketing to the Generation of Choice

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Brittany Worrell Boyce, Marketing & Communications Coordinator – For Rent Media Solutions

The Millennial Generation, otherwise known as Generation Y, is made up of those between the ages of 25-34. This group is known for having strong preferences and opinions, plenty of ambition, and a ‘sky’s the limit’ mentality when it comes to their abilities. They are very tech-savvy, impatient at times, and are always ‘connected’ via their smartphones or tablets.

These days, millennials are more flexible than ever, seeking out careers across the country or even internationally. Partially due to the sluggish (but improving) economy, young people feel the need to take any good professional opportunity they can, even if it means packing up and moving away from their families. Because of this, millennials are choosing to rent apartments more than ever. It’s important that this group is able to pack up and move at a moment’s notice, so renting is more practical for this stage in their lives.

Making Your Community Millennial-Friendly

As a property manager, it is great news for you to know that there’s an entire generation that is actively seeking out a place to rent. Millennials are a unique group, though, so there are a few things you should know in order to appeal to them. They are dubbed the “Generation of Choice” because of their unrelenting demand for choice in all aspects of their lives. Here are the Four “C’s” that explain this Generation of Choice:

(Ad) Choice – You should advertise your community where this generation spends a lot of their time – on their smartphones and on social media. Social and mobile are both ideal resources for showcasing your community’s advertisement and what it has to offer Millennials. It’s to your advantage to seek out ways to target this highly visual demographic, rather than wait for them to look for you. Luckily, with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to advertise your community directly to this demographic across the mediums that they prefer. Print is also a great resource to add to your advertising strategy – it provides this choice generation yet another search tool for finding their ideal apartment.

Charming Ads – Similar to this generation’s preference for specific ad types, they are also looking for ads that capture their attention with aesthetically pleasing graphics and engaging features. Seek out ways to make your ads more interactive – perhaps incorporate augmented reality using an app like Layar, so users will be able to scan the ad with their smartphone or tablet to learn more about your community.

Connection – Millennials like to stay connected. In fact, they want more dialogue – 76% are looking for a two-way conversation with brands (American Millennials: The Choice Generation, DRAFTFCB). Engage with them and be responsive to their wants and needs, which will forge a positive relationship between you both. Keep in touch with this group through mediums they prefer, such as mobile. Consider communicating with millennial renters using a text message program, which allows you to send news, promotions, and other community messages directly to their smartphones. This group also relies heavily on word-of-mouth, and over 75% of the next generation of renters base their decisions on ratings and reviews. Ensure that your community has a reputation management program in place, which will allow you to listen to what people are saying about your community. This is a great way to learn more about renters’ perceptions of your community and gain knowledge that will help you further appeal to them.

Consumer Control – Millennials are a savvy group. They know what they want, and they expect brands to take that into consideration. Brands are not really calling the shots; it’s the millennials who have dictated how things should work. For example, as an apartment community, this could mean that you offer an online rent payment option because your residents demand convenience. It is widely accepted that consumers dictate the terms of a relationship, and brands are taking consumer preferences seriously in order to appeal to them. Crowdsourcing is a popular trend that many brands are utilizing to incorporate the ideas and influence of consumers into the development of products and solutions that will meet their needs.

Working with millennials may be a change of pace for you as a property manager, but it’s more important than ever to stay in tune with the preferences of this next generation of renters. By tuning in to their preferences and desires, you will learn a great deal about this generation of choice and find ways to incorporate new ideas into all aspects of your community – from marketing and advertising to resident engagement and retention. Millennials are out there looking for their ideal apartment, so there’s an opportunity for you to reach out and appeal to them.

BrittanyWorrellBoyce_ForRentBrittany is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at For Rent Media Solutions. She specializes in creating internal and external communications for the brand, including press releases, industry articles, sales collateral, and email marketing. Brittany holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Tech.

Brittany Worrell Boyce | ForRent.com | (e) Brittany.Worrell@ForRent.com

Do’s and Don’ts of Rental Listings

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By George Kalogeropoulos | RentMetrics, Inc.

Here at RentMetrics our business is tracking the rental market, so we see many good and bad rental listings. Over time we’ve tracked which listings get high response rates from desirable tenants, and have also seen the mistakes owners make that cost them money and create hassles.

Many of these suggestions will seem like common sense, but we often see owners making basic mistakes that leave them with empty properties or undesirable tenants and subpar rents. It’s amazing how owners hunt for the perfect property, get great financing, pour themselves into renovations, and then handicap themselves with a bad listing.

Good Listings

The best listings are detailed, comprehensive and accurate, and have 5-10 great pictures.


Detailed data about the property: What features and amenities should the tenant expect? (hardwood floors, carpeting, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, etc.) How many bathrooms does the place have? Is there garage or on-street parking? Is there in-unit or on-site laundry?

Comprehensive supplementary information: How much is the security deposit? What’s your pet policy? Which utilities are included, and how much should the tenant expect to pay for those that aren’t covered? When is the unit available? How and when should prospective renters contact you?

Accurate: Keep it simple, factual, relevant and honest.

Great pictures: The best listings we’ve seen have 5-10 high resolution professional photographs shot in bright daylight that show off the major spaces (bedrooms, bathrooms, living/dining area), with at least one external shot.

Go the extra mile: You know the area around your property, but the tenant likely won’t. What are the shopping and entertainment options? What’s the availability of public transportation? Proximity to schools? A few key details at the end will round out a great listing and help tenants picture themselves living at your property.

Bad Listings

The worst listings are too wordy, misleading, contain irrelevant photos/details, are written poorly and demonstrate a bad attitude.


Too wordy: A listing is not an essay or a novel, and you won’t get any points with tenants for your creative writing. Said another way, it’s easier for the prospective tenant to click through to the next listing than to hunt through a wall of text for that key detail they’re looking for.

Misleading: No one likes the bait and switch. Anything you don’t disclose up front is a ticking time bomb when the prospective tenant visits. You’ll end up wasting your time, their time, and possibly even get a bad review online. In the same vein, exaggeration leads to mismatched expectations, which lead to disappointment and wasted time, so keep your descriptions simple and factual.

Irrelevant photos: We’re all animal lovers, but pictures of your dog or cat don’t belong in the listing, and neither do pictures of the local school or 7-11. This is most often taken as a sign that you’re either lazy, or worse, hiding something, and you’ll drive good tenants away.

Written poorly: NEVER WRITE IN ALL CAPS, and compose your listing in Microsoft Word or Google Docs so that you can run a spelling and grammar check.

Bad Attitude: As obvious as it may seem, your listing is not the right place to complain about past tenants. This happens way too often. Just like you are looking for good tenants, the best tenants are on the lookout for someone they want to rent from.

Which listing best practices do you recommend?

RentMetrics logoRentMetrics, Inc. helps real estate professionals understand the residential rental market by providing accurate and comprehensive data in real-time.  George runs the business side of RentMetrics. His past experience is in investment management and includes modeling real estate portfolios for institutional investors at Bridgewater Associates, a large hedge fund.