The Only 4 Websites You Need to Advertise Your Rental Property
Published Sep 24, 2019
There are countless websites where you can list your rental property. But there are only four that you really need advertise your property to the majority of potential tenants. And they're all completely free.
Not very long ago it used to be Craigslist was the place where everyone went to list or find rental housing. But in recent years that has changed. There are now many rental property listing websites, and a number of them are now far more effective for finding renters than Craigslist.
Zillow.com may be the most effective place to advertise your rental, and they seem to be only growing in popularity. If you only want to list your rental on one site, this is probably the one you should choose. As if Zillow itself didn't get enough traffic, they'll also automatically post your listing to HotPads and Trulia as well. We've found that while the number of responses from Zillow isn't quite as high as Facebook Marketplace for example, the leads tend to be more serious than someone who may have just clicked on your Facebook ad on a whim.
Ok yes, it's true that Craigslist has been in steady decline for many years now. Their lackadaisical response to dealing with spammers has left it overrun with scams and fake posts. And there are just better options available now that make searching and listing properties faster and easier. But the reality is there are still a significant percent of renters that only look on Craigslist when it comes time to find a house or apartment. You may also find that tenants who use Craigslist tend to skew a little bit older than the audience of some of the other listing sites, which some landlords may find more desirable as tenants.
There are a couple of gotchas to be aware of when posting on Craigslist. First, it's still the most popular choice for scammers. It does seem that there are less responses from scammers than a year or two ago, perhaps because Craigslist has improved their filtering algorithms, but it does still happen. But if you know what to look for, the scammers are easy to ignore. The typical ploy is that they'll claim to be a renter from another state or country, and they'll offer to send you a check to cover the rent and deposit (usually very quickly, having barely asked about the property at all). Then they'll send you a check for more than the rent and deposit amount. They'll say it was a mistake and then ask you to send them a partial refund, or maybe to send the extra funds to a friend or a "moving company". Because you're no sucker, you'll wait until their check clears your bank account to ensure you really do have the funds before sending anyone anything. But what most people don't realize is that even after a check "clears" your bank account, if the bank later finds out that it was a forged check, the bank will later remove those previously cleared funds from your account. This can even happen weeks after you deposited the check. So if you forwarded some of that money to the scammers, you're out of luck. But now that you know what to look out for, the scammers should be easy to avoid.
The other gotcha with Craigslist is it's mostly the newest posts that get the most attention. To keep your rental post at the top of the list, you'll need to login to Craigslist and renew it periodically. You can renew posts as frequently as every 48 hours. And then once a post is 30 days old it can no longer be renewed. So if it's taking a long time to find your renter, you may need to delete the post and post it again.
3. Facebook Marketplace
And then there's Facebook Marketplace. Facebook is relatively new to the classified ads business, having just launched their Marketplace in 2016. It has a mixed reputation among landlords. When you post your listing here you'll likely find that you get more responses than probably any of the other rental listing websites.
But you may find that it offers more quantity than quality when it comes to leads. Facebook is the lowest effort way for tenants to look for housing. While a prospective tenant is already browsing Facebook on their phone, they barely have to look away from their newsfeed addiction to simply click on the Marketplace link and then browse some listings and click the big blue "Send" button on dozens of the listings to send you a message expressing their interest with a canned response of "Is this available?" that they don't even have to type themselves.
You may find that only a portion of the messages you respond to from your Facebook ad will actually result in a second response. And of those, even fewer will ever actually make it through the process of attending a showing of the property. But it's still most likely worth using. Despite the high number of flakes, it can also generate a high number of real leads.
This one is something a little different than the other ones. Cozy.co is primarily a service that helps you collect rent (which is a whole other subject, but the short version is if you're a landlord who is still collecting paper checks, using bank transfers, etc. for rent, you should take a look at what Cozy.co can do). But Cozy.co also offers a free rental listing service. The big advantage to putting your listing on Cozy is that they will post the listing to Doorsteps.com and Realtor.com. Doorsteps is a smaller site that isn't particularly useful, but getting your rental listing on Realtor.com is the valuable one that can provide some quality leads.
Zumper is another combo deal. Zumper itself generates a reasonable number of leads, but they also automatically post your listing to PadMapper, which is a somewhat popular niche site. Zumper/PadMapper won't generate quite as many leads as the others, but it's worth a try.
That's all it takes.
With just those four sites, your rental property listing will be seen by a wide swath of potential tenants. If your vacancy is dragging on, you can widen your scope by posting on some other sites such as Apartments.com, NextDoor, and Roomster. But in most cases, just the above sites is all you really need.
This blog post contains no paid content, no affiliate links, and no compensation was paid for any products or services mentioned in this post. The information in this blog post may contain opinions or incorrect information, and we always encourage you to do your own research before making any financial decision.