Marketing A Rental Property (How To Generate Loads Of Leads)

Marketing A Rental Property

The thing is, I can offer you a list of 100 places – ranging from free to premium solutions – where you can market your rental property to generate tenant enquiries, but 99% of them will be absolutely useless ghost towns, and you’ll be lucky to generate a scam email from the Prince of Nigeria. So I won’t.

If you’re a UK based self-managing landlord, the reality is, there’s really only a handful of places that you should be concerned with if your primary objective is to generate as many leads from prospective tenants as possible (which hopefully, you’ll then toss through your vigorous tenant screening process).

The name of the game is simple: market your property on tried and tested websites/portals that attract a meaningful amount of eyeballs! Bin all the other options, they’ll most likely hog your time for very little rewards.

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Rightmove is King!

  • Most popular property portal in the UK
  • Single best marketing option for generating leads
  • Some online letting agents will market your property on Rightmove (+ other portals) for free (no catch), while others will charge a small one-off fixed fee.

Make no mistake, there is no substitute for marketing on Rightmove – if you’re going to market your rental property anywhere, make it this place. Rightmove is by far the most popular property portal in the UK. Being listed on Rightmove alone is usually enough to get flooded with enquiries.

Landlords can’t directly advertise on Rightmove, but they can go through an online letting agent (that lists their stock on Rightmove).

Free – £150
Get Listed
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Zoopla is Queen

  • Second most popular property portal in the UK
  • Great marketing option when used in combination with a Rightmove listing
  • Some online letting agents will market your property on Zoopla + Rightmove (+ other portals) for free (no catch), while others will charge a small one-off fixed fee.

If the throne belongs to Rightmove, then there’s no doubt in mind that Zoopla is the rightful heir if the King topples. Zoopla is the second most popular property portal in the UK.

In my opinion, getting listed on both Rightmove & Zoopla is more than enough to get inundated with leads, and that’s exactly why it’s the combination I use. If I ever market a vacant rental property, it’s on Rightmove & Zoopla. That’s it. Conversation over.

Similarly with Rightmove, landlords can’t advertise directly with Zoopla, but they can go through an online letting agent (that lists their stock on Zoopla). So I use an online letting agent that will market my property on Rightmove & Zoopla (which is pretty much all of them).

Free – £150
Get Listed
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OnTheMarket is Prince

  • Third most popular property portal in the UK
  • The best marketing option when used in combination with Rightmove + Zoopla listings
  • Recommended to use with Rightmove + Zoopla to maximise enquiries
  • Useful as an additional lead generator if struggling with leads (or anticipate that you might)

OnTheMarket is the third most popular property portal in the UK. It’s extremely effective, but I personally would not rely on their service as a primary lead generator, but more so as a complimentary service to Rightmove and Zoopla listings, because while OnTheMarket is popular, it still trails behind the market leaders.

Once again, similarly with Rightmove and Zoopla, landlords can’t advertise directly with OnTheMarket, but they can go through an online letting agent (that lists their stock on OnTheMarket).

If you want the ultimate marketing campaign for your rental property, then getting listed on OnTheMarket, Zoopla and Rightmove will give you some serious firepower. However, a lot of agents will only market their stock on two of the three portals (e.g. Rightmove + Zoopla, Rightmove + OnTheMarket, or Zoopla + OnTheMarket), while only a small handful will offer all three options (they may also charge an add-on fee for the more portals you want to be marketed on). So if you want to market on three of the most popular property portals in the UK, ensure you use an online agent that feeds their stock to all portals.

Alas, if I have to drop or go without an OnTheMarket listing, it’s not the end of the world for me, because I consider it as an added bonus.

Free – £150
Get Listed
Notes / Includes

Gumtree is effective (but be cautious)

  • 100% free listing
  • Most popular classified website in the UK
  • Good for HMOs, shared accommodation and lodgers
  • Various packages available to “Make your ad stand out” for extra exposure
  • Great for landlords open to accepting tenants in receivership of benefits

Gumtree is the most popular classified website in the UK, it’s a hive of activity. While it is a virtual jumble-sale of sorts, where anything goes, it does attract an extremely high volume of prospective tenants looking for their next home. I’ve used Gumtree a few times and it’s often been my biggest lead generator (yes, even more than Rightmove).

The only issue with Gumtree is that it doesn’t generate the highest quality leads (many of the applicants are facing financial difficulties), and there are notoriously a large number of scammers on there looking for their next hustle (and victim). You tend to find applicants are on there only to bypass going through a traditional high street letting agent, as agents are less inclined to deal with financially constrained tenants and are better versed at identifying scammers. So really, it should not come as any surprise that it’s such a huge lead generator, especially in the current tough climate.

However, that said, Gumtree is a great lead generator and there are genuinely good tenants to be found there, but extra caution is required when separating the wheat from the chaff. It’s always important to thoroughly reference all potential applicants, but it’s especially the case when processing Gumtree leads.

Some online letting agents also feed their stock to Gumtree (along with the mentioned portals), so if you’re using an online agent, you may not need to sign up for Gumtree again.

Even Gumtree isn’t my preferred marketing tool, I can see a justifiable use case for using it; I think their platform is best suited for landlords with shared accommodation, and landlords that are willing to take on tenants in receivership of benefits (I know there are many!) and/or have properties in less affluent areas.

Get Listed
Notes / Includes

Facebook Marketplace is effective (but be cautious)

  • 100% free
  • Good for HMOs, shared accommodation and lodgers
  • Very popular classified section on Facebook

I’ve personally never used Facebook’s Marketplace (it’s relatively new compared to the other options I have listed), but I know it’s popular, because it’s harnessed by every Facebook account holder! Now that’s powerful. For all intents and purposes, it’s another virtual jumble-sale where anything goes.

Everything I said about Gumtree pretty much applies to Facebook’s Marketplace, so I can only encourage you to tread with caution. But I will say this, with Facebook Marketplace you get to see more details about the person enquiring (especially if their profile is completely open), which can be useful and very telling.

Get Listed
Notes / Includes

SpareRoom is the place for marketing shared accommodation

  • 100% free
  • Best place to list for HMOs, shared accommodation, students and lodgers (even better than Rightmove)
  • Very popular classified website specifically for renters & landlords
  • Reasonable fees for “Bold Ads” for extra exposure (from £10.99 for 1 week)

While SpareRoom does allow landlords to market whole properties, they’re better known for marketing vacant shared accommodation (the clue is in the name). In fact, SpareRoom is by far the most popular portal for shared accommodation, even more so than Rightmove.

In short, if I have a room to occupy in a shared accommodation, SpareRoom would be my first (and probably only) stop!

Get Listed

FAQ: Marketing Your Rental Property

Bear in mind, these are just answers based on my personal opinion and experiences, so make of that what you will.

1) Should I market my property on all available options listed?

I think for most landlords that would be overkill. Generally speaking, marketing on Rightmove and Zoopla should be enough to generate sufficient interest, especially for entire let properties (not shared accommodation).

However, if you have a property that’s been notoriously difficult to fill, and/or for some reason you suspect you might struggle this time round, then you might want all the help you can get, in which case there could be a justifiable case for marketing on all of them. But I do recommend taking my comments for each option in mind, as some platforms are better suited for specific scenarios than others.

Ultimately, the more your property gets marketed, the more interest you’ll likely receive. But there is such a thing as too much (to the point that the enquiries become overwhelming, which is quite common in today’s climate) and there is definitely such a thing as marketing to the wrong crowd.

But is there any harm in marketing on all of them? No, not really. Especially since most of them won’t cost you a penny, so it’s not like it’s a budgeting issue.

2) How can I optimise my rental property listing to attract potential tenants?

Photos, photos, photos!

The quality of the photos you use for marketing will make or break the effectiveness of your listing, so make sure they’re on point. Avoid skimping on quality by keeping those urges to whip out your smart phone at bay. That usually ends in disaster.

If you don’t have the equipment to take high-resolution images, then I personally think it’s worth splurging £150’ish on a professional property photography package, especially because you’ll be able to reuse them for future marketing purposes.

Remember, this is a multi-thousand pound deal on the table, we’re not trying to flog Tupperware here.

3) What should I include in the rental property description for my listing?

Couple of points to touch on here:

  • Every service that facilitates in marketing property will ask you all the key details when you register your advert, so it’s a pretty straightforward process – it’s not like you’re put on the spot. It will include the stuff you’d expect:
    • Rent
    • Deposit
    • Furnished / Unfurnished
    • Tenancy term (e.g. 12 months)
    • Let type (e.g. short/long)
    • Property type (e.g. house, apartment)
    • Bedrooms
    • Bathrooms
    • … etc.
  • The “Property description” part is typically where you’ll need to call on your creative writing skills, as you’ll be left to your own thoughts and are given the opportunity to let your imagination run wild. However, don’t do that. Run wild with your imagination, I mean. You might be weird.

    I look for solid examples of descriptions created by other people for their listing and use it as a template, updating accordingly and appropriately to suit my needs.

  • If your rental property comes with any unique or key features make sure they’re highlighted. For example, allocated parking, a large back garden, garage, free Wifi etc.

  • As long the core information of the property (e.g. bedrooms, bathrooms) and the terms of the tenancy are provided, and the photos are decent, then that’s usually enough to get things moving.

4) How do I manage the enquiries I receive?

Good question.

I’ve already written an in-depth article on how I process applicants and go onto referencing them.

5) Tell me more about marketing with an online letting agents!

Online letting agents provide a very useful service for landlords, which is a cost-effective path to advertising rental properties on the biggest UK portal portals (e.g. Rightmove, Zoopla, OnTheMarket), which otherwise wouldn’t be available without going through a high street letting agent.

As mentioned, the largest property portals only do B2B sales, meaning they only deal allow agents advertise properties on their website, and not with the general public or landlords directly, so online agents have been a game-changer for tens of thousands of landlords.

In short, online letting agents have made it possible for landlords to self-manage their properties and escape extortionate fees charged by traditional local high street agents. Before that, it was incredibly difficult for self-managing landlords to find tenants independently, so any landlord wanting to go alone was pretty much limited to local shop windows and newspaper adverts.

Here’s how landlords might typically use an online letting agent:

  1. Sign up to an online letting agent
  2. Upload your property details e.g. spec, details and photography (if you need professional photographs taken, most online agents will let you order them as an add-on service for a very reasonable price, approx £150)
  3. Once ready for marketing, your online agent will distribute your property across the platforms they feed e.g. Rightmove, Zoopla, Gumtree etc.
  4. You will get notified when an enquiry is made, and then it’s up to you schedule and take viewings with suitable applicants (most online agents will provide a dashboard to manage this)

It’s a beautiful thing.

For more details, here’s my complete guide on online letting agents!

6) How much rent should I charge when marketing my property?

Don’t be greedy, be competitive.

My formula for calculating how much rent to charge is very simple (and has yet to fail me):

  1. Look on the websites I have listed and see how much other landlords are charging for similar properties in the same local area.
  2. Charge a fraction less than everyone else. For example, if I see properties demanding £1500PCM, I’ll ask £1425 – £1450.

Alternatively, most local high-street agents are quite receptive to offering no-obligation valuations (just don’t tell them you have no intentions of using them, if that is the case) – so asking one or two of them is always an option. But bear in mind, it’s usually in their best interest to value as high as possible because their fees are based on a percentage of the rental value. So as I suggested, it might work in your favour to lower their valuation by a fraction.

7) Do you have any other marketing tips?

Yup, a couple actually…

  • Make the requirement for a tenant guarantor mandatory for all applicants.

    Thank me later.

  • Without discriminating, be very descriptive about the type of property you’re offering and what kind of tenant you’re after. This will help eliminate a buttload of time-wasting for everyone.
  • Reference your applicants thoroughly.

    If you skip this step, or even take shortcuts, then its your funeral, buddy. You’ve been warned.

  • Consider Rent Guarantor Insurance (RGI) – it provides an incredible amount of peace and can end up saving you thousands for a relatively small fee.

    At the very least, look into it. There is no downside to RGI, in my opinion. Well, other than letting go of £160’ish. Worth it, though.

  • Don’t forget that you need a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before marketing your property (most online agents will be able to upsell you one, but you can also source your own EPC from an independent supplier, which is usually the cheaper option).

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