I’ve mentioned several times before in various blog posts that I’m a huge fan of Gumtree when it comes to advertising properties for rent.
If ANY Landlord is looking to avoid letting agent fees, I would highly recommend trying out Gumtree to get enquiries from prospective tenants.
Of course, I don’t think Gumtree should be the one and only method of marketing your rental property (more on the other recommended options available further down), but it should definitely be one of the primary resources. Why? Because IT’S FREE, extremely popular, and takes only a few minutes to setup.
I’m not entirely sure how Gumtree performs geographically, but I know from personal experience that it’s an extremely powerful marketing tool for properties with in London and surrounding counties E.g Essex, Hertfordshire. I imagine it does pretty well in other major cities in England as well, but I can’t confirm. But it’s worth a try, regardless of your target area.
How to find Tenants on Gumtree
Like with all marketing strategies, there are certain principles that should be applied to practice. Here are my top tips for using Gumtree (some of these will apply to marketing your property in general):
1] Check out the local competition
First things first, you need to see how other landlords are marketing their property. Before creating a campaign, search the website for similar properties in the same area to your own. Find out what the going rates are and how much competition you have. If you’re overpriced, don’t expect many enquiries.
2] Market your property in the correct region
The Gumtree website is pretty big, and it’s split up by location (major cities and counties). Make sure you create an advert in the correct location E.g. if you’re BTL is in Essex, you should be creating an advert here: http://essex.gumtree.com/. If you go to gumtree.com, you can navigation to your correct location by clicking “change city” at the top of the page.
I once accidently created a campaign in the London section when the property was situated in Essex. I’m not sure how the searching algorithm works on Gumtree, but I noticed I wasn’t getting any enquiries. When I switched it to Essex, I started getting more page views and consequently more enquires.
3] Constantly refresh your ad
This is by far the most important tip, and I can’t stress that enough. Once you create an ad, it’s important you update it as frequently as possible, even if that means every few hours. Gumtree search results are displayed in order of freshness. Basically, it puts all the fresh content at the top of search results. You will want your advert at the top so it gets the most exposure.
If you’re marketing a property in a popular area like London, there are probably hundreds of properties being added to the system daily, so your property will be buried rapidly.
To keep your advert fresh, all you need to do is log into your control panel, press “preview your ad” and then “submit your ad”. It’s as easy as that.
UPDATE– On the 8th of Feburary 2011, Gumtree has decided to charge landlords for the privilege of refreshing (also known as *bumping*) their adverts, in order to get it back up to the top. While the fee is a royal pain in the arse, there are ways to avoid it. Here’s more on How Landlords Can Avoid Gumtree’s “Bump” Fee
4] Upload pictures, and make them good
If you were looking to rent a property, would you bother responding to an advert without pictures? Probably not. I’m pretty surprised when I see properties being marketed without visuals.
Make sure you use good quality pictures, and show the most appealing features of the property. I always put a picture of the front of the house, the kitchen and a bedroom (there’s a max limit of 3 pictures). I personally think they’re the key areas.
Pictures will avoid wasting time. A prospective tenant will know what to expect before viewing the property if they have seen pictures of the kitchen, bedroom and exterior- so they’re already interested. A tenant that hasn’t seen pictures isn’t necessarily interested in the property before seeing it, so the success rate will become intensely lower.
5] Link to external resources, if you can
I just mentioned there’s a max limit of 3 images, but unfortunately, that’s some times just not enough, especially for larger properties. There is an alternative method you can use to expose further images and descriptive blurb to your audience. You can also provide an external link to another website which hosts further details about the property. For example, if you’ve got a website of your own – or even a flickr account you can put extra photos and descriptive text on, and then link to it.
6] Get the description right
Try to give away as much details as possible in your description. Again, this will avoid wasting time. Here are a few key features that I put in my descriptions:
- How many bedrooms there are
- Size of bedrooms
- allocated spaces and/or garage space
- who is responsible for bills
- condition of property (be accurate)
- whether there is a garden
- double glazing
- Flooring plan- room measurements
7] Provide email AND telephone contact details
Gumtree allows you to be contacted via email and/or telephone. I recommend making it as easy as possible for someone to contact you, so make sure you allow users to have both options. I’ve noticed that a lot of people only allow communication through email. I personally think that will reduce enquiries because the process of emailing is a lot slower than telephone communication- a lot of tenants want accommodation asap!
8] Construct a useful advert title
Have a useful title for your advert. Something as follows is USELESS: “property for rent.”
I tend to put the road name, town/city and cost. So something like this: “2 bedroom house Church Langley, Harlow (£760 pcm) “
The latter example will get a lot more targeted traffic. Additionally, Gumtree has an open search box, so a lot of people will often search for the location they’re looking to rent in. So for example, if I’m looking for a property in “Harlow”, I’d do an open search for “Harlow”, and because Harlow is in the title, my advert would return in the results. So basically, all i’m doing is making the title keyword rich.
9] Submit your full postcode
While you fill in the details of your BTL, you’ll notice a postcode box- populate the box with the correct postcode so that Gumtree can add a Google map (a virtual map of your property plotted on a map). A remarkable number of people don’t do this. Particularly in London, a couple of streets can make the difference between a lovely area and a crap one.
10] Check your advert is live
After creating an advert, it doesn’t always go live immediately- can take up to 3 hours, so I’m told by the Gumtree officials. So make sure you look out for when it goes live. If it takes too long (over 4 hours), I would suggest contacting them to see what the hell is going on.
Other recommended websites you can find tenants for free
Earlier on I mentioned that I don’t think Gumtree should be relied upon as the only means of finding tenants (even though it’s more than capable of doing so) because landlords typically want to find tenants quickly and efficiently, and the best way to do that is by utilising as many appropriate platforms as possible.
So this is the part where I recommended a couple of other websites where you can list your vacant property, which from my experience, will turbo charge your marketing efforts.
Most Landlords that use Gumtree do so because it’s free (and effective), so I’m not about to recommend websites that tax you premium rates – because the odds are you’re not looking for those types of services.
The following two websites are free to use (i.e. it won’t cost you a penny to upload and list your property details to these websites):
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OpenRent is an extremely popular online letting agent, so you may have heard of them.
They’ve managed to rocket to popularity with their astonishing 5 day free trial, which remarkably includes advertising your property on Rightmove, Zoopla & Prime Location. YES, for free (no strings attached)!
I know, I know! Free “trials” always sound sketchy.
I’ve used their service several times now to find tenants and I’ve yet to be tripped over by unsavoury small-print bullshit; no hidden fees and no credit card details required to get going. If you wish to continue advertising after the 5 days, you will be subject to a fee – starting from £29 for 3 months (still totally reasonable). Otherwise, your advert will be automatically switched off.
“5 days?!? is that really enough to have any impact and generate enquiries?”
I managed it (to find suitable applicants with in 5 days), and unsurprisingly, too, because I know how powerful advertising on Rightmove & Zoopla can be! But even if you don’t manage to bag tenants with in the trial period, at least you’ll get a taste of the service they provide, at which point you can determine whether you want to continue or not. Either way, you can still continue running your Gumtree advert in conjunction.
If you haven’t given them OpenRent a spin yet, I can only recommend that you do.
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The easiest way to describe TheHouseShop is by comparing them to the likes of Rightmove & Zoopla i.e. they all list properties available for sale and let on their websites.
Needless to say, TheHouseShop is tiny compared to Rightmove and Zoopla, but they are growing exceptionally fast, and they are more than capable of generating leads.
Listing your property on TheHouseShop is 100% FREE.
Disclaimer: While I 100% recommend listing your property on TheHouseShop (because you have nothing to lose), I personally wouldn’t rely on them as a standalone means of generating leads from prospective tenants (just like I wouldn’t recommend using only Gumtree) – I recommend using them in conjunction with the likes of Gumtree and OpenRent! Just my humble opinion.
For a more complete guide, you may want to hop over to my guide on how to find tenants for free.
Right, so they’re my personal tips for Landlords wanting to take advantage of Gumtrees free advertising service. What are your thoughts?