Canada's Property Management Podcast

Marketing Your Vacancies - Internet Listing Services

November 15, 2021 Carla Browne & Adrian Schulz Season 1 Episode 9
Canada's Property Management Podcast
Marketing Your Vacancies - Internet Listing Services
Show Notes Transcript

This episode we cover effective ways of marketing your rental property and how the ways we used to approach this has changed due to the power of the internet and rising fees. 

Speaker 1 (00:02):

Welcome to Canada's Property Management Podcast, your number one resource for investing, managing, and maximizing the value of your real estate assets. And now here's your hosts, Carla Browne and Adrian Schulz, Canada's rental property experts.

Carla  (00:19):

Adrian, today we are talking about marketing your listing in this rental space and a little bit about the Canadian internet listing services that are available. This is a really hot topic presently, and I think will continue to be for a long time. So when we talk about or we're thinking about putting our rental property, we're going to advertise it, what is the most important thing that you think that landlords and investors should be looking at?

Adrain (00:44):

Well, I think before they market or list their property, it's critical that there's a very strong lead or prospect follow-up process in place. There is no point in marketing a vacancy if you don't have automated email reply, SMS, potentially voice drop, the ability to schedule a showing, and of course, an application link. If you don't have those things resolved, hold, get them in place, and then start marketing your property.

Carla  (01:24):

Yeah. Let's take a step back and make yourself a prospect, a resident that's looking for a new place. Where do you think people are going to in order to start their search? This is where I always think. I think it's interesting to go back and think about the person that we're trying to drive to us.

Adrain  (01:42):

Well, I think most of us will go to Google. I think there's a certain element of the consumer population that may go to Facebook Marketplace when they're looking, but most do go on Google. Whichever ILS or internet listing service site plays really well on SEO, on Google, they're the ones that are going to get the traffic for the apartment seeker.

Carla  (02:07):

Yeah. The reason why I kind of get us to think like that is because often investors say to me, "Well, I Googled my address and it's not coming up." I'm like, "Well, prospective tenants are not necessarily Googling your address to find a rental property." I believe that we know how the strategy works in order to get the leads to come to us. If we know what works to get the leads to us, and not just any leads, I think high quality leads, because it's not all about the volume of the leads, and we can talk about that a little bit, but then what do we do with them when they come to us? Because if you're not being responsive, as you said, they're gone. Now you see them, now you don't, quite honestly.

Adrain (02:48):

I think the not being able to Google an address is almost by design. I'm not sure if it would be Google that would do that, or if just the internet listing service providers pay to be at the top, but those ILSs want the traffic that you're filtering exactly what you're looking for when you're looking for that rental, because on the back end, again, the ILSs get to make money on those listings, but they may also have Google ads running on their ILS websites. There's a reason that the traffic, no matter what we intend to do, actually ends up on an ILS site. And when we're speaking ILS, can you define what we're talking about?

Carla  (03:33):

Yeah. I was just going to say, we better define this because we might be losing some of our listeners today. Internet listing sites or internet listing syndication is the two definitions that coincide with that acronym of ILS.

Carla  (03:47):

Years ago, I'll go back into my first couple of years in property management, we would take a listing in our database and we would connect with these ILSs. At that time, there was about 25 or 30 of them, believe it or not. We would shoot that listing out to all of these sites on the internet free of charge and we would just watch the leads come in. That landscape has changed quite a bit. Adrian, do you want to go deep dive into that one and how the ILS world has changed over the last few years and why it's important that our listeners understand that?

Adrain (04:25):

Well, it was very much a freemium model, which is where you get users or you get listings by making it free. Once you have enough traffic on your website, you start charging people to feature their vacancy on your site and people that could be a landlord directly or it could be a property management company that has lots of listings. So 12 years ago when I got into the third party management industry at that time, Kijiji was the place. Kijiji was so strong that at time they actually only accepted payment directly.

Adrain  (05:06):

That's changed now because they've lost the majority of their market share in most markets to either regional players or more truly Canadian players, because, as we know, Kijiji belongs to eBay, whereas the regional players such as PadMapper and Zumper, although they are American owned, they have very strong regional plays.

Carla  (05:31):

Yeah. Going to Kijiji, I remember first posting ads onto Kijiji and they were free. Then all of a sudden, my ads weren't there and I'm contacting Kijiji and like, "Why aren't you posting my ads?" "Oh, you're a company, so actually your ads aren't free anymore. Now as a professional, we're going to charge you." It became very pricey. Understanding I'm going to go back to the quality leads and not just the volume of leads, is that something that I think investors really need to understand. All of these ILSs are now charging for leads, bottom line. Very few that are still free in the space and the ones that are free may or may not be generating really goods or any kind of volume in your particular area.

Carla  (06:13):

The leads are coming in, you're being charged for them, you need to understand which ILSs drive the most traffic in your area for quality leads. If investors aren't already tracking, okay, I got 10 leads from RentFaster and 10 leads from rentals.ca and nothing from RentFaster maybe is quality in my area and rentals.ca's is, then maybe that's where the marketing spend would be.

Carla  (06:38):

But more than anything is I think anyone, whether you are a company or whether you are an individual trying to drive to a website is always going to be the best way to keep your leads towards you. So I know you're really passionate about what websites can do, whether it's a property website or a property management website. So do you want to really talk about how someone can go about generating some leads and using that as a marketing strategy?

Adrain  (07:05):

Yeah. And before I go into speaking about one's own website, I want to touch on the quality of the vacancy or listing data. And what I'm referring to there, is your headline appropriate? Newly renovated, spacious two bedroom, one bathroom suite. Is your header appropriate? Your amenities, are they all listed? even if there's an electric fireplace, did you tick off that you in fact have a fireplace in the living room. And the photos, nowadays you don't have to hire that $100 photography service. You can use your iPhone or Android phone and take beautiful horizontal pictures because horizontal is how ILSs display them. You can take six to eight photos per suite or per home and they're good enough quality. I always say, if you're taking a picture to market a vacancy, always make sure you have a window in the picture.

Adrain (08:09):

Whenever possible to take it at that angle. And then the description, is it close to restaurants and stores and schools and hospitals and shopping areas? You want to point that out in the description so the quality in which you present that vacancy is crucial if it's being pushed to an ILS, or even better, if you're featuring it on your property management website or on your very own property website where you're giving the site visitors an opportunity to see everything about the property so that they're not asking you, "Does it do this? Does it have that?" We want to answer all questions front so that the intention or the call to action is book a showing or apply for the rental. If we have not answered those two call to actions, if they're not able to do that, then we have not presented sufficient information.

Carla  (09:10):

So true. There's a couple of pet peeves that I have I'm going to add to that. They might seem trivial to some people, but I think they mean a lot when somebody is looking at a property online and actually you mentioned six or eight photos, I take as many photos as I can. I'd like to give the prospect, the ability to see the property as well as the surrounding area. So if there's a school, or a park, or shopping close by, I'll add those pictures in so they can kind of get a real, good feel. If you're doing a 360 tour or a virtual tour, that's really a plus right now as well.

Carla  (09:41):

But if you're taking pictures of bathrooms, please put the toilet seat down-

Adrain (09:45):

Right.

Carla (09:45):

Please, please, please. That's like a super major pet peeve of mine when I see that in photography for rentals or for houses for sale. And be seasonal. So if we're in the middle of summer, do not use a picture that you took when the property was vacant back in the winter one year. Go and take a new photo so that the people that are looking today are seeing what the property looks like today. And I see a lot of companies just throw in a photo that they might have used from years past, which is not seasonal at all. So just two little things that I always hone in on there.

Adrain  (10:18):

Yeah. To just to expand on the 3D tour, I'm reminded and I shared this with a realtor friend the other day, a program called Matterport that used to be a rather expensive piece of equipment and technology and Matterport 3D tours now has an app for your iPhone that you can do the 3D tour. You can record it on your own on your phone and then display it on your property site or on the ILS. But also, the phones are amazing now for video. So do that video walk through and use the descriptive terms when you're walking through each room and that video, if it's 30 or 60 seconds, that's fine. Because then you can use the video, not just in your listings, but also in your social media efforts. And don't you love tenants that are referred by family and friends, versus blind tenants? So you can do that social media effort.

Carla  (11:13):

Yeah. And that's the goal. Right? To get the referrals coming to you so that tenant vetting and screening process is so much easier and you don't have to be spending in order to generate the leads. So I think technology has advanced this industry so much and it's going to continue to advance. So even though it might seem a little overwhelming, we can help you with that and kind of keep it all straight. I think the 3D tour's definitely something that you need to be looking as you're moving forward. So anything else you'd like to add, or do you want to just summarize some of your main, your top three marketing tips or strategies that people should look for?

Adrain  (11:47):

Yeah. I think the top three would be take your own photos. There's great tutorials online on how to do that. Make sure that you're using an ILS syndication service that your vacant marketing data appears the same, then it's consistent no matter where prospective tenants are going. And, again, I cannot stress that the automation of the follow up process, that when they inquire that the call to action is in fact to schedule a showing or to apply for that rental accompanied by a security deposit.

Carla  (12:29):

You got to make it easy. Right? Bottom line. In most marketplaces, there's lots to choose from. So thanks a lot, Adrian. This one has been packed full of information for our listeners and we will see you next time.

Adrain  (12:41):

Yeah. We'll see you soon.

Carla (12:42):

Yeah. That's real property management.

Adrain  (12:45):

It sure is.

Speaker 1 (12:47):

Thanks for listening to Canada's Property Management Podcast. If you like this episode, please subscribe and give us a rating which will help us reach more listeners. Until next time, connect with us on social media and online at realpm.ca.