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Understanding How Your Prospective Tenants Find You is the Key to Attracting Good Tenants

For rent signOften, tenants choose their target neighborhoods first. Then, they scour the area by foot, bike or car, looking for rental signs.

The appearance of the property from the street creates a make-or-break first impression. Prospective tenants are sensitive to signs of neglect, and if there are any, the prospect will consider other options.


Are you available to discuss the rental on the prospect’s schedule?

Tenants seek out large or managed complexes because they like dealing with a leasing agent/property manager who is available when they need them. Being able to walk in and receive a tour makes for an easier close.

Referrals from other tenants are a significant source of new tenants.

This is especially true in big city markets. Having friends in your units is a great way to retain tenants. Tenant incentives for referrals are a crucial step to a steady supply of prospect leads. Are you doing all you can to encourage tenant referrals? Don’t let that opportunity go to waste.

The Internet is a staple now in the search for a new apartment.

If you do advertise online, keep in mind that this is a predominately visual medium – without pictures, descriptive detail and a little pizazz, you won’t be able to compete with other more savvy advertisers. Video and audio features are also widely available. Give the prospect the information they need, and make them fall in love!

Want-Ads are still a viable source of tenant leads, but aren’t just in newspapers.

Many tenants find their apartments through bulletin boards postings at nearby schools and businesses.

Real Estate Brokers are another resource, especially for the high-end properties.

In a rental study from New York City, real estate brokers were the number one resource tenants used to find apartments in the middle to high rent range.

How You Behave With Your Prospective Tenant is Crucial

When you advertise a rental, you have to be available to answer calls, and willing to call people back.

  • To avoid a barrage of calls, advertise the crucial information to prescreen prospects who need a specific price or size to qualify.  Don’t waste your time trying to convert prospects who are not looking for your type of property.
  • Don’t assume the first few callers will be enough.  Most tenants book multiple showings, and few will call back to cancel when they accept another property.  Each person who calls is the potential renter.
  • Remember, you are being interviewed, too. When a tenant considers renting from you, they view it as a relationship, not just a contract.  How you behave on the phone (or by not calling back) and in person reflects whether you are responsive, and whether you care for the property.
  • Avoid appearing desperate.  Replace weathered for rent signs, set up multiple showings, remain confident that you can hold out for the right tenants.
  • Don’t negotiate on the fly.  Know what incentives you have to offer, and justify the rent by stressing the great features your property has to offer.

Need help drafting a Lease Agreement?  See our four-part series How to Draft a Solid Lease Agreement.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services related to your commercial housing investment including REAL ESTATE FORMS, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing.  Find out more at

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  • Greg M.

    I’ve been lucky, many of my tenants are from referrals from current residents.

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