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How to list a rental property: A simple step-by-step guide

For rent sign in front of gray and white home
by Jeff Rohde, posted in Investment Strategy

Listing a rental property can seem daunting, but with this step-by-step guide, you’ll be ready to list your property in no time. We’ll walk you through everything from creating an ad to handling inquiries so that you can feel confident about the process. Plus, we’ve got tips for making your rental listing stand out from the rest.

Key takeaways

  • Use a prelisting checklist to identify issues and make any needed repairs before listing your home for rent.
  • Set a competitive price by researching similar properties in the area to get an idea of what others are charging for rent.
  • Create an attractive and well-written listing, including photos of the property, and highlight any features or amenities that make it stand out.
  • Be clear about your requirements for tenants by including information such as minimum income levels, credit scores, and any other criteria you have for tenants.
  • Be prepared to deal with inquiries, show the property to interested tenants, and ensure the home is clean and presentable before each showing.


The basics

When you list a rental property, there are certain basic things you’ll need to do to get the most interest from potential tenants.

First, you’ll need to ensure the unit is clean and in good repair. This means addressing any major repairs that may be necessary, such as fixing a leaky roof or replacing broken windows. You should also ensure that all items are in working order, including plumbing and electrical, heating and air conditioning, and any appliances you include in the rental unit.

Once you’ve taken care of these basics, you can start thinking about marketing your rental property. Creating an accurate and appealing listing is essential, so be sure to include details about the unit’s best features and photos that show it off in its best light. Taking care of these details can help ensure that your rental property attracts a great tenant.


Information to include

When looking for tenants, you want to find qualified individuals who will take care of your property and pay their rent on time. To do this, you need to craft a well-written rental listing that includes all the essential information potential tenants are looking for.

A rental property listing should include a few key pieces of information to help attract high-quality tenants:

  • Basics about the property, like the address, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, and monthly rent price
  • Brief description of the property, highlighting any unique features or amenities
  • Describe the neighborhood or community where the property is located, including information about local schools, public transportation, and nearby shopping and dining options
  • Spell out any requirements or guidelines for tenants, such as pet policies, background checks, credit report procedures, income level, and minimum lease terms


How to take good photos

It’s no secret that good photos are important when listing a rental property. After all, photos are often the first thing potential tenants will see when searching for a new place to live. And since we all know that first impressions are important, it’s crucial that you take the time to snap some good-quality photos of your rental property before listing it.

So what makes a good photo? For starters, it should be well-lit and clear. Blurry or dark photos aren’t going to do your property any favors. You’ll also want to ensure that the shot focuses on the main selling points of your rental unit. For example, if you have a beautiful backyard, ensure one of your photos highlights that feature.

Finally, remember that less is more when it comes to photos. You don’t need to include a ton of different shots of your property; just a few good ones will do. When in doubt, less is always more when listing a rental property.

Following these simple tips, you can be sure that your rental property photos will make a great first impression on potential tenants. And that could mean the difference between renting out your unit quickly or having it sit vacant for months on end. So don’t underestimate the power of a good photo – it could be the key to success when listing your rental property.


woman looking at computer

Tips for writing a good description

There are a few key things to keep in mind when writing a good description for your property on rental listing sites:

  • Highlight any unique features or amenities that your rental offers. This could include anything from a spacious backyard to a convenient location near public transportation.
  • Be specific. Include details about the property that will give renters a better sense of what it’s like. For example, “The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite countertops.”
  • Focus on the positive aspects of the rental property. Even if there are some less-than-desirable features, try to frame them in a positive light. For example, instead of mentioning that the kitchen is small, you could instead highlight that it is cozy and perfect for home cooks.
  • Avoid using too much technical jargon or abbreviations in your description. While it’s important to be accurate, using terms unfamiliar to most people will only confuse potential renters.
  • Proofread your listing before you post it. A well-written listing will help you attract more prospective renters.


How to price your rental

When listing a rental property, it’s important to set the rent at a fair and competitive price. But how do you determine what rent to charge? There are a few different resources and methods you can use to help you set the right price.

One way to set the rent is to compare your property to similar ones in the area. Look at listings for properties of a similar size, type, and age, and see what they’re renting for. This will give you a good idea of what landlords are charging for similar properties.

You can also consult with a real estate agent or property manager. They’ll have experience with setting rents for different types of properties and can help you come up with a fair and competitive price.

Another method is to use an online rent calculator. These calculators take into account factors like the size of the property, the location, and the local market conditions. By inputting this information, you can get a more accurate estimate of what your property should rent for.

If you want a quick, accurate, and easy way to price your rental, take a look at the Stessa Rent Estimate report.

This report looks at various elements, such as location, property type, and short- and long-term rent movements, to give you a more precise idea of what fair market rent is for your area. Understanding this data allows you to set a rental price to help maintain your rental income and minimize vacancies.

Stessa’s 4-page Rent Estimate report takes a deep dive into key factors to help you set the right rent, including:

  • Rental unit comps by address
  • Full map view of all comps in relation to your property
  • Median rental analysis across the local market
  • One-, 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom trends over the past 5 years
  • One-, 3-, and 12-month changes in median rents for the ZIP code, city, county, and state

After signing up for a free account with Stessa, visit your Rent Estimates page and purchase a report for just $19.99 to find rental prices in an area.

Stessa, a Roofstock company, offers free cloud-based software that helps real estate investors maximize profits through smart money management, automated income and expense tracking, personalized reporting, rent collection, and more. More than 100,000 investors already use Stessa to track over 250,000 properties with more than $60 billion in asset value. 


Promoting your listing

There are a few different ways to advertise your rental property listing for maximum exposure. You could put a sign up in the front yard, distribute flyers in strategic locations around town, put an ad in the local newspaper, post on social media platforms, or even go door to door in the neighborhood where your rental is located to let people know it is available.

All of these methods can be effective in getting the word out there about your rental property. However, one of the most effective (and efficient) ways to promote your rental listing is to use an online listing service such as or Zillow. Here’s why:

  1. Save time. With an online listing service, landlords can input all the relevant information about their rental property once. Then that listing can be made available to a wide range of potential tenants with the click of a button.
  2. Wider reach. Listing online will expose your rental property to a much larger pool of potential tenants than you would be able to reach on your own.
  3. Screen tenants more effectively. You can include information about your desired tenant profile and then use the listing service’s screening tools to help you find candidates that match your criteria.
  4. Get more professional-looking listings. Online listing services usually provide templates and other tools that help landlords create listings that look polished and professional.
  5. Track your listing’s performance. Listing services provide landlords with valuable data about how their listings are performing, including how many people are viewing the listing and whether they’re contacting you about renting the unit.
  6. Collect rent online. Many services offer landlords the ability to collect rent payments electronically, saving you time and hassle.
  7. Access to customer support. If you ever have any questions or problems with your online listing, many services offer customer support that can help you resolve any issues.
  8. Find other landlord resources on the site. In addition to listings, some online services also offer landlord resources such as advice columns, blog posts, and discounts on products and services landlords need to run their rentals effectively.


How to deal with inquiries

Inquiries about rental homes can come in anytime – by phone, email, or even in person. As a landlord, it’s important to be prepared to handle these inquiries professionally and efficiently. By following a few simple best practices, you can quickly determine if a prospective tenant is interested and qualified to rent your home.

First, always be polite and courteous when speaking with an inquirer. Remember that first impressions matter even if you can tell immediately that they’re not a good fit for your rental. Secondly, try to get as much information about the prospective tenant as possible. This includes their contact information, income level, and current living situation. The more you know about someone, the easier it will be to determine if they’re a good fit.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If an inquirer seems evasive or unwilling to answer your questions, it’s likely that they’re not serious about renting your home. By following these simple tips, you can efficiently weed out unqualified or uninterested prospects and find the perfect tenant.


Final thoughts

There’s a lot that goes into listing a rental property. You want to be sure you’re pricing it correctly, marketing it well, and screening tenants carefully. And, of course, you want the whole process to go smoothly.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re listing a rental:

  • Pricing: Make sure you do your research and price your rental competitively. You don’t want to miss out on potential tenants because your price is too high.
  • Marketing: Be sure to market your rental in a way that will reach your target tenants. List it on popular rental websites, post flyers in strategic locations, and make sure your listing is clear and concise.
  • Screening: Carefully screen all potential tenants. Check their credit history, employment status, and references. You want to be sure you’re renting to reliable tenants who will take good care of your property.

The most important thing to remember is that the whole process takes time and patience. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find the perfect tenant right away. With a little effort, you’ll find the ideal renter for your property in no time.


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