Top 10 Reasons Why a Student Housing Rental Listing May Not Be Generating Leads

Monday, August 29, 2016

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When it comes to creating rental listings online, advertisers should always have their end goal in mind - generating a high volume of qualified leads that transition into signed lease agreements.


Individual elements of a property listing can have an impact on this end goal. Here are the top 10 reasons why a student housing rental listing may not be generating the desired leads.


1. Omitting photos or video tours:


Photos are extremely important and should always be included in a listing. Appfolio found that nearly ¼ of renters eliminate a property from their search if photos are not available. No property wants to lose 1 in 4 potential tenants for just omitting photos.


Adding to this, while photos were once the central feature for rental property listings, they are slowly being overshadowed by such things as interactive 3D walkthroughs and video tours. It wouldn’t be surprising if video tours become the norm in several years.


2. Asking too much in rent:


Setting rents can be tricky, especially if a landlord is unfamiliar with the going rates in the local market. In some cases, property owners will turn to tools like Zillow Rent Estimates. The problem is these tools are frequently inaccurate and can lead to asking well above the going rental rates. It’s suggested that landlords do some market research instead, to set a fair and competitive rental price.


3. Hiding or omitting pertinent information:


When creating rental listings, landlords often have the option to hide or exclude certain data but it’s not recommended. For example, hiding their property’s address can be detrimental to a listing’s success, especially in student housing. Multifamily Executive listed location as the most important feature of student housing, so hiding the most important feature isn’t a good idea.


Many students will simply skip over listings if they don’t include an address; similar to how they avoid listings that don’t contain photos or videos. Students often search for properties through a rental website’s map locator, and properties without an address will not be populated on the map.


4. Unenforceable or overbearing lease rules and regulations:


The stricter a lease’s rules and regulations, the less likely a landlord will receive a high volume of student inquiries. It makes sense to specify any mandatory requirements in a listing, but if a listing shows many restrictions, it won’t be very appealing to students.


Landlords should avoid lease provisions that are legally unenforceable. For example, Ontario landlords cannot have 'no pets' clauses because they are unenforceable, as outlined in the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act (note: there are a few exceptions to this law). This may also cause landlords to lose viable leads.


5. Unwillingness to accept email, text or other types of inquiries:


Back in 2014, a Gallup poll found that text messages now outrank phone calls as the dominant form of communication for millennials.  Most students prefer to text or email, as a method of communication.


Landlords who are adamant about only accepting phone calls may be doing themselves a disservice and limiting the leads they receive from a rental listing.  A Forbes article stated many millennials see the phone as overly intrusive, even presumptuous. Allowing multiple channels of communication is bound to help increase the number of leads generated.


6. Restrictive tenant preferences or policies:


In the past, we discussed why landlords should avoid going overboard on tenant targeting. This blog outlined that there is a limited pool of prospective student renters. While it makes sense to desire a particular type of tenant, if a landlord goes overboard, they may dramatically be shrinking their tenant pool.


For example, a landlord who is only willing to rent to female,  graduate students who do not smoke or own pets, will narrow down the tenant pool significantly. This preference may seem relatively normal but consider the fact that those four simple preferences will likely cut the tenant pool by over 75%. This landlord has eliminated male applicants, non-graduate students, pet owners and smokers.


This example may only be applicable to an owner-occupied rental where the landlord will share common areas with the tenant, plus has allergies to pets and smoke.


7. The property is too far away from campus:


As previously mentioned, location is of paramount importance. Due to the hyper-localization of purpose-built student housing, there has been a dramatic increase in the availability of housing directly surrounding many campuses. This influx of new housing has caused student renters to become more centralized near the campus, resulting in less interest to live further away. A study by J Turner Research found that only 22% of students are willing to live more than 5 miles away from campus. The further a property is away from school results in a smaller pool of potential student renters.


For this reason, landlords with properties farther away are recommended to highlight other property features, add incentives and/or lower the rental rate to stay competitive and attract student renters.


8. Very little detail in the listing:


If the entirety of a rental description is only one or two sentences with minimal detail, there is a good chance many potential tenants are going to skip over the listing.


For example, “Apartment for rent, great location nearby lots of amenities, call for more details,” may get overlooked. This description tells the prospective tenants very little about the apartment, aside from the fact that the landlord thinks it’s an excellent location. Also, while the call-to-action of “call for more details” is good, it loses value if there aren't many details in the listing to entice this response.


It’s very important to have a detailed description of the rental unit and property, its neighborhood, safety features, parking, nearby public transit, laundry and other amenities, stores, restaurants and coffee shops, etc.


9. The timing of the advertisement:


Student housing has certain peak advertising times that coincide with the local school’s term start dates. If a landlord were to advertise a rental property the second week of September, after school has already started, there’s a high probability that a significant amount of inquiries will not be received. Students search for accommodations year-round but there are definitely peak times to aim advertisements for.


Landlords can contact the local academic institution directly for details and dates.


10. The wrong contact information:


It’s easy to make a small typo error and enter an email address or phone number incorrectly, especially if rushing. It’s very important to proofread a rental listing and ensure the contact information is correct, before submitting it for posting online.


By addressing these issues and taking the necessary steps to prepare the most effective rental listing, a landlord increases the tenant pool, as well as odds of generating a higher volume of qualified leads that transition into signed lease agreements.


SEE ALSO:  Should Landlords Rent By-the-Room Or By-the-Unit?

The Team