Single-family rentals or built-for-rent homes are currently the best performing housing asset class. They make up approximately one-third of the housing market inventory in the U.S., and the pandemic has made single-family units even more desirable. Because of this, demand has increased substantially as people look for safer (less dense) environments and larger spaces where they can fit both their everyday lives and work areas without worrying about maintenance.
The financial aspect associated with SFRs for renters is appealing compared to homeownership—economic volatility persists, and some might struggle with qualifying for a mortgage. Not to mention that many might not be able to afford the loan if offered. There is also the need for flexibility to be able to move in the future, as no one really knows when or if they’ll have to return to the office.
These all attracted investors to SFRs and put developers to work. Presently, the available SFR inventory is limited, but growing. According to John Burns Real Estate Consulting, nearly 12 percent of new single-family construction this year will be for rental properties. According to Yardi Matrix data, there is a significant regional disparity on the properties under construction: More than two-thirds are in secondary markets and the rest in tertiary markets.
But marketing SFRs is not the same as for a traditional apartment community. “The biggest difference in the marketing between single-family rentals and multifamily is the need for awareness because many consumers do not realize this is even an option. It’s the education of current multifamily residents that single-family leasing is an option for them now,” Lisa Kennedy, regional manager at TBD Management, the property management arm of Wan Bridge, told MHN.
Another difference, she added, is “the reputation of scattered homes not being managed properly.” But, especially since the onset of the pandemic, there are property owners who offer five-star service and hassle-free living by providing property maintenance through an onsite management team. This concept is new for single-family but very traditional for multifamily.
With a growing pool of single-family rentals comes a growing need to develop attractive ways to market these assets. If you have SFRs in your portfolio, here’s what you should be looking at when building your marketing strategy.
Know your renters, use their hangouts
Revived by COVID-19, SFR are in high demand, especially among young families who are looking to leave urban apartments and gain more space for their children or pets. Because many of these families who wanted to relocate to suburban housing couldn’t buy or just didn’t want to assume the responsibilities that come with homeownership, SFR is the next best thing.
This means that you should tailor your property’s presentation based on the audience you’re hoping to attract. Because technology is at everyone’s fingertips at all times, and because both the Millennials and Gen Zers are comfortable signing a lease for a property that they’ve only seen online, as a SFR operator, you should channel your attention to online platforms and social media networks. For example, YPulse’s recent Social Media Behavior report found that Millennials spend about 3.8 hours a day on social media. The Gen Z is even more connected to the online environment, spending on average 4.5 hours per day on these platforms.
“An important tip in SFR marketing is the need to be very specific in your word selection because many consumers assume if you are building multiple single-family homes in one location, that they are for sale,” explained Kennedy. “All of the signage and promotional material needs to be clear that you are a leasing community and not a for-sale community.”
Spruce up your SEO tactics and make sure the keywords used on your website, asset categorization, status updates and individual reviews are on point for SFR prospects—this will help your property appear in Google searches. Customize as much as you can, as standardized language can create confusion, which can turn into loss of leads. One suggestion is to add a local map pack because this can boost your property in the top three results on Google, which translates into more than 40 percent of clicks.
Write a well-crafted property description and, besides the basics—price, size, address—include information about rent payment options, pet policy, nearby services (schools, hospitals, grocery stores, etc.).
Have the property show-ready
Even though it’s a rental, the property will become someone’s home. Before you even list it online, make sure it is ready to move in. If it’s been rented before, call the professional cleaners, repaint if needed, replace what’s damaged and, if necessary, make updates. An ‘available for rent’ sign on the front lawn is also a good way to bring visibility to your rental, and it also favors word of mouth marketing, which can do wonders.
And, we’ve said this before: photos are the best tools to invite a prospective renter to your rental, and that applies to SFR homes, too. Make sure you take realistic photos and make good use of lighting.
A little effort at the beginning will pay off; after all, renters who choose to live in houses are known to live in them for longer periods of time than those who rent apartments.
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