The Big Picture with Erin Brereton: The Science of Finding Your Own Ad Space Online

In July, the monthly total for consumers looking into specific apartment unit availability online hit–and passed–the one million mark for the very first time, according to Realty DataTrust’s VaultWare reservation system.

It’s no secret that online apartment searching is becoming more popular; given the current high gas prices–currently still above $3 a gallon–expect that trend to continue. People want to do as much research as they can online before heading out to personally view a property.

But as Realty DataTrust Vice President of Marketing Gina Kilker told MHN, checking availability online is just the start of the leasing process. It’s crucial you list your property on a site that will get it maximum exposure–in the right way, for the right price.

But how do you determine which site works best for your property and budget?

According to VaultWare, renters viewed five listing sites most often in July: Rent.com, Apartments.com, ApartmentGuide.com, ForRent.com and Move.com.

We took a look at the various sites’ listing policies to give you an idea of what each offers.

1. Rent.com –It’s free to list on Rent.com; the site charges a success fee of $389 per lease when it fills your vacancies.

Owners who manage fewer than 20 units can sign up for updates on Rent.com’s soon-to-be-released enhanced self-service platform. If you manage more than 20, you can contact the company about listing a large portfolio of properties on a permanent basis.

2. Apartments.com–Apartments.com also offers different deals for smaller-building owners and larger companies.

Premium Advertising Packages–available in platinum, gold and silver varieties–are designed for larger companies with ongoing ad needs. The Platinum package offers a wealth of community information, 360-degree views of units, priority listing placement in search results and a hard-copy version of your online ad that features color photos and community floorplans.

The other options offer slightly less features. For example, the Silver package includes interior and exterior building, amenity and common area photos only–and the For Rent By Owner package, designed to help smaller building owners reach more than 1.8 million renters, offers 30, 60 or 180 day packages with up to 20 photos.

3. ApartmentGuide.com –The site offers some interesting
enhancements, like online property commercials and a video spokesmodel
to represent your property in the listing.

For actual listing information–such as price or time duration–you’ll have to fill out a brief form with your contact and property information and be connected with an ApartmentGuide.com representative.

4. ForRent.com –With two advertising packages for small
communities–the Intermediate and the Deluxe listing, which cost $100
and $150–ForRent.com offers owners and managers a cost-efficient way
to reach renters. Both include photos (the Deluxe offers three; the
standard package includes one), a floorplan and general community
information.

Larger apartment communities can also list their property on ForRent.com. The packages for larger communities include photos, floor plans, maps and access to ForRent’s online Management Console, which provides 24/7 real time updates. Pricing is determined when you call or e-mail for a quote.

5. Move.com –You have to sign up for a Move.com account before
getting any information about how to list your property–but
registration is quick.

You have two basic options: One is the Showcase Listing, which the site says gives you the potential to receive up to 72 percent more clicks to your property detail page and is sold at a flexible monthly contract. The other is the Featured Listing, which gives you priority placement and allows you to pay only when your listing is clicked on.

Having an online presence is important–whichever site you choose to list your property on.

What factors were at play when you selected your online listing site?

What processes do you have in place to handle the leads being generated?

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