The Oldest Real Estate Trick in the Book

My husband and I were recently looking at apartmen...

My husband and I were recently looking at apartments in New Jersey. We looked at two apartments in a community, and they were nice. Really nice. But I still wasn’t ready to make a commitment to a whole year there, and wanted to look at a few other places first. (To quote Cher Horowitz from Clueless, “You see how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet.”) So we left the community and went to a couple of our other apartment appointments in the area. After we were done, we went to the mall (because when in Jersey…) to relax for a bit. And while we were eating our lunch we got an email from the first leasing agent, thanking us for looking at the apartments. And then, she mentioned that she knows that we liked both apartments, but unfortunately, another couple who had looked at the community before came in after we had left and put a deposit down on one of them.

We didn’t even wait for me to finish my fries before we raced back to car to get back to that leasing office (and if I have one life motto, it’s never leave a French fry behind). We weren’t sure before, but now we needed that apartment. And we got it!

Would we have come back to the apartment if we hadn’t gotten that email? Probably. It’s a great apartment. Was there actually another couple who took that first apartment? Who knows? It’s the oldest trick in the real estate book to say someone else is showing interest. And, boy, did it work.

Of course, there are other ways to drum up excitement about an apartment. Here are a few.

Or you could yell at random passersby to come look at an apartment. Whatever works.

Make the apartment worth it. Literally. It’s better to collect rent off an apartment than to let it sit empty, even if the rent is less than you would have originally planned. Offer incentives to rent the apartment such as the first month free (which could be pro-rated throughout the year, making the monthly rent seem cheaper) or offer rebates or gift cards. But make sure you say when the promotion will end (it should end)—that way the prospective resident feels he has to sign the lease right away to take advantage of the deals.

Pay residents to recruit for you. Offer your residents money if they refer their friends and family, and they sign a lease. Your residents like living there already (at least, hopefully, or else you have bigger issues), so they already know the best selling points. Plus it’s more fun to live near friends, so they’d probably be happy to do it. Happier still to do it with a reward, though. You can also have a limited time offer (like in the suggestion above), where residents get a bigger reward if they recruit someone at a particular time (like in the off months when you typically have trouble filling units).

Highlight if the property was featured in print/online/on TV/etc. Check around—maybe a local film crew is looking for a great location for a TV show or movie scene, and your community would be perfect. Or maybe your property was featured in an article. Or maybe your property, oh, I don’t know, recently won an MHN Excellence Award (we’re still taking nominations for this year, by the way). Take advantage of these opportunities, and brag about them! It’ll bring some cache to the community and might get more interest from people looking for apartments.

Ask your residents to write good reviews on apartment review sites. Of course, we all mean to write good reviews to places we like. It’s just that, by the time we get home, we just sort of forget. Now, when we have a terrible experience somewhere, our blood is still boiling when we get home, and we take it out on the nearest review site. It’s easier to write these (fun, too), because we’re so steamed, and don’t want the establishment to make more money off other people. So, if your residents love your community, send them a friendly email or stop by and ask if they would mind writing it up. Then they’ll be reminded to do it, and more likely to do so. And once you have some good reviews (which are crucial because many people use these sites when deciding on an apartment), you could even use some of them in your advertisements. This is one situation where you don’t want to pay, though. Not cool.

Point out the cool history of the building. Many people would love to move to an apartment community that has a cool factoid they can brag about to their friends. Did it used to be a hotel where Marilyn Monroe stayed? Awesome. Maybe the community used to be an insane asylum before it was renovated. Ooh, spooky! Does a certain news editor named J. Fiur live there? Well, scram, I need my privacy!

Try the second oldest real estate trick in the book. Bake some cookies before you show a staged apartment. Obviously.

What are some other ways to stir up excitement about an apartment to prospective renters?

-Jessica Fiur, News Editor

Photo credit: Everett Collection