I was at a REIN coffee meeting in Kelowna and we had a good chat about places to advertise our vacancies in Kelowna. After the discussion, and to save everyone from trying to write down a whole bunch of websites I’m posting a list (Edmonton, Kelowna, and Everywhere). I’ll come back to this list from time to time, and please comment with other suggestions.
A tip to see what’s working, and what’s not: Get separate phone lines and email accounts.
The best email service out there period is GMail, which is Google’s email service. It’ll take about 10 minutes to set up 5 email accounts, all accessible (send and receive) from the same single log-in. (Ask nicely and I’ll set one up for you) Set up one email account for each rental website so you’ll be able to tell which one sends the greatest quantity and highest quality leads.
When I worked property management we just bought four cell phones with tiny little plans on them, but enhanced voice mail. One number for each advertising medium, and we’d check the messages and call people back. If I were to set it up again, I’d probably use an internet phone setup, or something like SkypeIN, with their voice mail that sends the messages to your email as an MP3. I think that even over a couple months Skype would be cheaper than the cell phones.
Another bonus idea, if you put lawn signs on your properties, put a number on it. We’d put them in about a 4" star, so people only had to remember the number, and not the full address.
Rent Edmonton – ($29.95/Month) – Good site, and tends to refer good traffic. Apparently they’ll go take pictures of your property for $25. Appear to allow links to your website*.
Home Rent – ($29.95/45 Days with discounts for multi-unit properties) – There may be some formatting errors on their site, but gerernally it’s easy to use.
Gotta Rent ($0.99/day = ~29.70/Month) – The were offering a discount for REIN members when I talked to them in Vancouver this February. Nicely laid out site, and easy to use.
Rent Faster ($25/60 Days) – Great site, and we used it quite a bit. They allow links to your website on your listings*.
Rent Board (Complicated pricing matrix, but basically starting at $0.99/day) – Not bad, but I recall it didn’t send a huge number of phone calls.
Alberta Rent (Basic ads for Free, normal ads start at $15) – Not a brilliant looking site, but a decent number of listings on it. (Added July 3/08)
Use this graph carefully! They’re not huge sites so it’s a traffic estimate. Also, most of the traffic comes from Ontario because there’s just more people out there (gottarent.com’s numbers in particular). That said, it’s pretty interesting to see. Remember, the real measure of how well any of these sites works is how quickly you get your properties rented and the quality of tenants you get.
Castanet (Free to post, $5 to highlight and pin, $2.50 to bold an entry) – This is the site in Kelowna, and I’m often surprised by how many people use it. I know some Kelowna REIN members only use castanet, and I have some friends who have used it as their only source of information when looking for a rental.
RentBC/ApartmentsCanada ($24.95/month for some sort of package but unlimited listings)– They’re the same company, and take their data from the same source. It seems cheap, but in Kelowna they’ll be struggling against Castanet. That said, they show up ahead of Castanet when you Google for Kelowna Apartments
Facebook (Free) – Great place to list rentals, properties for sale and everything else under the sun! Warning: Make sure your privacy settings are very, very restricted. You really don’t want your renters to have your home address, or to be able to see the pictures of your kids!
Craigslist (Edmonton/Kelowna) (Free) – With Craigslist and Kijiji, it’s best to always do multiple posts in multiple categories. It can also be a good idea to re-post or bump your listing every week or so.
MyREINspace (AB/BC) (Free) -The REIN community is fantastic, and when another REIN member refers a tenant to you they’re generally pretty good. That said, always pull a credit history and check employment and landlord references.
Updates: June 16th: My Property Manager says that GottaRent and Kijiji have been working the best for us lately.
July 3rd: Added "Alberta Rent". Also check out the posts on our advertising experiment.
*A note for the web/SEO savy. Putting links on these listings can sometimes be a good link back to your site if you have a decent website and offer more information on the listing or contact information. Rentfaster uses noarchive, but that’ll still pass linkjuice; Rent Edmonton, Facebook, Kijiji and Craigslist are all nofollowed. If none of that makes any sense to you, don’t sweat it. You’ll still be able to rent out your place.