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Zillow v Craigslist on rental ads
Old 02-15-2016, 01:30 PM   #1
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Zillow v Craigslist on rental ads

I have been using Craigslist for years to advertise my few rentals. I stumbled across "postlets" which is a Zillow product and tried it. I'm getting about 4:1 responses from Zillow v Craigslist. Incumbents can fall quickly now days...
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Old 02-15-2016, 02:01 PM   #2
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Interesting - we use Craiglist almost exclusively for our places. Tried Postlets a few years ago and got nothing. Different times or different markets?

Tried RadPad? I haven't, but landlords acn do free ads, tenants can search for a place and make rent payments using debit cards for no fee or credit cards for a 3% fee. Supposedly a greater percentage of tenants pay via credit card. Which makes me think that is a reason they are still tenants rather than owners.
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Old 02-15-2016, 02:58 PM   #3
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Yep, the PM companies have caught on to getting tenants to pay by credit card with a fee attached.

I never use Craigslist. Too many scammers, con artists and low life types. Much better luck with Zillow and most PM companies use the MLS, with varying results.
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Old 02-15-2016, 03:39 PM   #4
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I use Zillow more, as it is a lot easier to just repost an ad vs Craig's. It's probably not much difference between the two. I was an avid Postlets user.

I just rented a place to the first person that was email qualified and my first showing. Total market time, about 5 days total. A young couple moving out from their parents, no pets, 750 credit score, 9x the rent in income.

I fill about a dozen apartments a year, so it's important to have a solid cost effective approach. I remember the days of a newspaper ad, costing $200+, that only ran a week. It was not that long ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by calmloki View Post
Tried RadPad? I haven't, but landlords can do free ads, tenants can search for a place and make rent payments using debit cards for no fee or credit cards for a 3% fee. Supposedly a greater percentage of tenants pay via credit card. Which makes me think that is a reason they are still tenants rather than owners.
I have a couple of tenants that use Paypal. That is free too. Most still use a paper check, even though they rarely write them elsewhere.

I offer a lot of payment options, cash, check (rent box), USPS mail, Paypal, direct debit, etc.
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Old 02-15-2016, 03:44 PM   #5
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I have a lot more shady requests from zillow/postlets. Most of them are "will you take section 8 for half the rent and can I have it tomorrow?"

I do post to both sites to cast a wide net.
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Old 02-15-2016, 03:56 PM   #6
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I have a lot more shady requests from zillow/postlets. Most of them are "will you take section 8 for half the rent and can I have it tomorrow?"
That is pretty typical, and really should be expected. A trash renter moves 2x+ as often as a good renter. They get evicted, asked to move, and have leases non-renewed. Good renters move when they want.

Trash renters also inquire to at least 4x as many places as not many will accept them. So, just based on the statistics, 95%+ of all inquires will not be worth your time. It is extremely important to pre-screen renters before you show them the property. Otherwise, you are wasting your time.

Any renter that wants a place tomorrow is generally not a good one.
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Old 02-15-2016, 09:20 PM   #7
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It is extremely important to pre-screen renters before you show them the property. Otherwise, you are wasting your time.

What is your pre screen process? I don't have any rentals but my siblings do. They each do things their own way. One never advertises except for a sign in the window or neighbor referrals.


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Old 02-15-2016, 09:31 PM   #8
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What is your pre screen process? I don't have any rentals but my siblings do. They each do things their own way. One never advertises except for a sign in the window or neighbor referrals.
95%+ of my leads come in through email. If I actually get a call, I answer any questions that they have, and I ask them to text me their email address.

Once I have their email address, I send them a pre-formatted email listing my credit score requirements (625+ for all occupants, including 18 year old kids), income requirements ($45K annual on a $1,100 mo rental). Must have a clean eviction record and a clean criminal record, including DUIs.

I also have some information about the unit, background checks, BRs, BA, pet policy, local dog park, stairs, garage, showing schedule, notice, availability date, etc. I say "If you still want to see the unit, please let me know".

After I get a showing, I set it up in Gmail and invite both the tenant and the new prospect. I ask they confirm ~30 minutes prior to arrival. I also set up additional showings at the same time, if I can. 15 minutes apart. I make sure I have their actual email address (not a blind Zillow one) and the phone number. I can also text them to confirm.

I never show an apartment during the day. I work, and anyone that has the day off I generally do not want.

Very seldom do I have no-shows. Almost always they are qualified. If I do not rent to the first or second qualified renter, I know I am over-priced for that time of the year.

Being a landlord is actually pretty easy if you have a systematic approach.
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Old 02-15-2016, 10:16 PM   #9
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Last time I advertised was 7 or 8 years ago and then it was with Craigslist and the housing office of a local college. If I ever need to rent again I'll add Zillow into the mix
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Old 02-15-2016, 10:42 PM   #10
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We use Craigslist for our houses, and while there are some losers responding, we tend to mostly get high quality renters pretty quickly. Never used Postlets. I'll have to look into it.
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Old 02-16-2016, 07:21 AM   #11
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Never used Postlets. I'll have to look into it.
Postlets has been bought by Zillow.

Rentbits.com is another one I use when times are slow. it costs ~$100 for a month.

I rarely have any vacancy time. Most turns are 1 day. I do not have a crew, it's me and my DGF doing the work. Vacancy is your number one avoidable expense as a landlord.

Last year, I think I had 45 days total between nine turns. I had a longer time on one rental, not including in the above nine, as I had an extensive remodel.
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Old 02-16-2016, 07:36 AM   #12
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Good insights. Thanks for sharing the approach .
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Old 02-16-2016, 07:46 AM   #13
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Senator, What site do you use to check their credit score and to confirm other personal data supplied by the prospective tenants?
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:04 AM   #14
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We have used a combination of Postlets/Zillow and Craigslist for our rentals over the last several years with very good success. I'd say about 65% of respondents are from Postlets/Zillow.
On a side note, be wary of Zillow as one of our rentals was "claimed" by a local real estate company and listed for sale at 80% of it's value. We have no control of the for sale posting and Zillow claims they can't do anything about it. We are working it out with the real estate group who says it was a glitch in their system.
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Old 02-16-2016, 10:55 AM   #15
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I have always used Craigslist with excellent results. Currently, I have owned two rentals for 5 years and one rental for 4 years. Several years ago I also owned one rental for 12 years. If I were to add them all together (26 years), I have had a cumulative vacancy of 3 days.
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Old 02-16-2016, 01:19 PM   #16
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Senator, I think you probably have the land speed record for turning units.
What does your unit mix and rent rates look like?
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Old 02-16-2016, 02:41 PM   #17
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I have used both Postlets and Craigslist for 6 years. Postlets gets you listed on Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads and many more real estate sites. I probably get 75% of contacts via Zillow or Trulia and they seem to be the better ones.

Unlike Senator, I do all of my initial qualifying on the phone. I like to get a feel for them by talking to them. If they e-mail I basically say "call me" to set up appointment. Initial questions -

- Who would be living there? (want to understand how many people and how they are related. Also need to know how many over 18 for running background checks)
- When do you want to move in? (My ads always say something like "April 1" but it's quite common that people are looking for a different date which disqualifies them as it either won't be available or requires I have vacancy)
- Do you smoke or have pets? (I don't allow either)
- I tell them I require 3x income to rent. So if rent is $1,100/mo I tell them that means they need $39,600/year in income - is that an issue? (by calculating it out for them I can make it easy for them to know if they really qualify)
- Finally I ask if they have any questions for me? (usually don't but can be telling if they do)

We then try to set an appointment. I do tell them that I require them to call or text me 1-2 hours before the appointment to confirm otherwise I won't be there. Totally eliminates no shows.

Someone asked about background screening. First I get a written application which I use to verify employment and call past landlords. If that checks out I use mysmartmove.com which is an online credit/criminal/eviction tool. I send tenant an e-mail to initiate process and they put in credit/debit card for the $35 fee. Sends me results almost immediately. I don't touch the application fee which is a bonus.
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Old 02-16-2016, 04:17 PM   #18
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Senator, What site do you use to check their credit score and to confirm other personal data supplied by the prospective tenants?
I use a company mccgrp.com. They do credit, criminal, previous address owner checks (like past LL, but they call the actual owner of the property, not the names on the application), employment checks, etc. $39.

Never rely on a national criminal background check, do a county check.

I do not need to see or meet my applicants to approve or decline them. Using the background check I can do it without any bias. I routinely approve tenants sight unseen, and have never had an issue.

Credit score is the greatest indicator of tenant performance and behavior that there is.
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Old 02-16-2016, 04:19 PM   #19
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- Who would be living there? (want to understand how many people and how they are related. Also need to know how many over 18 for running background checks)
This could be ruled as a discriminatory question. I ask "How many occupants". It doesn't matter how they are related, or how many are kids/adults.

Only 18+ need to fill the application out.
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Old 02-16-2016, 05:56 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Senator View Post
I use a company mccgrp.com. They do credit, criminal, previous address owner checks (like past LL, but they call the actual owner of the property, not the names on the application), employment checks, etc. $39.

Never rely on a national criminal background check, do a county check.

I do not need to see or meet my applicants to approve or decline them. Using the background check I can do it without any bias. I routinely approve tenants sight unseen, and have never had an issue.

Credit score is the greatest indicator of tenant performance and behavior that there is.
Thank you very much for the advice. It's been many, many years since I've had a tenant move out. I have had the same tenant in one of my houses since 1988.
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