Marketing Costs for Rental Property Vacancy

Vacancy Marketing Costs to Consider

Picture of Vacant Apartment
Costs to Market Vacant Apartment. Westend61/Getty Images

Having a vacancy at a rental property is a stressful experience. The bills are still coming in even though the monthly rent is not. These holding costs, however, can be alleviated by filling the vacancy. Marketing the unit is the only way to fill this vacancy. Unfortunately, there are often additional costs associated with marketing the unit. There are many options available for advertising your rental.

Each type of marketing will have a different associated cost, from free to high cost.

Marketing Costs

In order to find a new tenant for the property, prospective tenants need to know that your unit is available. This means that you must advertise your vacancy. The extent and type of advertising you want to do is completely up to you. Just because one method costs more does not mean it is more effective. You can post a free ad for your rental online and have a tenant the next day or you could enlist a Realtor to find a tenant and wait three months to fill the vacancy.

You can choose to advertise using only one method or you can choose to use a variety of methods to promote your property. The faster you can find a quality tenant, the faster you will be seeing that monthly rent check. As a point of caution, the focus should be on finding a quality tenant for your unit. If you do not conduct the proper tenant screening and simply put the first person who is willing to pay inside the unit, you could be filing an eviction for that tenant the next month and be back to square one.

There are various avenues where you can advertise an apartment or home for rent. These include:

  • Online
  • Word of Mouth
  • ‘For Rent’ Sign at the Property
  • Bulletin Boards
  • Newspaper
  • Realtor

The amount you will spend on marketing depends on the type of advertising you choose.

  • Free:
    • Online- Advertising your vacancy online with sites like Craigslist, Trulia, or Socialserve is free. Advertising online allows you to reach a large number of people with minimal effort or cost. You can also advertise on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter.​
      • Pros: No Cost
        Reach Many People At Once
      • Con: A Lot of Competition
    • Word of Mouth- Spreading the news that you have a vacancy at your property can be done the old fashioned way, via word of mouth. You can tell relatives, friends, other tenants, and neighbors about the vacancy because you never know who may be looking for a place to rent. Again, this is free and involves minimal effort. Of course, it will not have the same exposure as advertising online or through a Realtor.
      • Pros: No Cost
        Tenant Referred by Someone You Trust
      • Con: Limited Exposure
  • Minimal Cost:
    • Bulletin Boards- You can make up flyers for your rental property. You can post them on bulletin boards throughout your target community. This can include the grocery store, city hall, gyms, or other community centers. It is usually free to place the flyer on the bulletin board. Using this advertising method you will incur the cost of paper and ink, whether you print the flyers out at home or go to a local FedEx to have them printed.
      • Pros: Minimal Cost
        Less Competition Than Online
        Reaching Your Target Market-Prospective Tenants Are Familiar With the Area
      • Con: Reaching a Small Market- Those Who Look at Bulletin Board and Need an Apartment
  • Average Cost:
    • Newspaper- You can advertise your rental in print media such as the local newspaper. This is another way to increase exposure for your property. This method allows you to advertise within your target community. However, it is a more expensive method of marketing. It typically costs between $50 and several hundred dollars depending on how often your ad will run and does not include pictures of your unit.
      • Pros: Advertising Within Your Target Market
        Less Competition Than Online
        Cons: More Expensive
        Only Reach Those That Read the Newspaper
        No Pictures
  • Most Expensive:
    • Real Estate Agent- A final option in advertising your rental is enlisting the services of a real estate agent. This is the most expensive option for advertising your rental. A real estate agent will often charge you between one and two times the monthly price of the rental as their fee if they are able to find a tenant for your property. It is usually the most expensive option for marketing your rental. However, it allows someone else to do the work of finding a tenant for you.
      • Pros: May Have Access to Resources You Do Not
        Do the Work for You
      • Cons: Have to Pay A Fee- One or Two Months’ Rent
        No Guarantee They Will Find Tenant
        Still Have to Do Own Screening to Make Sure Tenant Is Qualified