Timing your rental property’s entry to the market is key to making the most of your advertising. Here is everything you need to know, with concrete steps you can take to ensure your advert does the best it can.
The Four Week Rule
Most people start dedicatedly looking for a new place to rent around four weeks before they move out, though they may be keeping a speculative eye on the market for some weeks before.
There are some exceptions (which we’ll come to below), but in general, if your advert goes live sooner than four weeks before its available, you will not receive the maximum number of enquiries.
Why? Because people will see that your property is not available soon enough for their needs and scroll past it properties which are available sooner. Meanwhile, your ad will slip further and further down the listing pages.
Early Bird Doesn’t Get the Worm
Many landlords think that advertising early is a good thing. Even if you do publish your advert two months in advance, who cares? The advert will still be live when there are four weeks to go, so potential tenants will still see it, right?
Wrong! Although the ad will still be live, it will have lost it’s prime position.
This is because when an advert is published on a property platform like Rightmove, it is posted to the top of the listings page. If it is already a month old by the time you reach the golden four-week period, no one will see the property because it will be several pages back in the website’s listing pages.
It is this kind of early-bird thinking that leads to properties being on the market for weeks on end without any enquiries, with landlords paying for the privilege!
It is crucial that you advertise around the four week mark to maximise the number of tenant enquiries your property receives. Remember: you only get one chance to be top of the listings, so make sure your advert is perfect the first time it goes live!
Exceptions to the Rule
There is a caveat or two in this advice.
- If you are based in London, the rental property market moves much faster than in other locations. It is not uncommon for tenants to start searching later on, and for property turnarounds to happen within a couple of days. Keep this condensed timescale in mind if your property is in London.
- Secondly, if your property is in a student area and you usually find student tenants, be prepared to see different trends. Students may start looking for next year’s (i.e. September’s) accommodation after their exams in May, or even earlier! Being on the market for the student rental housing rush is key if you know that you are looking to attract student tenants.
Relisting Isn’t a Solution
Property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla have developed robust strategies to stop landlords beating the system.
No longer is simply relisting a property enough to get it back to the first page. These days, the portals have strict systems that detect duplicated listings and stop them being published. Simply republishing an advert will have no effect.
Some portals will ‘bump’ an advert if it receives a substantial reduction in the rental price. This means that they will send it back to the top of the listings, sometimes with a sticker announcing a reduction.
Rightmove, for example, bumps properties that have received a 2% price reduction to the top of the listing results. Here’s an example of how it looks:
But this policy is under the control of the portal – not you or your agent. It could change at any time, so cannot be relied upon. But more importantly, it necessitates a cut in the amount of rental income you will receive from your property, so should not be considered a good way to get around portal listing rules.
Get it Right First Time
The best strategy isn’t to play around with reductions or clever timings – it is to make sure your advert is detailed, professional and reasonably priced the very second it is published on the property portals.
Because of rules against re-listing, you only have one chance to get this right, or, by the time you’ve made the changes to get your ad in shape, you will find that it is already several pages down the search results.
Remember: you only get one chance to have your advert at the top of the property pages, so choose the moment that demand will be at its highest!
- You only get to be an exciting new property once. Don’t waste this chance!
- As a rule, upload your advert 4 weeks before your property is available
- Timings may be shorter if the property is in London
- Students may look months in advance due to summer holidays
- Relisting isn’t a good solution
- Reducing the rent is an unreliable last resort