Identifying the ‘Target Market’ for Your Property

Realtors use the same strategies their competition is using and somehow expects better results.

A happy Realtor and 2 happy homeowners.
Any kind of post proposing to talk about ‘targeting’ a property advertisement has to begin with a caveat: do not take anything in this post as advising you to do anything that would violate the Fair Housing Act. That will get you in trouble instantly, and it’s not the kind of trouble you can easily get out of. So with that in mind…

Groups You Can’t Target
Because of the aforementioned Fair Housing Act, there are a large number of things you can’t legally focus on in your advertising. Specifically:

• Race, color, or nation of origin,
• Religion, faith, spirituality, or creed,
• Gender or sexual orientation (with exceptions, see below),
• Marital or family status (with exceptions, see below),
• Age (with exceptions, see below), or
• Employment status except as it relates to ability to afford rent.

The exceptions are:
• Gender: If you’re renting out a unit in a home you live in, and there are less than four units in the home altogether, and you are female, you can choose to rent only to female tenants.
• Family status: If you’re renting out a unit with only X bedrooms, you can choose not to rent to people whose family size would require > X bedrooms to rent.
• Age: If you’re renting a unit in a specifically 65+ community, you can choose not to rent to people younger than that.

So, if you can’t say “no parents,” “Uzbekistanis preferred, ” or “25+ only,” what can you say? Well, almost anything. But what you should say depends on the answer to a very important question:

What Sets Your Property Apart?
A house has a really absurdly long list of things that people might care about. Fortunately, most of those attributes are so generic that they appeal to a huge variety of people. Having three bedrooms, for example, might appeal to a group of several renters, but it might also appeal to a single renter who needs a home office and a guest bedroom.

The attributes you should pay attention to and care about are the ones that will allow you to target specific groups that will unequivocally appreciate the feature in question. For example, if your property has a huge garage and is a block away from an auto parts store, you can point at those things and call out mechanics, car fanatics, and other automotively-oriented types of people. Or if your property has a big garden in the backyard and a solid kitchen, you could market it to gardeners, from-home caterers, or people who host parties.

Where to Look for Things that Set Your Property Apart
If you’re dealing with a property that you just purchased or for whatever other reason haven’t spent much time in, there are a few ‘tricks’ you can use to get the down-low on the property’s marketable attributes.
• First, check the Internet for previous advertisements of your property. You probably won’t find anything, but if you do, you have an instant snapshot of what someone else thought was worth mentioning.
• Second, check Google Maps, zoom into the level of ‘this property and the nearest few blocks,’ and look for interesting businesses, amenities, and landmarks within an easy walk (no more than a quarter-mile in one direction). These are things that you can totally sell as part of the appeal of the property. Then look for things in the property itself that might work with those things, like big patio out back goes with a local butcher (grilling!)
• Finally, look for things that might be considered drawbacks by most people, and brainstorm for groups of people who might see that thing as positive (or at least neutral). For example, if your house has a tiny kitchen, you can totally market it to people who can’t cook — or hate cooking — by saying “don’t pay for a kitchen you won’t use!” (Just be prepared to go a bit below market rent to match your claim.)

There’s Never Just One Target Market
You can’t just focus on one market segment. Well, you can, but it’s a mistake — there’s no such thing as a house that only appeals to one small group of people. The reality is, the greater the variety of segments you can target, the faster you’ll move tenants into the home. Importantly, once you’ve done this process once, it becomes about 90% easier to do the next time, and the time after that. Only significant changes to the neighborhood or home will require you to get anywhere close to starting over. That’s an investment that will pay dividends every single time there’s a vacancy just about forever.

Posted in: 1. Property Owner Blog Posts, Finding Tenants, Hiring Property Manager, Managing Rentals

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