Starting a pet friendly property advertising business

Discussion in 'Coffee Lounge' started by Rentwithpets, 7th Dec, 2012.

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Where do you currently advertise vacant properties?

Poll closed 26th Dec, 2012.
  1. realestate.com.au

    33.3%
  2. domain.com.au

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. rent.com.au

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. rentfind.com.au

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. homebound.com.au

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. realestateview.com.au

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. gumtree

    16.7%
  8. newspaper

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  9. street flyer

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  10. other/none of the above

    50.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Rentwithpets

    Rentwithpets Member

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    Hi,
    I am starting a new business to advertise pet friendly rental properties online, and would like to hear your opinions about this new project. I am new to this forum.

    From my research over 60% of tenants are looking for rental properties that allow pets, so I think my business has potential. The advantage of having responsible pet owning tenants is that the tenants stay longer as they do not have to hide or give up their pets (fewer vacancies), and people who can demonstrate that they are responsible about keeping animals (desexed, obedience trained, go to the vet regularly etc) are more likely to be responsible about looking property. Some tenants have also mentioned that they would be willing to pay more for the privilege of a pet friendly property. Others have added value to properties by building fences out of their own pocket. From a cashflow point of view there seems to be lots of benefits.

    The benefits for tenants is that they do not have to give up a much loved family member to an animal shelter when they are moving house. Potential tenants can join a forum and register for email alerts when properties that meet their criteria become available. They could also upload references, pet resumes, and apply for properties online. I don't plan to charge tenants to use any features of the website, as I will use the data from property alerts to compile statistics about where there is strong demand/what tenants are looking for/what pets they have/how much they will pay. Investors can then choose whether or not to advertise a property on the website based on these statistics. Property owners and property managers that advertise properties can choose to pay for each ad or a monthly subscription to post multiple ads. There will be pageview statistics to show how effective an advertising campaign is. Advertisers can tick boxes to show what pets will be considered for a particular property, and how many animals will be considered. This will avoid problems of tenants bringing unsuitable animals eg. 10 big noisy dogs into a city apartment. Full disclosure could also mean people are less likely to sneak in unsuitable animals. My goal is to create a website with useful features that will add value to rental property advertising, but I am not sure what other features to include that will be valuable to people.

    What are your experiences with pet owning tenants, both positive and negative? Do you have any special requirements from tenants eg. steam cleaning carpets, pest treatment on departure? What features do you value in online property advertising? Where you currently advertise vacant properties, and how much do you pay? How do you currently track the effectiveness of various advertising campaigns? For an advertising campaign to be considered effective, how many views or enquiries do you like to have? Would you be interested in advertising on this website? Thank you for your time!

    Cheers,
    Yen
    Rent With Pets
     
  2. Nemo30

    Nemo30 Member

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    I like the concept, however wonder if by only listing your property with such a business you are limiting exposure of your property to a small portion of the market.

    For example I have two properties in which I allow pets - in both cases they have been rented by people without pets.

    I wouldnt list them with a pet only company because people without pets wouldnt see it.
     
  3. Rentwithpets

    Rentwithpets Member

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    Thank you very much for your feedback Nemo. It is very helpful as I'm trying to dot all the i's and cross all the t's before the business starts. You have a very good point :) Why advertise your property in a website that only reaches a percentage of the market? There is not a single rental property website that reaches 100% of the market. There are many rent.com.au clients that haven't visited domain or REA. It could make sense to advertise in several places simultaneously to reach as many potential customers/tenants as possible.

    The advantage of advertising on a pet friendly website is potential for higher yield, as many responsible pet owners have higher incomes, happy to pay more than other tenants, and commit to a longer lease. It could increase the exposure and interest in a property by up to 60%, as many pet owners filter out properties that are not "pet friendly" from search results. Full disclosure helps to weed out the people that don't declare their pets on application, then sneak them in later. From my surveys of people that currently rent properties in Sydney, many non pet owning tenants are constantly on the lookout for pet friendly properties in the hope of adopting a pet when they do find the right property. Ultimately statistics are just numbers, it doesn't reflect who is in the market at any given time. You may find that the ideal tenant for your property today is a single rich retiree that doesn't smoke or party, cleans meticulously and doesn't have pets, but a grandchild comes to visit and breaks a window. Next month it could be a professional couple with a high income and a well behaved dog, no children, pays out of their own pocket to build a fence that adds value to the property.

    What I am going to offer on my website is for potential advertisers to search property alerts in their surburb and determine if the demand is worth paying for an ad. If there are 50 responsible pet owners looking for a 3 bedroom house worth $500 a week when the median rent is $300 then it makes sense to advertise. If there is only 1 person offering $200 then of course the advertising dollars would be better spent elsewhere. I like the idea of "try before you buy" to decrease risk.

    I am aware of websites that return 3 month old property ads on search results, when people call they find out that the property was leased a long time ago. To keep the property alerts as well as property ads current, users could be sent reminders every 4 weeks to ask if they want to renew or remove it.
     
  4. Jamie M

    Jamie M Mortgage Broker - Oz Wide

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    Hi there

    I'm all for allowing pets in IPs and have generally had good experiences with tenants who have had dogs or cats.

    Can't you filter searches on realestate.com and the other larger property search sites to find rentals that allow pets? If so, you're coming up against massive competition for your website listings as I'd assume that the majority of PMs would look to list their rentals here first.

    Cheers

    Jamie
     
  5. INVSTOR

    INVSTOR O+

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    When I was looking for a rental property I looked on realestate.com.au, Gumtree and agency windows/flyers. I found that the first method you could filter for pets accepted although it wasn't accurate and there were some listings that weren't picked up. I did also call a lot of agencies regarding properties that didn't mention either way, but the answer was usually 'no'. So I guess it would save a bit of searching. I'm usually pet friendly with my rental properties, but feel most of my tenants wouldn't tolerate paying much more rent when there are some landlords who are prepared not to charge more rent, even though they allow the priveledge of having pets. Why would someone go to your site and pay $100/wk etc more in rent when they can go to other sites and pay less. There is also a difference between tenants with one pet and tenants with 5 -10 pets. How would you differentiate?
     
  6. Truly Exotic

    Truly Exotic Property Deal Finder

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    Not a bad idea

    However

    Once real estate.com and domain catch on to any demand

    All they have to do is introduce a drop down search box for 'pet friendly'


    And there goes your business
     
  7. Rentwithpets

    Rentwithpets Member

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    Thank you very much, Jamie :) REA is my biggest competitor as they have the highest market share, and they do provide a very good service. Although they are very expensive, most PMs advertise there because REA gets a lot of traffic and the website is well maintained. Plus they have lots of resources for investors. The only way for me to compete is to differentiate my service, and to provide greater value for money for my clients.

    One way that my website will be different from REA is that anybody can post an ad. REA only allows agents to advertise properties, which is a business model that serves them well (exclusivity for agents). Their main focus is property sales rather than rentals. About 40% of investors choose to self manage, which essentially shuts them out of advertising on REA. Domain allows investors to advertise without an agent, but the fees are quite expensive. Anybody can advertise a property on Rent With Pets, individual investors with very few properties can pay for each advertisment. PMs and agents can subscribe monthly to advertise unlimited properties for no extra charge, and also have a page to advertise their business. For the investor that wants to advertise for "free", they are encouraged to hire one of the PMs with a subscription, or ask their own PM to subscribe :)

    Yes REA and Domain have a "pet friendly" filter that is very helpful for many people. However some pet friendly investors are reluctant to use it. The filter doesn't allow them to specify what animals would be considered so they are afraid of getting too many enquiries from people that own pets which are unsuitable for their property, which they feel would waste their time. If REA decides in the future to provide additional filters for "pet friendly" properties, then they could become really tough competition!

    The ability to check property alerts/ real time demand for a certain type property by postcode, and the price that potential customers will pay is another way that I can differentiate my service. Any suggestions on how I can provide more value for investors, or differentiate my service are most welcome. Thanks!
     
  8. Rentwithpets

    Rentwithpets Member

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    Thank you very much for your feedback, Investor and Truly Exotic!

    Many rental property websites already have a "pet friendly" or "pets allowed" filter. Unfortunately they do not allow advertisers to specify what types of pets would be considered for the property. I own an apartment, and I would definitely consider a couple of desexed cats in the property but not an entire male golden retriever that would urinate on my walls. However if my property was a 10 acre farm I would be happy with a long term tenant that owns 5 horses and 2 dogs. I am also more likely to rent such a farm to a family with 3 dogs than an old lady with 20 indoor cats (she may be a hoarder or psychologically unsound). Hence the additional filters to specify - cat, small dog, medium dog, bird, fish, rabbit, rodent, horse, and how many animals are suitable for a particular property.

    You're right that it is frustrating for tenants to search for pet friendly properties on multiple websites. The filters do not always deliver accurate results because advertisers may write "pets considered" in the body of the ad but if they don't tick the right box the property gets filtered out. Many property owners do consider certain pets when asked directly, but they choose not to advertise the properties "pet friendly" for fear of attracting the wrong tenants. The key is to select for responsible tenants, who can show evidence of responsible pet ownership and responsibility about looking after properties.

    The pet friendly market is very competitive, because there are simply not enough properties to meet the demand. Imagine 60% demand and only 10% supply. There are many pet owners willing to pay higher rent for the priviledge. However there are also others that can't afford to pay more. As with most other investments, the lowest price will attract the most interest. More expensive properties will attract the premium tenants, provided that the property is value for money. Most responsible pet owners consider the privilege of keeping their pets as "value".

    Yen:eek:
     
  9. Rentwithpets

    Rentwithpets Member

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    The only way to tell what price a tenant is willing to pay for a property is by analysing property alerts set by real people. This is another way that I can differentiate my business from others. Tenants determine the price they want to pay for the property that they want, they are free to offer as high or as low as they like. When we make the customer's (tenants) desires transparent, it is easier to offer customers what they want. By offering suitable properties at prices that customers are asking for it becomes a win-win situation for all. Investors and PMs can decide whether it is worthwhile to advertise a property to the tenants based on what is being offered. There will be no obligation for advertisers to accept a Rent With Pets tenant if there is a better tenant to be found elsewhere :)

    Cheers,
    Yen
     
  10. skater

    skater Capitalist

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    To be perfectly honest, I would not use your service. I have all my properties managed by an agent, and they do the advertising for my properties free of charge. I am happy for my tenants to have pets, and some, but not all, of them do.

    I do like the concept, and I think it's more likely to be the private landlords who would be interested. Good luck.
     
  11. Rentwithpets

    Rentwithpets Member

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    Thank you very much for the honest feedback, Skater :) You're right that many investors hire PMs to do everything from advertising, open houses, checking references, collecting rent, etc. without you having to worry about details like where to advertise. No reason to pay extra to advertise elsewhere when the PM takes care of everything. It looks like my next step is to talk to more property managers about what features they find valuable in property advertising websites, and what they would like to see that isn't currently offered by existing advertising avenues.

    It is wonderful to have support from so many pet friendly investors :) The bond between humans and animals is a very special one.

    If we ignore pet friendly properties for the time being, what advertising features do you value most about internet property advertising? Is there anything that you like or don't like about the sites that you're currently advertising on? Are there any special features that you would like to see that are not currently offered on any advertising website? How many people are you currently reaching with your advertising campaigns? How do you measure the effectiveness of current advertising campaigns eg number of pageviews, number of email/phone enquiries, quality of tenants that turn up at open houses?
    Thanks again for your time and sharing your opinions!
    Cheers,
    Yen
     
  12. alexlee

    alexlee Member

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    I still can't figure out who your service is aimed at. More importantly, I can't see who would pay you for your service.

    It seems to me that your service benefits tenants with pets. But in property, it's the owners or agents who pay for services.

    Properties allowing pets are rarer and can usually get higher rent. Owners don't need help finding potential tenants with pets. Just a simple 'pets allowed on approval' is enough. What does your service add?

    To me as an owner, if I allow pets, I allow pets. I don't allow pets just because I see demand for it. Given how few pet-friendly IPs are out there, I know there's demand for it. Conversely, if I advertise pets allowed and there aren't tenants with pets looking for a place, I haven't lost anything.

    These are great questions to ask PMs (who pay for the advertising). You're asking the users, who might give you good ideas about what they're looking for but they're not the ones paying you.

    A business needs someone to pay you for your service, and therefore requires someone to want your service. When the two are different, it's hard to make it work.
     
  13. Rentwithpets

    Rentwithpets Member

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    Thank you Alex. Those are great questions!

    My new service will be aimed at PMs and investors that self manage, as well as responsible pet owners (who are 60-80% of property investors customers). There is no reason why a business can't help both property owners and tenants and create a win-win situation for everyone. Without tenants there is nobody to pay for investment properties. PMs and investors pay to advertise, like most other property websites that don't charge tenants to search or access rental resources. The service will help properties get more interest and exposure from potential tenants, not necessarily an exclusive advertisment portal unless the advertiser chooses to do so.

    The advantage over other websites is that it will gather customers from a very large niche market, where there is not enough supply to meet the needs of these customers that make up 60% of the market. Customers (tenants)tend to be more loyal (ie longer tenancy) and or willing to pay more when a business (property) meets their needs. I have a list of good tenants working in the veterinary industry who are eager to leave their current rental if they can find a pet friendly property.

    What I am planning to offer that is different from others is:
    1. A useful resource to check the demand for properties in the area before committing to an ad. Most useful for checking if people are willing to pay above market rent, or commit to a longer lease in one area compared to another. No other website is offering this.
    2.The option to specify what pets could be considered, and how many animals...and make these criteria searchable. This will discourage applications from those that will not be suitable for that property, and simply waste a PM's time to look at the application.
    3. A platform to encourage tenants to fully disclose what pets they have, rather than signing a "no pets" lease and sneaking in the animals later.

    I am asking both PIs and PMs for opinions about what would be useful in a property advertising website. Both are my future paying customers as 40% of investors choose to advertise privately rather than use a PM. Thank you all for your valuable contributions, especially that ones that give feedback about why you would not use the service. This helps me to develop a better product.
     
  14. skater

    skater Capitalist

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    I have added my 5c into the poll, although it appears that I'm the only one that has. I don't advertise, my Agent(s) do. Depending on where the IP is, and which PM is looking after it, will depend on what method is used.

    Often, all that is needed is the little flyer inside the agency, other times they go onto Real Estate.com. I've got another PM who doesn't advertise at all, and relies solely on walk in traffic. All the agencies in this area do the same, so it's not unusual.
     
  15. alexlee

    alexlee Member

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    Still don't see why I would use a pet-friendly specific advertising method, when normal advertising with the words 'pets allowed' would catch the tenants with pets, AND those without pets. What, tenants with pets don't search the usual websites?

    I see this as a useful add-on to the existing sites, but not something I would pay for separately.
     
    Last edited: 11th Dec, 2012
  16. INVSTOR

    INVSTOR O+

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    I can see a small need for this service - probably moreso from tenants or investors chasing higher yields. I know someone who relocated (other half living in another location while waiting for job transfer - so double income) and has spent about 6 months living in a hotel with one child while waiting to get a rental that would accept two dogs and three cats. After many unsuccessful attempts of myself renting for the first time ever with two dogs an agent told me I had to lose one dog. I got my parents to look after staffy x for 6 months. We then kicked out our tenants with 2 dogs and 1 cat and moved into our own property and we got our other dog back. A couple of weeks after we got her back we noticed she seemed a bit off. after a few appointments and tests midway through surgery we had to put her down as she had very developed cancer and was not quite 4 years old.
    So for people like myself and friend who are mainly owner occupiers, it's difficult to find a place that allow pets while not having any rental history. Most typical tenants are used to not being able to own pets, or may have good rental history while renting with them.
     
    Last edited: 11th Dec, 2012
  17. INVSTOR

    INVSTOR O+

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    I'm self-managing a property interstate at the moment. It only fell into a place as my old tenant asked for a reference, and just happened to be same suburb/requirements as where I was buying. I will go back to self-managing other property next year but have no idea where I would advertise when need be. I used to advertise in newspaper, but haven't self-managed/advertised for tenant for about 5 years otherwise. I would probably advertise in newspaper and have a link to gumtree. Not too sure if that would be too old fashioned though and attract too many time wasters.
     
  18. Rentwithpets

    Rentwithpets Member

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    Thank you very much to everybody for offering an opinion and filling out my survey.

    One of the reasons for setting up a pet friendly rental property website is demand from tenants. Tenants have asked for a dedicated pet friendly search portal, rather than clicking through hundreds of ads to find a property that the "pet friendly" search filter has missed (there are quite a few). They also prefer to disclose their pets upfront to a landlord that they know will accept their pets rather than having to lie about them.

    Skater you have a good point about finding tenants easily by sticking a sign at a real estate agent's window. Most tenants that are looking for a property in a particular surburb are looking at those windows, in addition to searching on the internet. Advertising on the internet exposes your property to more people, but if it is in a surburb where you can get good tenants easily you may not need to do any more :)

    Investor, I'm very sorry to hear about your experiences finding a home to rent with your pets. Many pet owners have had similar experiences, which is why they tend to be very loyal tenants when someone offers them the priviledge of keeping the pets. Pets are considered much loved family members and nobody likes to be separated from loved ones or surrendered to a pound. Sad to hear about your dog, sounds like you gave him a lot of love and a good quality of life in the golden years.

    Unfortunately there are a few irresponsible pet owners that wreck properties and spoil it for everybody. I'm planning to have tenants fill out "evidence" of responsible pet ownership like obedience training certificates, questionnaire about how they will take care of pet waste, clean up accidents on carpet, control fleas and parasites, prevent scratches on floorboards, confine pets when nobody is home, discourage digging, etc. Such a questionnaire could easily be extended to cover children and partiers/smokers too :) That way we can easily pick out the more responsible tenants, and encourage the others to be more responsible.

    Have a great weekend!
    Yen
     
  19. alexlee

    alexlee Member

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    All that makes sense. If you can get the tenants with pets to pay for access to this service, you have a business. However, if you are looking for landlords, via PMs, to pay extra for this service, I don't see what value you add. Pet-owning tenants will still go to the main property sites.