How to Create a Free Website for your Rental Property

Written on February 19, 2016 by , updated on December 9, 2016

Cozy ListingsWhether you have 1 or 100 rental properties, you will need to market them if you expect to find tenants. I think one of the marketing strategies is to create a website for your rental. I’m going to show you how.

For most landlords and managers, that simply means posting an ad on Craigslist and a few dozen other listing sites. For many, this is their entire marketing strategy. And if they get desperate, they might put up a “for rent” yard sign.

The Hard Way

Previously, I built websites from scratch. I have a small background in web design, and I’ve always enjoyed using the internet to market my rentals, but didn’t enjoy the time that it took to produce a polished site.

Previously, I would create a unique website for each of my rental units. I even designed a logo for some of them, just for the fun of it. That was before I was married, and had a 4-year-old daughter to which I gladly divert my time.

The websites were expensive to upkeep (starting at $19/month each for hosting), and was just another thing that I had to maintain as part of my rental business. I spent about 30 hours getting each of these sites up and running … it was expensive and exhausting.

It was expensive and exhausting!

My New and Improved Marketing Strategy

My marketing strategy is now much simpler.

If you’re already using Cozy to market your available rentals, you know that each one already has its own beautifully designed listings ad with photos, amenities, and all the other essential information for that specific unit. Now they all have a home, on your new listings gallery. Best of all, each listing has a built-in rental application – making it easy for renters to apply.

Without a doubt, using a beautiful website is the best way to market your rentals.

As such, my marketing efforts follow a simple strategy, and it’s based around setting up a simple website. This is what I do:

  1. Create a listing in Cozy (with a detailed description and great photos)
  2. Syndicate by listing to Realtor.com and Doorsteps.com via Cozy to get a flood of interest.
  3. Buy a domain for each unit/property
  4. Advertise on Craigslist, and paste my custom domain in the ad
  5. The listing has a built-in rental applications, so I just sit back, relax and let the inquiries roll in!

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Rental Property

How to Create a Website for your Rental Property (for Free)

1. Create a Free Property Listing

listings@2xCozy provides you with a free hosted page for each property, and one for your own management company (called a Listings Gallery).

To get started:

  • Sign up for a free account at cozy.co/signup
  • Add a Property to your account
  • Create a new listing for that property
  • “Activate” the listing (making it public) and it will get published on Realtor.com and Doorsteps.com
  • You’ll also receive a free URL that you can use in all your advertisement, which looks like “home.cozy.co/apply/XXX”

Alternatively, you could create a website with sites like SquareSpace, LightCMS, or Wix, or Weeby, but you still may have to hire a designer/developer to edit images and customize it.

2. Buy a Domain

Search for your desired domain name, and buy it. My favorite domain registrars are GoDaddy and Network Solutions, but there are roughly 100,000 other companies that you could register a domain with.

Tips for picking a domain name for your property:

  • Use the property address
    If the address is 1450 N. Nash St, then consider registering 1450Nash.com.
  • Use the property name
    If the building is named Glenwood Apartments and your unit is 201, consider registering “GlenwoodApt.com” or “Glenwood201.com”
  • Use alternate top-level domains
    If your desired .com is taken, consider using .net, .co or .us – all of which are short enough to put on a business card or communicate audibly.

3. Forward the Domain to your Cozy URL

Domain Forwarding

Login to your domain registrar and look for a “301 redirect” or “domain forwarding” setting. Most registrars have this feature, and they make it easy to find.

You could forward the root domain to the Cozy Listing URL (home.cozy.co/apply/….), or you could send it to your gallery listings and create subdomains for each property.

Top-level Property Domains for Each Property

  • Your unit at 1450 N. Nash St could have the domain 1450Nash.com and get forwarded to home.cozy.co/apply/XXX
  • Your unit at 230 11th St could have the domain Houseon11th.com and forward to home.cozy.co/apply/YYY

OR, you can create a single Domain and forward the subdomains (which is less expensive). Your business/company could forward its main URL to the Cozy Gallery Listings URL, and then forward subdomains to the property pages.

Creating Subdomains for Properties

  • Your business/company domain, let’s say YourDomain.com could forward to https://home.cozy.co/profile/YOURNAME, which would show a list of all your available listings
  • Then, your individual properties could live at subdomains such as
    • 1450.YOURDOMAIN.com and forward to home.cozy.co/apply/XXX, and
    • 230.YOURDOMAIN.com and forward to home.cozy.co/apply/YYY

4. Share Your New Custom Domain and Website

Now, you can put your new custom domain (or subdomains) on business cards, yard signs, text messages, emails, Craigslist ads, and anywhere else you need to. Best of all, your custom domain will be easier to remember than https://home.cozy.co/profile/YOURNAME.

So sit back, relax, and let the inquiries roll in!

If you’re already a Cozy landlord, don’t forget to claim your vanity URL in Cozy Listings Gallery (before someone else does!)

A Real Life Example

scotrifeThe Scot Rife Group is a great example of how managers and realtors around the country are using advanced technology, like Cozy, to fill their vacancies.

Scot Rife and his team have forwarded one of their company domains to their Cozy Listings Gallery: http://www.937Rent.com, and are promoting the branded URL on their marketing collateral.

To take it a step further, Scot and his team modify the listing titles regularly to communicate availability of the property – smart, very smart.

How Do You Market your Rentals?

What steps are you going to take to build websites for your properties? Will you build it yourself, or use Cozy’s listings to save dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars?

I’m curious to hear what other tools you might be using to market your listings. If you’ve read all 1000 words of this article, leave me a comment, answering the following questions:

  1. What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? and
  2. What’s your favorite marketing technique for your rentals.
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24 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • MichaelC

    This is a great service, thanks Lucas!

  • Brad Warnick

    1. Mint Chocolate Chip.
    2. Craigslist has been my favorite because it is easy to use and always generates the most inquiries for my rental. My next favorite is the oldie but a goodie yard sign.

    • Lucas Hall

      Brad!

      Mint Chocolate Chip is my favorite too! Especially consumed as a milkshake!

      Craigslist certainly produces the most inquiries for me too. I really did see an increase in applications when I would refer them the listings page/website where they could apply online. I think that because it make me look professional, and tech-friendly, I gain instant trust and credibility with the applicant.

  • Ali

    Hi Lucas-

    I love strawberry flavor especially that of FrontPorch. It’s a local NC brand. Amazing!!

    My favorite marketing technique is to always keep my rental listing on top or at least so that it comes on the first page. For instance, Craigslist let’s you renew your listing every 48 hours for it to come on top. What I do is that first day I post two ads one in the morning and second in the evening. On second day I post two more new ads again for the same rental (morning and evening). After that I just recycle these four ads and renew them every 49th hour.. So each day it’s in the top few listings. I also keep a reminder on my cell phone to refresh each ad at 49th hour. This gives my rental maximum exposure.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ali,

      I’ve never had FrontPorch ice cream before, but you’ve peaked my interest. I’ll see if I can find it somewhere near me.

      Renewing your CL ad is a great tactic – I try to do that too – but I never thought about doing four separate ads and staggering them! Nice touch!

  • Tim Sabo

    This is another great reason I like Landlordology…you continue to copy me! Actually, I have spent a bunch of time setting up my own website, http://sites.google.com/site/floodcityrentals but I do it a bit different, for good reason. I don’t provide specific addresses of our properties on the site (or post a yard sign) because we don’t want to let unwanted visitors know the units are empty. Yes, we have had a break-in in an empty property, so we exercise caution. When we have a vacancy, we use Craiglist to let folks know the details, and may send the website link so they can view all the units (helps folks see the condition of our units). We pre-qualify folks on the phone before setting an appointment and providing the address. Chocolate!

  • A.G.

    Butter Pecan
    http://babcockhalldairystore.wisc.edu/product-category/ice-cream/standard-flavors/

    I have not yet marketed my property. I am counting on the Cozy framework to make marketing part of a smooth operation once we complete the turnover. (I learned a bunch screwing around with a WoM {word of mouth} tenant who exemplified almost all the errors I could make at once.)

    Paint’s almost done. Kitchen floor being installed Monday. All the wood floor is curing right now. Dunno if I can get a renter by March.
    I feel much more confident going forward as I read through the deep knowledge base of landlordology.com. I will be signing up with Cozy shortly.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi A.G.

      Good luck with the turnover! That can be the most stressful part of landlording. But you’ll make it through!

      If you’re looking for someone for March, you need to start marketing today (or better yet, like 4 weeks ago). It’s certainly a possibility to find someone for march, but more likely, you’re better off finding someone for April 1st, and spending the extra time to clean really well, take great pictures, market it with a website, and price it on the high end of the comparables. If you present it really well, you could get more monthly rent than if you settle for someone who’s looking to move in within 10 days. I hope you find someone for March 1 at a high price, but you’re running out of time.

      I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. But good luck to you! Let us know how it goes!

  • Steve Dickey

    Cookies and Cream.

    We’ve had our own domain for years, http://www.temescalview.com for our 24 unit apartment building and used to point it to Postlets home page that held our open listings. But that died a few month’s ago. Glad that Cozy has taken over that job for us as our “home page” that populates with listings when available. Right now the page is empty. We’re full occupied thanks to Cozy! Woo Hoo!!

    We use you for rent payments for all new tenants and keep trying to sell in Cozy to existing tenants, do you have any marketing materials or suggestions on how to get them to stop mailing in checks and go online?

    • Tim Sabo

      Steve, we set up a special bank account and then instruct our tenants to make their monthly rent payment into that account. They still have 5 days, but that simply allows for holidays or weekends. We have had no late rent payments since (we check the account-you can even set up email notificarion for deposits) because tenants can no longer use the mail or other silly reason to blame a late payment.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Steve!

      I’m so happy that you have 100% occupancy! That’s awesome man!

      Cozy’s release of the Listing’s Gallery was intentionally timed with the shutdown of Postlets – so I’m glad you made the switch.

      It’s sometimes difficult to convince existing tenants to switch to a different payment method – and near impossible if their lease allows them to pay a specific way (like by check). The only things you can do are:
      1. During a lease renewal, mandate online payments in the new lease
      2. Continue to pester them about switching, and tell them about all the benefits.

      Here’s a “welcome letter” that I use, which doesn’t really apply to existing tenants, but you could still take bits and pieces of it to try and convince them to switch. Download my welcome letter

      Lastly, you could just setup a lease in Cozy, and add their email addresses. They will receive an invite by email – with instructions on what to do. Then you can say “I’m switching to online payments – you MUST set it up”. But if they challenge you, and it’s not in the lease, then you can’t really enforce it.

      I hope that helps!

  • Ali

    Lucas-

    I would also like to add that for each of my rental I have created a website just as the article suggests, though I used wix.com. One more technique that I like to use is that I have put Live Chat option on the website for tenants or potential tenants to reach out to me right away. The live chat messages actually comes on my phone so I can answer questions right away. It has been quite successful. Ofcourse you can turn live chat option online or offline anytime you want or have a set schedule for it to come online or go offline. Here’s the link to a sample website that I have created that I share with other landlords online.

    http://myrentals.wix.com/samplerentalproperty

    • Lucas Hall

      Ali

      Nice job with the Wix site! The live chat is a nice touch too!

      I hadn’t heard of mylivechat.com before but it looks legit. Does it send you a text message or do you use an app on your phone?

      • Ali

        Hi Lucas-

        They have MyLiveChat app that you can download to your phone. It has a built in chat app which notifies you when someone sends you a message. The cool thing is that it tracks visitors too so you know how much activity you are having on your website especially when the unit is up for rental.

    • Sheila

      Ali,

      You are providing wonderful information. I love your website. We own one very nice rental property at this time and am looking to automate everything including creating a website for our rental. Would you mind telling us which plan the Sample WIX website for 123 Sample Cir. is? The “Connect Domain plan with 1 GB bandwidth & 500MB storage, Combo Plan with 2 GB bandwidth & 3 GB storage, Unlimited Plan with Unlimited bandwidth & 10 GB storage or the eCommerce plan with 10 GB bandwidth & 20 GB storage? Wondering what type of plan is necessary for a website that offers as much information and functionality as yours does.

      Thanks, Sheila

      • Ali

        Hi Sheila-

        Sorry for a very delayed response. I actually didn’t get notification that you left me a message. Hopefully my message gets to you.

        If you are interested in the website that I have created I can transfer the template to you. Just message me on the website http://myrentals.wix.com/samplerentalproperty using the “Live Chat” option at the top and I’ll respond. If i’m offline you can leave a message.

        I’m currently on a free plan. It works for me because I do not mind that black Ad banner at the bottom of my website. However, if the ad banner bothers you, you can go with their Combo plan. The documents and pictures are not that big so you don’t need that much space. You can always start with low space and upgrade if needed.

  • Renata Wong

    Great place! But found odd that the property details has limitation as how much details it fit in there Also, where can I place my other terms ? like only one small pet, the others charged fees….etc etc

  • Mike

    Can I add a virtual tour to a cozy property listing?

  • J. Hill

    Rocky Road & Cozy so far.
    Your site has been very helpful so far, though!

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