A Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Rentals with Custom Maps

Written on April 23, 2014 by , updated on May 8, 2019


Property maps are a powerful, but highly under-utilized marketing tool for landlords.

In fact, I believe that a well-constructed map that highlights your property’s proximity to local amenities will set you apart from your competitors, and will allow you to charge 10%-15% more in rent.

I’ve noticed that renters will gladly pay a premium for a property AND location that meets their needs.

Did you catch that? You have to market the location just as much as the unit itself, if you want to command the highest possible rent.

There are three things that matter in property: Location, Location, Location – Lord Harold Samuel

Though it’s a catchy phrase, I think what Lord Samuel meant was that it is a property’s surroundings that give value to an address.

The Map Theory

More than an Address

Most renters want to know more than just a property’s physical address or to see a single marker on a map.


“How close is the market?”

They want to know how close it is to other places of interest, like grocery stores, public transportation, and restaurants – especially if they are from out-of-town.

With a visual map, you are actually able to show them how centrally located your property is, thereby calming any fears of transition, isolation, or buyer’s/renter’s) remorse.

In essence, you are helping them to visualize themselves living at your property.

Worth a Thousand Words

Have you ever wondered why sites like Realtor.com and Apartments.com use maps as the foundation for their property search and advertisements?

Maps generate results. They’ve spent millions of dollars in market research to prove it.

In fact, most of big listing sites present you with a map first, then after clicking around, you are able to view rent prices and property photos.


Walk Score’s Heat Map and Rental Listings

Big Data is the Key

Google Maps and Yelp are working hard to overlay hyper-local business information on their maps as a means to provide more information to the user.

Those companies with the most data, simplified, will win over the consumer and see the most profits.

While this is certainly a great start, it would be nice if there was a tool the combined a complete list of real-time rental ads with Walk Score and Yelp’s reviews.

Walk Score recently started pulling the rental listing from Realtor.com, and combining them with their own data. It’s not perfect, and I would love to see this integrated with Craigslist ads, and better designed with the landlord in mind.

Why Create Your Own Property Map?

A customized property map of local amenities is not only a fantastic way to showcase your property to potential renters, but it will also help new tenants get their bearings as they move in.

It’s just a nice way to say “welcome to the neighborhood”

Creating a custom map can be quick, easy and inexpensive.  

My very first property map

My very first property map – click to enlarge

In fact, my very first map was a screenshot of Google Maps, pasted into PowerPoint, on which I added red circles and text boxes.  It was primitive, but did the job.

As an added bonus, I was able to use it again, year after year, without re-creating it. To this day, whenever I sign a new lease at that property, I print out a copy of the old map, include it with their welcome packet, and email them a copy.

Locations of Interest:

  • The Rental Property
  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Public Transportation
  • Restaurants
  • Coffee Shops
  • Dept of Motor Vehicles
  • Banks
  • Post Office
  • Shopping Malls/Target/Wal-Mart
  • Fire Station
  • Police Station

Tools to Create Custom Maps


Google Maps is still king

1. Google Map Engine/My Places:

Create a custom Google Map with your address, add the points of interest, and then share it electronically with your tenant. It’s pretty amazing and quite addictive once you get the hang of it.

Google Maps allows to embed your custom map into any website. Website: https://mapsengine.google.com

2. Walk Score:

Walk Score is a great little tool that rates your property based on how “walkable” it is to points of interest. The higher the walk score, the more attractive your property will be to tenants. It will automatically populate a map with local businesses and then allow you to share it with your tenants. Website: http://www.walkscore.com/

3. A Printed Google Map:

Go to Google Maps, type in your address, and print. Voilà! You have a localized map that you can scribble on or edit in PowerPoint / Photoshop. If you’re having trouble printing, read this guideWebsite: http://maps.google.com

4. Tourism Maps:

Check with your local county/town tourism office. They may already have a bunch of cute little maps, free and chock full of things to do.

5. Simple Road Maps:

Pick up a cheap road map from your local convenience store and grab a red Sharpie marker. However, since maps can cost between $3-$20 each, this method could get expensive if you have multiple rentals.

Other Useful Maps


Washington D.C. Metro Map

Your local transportation authority will have free printed or downloadable transportation route maps.

Most major cities, like Washington, D.C. and New York, provide a printable map on their website.

If your tenant doesn’t have access to a car, you might want to consider dropping off a few of these maps.

photo credit: Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits via cc
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