If your competition is offering the dreaded “first month free” rent concession, then it is time to up your game. But why give away rental income when you can generate new leases with the following 17 move-in specials? These creative marketing specials are easy to implement and adapt for your market.

First get potential residents through your door!

Remember to use your own staff, residents and local businesses to help increase your apartment complex profile.

  • Incentivize your resident referral program.
  • Train your staff on telephone techniques and sales skills.
  • Make sure your advertising has an identifiable brand in the marketplace.
  • Focus on community building. Plan events for and with your residents.
  • Have a personal touch. Write (with a pen) and deliver birthday cards for residents.
  • Network! Invite local charities or businesses to resident events as a win-win.

Make sure the entryway to your lobby is inviting, fresh and clean!

17 creative move-in specials to lease units


  1.    A free phone cover, coffee mug or fidget box – with your branding!
  2.   A few months of free parking, gym membership, laundry, extra self-storage or another waived amenity fee.
  3.   Tickets to a local professional sports game, waterpark, art museum or music festival.
  4.   A new nightstand or end table with a smart phone charging station built into the surface.
  5.   Gift certificate to a local restaurant, grocery store, hairdressing salon, batting cages, or movie theater.
  6.   The No-Stress Move In Option – Let residents move their furniture in, set up cable and utilities over the course of a week instead of one single day without charge.
  7.   A new appliance – Washer/dryer, ceiling fan, refrigerator, stove, mounted flat screen television or dishwasher.
  8.   A free Fitbit, iPod, iPad or tablet.
  9.   Discounted security deposit.
  10.   Free renters insurance for one year.
  11.  The ability to pick an upgrade of their choice: crown molding, new fixtures and/or paint color.
  12.  Different payment options – Offer online payments, Apple Pay, credit cards or PayPal.
  13.  SmartHome technologies to control apartment environments from a phone.
  14.  A built-in bedroom closet organizer system.
  15.  Free use of a truck for moving-in day. Include moving boxes and a pizza.
  16.  An Amazon Prime membership or a Netflix subscription.
  17.  A few months of weekly house cleaning!

Offer move-in specials and reward tenants during a memorable event!

Host a New Residents Night Celebration and give the move-in specials away with fanfare. When giving resident referral incentive gifts, make it a party for your community! People will talk, document with social media and remember the community feeling of the party longer than their takeaway gift.

If, in the end, you are going to give a straight rent concession, then make the offer off the first month of rent instead of spreading it over the course of the year. That way sticker shock is avoided when it is time to renew the lease. Of course, all rental concession activity should be recorded on your rent roll.

Learn more:

What Is Brand Marketing, and Do You Need It?

How to Generate Traffic to Your Apartment Community

Great Ideas for Resident Retention: Easy Customer Service Makeover Tips


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Theresa Bradley-Banta writes about investing in real estate while avoiding the pitfalls that plague many new investors. She is a 2017 PropTech Top 100 Influencer and winner of 14 American and International real estate awards for her website and real estate investing programs. As featured on: The Equifax Finance Blog, AOL’s Daily Finance, Scotsman Guide, The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show, Stevie Awards Blog, Rental Housing Journal, and Investors Beat among others.