Back in the "good old days", one could simply run a very basic three line, 3-day rental ad in the local paper and expect to receive more than enough leads to get that rental occupied. No need to include photos of the rental either. Those good old days weren't that long ago - as recent as five years ago. Huge technological advances, especially as it relates to data storage and data transfer rates, have lead to an explosion of rental listing resources on the Internet that allow one the ability to post very detailed rental ads much more detailed in fact, than the basic summarized description you'd find with the more traditional newspaper ad. In addition, most rental posting sites provide capabilities for the user to post several photo's (and even floor plans), of their rentals.
These tech advances have had the added affect of killing off newspaper readership as more and more of the population migrates to the Internet to get their "newspaper fix". In addition, you have a renter demographic (the bulk of which is in the 20-40 age group), that expects to receive their information immediately. This age group has been brought up in the information age and wants to quickly make decisions. Thus the importance of photographs.
Put yourself in the shoes of a renter for a moment. Let's assume you're perusing through a bunch of Internet rental ads. You come across a rental listing that has absolutely no photographs with the ad. The next listing happens to have 10 pictures of the property included in the listing. You continue to click through ad after ad. Now think about it, how interested are you really going to be in those ads that have absolutely no photos associated with them? Especially when you now have a bevy of listings that include pictures with their listing. Get the picture? Not only is the 20-40 demographic quick in their decision-making, they're also very visual.
Before taking any pictures of your rental, take the time to make sure that it's been cleaned up in such a manner as to provide pleasing-looking photographs. For interior photo's, put away any clutter and turn on all lights. If you happen to have any units that are already occupied with tidy and clean-living tenants, why not offer one of them a rental discount or gift card for allowing you to come in and take pictures of their furnished place? Photos of furnished units are much more pleasing to the eye than those of vacant places.
On the exterior, be sure and mow and trim any overgrowth to provide the appearance of a nicely maintained property. If your photo's are of an overgrown, run-down property, you'll end up getting what you're advertising junk!
Now that you've prepped your place, what type of pictures should you associate with your Internet rental listing? It's always a good idea to have at least one photo of the exterior of the property. Obviously you'll want to have a "curb shot", taken somewhere out at the front of the property. If at all possible, additionally take photos of the rear, making sure that they highlight the nice features of your rental. If your property is located in a community with some nice ammenities (say a park or community center), why not take a couple of pictures of those as well and highlight those as selling points in your rental listing.
Moving to the interior include photos of each room if possible. If the rental site you're posting to limits the number of photo's you can include with your listing, at least take pictures of the parts of the house that you find attractive. Again, picture yourself as a renter. The more detailed you can be in describing your listing with pictures, the better results you'll get from your ad. Photos of the family room, kitchen, bath, and master bedroom should be included if at all possible. If you're able, additionally include photos of any extra bedrooms, and the basement if your rental has one.
When determining where on the Internet to post your rental, focus on sites that offer the ability to post 10-15 pictures per rental. That should be enough to give the potential renter a solid idea of whether or not your unit is what they're looking for.
If you have a number of rentals you're managing, this idea of picture-taking may sound a bit tedious. However, it's absolutely well-worth your time to set aside a portion of your day to complete this important task in order to effectively market your rental(s). Once you get your photos taken, save them on your PC. You'll not likely have to update your photos for a couple of years.
One other note if you live in a northern climate with changing seasons, take your exterior shots when foliage is still on the trees and shrubs. Again, a photo is worth a thousand words, and photos of dormant trees and brown-colored (or even snow-covered) grass just don't stack up to those that have alot of greenery in them.
Become a photo bug and have fun! Good luck!