I know most of you seasoned landlords probably despise showings but I have my first one tomorrow and I'm pretty excited. After posting an ad on Postlets I have scheduled 10 people to come see the house. I am doing this in two group showings one tomorrow and one on Saturday.
First question is any general advice for these kinds of things? I have been re-reading the article Brandon Turner wrote on step by step process to rent a house. Any thing I need to say during the showing?
Second question is how do you typically prescreen on the phone? For everyone that has been calling I reiterated that I require "minimum 600 credit score, gross monthly income 3 times the rent, references required, and credit/background check required" I then ask if any of those things are a problem and without hesitation everyone says "no it wont be a problem". There is no way that these people meet all these requirements and tips on how to screen out the unqualified people?
Third question what order does the the process go in? I am thinking that first I show them around the house get a feel of where they are at and then give them the application if they are interested? If they want to apply I would also need to collect a check from them to pay for the SmartMove credit/background check. Do I ask for a check on the spot? What if I get a whole bunch of applicants and its hard to chose which one? Or vice versa I get a bunch of applicants and none of them are good? I would sorta feel bad if someone applied and they lost their application fee because I chose someone else that had a slightly better credit score or something.
Sorry if these questions sound silly or I am over thinking things I just want to be prepared so I can hit the ground running tomorow!
Whoops misspelled apartment in the title how unprofessional of me. Sorry.
@Joseph Weisenbloom just be yourself! I have found that no one can market a property as well as the owner. You will do great!
As far as applications go, you should collect an application fee (usually $40) for every adult 18 and over that will be living in the unit. Get a money order or cashier's check. If you take cash be sure to give them a receipt. It sounds like you have done a good job of pre-screening on the phone-- at least letting them know the requirements. Make sure they fill out an actual application. I have some Texas lease applications that I can email you if you need something to go by.
Yes, show them the property first. You can take multiple applications and select which one meets your credit/financial qualifications best. However, be very careful about the ones you turn down. You need to document the reason they don't meet your qualifications or why you are selecting another application over theirs. You don't ever want to appear to be discriminating or violating fair housing laws.
I would recommend taking a "qualifications guidelines" sheet with you to the showing with your criteria documented. This way, there isn't any confusion or questions when you turn someone down. Also put on there that if there are multiple applicants you will review each one and select the strongest applicant based on their financial/credit/previous rental background. You can also include any rules/fees for pets.
Also, call every previous landlord, not just the last one. The last one may be ready to get rid of them and will tell you good things even though they are horrible tenants.
And look inside their car... this is how they will treat your property!
@Account Closed Yea I have been trying to closely follow all the advice of the BP forums with this but doing anything for the first time can be hard. Are you talking about the TREC applications? I already have those. Good advice with the car as well.
Bringing a qualifications sheet is a good idea. How do I go about documenting if someone dosen't meet criteria?
Also does anyone know how much it costs to run a person on SmartMove? I want to make sure my application fee is enough.
People do it differently but I usually offer applications to qualified applicants either if they ask or if I really want them. If its not a sure thing I tell them they can email after they think about it. If they won't qualify they can have an application if they insist but it won't really get them anywhere. I review paper information then send the credit check link and they pay directly online. I never process more then one credit check but I will accept paper applications from multiple applicants. You would be amazed when people apply who say money is no problem and you look at the application what you see. I have advertised for non-smokers and get smokers... sometimes they don't read. Expect no shows too.
For showings if it is one prospect I run them through the house and then let them look on their own. Helps to have dimensions of a tape measure in some houses.
@Joseph Weisenbloom yes, I was talking about the TREC forms. Are you also an agent?
I would document by just keeping records somewhere for yourself, in case you are ever asked in the future. You can just tell the tenant you didn't accept their application and why (if they ask).
I don't have any idea about smartmove, but you can ask the tenant to pay for the credit check themselves on the site. Maybe that is a good option instead of taking the application fee up front. I've never seen one more than $40.
@Colleen F. has a good point. You don't need to run a credit check on every applicant. Just the ones that look good to you on paper. I would even check their references, employment and past rental history first. Then if that all checks out, run the credit check and let them pay for it online. That way, you don't have to worry about returning the money to those who don't get processed.
Some good advice from Kim H. Yes, definitely make sure you don't violate any fair housing rules, and check out their car! Also look at their clothes - they don't need to be fancy or expensive, but they should be clean and appropriate for public. If their clothes have holes, stains, etc., that indicate that they are slobs, that's a "no" for us. Obvious exceptions include if the person is coming straight from their job as a mechanic or something where we'd expect them to be unclean, in which case we still judge their car.
Another screening criteria I have is: no prior evictions. Some landlords have a policy of no prior evictions in the last XX years. Your choice if you want to use that as part of your criteria. I never use personal references - people never list someone who's going to say something bad about them. I do call the landlord, though.
Nothing special you need to say during the showing. I typically ask when they're planning on moving in. It's a good short question for when we're walking to the unit, and gives me an idea of whether they're serious (vs "just looking"), and also lets me know when I'll have it occupied. I won't hold a unit for more than 1/2 month once I get a deposit to hold it. You'll find some people will want you to hold it for a month (without paying you rent) so they can give their 30 days notice at their current place.
I don't typically prescreen on the phone, personally. Some people find that to be a turn-off, thinking I might be a demanding/nagging landlord, which I'm not.
You're right, they won't all meet your screening criteria. You will soon learn that some people lie right to your face (some of them think maybe you won't actually verify their info, which is exactly why you need to!).
I typically wait inside by the front door and let them walk through the unit, then answer any questions they have. If your unit has any special features they may not notice or realize is there (like a murphy bed that's in the "up" position), you might point that out.
If I get multiple qualified tenants, I pick the "most" qualified one. You have to decide what feature would be most important first (highest credit score, highest income, etc.). I wouldn't pick a "most important feature" that could be considered discriminatory, such as "fewest occupants," since that could be argued as discriminating against family status.
@Account Closed I am not an agent but I am friends with a few that have hooked me up with that form.
@Colleen F. That sounds like a good idea run the paper application first and give the credit/background check for the best ones. Its sounding like for SmartMove I wouldn't even need to collect the check they would be able to pay when they sign in online? Also I heard to verify the information on their application I need some type of release of information form any experience with that?
Lots more responses showed up while I was typing my first response.
@Colleen F. is right, some will be no-shows, especially when they schedule it days in advance. That reminds me of another screening criteria I have: if they are more than 15 minutes late for their appointment (and they don't call to reschedule or let us know they're stuck in traffic), they are a "no" for us. Punctuality is reflective of how responsible they will be as a tenant.
I don't charge for applications (shocking, I know), since we don't end up running very many credit checks of applicants. Most of them are rejected before we get to the credit check stage of the screening (income is too low, they have a dog, admit to having bad credit, have a past eviction, etc.), so we don't want to deal with trying to collect and then return all that money. Our credit checks are less than $20.
@Kimberly T. There is a whole lot of Kim's in this conversation :) Yea I wanted to hedge my risk against no shows by doing a group showing that way if someone dosen't show up its not a total loss.
I do it like every 15 minutes, then if you have a good applicant you can get a feel for that. If I schedule a bunch at one time and a couple show it is hard for me to keep the background straight and make notes after the meeting on them. ( I do make notes on things people tell me spontaneously. I will put down personal items that help me remember them or maybe rule them out.
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