Do you get pissed about no-shows for property viewings then use this tip.

70 Replies

When I got my first couple rental homes I set up a time to meet them over at the property.  Not only did it take so much time but I would get so pissed when I had no shows.  I could even call them while I was at the property and they wouldn't answer.

So I met a local investor and he shared with me something that works great.  Buy a Master Lock box from any retailer like Lowe's, Home Depot or even online.  I buy the ones where they open by entering a four digit combo.  In good neighborhoods I put them on the front door and in bad or questionable neighborhoods I put them on the back door.  The reason I put them on the back door is because if the low-lifes of this world see a lockbox on a door it is a tell-tale sign that the property is vacant and they will come steal or vandalize the property.

As people call about the property I vet them a bit.  Ask things like where they work, how long they've worked there, where they currently live and why they are moving.  If I get a good feel from each of these questions and they are interested and want to see inside, I then share with them the code to get in.  

This is the important part though...ask them to call you back when they are done viewing the property so that I know that it is locked back up.  Everyone always is understanding of this and everyone always calls back.  This also gives me the opportunity to ask them how they liked the property and if they are interested in filling out an application. In the seven or so years that I've used this trick, I've never had anyone do any damage to my property.

So what tips/tricks do you have in saving time, money or energy with your investment properties?

Sounds like an interesting idea but I use the meeting as a preliminary view into their lives.  Do they show up on time, are they prepared with questions/answers, do they look at the house thoroughly or quick browse etc.

We have the same issue and it really pisses me off when people don't show, thanks for the good tip.

have you thought of the risk of damages (I know you mentioned you have had that issue), or people may make a copy of the key, or they don't remember (or on purpose) not putting the key back to the key box?

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@Bruce L.  I was worried about this at first but honestly I've never had an issue.  There have been a couple folks that applied for the property and then I turned them down for whatever reason.  Typically what I do in those instances because I don't know if they are mad about me rejecting their application, is change the combo to a different number so they can't get back in.

Don't get piss that comes with being a landlord. Now let's say 10 shown up and none of then like the place but track mud and dirt in so you need to clean it up and start over.


Joe Gore

What I do is have them call me an hour before they want to come.  Lets me know they are serious.  I'll try and schedule 3 or so for around the same time. 

Lockbox method is risky.  Guys that want to steal copper will call on the for rent sign to make sure no ones going to be there.  Now they don't even have to break in, if they are smart enough to sound interested.

I have a much less risky method.  Pick a time slot once a week.  I usually pick Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  I tell everyone who calls to be there at that time.  I tell them to call me 30 minutes ahead of time.  If nobody calls, I don't go.  If they do, I show up.  Most folks don't show up at the exact time and spend only a few minutes looking, so its not common to have more than one group at once.  But its not a bad thing if that does happen.

No way am I giving someone I've spent five minutes on the phone with unlimited access to my property.  Or the ability to copy the keys.

No  way I could be comfortable with doing that, I've had way too many people who've sounded good over the phone and turned out to be atrocious once I started digging into the background. Plus I like to use that time to get a personality feel for them and also ask those "on the spot" questions.

I have done it your way and Jons way. If I do it your way, I tell them to text me a pic of their drivers license as well I do a internet search on name, phone number, workplace, facebook etc.. I also have my guy show up later to double check its locked up properly and change combos. I prefer Jons way in most cases.

Thanks, 

Matt

I like this idea when i am short on time. Unless, of course, there is a tenant living there. Wouldn't want to risk their belongings.

I definitely see the value of this for vacant properties. I recently began scheduling all viewings on one or two days in the week within a window of an hour or so. Usually staggered at 15 minute intervals. Anyone that can't make the time window has helped me screen them out.

I always hope to rent the home and only have three days of vacancy for cleaning and re-keying so I start showings 30 days before lease is up. That would mean I wouldn't normally use this method.

I only have two rentals (so far) but I recently got them on schedule to renew in the same month. My thinking is that only one month will I be running around to showings and answering calls etc. this may not be the most scalable method but when I have 20 homes I will figure out how to handle that "problem".

Thanks for starting an interesting thread here.

The questions I have are 'why are the people not showing up?' 'What did you ask of them before giving them a showing?' I won't permit a showing without getting a lot of information about the person applying. I want to know who they are. Name, DOB... so I can look on the Department of Public Safety and make sure they don't have a felony assult record. I google their name and check arrest records, etc., before committing to a showing. I ask 'Did you drive by the property?' Yes or No. If 'no', I tell them to... and maybe ask them to text me a picture of their favorite exterior feature of the property. Then I know they saw the property. I also ask for all the information in a full application... but no fee up front, since I don't run a background check until I know the applicant wants the property. This mehtod doesn't cost me anything up front, and just costs the applicant some time and effort.

In this market, with our properties we are having few no-shows.

@Chris Martin  I'd never thought about having them text me a copy of their driver's license...I like that idea.

I personally like this method and use it for the three units I currently have.  Now I will be the first to admit that in life I'm too trusting, my wife would 100% agree with that statement.  It typically takes me getting burned before I change my ways.  

Here's another method though that works on a much larger scale.  The method I wrote about in the original post is what I use just for my three units.  But for those of you who say you meet people at the property to physically show them...what about when you have say five units open at once.  How will you handle that?

We currently manage over 200 units of which 90% of them are single family homes.  We have anywhere from 1-10 people come each day wanting to view our available properties.  The time it would take to show these homes all over town physically to them would be ridiculous.  So the systems we have devised is called our "Silver Lock System".

All out homes have GOLD lock sets on them when they are occupied with tenants.  So when they move out we put a SILVER lock set on the front door.  Every silver lock that we own is all keyed exactly alike.  That way one key will open any house that has a silver lock.  So our policy is that they must come into the office between the hours of 8:30 am-3 pm.  We get a copy of their driver's license and a $20 cash deposit.  We then check out a SILVER KEY to them.  As long as they return the key by 4:30 they will receive their $20 back.  The reason our stop time for check out is 3 pm is because that gives them enough time to view a property and have the key back by 4:30.  This is the only way we show property.  We don't show in the evenings or on the weekends.

So when we rent a home, we change out the silver lock for the original gold lock.  That way even if someone did make a copy of our silver key they could only get into a vacant property and never an occupied one.

This system saves our company tons of hours, thus also tons of money.

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Only a stupid tenant text a landlord their drivers licenses they never met and how would the tenant know how the landlord will use the info.


Joe Gore

I do what Jon does, learned that from my first rental experience. My contractors in FL and NJ show the properties for us. Applicants call me first, and I screen them over the phone. That weeds out a lot of them. Then I tell them to call my contractor half an hour before they are supposed to meet at the property. No call, and he doesn't go. I also try to schedule several people at exactly the same time. Even with a confirmation call, sometimes there's a no show, but if 3 people are scheduled, at least 2 will show up. I tell them my contractor gets paid by the hour and will not wait longer than 15 minutes. Being on time shows whether they understand time and commitments. My contractor gives me a description of the applicants, how they acted, what they said. I compare that to what they told me on the phone.

Not a snowball's chance in hell would I ever give a key to a total stranger for a copy of a  driver's license or a $20 key deposit or their firstborn. As Jon said, they could copy the key, or case the place to steal something...if they used a hand truck to take out the stainless steel fridge or washer/dryer, who would stop them if they had the key? And if you give them a key, what does that imply as far as "possession" of the unit?

Originally posted by @Aaron Wyssmann:

We currently manage over 200 units of which 90% of them are single family homes.  We have anywhere from 1-10 people come each day wanting to view our available properties.  The time it would take to show these homes all over town physically to them would be ridiculous.  So the systems we have devised is called our "Silver Lock System".

All out homes have GOLD lock sets on them when they are occupied with tenants.  So when they move out we put a SILVER lock set on the front door.  Every silver lock that we own is all keyed exactly alike.  That way one key will open any house that has a silver lock.  So our policy is that they must come into the office between the hours of 8:30 am-3 pm.  We get a copy of their driver's license and a $20 cash deposit.  We then check out a SILVER KEY to them.  As long as they return the key by 4:30 they will receive their $20 back.  The reason our stop time for check out is 3 pm is because that gives them enough time to view a property and have the key back by 4:30.  This is the only way we show property.  We don't show in the evenings or on the weekends.

So when we rent a home, we change out the silver lock for the original gold lock.  That way even if someone did make a copy of our silver key they could only get into a vacant property and never an occupied one.

This system saves our company tons of hours, thus also tons of money.

Holy heck man yes you are too trusting !!! Do the homeowners you're managing for know that you're using the silver system  or are you just inhouse management. I'm about saving time and money too but I've very protective of my assets

I just have "open house" type showings on weekends or after 5 pm during the week and have 5-10 scheduled showings.  Even if only 1/2 of them come I'm still there for something.  I prefer to meet people in person so I can actively see their face, body language, and check out their driver's license.

@Dawn Anastasi,

It is always good to meet future tenants in person. Let's say you meet someone, and they meet your requirements, and then they say can I see your drivers license and can you prove you are the owner of the property would you provide it. Just realized there is a lot of fraud out there and both parties need to be careful.


Joe Gore

I am one of those people that lives 12 miles from my nearest property, so I like to bundle appointments. I do it open-house-style twice a week, usually once in the evening during the week, and during the day on the weekend. I give a one hour window and schedule everyone that can come. 

The benefit is that you'll always get at least one person to show. (Although I do sacrifice an hour, I use the time to read forum posts, and listen to podcasts on my iPad.) 

A side benefit is usually once one person asks for an application, everyone at the showing will.  In her book, Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank said that as an investor, you might not want the deal, but once another shark makes an offer, you question what you missed, and you want the deal too. It's a herd mentality, I guess. So that's how I've applied it to landlording.  If someone's on the fence, they get nudged toward wanting my house. 

The point is, it's an efficiency for a small-time landlord, who doesn't have very many openings at one time. Like @Aaron Wyssmann said, my approach might not work if you have 200 properties. 

I like the ideas from @Chris Martin. I think I will try that approach when I have another opening. 

What we do is tell the prospective tenant on the phone that we will call them a half hour before the showing to verify. We also tell them that if we can't get a hold of them, we won't send anybody out. This has worked really well for us.

@Chris K.  Yes our owners all know of our system.  We are very transparent with them.  We take what we do for our owners very seriously and would never put their investments in jeopardy.  Ultimately, this system and several other things we do keep more money in our owners pocket who then turn around and buy more property.  

The things that have happened to properties while silver keys have been checked out is very minimal.  Things like people going #2 in the toilet and not flushing it.  This isn't something we've been doing for a week but for many years.  

I understand the thought that people might be casing out the place but if they know the home is vacant is a lock on the door really going to stop them...I think not.

At the landlord meetings I attend down here, most of the investors just have them drive by first then call back if interested. They only use the lock box if they are using a property management company or realtor to fill the vacancy. That way they know someone will be with the potential tenant while at the property.