Well. Many of you have been helpful (THANK YOU!) to me already so I'm going to continue to share my experience. This is my 4th or 5th post since I've begun this process. On Friday, I listed my first property for rent on Craigslist and Postlets. Today I received my first call from a prospective tenant. After pre-screening over the phone and asking the tenant to drive by the property, which she quickly told me she already had, I showed her the property this evening. My family still lives in the home so it was fully furnished but clean and depersonalized as much as possible. I fessed up during the showing that I was the owner. It's going to be difficult for me to "act" like I'm not the owner.
The prospective tenant brought one child with her, told me that she, her husband, and their 3 kids were interested. I let her walk through the property. She asked to see the back yard so I walked out with her. She asked about a move-in date and we discussed my desire for a 15 month lease so the lease isn't expiring during the holidays each year. I tried to make small-talk but honestly, I was a little nervous and I think that she could sense that. I've never leased apartments or anything for that matter. She asked how the neighbors are and asked how much storage was in the attic and whether the shed in the back yard was included. She was in and out in about 10 minutes or less. I managed to give her two applications and asked her if she had any more questions. She said she would talk to her husband and get back with me.
Here's the thing. I have no gut feeling about whether she has intentions of calling me back or if she didn't like the place at all. Do those of you that have shown properties before have any input to offer on whether you were able to predict whether a person was going to apply or not after looking at your property? Do you send follow up communication after showing the property? Should I just let her ride off into the sunset and wait for the phone to ring again? How do you suggest acting like I'm just the property manager when showing the home before we've moved out? Especially since there are photos of my ugly face in spots around the home? Here is my postlets ad link if you want to offer any feedback.
I know this is a really long post but I have wanted to do this for a really long time so I'm excited and want to do this correctly. To be honest, I listed the property at a premium price while we're still living here to make it worth our time and hassle if someone wants to push us out quickly. Any nuggets of wisdom are greatly appreciated!
I was really nervous too when showing apartments for the fist time 7 years ago. It gets easier, and you have to be really careful when making small talk not to violate fair housing rules. However, small talk while showing really helps you get to know if the person would be a good applicant for the property. I've found that if people really like the property and want to rent it that they tell me right away. Those who are unsure and need to think it over I usually never hear from again.
If they do like it (and you like them), try to create a sense of urgency so they pay an application fee and have some money invested in your property. I've had people say they will apply, only to be seduced by another landlord who demands a deposit right away. I'm constantly trying to improve my processes and probably will be forever.
Also, your advertisement looks great to me!
Congrats on your first rental. If you're not a good liar, I wouldn't bother with telling people you are the property manager and not the owner. Start the relationship with your new tenant with honesty. It really is the best policy.
You will develop a gut instinct for how interested a prospective tenant is. You will also learn the red flags to watch out for, etc as you gain more experience. It's not something someone else can teach you. It really comes from experience. Good luck! It sounds like you did just fine.
Have you ever had a problem with a product or a service and felt better about your experience when you called or visited the place where you obtained the product or service and found out that you were really talking to the Owner? I never can understand why some landlords don't want to let their tenants know they are the landlord! I WANT THEM to know I am the Landlord. This is the only way to establish a good and honest landlord/tenant relationship, which helps to keep tenants long term.
With that said and done, you will eventually get the "hang of" weeding out the "Looky Loo's" and the ones who are really interested.
When I showmy homes I first screened them with my ears, via the phone. You can tell by their voice, their mannerism when speaking to them, if they will be aggressive, shy, easy going or a little rough around the edges. That's okay, that is just giving us a sense of them at first contact.
When I actually show the home to someone, I then screen them with my eyes. If I am not busy at the time, I can see when they drive up to the property if they are considerate. Do they park in the neighbors driveway or in front of the rental home or the rental home's driveway?
Do they have a ton of people in the car, with a ton of kids that want to tour my home, eating chips and drinking red pop, or smoking cigarettes as they approach the home, where I have a big sign saying, "No Smoking or eating or drinking allowed, during the Open House" Too bad we need to say that sometimes.
As they walk in the door, I shake their hands and welcome them. Do they smile back at me? Do they refuse to shake my hand? Do they walk past me and head for the basement first? If they head for the basement first, they most likely will have this other family that are with them be moving in with them. In the Basement!! And even if they didn't bring the family with them, if they head for the basement first, they still plan 99% of the time to have someone live in the basement.
There are "Fast Talkers", which always raises the hair on the back of my neck. Don't like fast talkers. Then there are the ones that say, they love your home and how they can see themselves living their all their life, but under their breath really is saying, yea without ever paying you rent. So "Cocky" is kind of a turn off.
Then you've got the "White Glove" Tester. She has to touch tops of door entrance ways to see if their is dust. Fuzz on the carpeting, "Are you going to replace that carpet it's got fuzz" (well maybe not that extreme, but pretty much), and those that will be "Stone Faced" and you just don't know. And they leave without filling out an application, and that's okay. They have a right to look and shop around.
The ones that do stick around you interview while they are filling out the application form. I love talking to the kids if they bring them with them. Because kids like to tell YOU EVERYTHING. LIke the pit pull they have that will be living in the basement! Or Auntie and Uncle going to be living there too. Aah kids! Ya just gotta love em!
I never show properties that are occupied, especially if it was my own home. I would move out first, then show it. People bring their kids, and some don't control the kids. Little hands touch and get into everything, quicker than you can blink an eye. Oops something of yours went into their little pocket.
But that's my intake.
@Jason Krawitz I agree with the comments about letting them know that you are the landlord. This could lead to some difficulties at first if you are not good at saying no to unreasonable maintenance demands, dealing with late or no rent, etc. but I think for you it is likely going to be hard to keep the story going that you are not the landlord. So I would be inclined to tell the truth. I always do with my tenants and I view it as a selling point, they are dealing direct with the landlord and not with the employees of some faceless corporate landlord who could care less.
You say you cannot tell whether the prospect was interested. The ten minute duration of the showing may be key here. My bet would be no; I may be wrong but generally prospects who are genuinely interested want to take their time and look all around the home, closely examining things, going back through and looking again. They spend more time with you discussing terms and asking questions about the unit and the neighborhood. Statistically the odds of leasing to the first person who sees it are not great (although this happened to me just recently) but the speed of the visit suggests that this is not someone who is going to come back. Did she seem very excited about the property?
If it's priced right the phone will be ringing anyway from other interested people. Be patient and select the right person for your home.
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