Example: Hosting an "open house" type rental showing

14 Replies

Sometimes people post on Bigger Pockets about wanting to know "how" to do something ... not theoretically how, but specific examples. So here is an example of how I conduct/host an open house showing for a rental property.

Why do I do "open house" type showings?   Because I don't want to be running over to the property multiple times per day, and waiting for someone who may or may not show up, even though I live only 5 minutes away.

Prior to Going to the Property

a) Make sure I have applications printed out.  My applications include the rent amount, the security deposit amount, the amount needed to move in (in case people are bad at math and cannot add), what type of tenancy it is (month to month), appliances included, and utilities included.  I usually print out about 10 or so at the beginning and will print more depending on how many people who have called, texted, or emailed me.

b) Bring along any "staging" items.  I like to have visual effects, auditory effects (hearing), and olfactory effects (smell).  More on this later.

c) Make sure I have clipboards and pens.

d) Make sure I have a blank sample of a lease (its required in my area to have this available to applicants before they fill out an application).

e) Business cards

Before the Showing

a) If it's my first showing, I'll arrive a while before hand to set up the showing items.

Visual - shower curtain liner, towels and hand soap in the bathroom, vases of fake flowers around the place in pleasant colors.

Auditory - I use Pandora radio to play classical music at a soft volume.

Olfactory - I place Air Wick air fresheners in apple cinnamon scent in one or two places in the unit.

If it's not my first showing, I will have left these items there so I don't need to do this step more than once.

b) Sweep, vacuum, or mop.  Especially if it's just rained out, sometimes leaves or dirt get on the floor, and it's important to have a nice clean place. Wipe down the kitchen counter, make sure if anyone used the bathroom it's clean.

c) Turn on all the lights.  This way people don't have to hunt for a light switch in an unfamiliar place.  I turn on the closet lights as well as applicable.

d) Place all the applications, sample lease, pens, and business cards on the kitchen counter. This is where people usually fill out applications but I keep a couple clipboards in case they want to stand elsewhere.

e) Plug in the air fresheners. I usually unplug them when I'm not in the unit so they don't get used up.

f) Turn on the music.  (I usually play this from my cell phone.)

g) If it's winter, I'll turn up the heat.  Usually in the winter in vacant properties I will keep the heat down.  If it was a really hot summer day I'll run the C/A.

h) Open all the mini-blinds or curtains or shades so people can see outside.  In the summer I'll open the windows to let in a breeze.

After the Showing

a) Turn down the heat (in winter) or turn off the C/A (in summer).

b) Unplug the air fresheners.

c) Double check all the windows and make sure they are all closed and locked. Close all curtains, draw any shades, and turn any mini-blinds.

d) Turn off all the lights.

e) Make sure to lock the front and back doors.

Does anyone follow any other steps that they've found useful for a showing?

Very good post Dawn, Id bet this method could add $25+ to the rental rate

Hello Dawn,

      Great job. As always your points are very useful & it does show the passion in what you do. I will try to incorporate your model.

Thanks,

Naveen.

Dawn, those are good tips.  I follow most of them for my open houses.  I also keep a reed diffuser on the fireplace mantle.  It looks like and makes the place smell like Pier One!

Especially like the clipboard and pens tip.  Sometime you need to put a sign on the door in cold weather.

Two other things I find handy are a welcome mat to wipe feet particularly in bad weather and a tape measure.

I have also brought a friend with me so that if I'm busy answering questions or dealing with paperwork, he can answer questions from other "tourists." (He also makes sure the staging props don't mysteriously grow legs & walk out the door!) He has lived in this town his entire life, so he knows the area, amenities, employment, the best laundromat, etc. Not a big thing, but it does seem to put potential tenants at ease. 

You left out turn on the water at the main when you get there and turn off the water at the main when you leave. 

I prefer to put the property address and my name and number on the application so they know where the application goes in case they take it with them while they ponder their alternatives. 

In the summer, if the unit has AC, turn it on when you get there, and turn it off when you leave. 

Those are great tips that one could use as stand alone or incorporate into their own practices.  Thank you @Dawn Anastasi  

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak :

You left out turn on the water at the main when you get there and turn off the water at the main when you leave. 

I prefer to put the property address and my name and number on the application so they know where the application goes in case they take it with them while they ponder their alternatives. 

In the summer, if the unit has AC, turn it on when you get there, and turn it off when you leave. 

 +1

I do the water shutoff on/off thing as well, except at places I need a sprinkler timer doing watering and the irrigation line is not isolated.

I also prefill the PDF application form with my information then print out a bunch of them so they don't forget which form they got where.  However I don't lay out the application on the counter, I put them in a drawer and only hand them out if and when asked.

Personally I don't like artificial scents or fragrances, candles or sprays, I go with natural and organic.  Essential oils like citrus or satsuma in a very subtle amount works for me.  I learned a trick that is easy and effective.  That is to brush a tiny bit of that oil over your light bulbs.  When you turn the lights on for showing, the heat from the bulb burns and releases the oil.  No pot, no pans, no stove to turn on and off, and it's in every room.

The biggest issue I have with open house type showing and I haven't figured out a way to do it is how to resolve parking issues.  If you have a dozen cars show up at the same time they will not have the space to park...so you end up annoying your neighbors because they park on their swale areas, or you end up having to direct traffic ... "Who has the yellow beetle that's blocking the burgundy range rover could you please let this lady out?" and that takes away from what you are there to do.  So the only "open houses" I have scheduled are not open houses, I just scheduled several potential tenants to come within a 2 hour window and once they exceed the max parking capacity I will open up another window scheduling wise.

@Sam Leon  - I was told that certain halogen light bulbs can over heat from oils on their surface and then explode. See link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halogen_lamp#Handling...

And like Sam posted, I try to assign a 15 minute time window to each prospect if I am alone; if somebody is doing the showing with me, then I can have it be totally open to time. And I don't do any totally open times if the unit is still occupied; an occupied unit requires that the prospects be more closely supervised, so I want one prospect at a time. 

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak :

@Sam Leon - I was told that certain halogen light bulbs can over heat from oils on their surface and then explode. See link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halogen_lamp#Handling...

And like Sam posted, I try to assign a 15 minute time window to each prospect if I am alone; if somebody is doing the showing with me, then I can have it be totally open to time. And I don't do any totally open times if the unit is still occupied; an occupied unit requires that the prospects be more closely supervised, so I want one prospect at a time. 

Yes I wouldn't put any oil or anything on a halogen bulb.  I was referring to incandescent bulbs.

Invaluable information @Dawn Anastasi! 

Thanks a lot for taking the time to post such actionable stuff that is sure to help people who self manage/lease their rentals.

Originally posted by @Sam Leon :

The biggest issue I have with open house type showing and I haven't figured out a way to do it is how to resolve parking issues.  If you have a dozen cars show up at the same time they will not have the space to park...so you end up annoying your neighbors because they park on their swale areas, or you end up having to direct traffic ... "Who has the yellow beetle that's blocking the burgundy range rover could you please let this lady out?" and that takes away from what you are there to do.  So the only "open houses" I have scheduled are not open houses, I just scheduled several potential tenants to come within a 2 hour window and once they exceed the max parking capacity I will open up another window scheduling wise.

 I have never had parking issues. Typically I have single family houses and there is plenty of street parking (or people will pull in behind me in the driveway if there is one).  Plus I try to make the showings only an hour so it's not like anyone is there very long.

Originally posted by @Dawn Anastasi :
Originally posted by @Sam Leon:

The biggest issue I have with open house type showing and I haven't figured out a way to do it is how to resolve parking issues.  If you have a dozen cars show up at the same time they will not have the space to park...so you end up annoying your neighbors because they park on their swale areas, or you end up having to direct traffic ... "Who has the yellow beetle that's blocking the burgundy range rover could you please let this lady out?" and that takes away from what you are there to do.  So the only "open houses" I have scheduled are not open houses, I just scheduled several potential tenants to come within a 2 hour window and once they exceed the max parking capacity I will open up another window scheduling wise.

 I have never had parking issues. Typically I have single family houses and there is plenty of street parking (or people will pull in behind me in the driveway if there is one).  Plus I try to make the showings only an hour so it's not like anyone is there very long.

Dawn - The parking issue does not pertain to duration, it pertains to volume of lookers all at the same time.

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