Landlords / PM's - How do you normally follow up with prospective renters?

13 Replies

This is totally out of my area of interest as it relates to RE right now but I had a couple of interesting experiences when looking for a rental property.  So I figured I'd throw it out here and see what everyone's take is.

My wife and I just sold our house in Long Island and want to escape NY and are moving down to the Florida panhandle.  We eyeballed a few rental properties (1 "for rent" sign and a bunch from Trulia) that we were interested in looking at.  I emailed 8 prospective leads this weekend with the intent of getting visits setup for next Saturday when we'll be in town.  Also, we are looking in the $2000-$3000 / month price range - we're not calling about $400 rentals.  Here are the results so far:

1 actually called me within several minutes of receiving the email.

2 emailed me back today asking that I call their office.

5 nothing...nada...no response.

First, I was kind of surprised by the lack of response.  Even if the specific house isn't for rent any longer (and assuming this is PM/Broker/Office representing the listing) I would think that at least a few of them would have gotten back to me with "Unfortunately, 123 Park is no longer available but we might have other properties that you'd be interested in" or something along those lines.  But nothing.

Second, the two rentals that did get back to me asking me to call their office seemed a little weird.  I left my phone number...wouldn't you just pick up the phone and call?  And one of the people basically said they only show houses on M, Tu and Th and that we were pretty much out of luck if we wanted to see the place on Saturday.

So let me ask you - is this the going practice for PM companies or are these just plain bad PM companies?

I'd say it's a bit of both! There are many BAD PM companies out there and this happens quite too often. There has been a house for rent on my street (my primary residence) that I've been calling to get more information about for about 2 months now. I still haven't gotten a response, poor owner :(

That's pretty pathetic customer service, I'd say.  Especially for the high-end properties you seem to be looking at.  i agree with you on all the point s you raised but I don't have any suggestions on how to solve the problem other than keep looking (and hoping that there are at least A FEW customer oriented outfits in the area).

@Mehran K.  

Thanks for the feedback - I figured it was just bad/lazy business.  Certainly goes in my in "What not to do as a property manager" file for later days.

Thanks again!

What's the area code on your phone number?  I sometimes don't bother calling back any that aren't local, because if they are unfamiliar with the local area, they probably are just tire kickers at first. If they follow up a few times, then I want to be sure they have driven the area near the rental so that they like the area and we don't waste each other's time. And that's sometimes why showings are limited to certain times - because multiple prospects will all be told to come then, so the no-shows don't waste somebody's time. 

I primarily use e-mail with prospective tenants, but also personally answer the calls I receive or call back within a few hours.  If the place rents during this time frame, I will e-mail/call people back and let them know a lease has been signed.  I also tell them, if anything falls through, I will re-contact them.

However, as crazy as it sounds to not return calls to a prospective "customer", I'm not surprised.  I see it all the time in a number of industries.  I threw my work's large Xmas party a few years ago and about half the restaurant's, I called didn't call me back.  Not a problem, I just worked with ones who were interested in a $15,000 party.

We ran into this as well when we moved temporarily for work.  We had narrowed down where we wanted to live based on recommendations, then tried to set up appointments as we only had 3 days in town to lock something in.  We were amazed at how many PMs or owners never called or emailed back, and several who did just said to call after we'd driven by to check it out and they'd try to set something up, which didn't work for us as we needed to make a final decision during our short stay in town.   We also ran into the, Sorry, only show on Sat, issue, and they wouldn't modify it.  However, I did notice that none of those units were vacant when we moved into ours, so apparently the market allows them to ignore a lot of people and still rent the homes out no problem, likely why they feel they can treat people that way.     

If you are dealing with Real Estate agents, an out-of-town potential renter is likely their lowest priority.  Even for a $2000 house, the agents cut could be as low as $500.  It doesn't take dealing with too many potential applicants before the hourly wage on that is tiny.  Even selling a 100K house will get the agent at least 1500, so they are willing to deal with a little longer odds.

PMs or owners should be doing better, since they are getting a cut and have more motivation to get it rented(they have a continuing income stream).

If the homes are primarily on the MLS, you may want to get an agent to represent you as a renter. You probably want to explain your whole situation and even though the initial amount is small the long-term commissions from getting your business could be pretty lucrative.

Originally posted by @Lynn M. :

We ran into this as well when we moved temporarily for work.  We had narrowed down where we wanted to live based on recommendations, then tried to set up appointments as we only had 3 days in town to lock something in.  We were amazed at how many PMs or owners never called or emailed back, and several who did just said to call after we'd driven by to check it out and they'd try to set something up, which didn't work for us as we needed to make a final decision during our short stay in town.   We also ran into the, Sorry, only show on Sat, issue, and they wouldn't modify it.  However, I did notice that none of those units were vacant when we moved into ours, so apparently the market allows them to ignore a lot of people and still rent the homes out no problem, likely why they feel they can treat people that way.     

 How did you end up finding something?  Were you offering a 12 month lease?

It looks like it's a little bit of "all the of above" going on here.  After calling all the places again a couple are managed by big property management companies that foisted me off to their online booking/questionnaire tool.  The remainder all seem like they are managed by friends (aka - real estate agents) of the owners.  

It's been 20 years since we've actually rented a home so this has been an entertaining experience to say the least.  And thank you for all your comments - they are appreciated!

I'll start off by saying that I do return all phone calls, but I can see why a company wouldn't.  It's bad service, for sure, but I know I COULD only return one or two calls and probably get a home rented and ignore the other 50.  So, that is likely what they are doing.  

I always reply to emails, calls, and texts.  With emails, they are usually a generic inquiry.  So, I reply with "feel free to contact me if you have any questions."   If they respond, I respond.  If they don't, I delete the email.  

@Travis Hamilton   This doesn't surprise me in that area.  I have been less than impressed with some of the service of the property managers and real estate agents in Pensacola over the past few years. 

But, the best part about this response rate is that once you get everything up and running down there, you can scoop up all these pissed off potential renters/buyers.  I'm glad you guys have decided on a location and are making the move.  Best of luck...

-Bill 

I find your experience to be often true! That's one of the reasons I self management! I always laugh to myself when I hear the "length" of time it takes a property management company to install a tenant.

That being said, I try to always respond back. Unfortunately There is one area that I get bombarded and try as I might to get back with everone. It's not always possible.

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