Preparing for 1st Rental open house this Saturday

21 Replies

I have read through the numerous rental open house posts here on BP and didn't see this covered.  I will have approx. 20 copies of the application as well as 20 copies of what I'm calling "Important Lease Notes" where it includes highlights of the terms of the lease that could deter someone from even applying.  It also includes my contact information.

These "notes" include Rent plus utility details, pet details, annual rent increase, security deposit details, 3x income requirement, how rent is paid, and where to send the applications.  About 8 notes in total.

Any thoughts about this?

@Dawn Anastasi : )

I quickly learned to not do open houses, and here's why.  One of my screening criteria was to see if an applicant would make an appointment and keep it.  If they were 15 minutes late without calling me because they were stuck in gridlocked traffic, I denied them.  No second chances.

You will screen out a bunch of bad tenants this way.  Tenants who will not respect your time, and will be bad neighbors.  These are the kinds of tenants who don't think about how they affect other people.  They will park crazy and take up two spaces, they will play their music too loud.  They will talk loudly on their cell phones outside at 2am.  

Plus, you can't talk to one tenant while talking to another one.  You can learn so much when you have a tenant one-on-one.  I'd get them chatting and then ask them, "So why are you moving right now?"  You'd be amazed at how unprepared they can be for that one.  "Uh....well my aunt says we can't sleep on her couch anymore."  

You can't find out all those little nuggets of helpful info.  Now you know their current landlord is a relative - no relative references  - denied.

Also, you won't be able to tell which one is the one who smells like cigarette smoke. You won't hear the arguments couples are having, or learn they're actually looking for someone else - why?

If you're showing an apt and the tenant never looks to see how big the closet is, or asks about parking - this is a red flag.  They don't care about this particular unit - they need ANY unit that they can get.

If they say they can move in right away - why is that?  There's so much info you can't get off a written application.

Also, you can end up with people walking through who are really looking for copper pipes to steal, etc.  If the police interview you, you won't be able to list everyone who came into your property that day.

So, I suggest you schedule appointments, and leave at least a half hour between appointments.  

id put the lease notes in the online ads. i mean why bother to show to people with pets u prohibit, without enough income, and/or not ok with whatever ur 'utility detail' arrangement is about.

I don't do open houses. I simply schedule everyone every 15 min. I honestly tell them everything and than reiterate my first come first complete policy! That I don't hold !

I find that if there interested they will have everything done ASAP!

Good luck! I literally just finished my four rental "flips" so I am done that part! Now I just have 2 close on these houses and do the "new" part of the process ;)

@Justin C. Congratulations on your recent purchase! You are on the right track preparing in advance for your property showing!

When showing a place, whether as an open house or by appointment, here are few things we do:

1. Print a Property Description Flyer that covers the most often asked details about a property. Many prospective renters are looking at multiple properties and we want ours to stand out.

2. Print copies of the Application to give to those who are interested in applying.

3. Print copies of our Rental Criteria to hand out with the Application. (Note: Washington State law requires we reveal our rental criteria before taking an application with an application fee.)

4. Place a basket of disposable shoe covers at the front door and ask people to use them to protect the flooring. Also a welcome mat to wipe feet prior.

5. Have on hand a tape measure, disinfectant wipes, camera, pens, small tool box, first aid kit.

6. Open the unit and air it out ahead of time to make sure it smells fresh and clean. Open blinds/curtains to let in natural light and turn on lights in all rooms. The brighter the better.

7. Be prepared to "market" the property, pointing out key features.

8. Be prepared to ask the prospective renter for their thoughts about the place and to be able to answer any questions they may have.

9. Be prepared to observe:

* Demeanor, interpersonal skills, communication style. How do they interact with family/friends who are with them? How do they interact with me?

* Dress and hygiene. Do they smell of cigarettes/weed, diesel fuel, body odor? Do they care about their personal appearance? What kind of tatoos are they sporting?

* What type of vehicle do they have and how well do they keep it?

* Where do they go when they first enter the unit? (kitchen,bath,bedroom,back yard, etc). What features draw their interest? What kind of questions are they asking?

10. We prefer to allow everyone a chance to view the property and turn-in their applications during a specific time frame. We don't say first come-first served as we will select the most qualified from the applications we receive in accordance with our rental criteria. We prefer to allow people time to accurately and thoughtfully complete their application and not feel rushed to try to get it in before someone else. Our typical time frame for showing a property and accepting applications is three days. After we accept an application, we rank it according to our criteria and proceed to process one application at a time in order of their ranking. If a tenant is denied because we selected someone else, we return their application fee.

Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard :@Justin C.

Thank you very much Marcia!  This is exactly the type of information I was looking for.  It sounds like your Rental Criteria is basically my Lease Notes document that I will be including with the applications.

I also like dismissing the first come first served approach to evaluating applications.

thanks again!

Originally posted by @Justin C. :
Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard:@Justin C.

Thank you very much Marcia!  This is exactly the type of information I was looking for.  It sounds like your Rental Criteria is basically my Lease Notes document that I will be including with the applications.

I also like dismissing the first come first served approach to evaluating applications.

thanks again!

I wish you the best and hope you have a good turn out for your open house. I like your idea of Lease Notes.... sounds like a summary of key points that will be in your lease. Instead of that, we have a copy of our complete Rental Agreement available for viewing at the showing, but I've never had anyone really look at it. 

Our Rental Criteria is something different. It is for screening and qualifying applicants. It covers the minimum qualifications necessary to rent. You may download it from the BP File Place and see what it includes if you wish. Our Tenant Screening Questions are there as well. Look for them by going to the Resources tab, then File Place, then Other Documents. Feel free to modify them for your own use. Our market niche is low income and fixed income folks in B properties. We may accept some applicants who have had a problem in their past, so what works for us may or may not work for you. :-)

Originally posted by Account Closed:

Hi Neil, yes, I have the majority of them simplified in the ad and it will act as a very good filter, however this is to take it a step further prior to applying which outlines several important obligations that will be in the lease.  I'd rather them have an idea and raise questions before and possibly not apply, rather than after they have given me their application and paid any fees.

Thanks again

Originally posted by @Elizabeth Colegrove:

 Thank you Elizabeth

Originally posted by @Sue K. :

Thank you for your thorough reply and recommendations. Since the open house is already scheduled and that I am expecting a pretty good turnout, I just need to focus on streamlining the process and making it more efficient.  Not double guessing myself at this point : )

Even with an open house showing, I don't get everyone coming by all at the same time.  I think that's the fear of other posters.  If I were to schedule sessions every 15 minutes, then I'd get one showing, have to sit around for a while for no-shows, then get another one. This way at least I don't waste my time.

You may want to see how your market is.  Different markets may have different personalities.

Originally posted by @Dawn Anastasi :

 Thank you very much Dawn.  I was hoping you would chime in : )

good luck, do update how it went!

Hey Justin,

When i hand a person an application packet i have them sign and date a quick form.  just says they took a packet with them for the property in question.   

Serves to cover you against potential accusations that you did not provide the interested party an application.   

Takes only a couple of seconds and everybody is happy to sign.  

@Marcia: In what form do you accept your application fee? (check, cash, etc.) Is this fee separate from a credit/background fee?

 You also said " If a tenant is denied because we selected someone else, we return their application fee" . What if you run the credit check (cost of $35)  and it comes back negative, do you still return the application fee.

Originally posted by @Boris Gutierrez :

Hey Justin,

When i hand a person an application packet i have them sign and date a quick form.  just says they took a packet with them for the property in question.   

Serves to cover you against potential accusations that you did not provide the interested party an application.   

Takes only a couple of seconds and everybody is happy to sign.  

 Great Point, Boris.  Thank you

Originally posted by @Silvia B. :

@Marcia: In what form do you accept your application fee? (check, cash, etc.) Is this fee separate from a credit/background fee?

 You also said " If a tenant is denied because we selected someone else, we return their application fee" . What if you run the credit check (cost of $35)  and it comes back negative, do you still return the application fee.

Application fee payable in cash only and we give them a receipt.

If we fully process the application and deny them because of something negative that shows up on their credit report, we do not return the application fee. Note, we do a thorough interview before accepting and processing an application. Finding something during the credit and background check that had not already been revealed to us is rare, but when it does happen, it is usually because the applicant was intentionally trying to hide something from us... thinking we might not actually run credit and background checks or check references. By the time we uncover the negative history, we have earned the money by spending our time and money processing the application.

If we denied them ONLY because we selected someone else, we return their application fee. We only fully process one application at a time. Once we offer to rent the unit to the winning candidate and they accept our offer, we notify the unsuccessful applicants and return their application fees.

Anytime a person has applied and paid an application fee, if we reject them or approve them with additional conditions, we send them an "Adverse Action Notice" that explains in general terms why we rejected them or what additional conditions must be met for us to accept them.

Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard :

If we denied them ONLY because we selected someone else, we return their application fee. We only fully process one application at a time. Once we offer to rent the unit to the winning candidate and they accept our offer, we notify the unsuccessful applicants and return their application fees.

Hello Marcia, Hope Im not splitting hairs here but could you please expand on the last sentence of "we notify the unsuccessful applicants and return their application fees."  I'm about to do this tomorrow and could use some guidance.  Do you call them, email them, or write them a letter containing a cashiers check?  

I'm thinking I will call and simply say "we have approved another application and will be refunding your fee via mail.  Thank you for your interest in our home."  Then send them a certified letter with their fee enclosed.  Thoughts?  Thanks again

Originally posted by Account Closed:

good luck, do update how it went!

 Hi Neil, just a quick update... it went well.  Really well.  This is a C class neighborhood with rents in the $650 range.  I posted the add on Tuesday for the Saturday open house with no pics.  Had about 10 people come by in a 2 hour window.  The place was spotless with all the lights and fans on.  Lavender plugins in the kitchen and bathroom.  And I had a few clipboards, pens, applications on hand.  Only one guys stayed and filled out the application... unfortunately not sure if he is the best fit for the home.  I showed it to another person Sunday afternoon.  Then about 10 more Mon through today.  Its Wed evening now and I have 3 applications and I'm expecting some to come via mail from the open house.  Mail here takes 3-4 days to come full circle - owell.  I'm at my rental before work, during lunch, and afterwork and I schedule all showings during those times.  Only 2-3 times did I have more than one person walking through the house.  I definitely works for me.  Oh ya, I posted a few pics to my ad this morning, and my phone blew up today!    I was shocked to see how significant the response was just because I added 3 pictures.

Thanks Neil

Originally posted by @Justin C. :
Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard:

If we denied them ONLY because we selected someone else, we return their application fee. We only fully process one application at a time. Once we offer to rent the unit to the winning candidate and they accept our offer, we notify the unsuccessful applicants and return their application fees.

Hello Marcia, Hope Im not splitting hairs here but could you please expand on the last sentence of "we notify the unsuccessful applicants and return their application fees."  I'm about to do this tomorrow and could use some guidance.  Do you call them, email them, or write them a letter containing a cashiers check?  

I'm thinking I will call and simply say "we have approved another application and will be refunding your fee via mail.  Thank you for your interest in our home."  Then send them a certified letter with their fee enclosed.  Thoughts?  Thanks again

That sounds good. We most often have met in person, by them meeting us at the property  or us going to their place of work or current home to refund cash and have them sign a document (Adverse Action Notice) that shows the reason we did not accept them and that we refunded their application fee. If we did it by mail, we would do it as you plan to. I always telephone first, to let them know right away that we accepted another applicant and to let them know we can refund their application fee. Then I ask them what they would prefer, refund cash in person or check by mail. Most want cash and will meet us somewhere to get it.

Sounds good Marcia, thank you again : )

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