Showing Homes: Tips for making it easier?

9 Replies

I don't own any rentals yet but I took over the management of a rental.  It is our first one and we just had the rehab finished.  I know that lots and lots of calls are typical and no-shows are expected.  I've listed the home with signs on a well traveled highway as well as craigslist.

I would say my no-show is somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% or a little more.  Is this typical?  I have begun calling on the day of just to verify they still plan to show and that has cut down a lot of my wasted time.  Fortunately I do live near the property.  I also have scheduled many of the viewings on the same day so that I can show the property after work.

What do you guys to to try to cut down on no-shows?  I'm trying to learn (I have been listening to the podcasts for a year and a half now) so all feedback is welcome.  The website and forum have really helped me know who to screen out as bad tenants.  We're still waiting for the first of the applications to come back in.

Thanks,

Craigslist is terrible for us. we stopped using it years ago. 

u should list on the other sites too.  and if u have that much trouble,  u should tell them unless they call u on their way,  u are not going to be there 

I find my best respondants find us on trulia and zillow.  I'm not sure why better quality tenants use those sites, but that has been our experience.  Maybe we get better matches because there are more criteria for tenants to search by.  We use Postlets as a starting point for advertising.  It's free and propagates about 20 sites including zillow and trulia.

 Whether tenants initially call text or email, I asked them to send me an email address so I can send them an email with a series of prescreening questions.  The questions include:

When are you looking to move?

Why are you planning to move?

Who will be living in the home?

Do you have pets?

Do you smoke?

Do you earn a three times the monthly rent in income each month?

We prescreen for evictions, credit score and criminal background. Is there anything we should be aware of that will appear in those reports?

I find that about 50% of potential tenants do not answer the questions and do not ask to see the house.  Another 25% rule themselves out with their answers.  The final 25% are good candidates and most seem to show up for the showing.

I suspect that someone willing to take the time to answer the questions is more serious than someone who will not answer the questions.

 I very rarely have a no-show.  Maybe if you try the prescreening email, you will have better luck too.

Good luck!

We also tried to schedule all of our showings when we are working on the house anyway. We say we will be there from 6 to 8 PM and to stop by if they are interested. We ask them to send a text 15 minutes before they arrive just in case we need to run to the hardware store.  Then we don't feel obligated to stay.

^^ This is what I would do as well. If you are willing to drop everything to do a showing at the tenant's convenience you appear desperate, which is a bad position from which to start. Someone takes a look, I tell them it will be going up on the rental sites in X days, but if they are interested provide their e-mail address and I will forward them an application, which I do through SmartMove. If they don't complete that application, they're not serious. 

I would schedule showings on my schedule. If that means some people don't see the unit, so be it. Think of it like a business - if you owned a hardware store, and some guy called you at home at 2 in the morning with a request for you to come open the door so he could look around the shelves to see if he wanted to buy something from you, or from Lowes, you would say no, come back during normal business hours. I consider showings the same way - not the least because I have (2) other jobs! :)

I gave up on appointments with prospective tennants years ago.  Half the time they don't show and they wasted a hour or two of my valuable time!  Now I tell them I have an open house for a hour on Wednesday night or a hour on Sunday afternoon.  I think it creates a "feeding frenzy" of the tenants when they see 3 or 4 groups of people looking at it! You have to be able to weed out the bad prospects quickly and get to the good ones.  "Oh you just filed bankruptcy?  See ya!"  Then move to the next one and get their story.  I tpically get a unit rented in 2 or 3 open houses - total time 2 or 3 hours plus getting there.  Try it!

Originally posted by @Jim Shepard :

I gave up on appointments with prospective tennants years ago.  Half the time they don't show and they wasted a hour or two of my valuable time!  Now I tell them I have an open house for a hour on Wednesday night or a hour on Sunday afternoon.  I think it creates a "feeding frenzy" of the tenants when they see 3 or 4 groups of people looking at it! You have to be able to weed out the bad prospects quickly and get to the good ones.  "Oh you just filed bankruptcy?  See ya!"  Then move to the next one and get their story.  I tpically get a unit rented in 2 or 3 open houses - total time 2 or 3 hours plus getting there.  Try it!

 Bingo.  We have placed our tenants exactly like this, and it works great.  

I also like Jennifer's pre-screening e-mail questionnaire.  I may start using something similar before giving them the open house details!  

I hosted an open house and had interested applicants show up for that, rather than schedule individual appointments. I had a bunch of people show up and I think it helped spur my current tenants to act quickly to secure the property.

Thanks everyone for the replies.  Jennifer, that's really awesome advice.  I never knew about Postlets and that's exactly the kind of think I was hoping to learn about.  I have been somewhat of a hybrid between a showing time and working with their schedule, giving them the option between two days and scheduling them 15 minutes apart, which of course causes overlap because of late shows, but I think giving them the option of one day and having them all come at tone time sounds like a better way to streamline and definitely worth the risk of losing a few potential renters versus the enormous amount of work required to meet everyone's needs.  
At times I question myself about being too harsh because my experience is other's in the area don't take this more professional approach, so I'm glad to hear this feedback from others because my experience thus far has shown that much like when I was a substitute teacher, you have to lay down the laws and expect them to act like children.  It's a shame people can't have more integrity, but it seems to also just be a reality of life.

Ditto on postlets and open house twice a week, one weeknight, one weekend. An open house lasts 2 hours.

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