Vacant Unit Showing Strategies

4 Replies

So this question is pretty straight forward. I'm curious what different strategies everyone uses for showing vacant units. 

I'm trying to find a strategy that satisfies the below requirements

  • Motivates potential tenants to apply and lease quickly (a weak pressure sale tactic?) 
  • Finds the best tenant possible while also abiding by fair housing laws 
  • Is fair to all tenants and leaves everyone feeling like they were fairly considered 

Currently this is my strategy:

  1. List unit on a Wednesday
  2. Schedule everyone that calls to view the apartment for the coming Saturday or Sunday
  3. All scheduled viewings in 30 min blocks
  4. Notify the tenant when they schedule that it's on a first come first served basis so the earlier they get there the better
  5. If someone shows up to view the apartment and want to lease it, they fill out the paid application/background check there and provide other required material. 
  6. If the tenant qualifies, they get an electronic lease immediately, pay the security deposit and I cancel the rest of the appointments

Process I'm considering trying

  1. List apartment on Wednesday 
  2. Have all potential tenants show up at the same time for an open house style of viewing
  3. Have all interested tenants fill out a free application with income info and other basic questions
  4. Pick best from the list and send them a paid background check
  5. If tenant passes then send them a lease, if not, inform them and move on to the next best

Any input on these two strategies? 

Any better strategies? 

My process is pretty close to your second variation. Open house style showing. I go through applications as they are received and they pay smartmove for the credit/background. They have 24 hrs to get it done or I move onto the next applicant. This way nobody pays an application fee for one I don't get to. I put it on zillow which populates trulia and other websites and I usually have 15-30 people show up on the weekend. 

@Peter M. yeah I can't believe how well putting it on Zillow works. I also use the smartmove site. It's pretty good and I haven't had any push back from potential tenants. 

I am more inclined to find the best qualified tenant, not necessarily the first.  So for me I don't want to ink a lease ASAP with first qualified.

In addition, first qualified may not mean soonest to move in.  It could be October 1 and first to sign can be someone looking to start a lease on Dec 1 because their current lease ends then.  The next one knocking could be ready to move in much sooner.

I have tried the open house style and while it was interesting, there are some drawbacks.  Three parties may show up five minutes apart and you end up not having enough one on one time to get a good feel on some of the potential applicants.  Some questions are awkward to ask with multiple parties present such as "why are you looking to move?" or "oh yes I know the place you are staying at now, how much is your rent?"

So if I have an open house style I will ask another person to be present with me to do the showing.

Open house is also a challenge if it's a multi family or SFR with limited parking space. A six unit building with seven parking spaces with everyone home plus your vehicle could mean a visitor may not find street parking and the only thing they may remember is "the place we had to double parked".

I have done the open house style with a twist.  I told the visitors it's an "viewing day" and I schedule them 30 minutes apart.  I let them know if they arrive late or early I may not be able to show as I "go in and out a lot".

I take my time with them and ask all my questions.

I do not give everyone an application form.  I do not spread 50 application form on a table or counter.  I let them know I will be showing a few more days and it's not first come first served but I  looking for best qualified.

I only put one copy of the application form in the drawer, if they would like to apply I show them the form (...this is my last copy) and tell them I will send them an electronic copy.

Well I'm planning on trying the open house model this Thursday on a last min unit I'm showing. We'll see how it goes.