First, this is the first time I'm renting out my house.
I have out of state renters that I've screened and accepted. Ideally, I thought we would walk through the house prior to move in, document the state of the house, then sign the lease. However, they will not be here until move in day, and having read through the forums I'm realizing I need to get the lease signed and get their security depost/first months rent before then. The lease I have is electronic, so they could sign it electronically before December 1.
What is your workflow for lease signing? Should I ask them to sign ahead of time, then we can walk through the house on move in day and document anything necessary?
I have actually rented to out-of-state tenants a few times, where they would not be arriving until move-in day. I absolutely have a lease signed ahead of time and sent back either through e-mail or overnight mail. I also collect a non-refundable holding deposit...that equals the security deposit...and it turns into the security deposit on their move-in.
I don't require first month's rent until they are there to move-in. As far as holding deposit/security and first month's, that is also my same procedure for in-town tenants.
Doing it the way you have described, you are at a huge disadvantage. They can change their mind at any time on a whim or show up and change their mind. Or not even show up at all on move-in day and then not contact you. Then, you are suddenly left with a unit you have taken off the market and no one to move into it. A non-refundable holding deposit is their "skin in the game" that will keep or at least deter those things from happening.