In the past we have talked about ways to locate potential tenants or tenant buyers and what to say to them on the first phone call. Today, we are going to talk about showing the property to the potential tenant and getting a deposit to hold the home for them. This step in the process will by far take up the most of your precious time so it is important that we get it right and make the most out of every appointment.
If you remember we ended our phone conversation with the prospect by asking them to call us to confirm their appointment. In most cases they will call and confirm. If not you have one of two choices, you can call them and find out what is going on or you can move on to the next prospect. If I am having trouble filling a unit I will call them, if I don’t think I will have trouble I don’t follow up. To me this is a good way to screen them; if they can’t simply call you when they said they would, they may not be the best tenants for you.
Always get to the property about 10 minutes early, you need to have enough time to prepare for the show you are about to put on. When you get there do the following:
- Pick up all loose trash in the yard
- Be sure the front door is wide open
- Turn on all lights and open doors to bedroom closets and bathrooms
- Open all window coverings to let the light in (unless the window makes the place look bad)
- Plug in your air fresheners or do whatever smell good technique you prefer
- Start the fireplace if there is a gas log
- If you use flyers put them out where it is visible along with your application and any other marketing material.
The brighter the better and it needs to smell pleasant to make the best impression.
Now that you have made the absolute best first impression you can be sure to greet each prospect as they come to the door. Look them in the eye, smile and introduce yourself. Build report quickly by saying something about the weather, or ask them about their drive to the unit and then have them walk around on their own. Let them know to come and talk to you when they are done looking.
When they approach you call them by name (remember they love to hear their name and like people who use it) and ask them what they love about the house or ask them their favorite part of the house. If there is the smallest bit of interest they will respond. You will then want to agree with them and tell them that you love that part too. At this time get them talking about themselves and their situation. You can also use this time to start your screening process. Here are some example questions you can use:
- How many people will be moving with you?
- Tell me a little about where you are living now. (this one is great, there is a reason they are moving and you can dig into it and make them feel the pain of staying where they are to help encourage a quick decision)
- How do you and your landlord get along (if they don’t, you don’t want them, period)
- Where did you grow up?
- What do you do for a living?
This can go on forever. Your two goals here are to get some information about them and to let them talk about themselves for a while. You know people become instant friends with other people who listen to them talk about themselves. Before talking about the rent you are hoping for be sure you have a good feeling for what they are looking for financially. Ask them what they pay now and what they can afford to pay.
I would spend at least 10 to 15 minutes on this before you talk about what you are looking for. At that time go over your price sheet with them or let them know what the rent and deposit is. Tell them about the number of calls you are getting and that you normally fill vacancies very fast. You will also want to let them know it takes you a few days to process the application, but most people do the application there and leave a deposit so you hold it for them. With no deposit you cannot hold it and it is first come first serve. Right after explaining this, be sure they have an application in front of them with a pen and as soon as they give you the completed application, be sure they have the deposit to hold it.
Lastly, always try to get a full month’s payment from them for a deposit, but I would honestly take about anything I can get. Even if it is $100 that is a commitment by them and you will have a better chance of making it to a lease signing with a deposit.