I am in the middle of showing rental property that I own in NE Minneapolis. It has hardwood floors, 3 bedrooms and because it is kinda small, I am asking $850. It is available immediately (if you know anyone, send them my way!). I have had several interesting experiences in this round of advertising and showing to prospective tenants.
First, I decided that I was only going to take responses and questions via email. In the past, I would give out my phone number on the Craig’s List ad and my phone would ring like crazy. I found it was too difficult to take those calls. I could be driving down the road, get a call, talk to the person, book an appointment and forget to put it in my calendar. Other times, I would get the ODC tenant that would call me 18 times every 2 minutes until I finally answered. I would get lots of voice-mails where I could not understand the person leaving the message or would attempt multiple times to call them back with no success. I figured email is a slower pace and I can reply when it is convenient to me.
I started to notice that many of the prospective tenants wanted me to call them. Instead of calling, I simply cut and pasted a note that said “I am showing the apartment on Tuesday at 5:30pm, come by if you are interested”. I was getting almost zero replies from my response. Strange. Why would almost 10 people write me, I reply and then never get back to me to say “Yes I will be there or no that doesn’t work, can I schedule a different time”. I did eventually have a couple of people show up on Tuesday. Here is what one said to me….(I am paraphrasing): “I only came to this appointment because when you replied you had your phone number in your signature line in the email. I called you and you answered. You appeared to be legit, so I showed up.”
While I was showing rental property to this guy, we talked about what they were seeing in the market and I guess there are so many scam artists going around showing an apartment, collecting rent, and then never actually owning the property. Another interesting one was a “landlord” shows up at the property to meet a tenant, he “forgets” his keys, they talk, the prospective tenants take an application, he calls them the next day and says that he has to go out of the country to South Africa and they should mail him the money now and he will send the keys. This sounds strangely like the “you are the long-lost heir to a $15.3 Million estate” spam emails I get!
Moral of the story is that as a landlord, tenant applicants are leery, handle with kid gloves.
Second, this is a repeat, but I want to be sure you hear this tip: The next week I took what I learned and started to call people or at least craft personal emails to show I was real. I received emails from probably 15 interested parties for my apartment. I had positive confirmations from maybe 10 parties that were going to show up (this time on Thursday at 7:30pm). I booked all of them at the same time, because history has taught me that many will no-show. I had 5 parties that showed (one that was 45 minutes late-I happen to be waiting for someone to fill out an application, otherwise I would have been gone). 50% no-show. What if I had booked each one of those on a different day or time?
Moral of the story is that to save time and be more efficient, book all your appointments at the same time or worst case space them out by a couple of minutes on the same trip. There is no silver bullet when showing your units. You just have to listen to what is going on the rental market and adjust your strategy to make the best of it.