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Stop Wasting Time with Rental Showings

by Dana Dunford

Ever wonder what are the most effective ways to schedule or organize your rental property showings? There are a lot of blogs out there that advocate for individual property showings or open houses. These methods only work in certain circumstances, and I want to make sure you are maximizing your time and money.

Here are the property showing methods that I find to be less effective:

Individual property showings waste time

Prospects do not care about your time. Seriously. They only care about their top priority on that sunny Saturday afternoon. If you have hosted property showings, then you have experienced this firsthand:
“Oh, I forgot about the appointment.”
“Oh, my hamster got sick and I couldn’t make it to the showing.”

Open houses don't focus your attention

An open house can be chaotic and a disaster. You have no prediction of demand and you may miss the opportunity to speak with a qualified applicant if an unqualified prospect is taking your time.

It is important to have a solid showing strategy for rental properties. Time is precious and your goal is to get a qualified tenant. You want to create an effective process that allows you to create an initial relationship but does not waste your time.

"RSVP required" showings are the solution

You get the best of individual property showings and open houses, without the negative consequences.

  1. Demand breeds interest: When a prospect witnesses other qualified applicants at a showing, it gives the impression of desirability. You don’t get the same sense of urgency with a personalized tour or at an “open” house without any other attendees.
  2. Eliminate time wasted on researchers: Rent is likely the largest monthly expense for a tenant. Prospects view multiple rentals, even properties that are not their top choices. By scheduling a couple of prospects at the same time, your time is not as wasted when a “researcher” attends the showing.
  3. Avoid frustration: Leasing a property can be stressful and should not take too much time away from family, work, and other engagements. By setting a schedule and sticking to it, you save yourself the headache during the leasing process of reschedules, cancellations, and last minute additions. If your property is a serious choice for a tenant, then the tenant will rearrange his/her schedule to accommodate your showing schedule.

What about lack of demand?

If you have very little demand, then you may have:

  1. Priced it too high: You think your property is worth more than others think it is. You may want to consider reducing the price or upgrading features.
  2. Listed during the dead season: Did you get stuck with a winter turnover? With a small portfolio, it is very stressful to your bottom line. You may need to wait longer to get a qualified applicant.
  3. ** Chose bad showing times**: Everyone’s schedule is different. You will want to select different times, from early evenings to weekends.
    You want a healthy amount of demand to select a qualified applicant. The most costly expense is a bad tenant.

How do I make the showing effective?

A property showing is meant to answer questions, give a preview into living there, and to close on qualified prospects. Here are pointers to be more effective:

  1. Schedule showings for convenient times: Early afternoons on weekends (primarily Saturdays) and early evenings on weekdays (during daylight) typically work best.
  2. Have fast response times to advertising inquiries: Immediately respond once a tenant inquires about your property. Delay may lead to risk of no response. If you do not have time to respond immediately, then consider Hemlane to respond to inquiries.
  3. Capture lead information: Your response to inquiries should include an ability to RSVP to the showing. This will capture serious prospects’ contact information, for better follow-ups and communication.
  4. Qualify leads: Many owners and agents pre-screen tenants before scheduling the showing. Make sure that your screening follows Fair Housing guidelines. I recommend asking whether their income and credit qualify meet your minimum threshold. Tip: Include pre-screening questions in the registration for property showings.
  5. Limit the number of attendees: You want to show demand, but you do not want chaos. Based on the size of your property, you should limit the number of RSVPs allowed for each showing.

Are there any exceptions?

One size does not fit all. Here are some exceptions:

  1. You live next door: It is not as inconvenient when someone cancels or is late to an appointment. This exception also applies to REITS with full service leasing agents.
  2. Very, very, very high-end properties: Prospects expect a personal showing if the property caters to the 1%. You should anticipate fewer inquiries for luxury rentals.
  3. Out-of-state inquiries: They may visit for only a couple of days during a “house-hunting” trip. If your property is one of their top choices and your showing schedule does not fit with their timeframe, then you may want to consider an exception.
  4. Qualified and pre-approved applicants: If a prospect cannot make any of your showings but completes the application, then you may want to consider an exception based on their intent.
  5. Broker-dominated areas: If your city is broker-dominated (where agents personally tour prospects), then it is a different model.

You lose money every day that your property is on the market. You and your agents should have a solid and streamlined process to take leads and convert them into qualified applicants. Open houses do not capture lead information very well. And, individual showings can make the process long and time intensive.