Today I want to give you some questions that you should very strongly consider asking a potential tenant on the phone before you ever get off your comfy couch and go show them your property. I will tell you that speaking to someone on the phone before you show them the property is pretty much going to change your world if you’re one of those people whose sole strategy has been email. The exception is if you’re dealing with student rentals or young people they tend to text and email and you’ll have a hard time getting them to phone, but I’ve found that if you speak to them on the phone you’re 90% likely to have them show up. If you exchange emails I’m actually at about a 50/50 rate and sometimes even lower on whether they’ll actually show up. So if you’re experiencing “no shows” this is key. I don’t want to waste my time on somebody that is absolutely not a fit for my property and getting them on the phone and asking them a few questions before I set up an appointment is a huge step towards ensuring I get the right person in my rental and the right person who is going to take care of my home, pay their rent on time, and ideally stay longer than one year. Somebody who’s going to stay two or three years is optimal in my mind.
Why are you moving? “Why are you moving?” tells me so much about somebody. I find out a lot about their work and their relationship situation. One of the things I’m looking for is if they complain about their current landlord because while there are bad landlords out there I’m looking for somebody who doesn’t blame other people for all their problems because that means they’re likely someone who doesn’t take responsibility for their actions. I want somebody who’s responsible and is going to take care of my property.
Who will be living in the property? If twenty people are going to move in I want to know, so “Who will be living in the property?” is a very important question.
How long do you think you’ll stay? You can also ask if a one year lease is good for them, but I like to ask “How long will you stay?” because if you ask if a one year lease is good for them you kind of tell them the answer you’re looking for. I prefer not to give them the answer to the question because sometimes tenants will just tell you what you want to hear so I’d prefer to ask more of an open ended question to see what they say.
Do you have pets? I just like to know, and frankly, I’ve had some people who collect tarantulas and another tenant that had several snakes. Not really my cup of tea, I’m really not that keen on having a missing snake in one of my properties, but you know, to each his own. I just want to know whether they have pets or not.
Where do you work? If you didn’t find out in question one by them saying they’re relocating for a new job or their moving to get closer to work, asking “Where do you work?” is key. It also tells you if they’re working, which means they’ll be able to consistently pay their rent. I don’t like to say “Do you work?”, unless it’s a student.
When are you looking to move in? We’ve made this mistake so many times assuming that somebody is looking for the next “first of the month” when sometimes they’re looking for 45 days or 60 days later. If your property is vacant you might be looking for somebody who’s ready to move in very soon so “When are you looking to move in?” is a very important question.
With all of this information you start to get a picture of the person and you can decide if you want to show the property to them alone or if you want to piggy back and show them with other showings.
So I hope this helps you. Make sure you take notes on each person you talk with so you can remember their responses during the showing. Definitely ask them more in depth questions during the showing so you can be absolute sure you pick the very best tenant who’s going to take care of your property and stay a long time. If you have a question I would love to answer it!
By: Chris Rooney
Chris Rooney is a Real Estate adviser with the Charleston Real Estate Guide Chucktowner. Chucktowner specializes in helping people in the lowcountry list and sell their properties with a unique approach that helps them get top dollar while supporting them throughout the entire process. Our business is selling your home quickly and getting you top dollar.
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