You can put great pictures and floorplans on your website all you'd like -- nothing matters quite as much as that initial impression that a prospective tenant gets when they take a tour. That's what helps them stop thinking of a place as a nice-looking property and more as a potential home.
It's always a good idea to perform repairs on a property to get it up to snuff for prospective tenants. But by the time that you're booking tours for a property, you're no longer thinking about painting walls or oiling door hinges -- it's time to present the existing property in the best possible light. How can you pull that off successfully?
Ask Your Current Tenants to Help
In a perfect world, every property you show would be vacant. You would have plenty of time to spruce up the place, and when prospective tenants walk in, they would see the residential equivalent of a blank slate, ready for them to daydream about where their furniture goes.
But most of your properties are probably already occupied. This is a good thing -- it means you're making money -- but it makes tours harder. It's difficult to do important work, like extensive repainting or cleaning, when a property is occupied, so it might not be in its best condition. If your current tenants are messy, have unfriendly pets, or if there's a notable odor, the prospective tenant may walk away with a bad first impression.
Unfortunately, you can't force a tenant to sequester any pets or straighten up the place. In many jurisdictions, landlords are expected to give tenants notice (typically 24 hours) before they or their agents head into the property for any reason. Take advantage of this, and be sure to give your tenants enough notice of a showing. Most tenants don't want their landlords to think they're slobs, so they'll usually clean up in advance, corral pets, or vacate the premises long enough for you to conduct your showing in peace.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Be sure that the person conducting the tour is friendly and prepared. They should be on time for the showing and dress nicely (business casual is usually wise, but it can depend on the price point of the property), and be ready with accurate information about the property and its neighborhood. Don't be afraid to give them notes for reference, and be sure they have rental applications with them when they're conducting the tour.
The person conducting the tour shouldn't be afraid to make the property look its best. This may mean turning on lights, opening windows or showing off features such as garbage disposals, ceiling fans, or dishwashers. Most importantly, if they find anything amiss during the tour, don't apologize for it or draw too much attention to it. Instead, say, "We'll fix that before move-in." Make a note of it during the tour and follow through. Prospective tenants will be able to tell if you're lying about something like that.
Make sure you follow up with your prospective tenants a few days after a tour. Remember that following-up is a balancing act: you don't want to seem too needy or like you're hounding them, but you do want to be friendly, and make it clear that you're available to answer any questions or concerns about the property.
Giving a tour of a property, especially one that's already occupied, can be difficult, but with these tips, it should be a breeze.?
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