How To Verify an Identity

Whether it is for a job, a rental property, or for a child care supervision need, knowing how to verify an identity is essential knowledge for today.

Identity verification helps to protect your interests because you’ll know the person you’re considering really is who they say they are.

The most common way to accomplish this is with a background check, but there are some other options available to you as well.

1. Request Identification That Can Be Validated.

There are several forms of identification that can be used to determine if someone is actually who they say they are.

In the United States, a Social Security card is one of the most common pieces of identification that are used.

A driver’s license, a military identification, or a passport may also be used to help determine the validity of an identity.

2. Use Reverse Email Searches.

If you have someone’s email address, even if it is a public email system like Outlook or Gmail, it can be used to trace down someone’s identity.

You’ll need to hire someone to do this task for you, but it can work when information is difficult to locate.

3. Look For Public Records.

There are many public records that are open for examination and many people don’t realize this.

Any time there is a judgment, there will be a public record of this.

Marriage records are also public records, as are divorce records.

Sometimes even birth records are public, although the specific data may be limited, such as the birth date.

4. Consider Ancestry Software.

Genealogy has exploded in popularity, which means access to public records that can trace a person’s movements are also easier to access than ever before.

If your background checks are coming up empty, try using the available data you have about someone and then match it up with the data from their application.

In most instances, if someone’s identity cannot be verified, then you do not have to hire them or agree to rental terms.

Follow these steps and you’ll be able to verify the identities of most individuals.

How adding hardwood floors ups the value of your rental property

Owners are often wary of making upgrades to their rental units, and for good reason.

Why spend loads of money on things that can be damaged or otherwise devalued as soon as they are added?

There are a couple of upgrades you can make that will not only add value right away but for years to come, and will make maintaining the property even easier than it was before.

One of these is taking out the carpet and adding hardwood floors.

Thankfully this is a relatively simple process that pays off in the following ways.

Instant Property Value Increase
As soon as you replace carpets with hardwood floors, the entire apartment or house looks classier and cleaner.

These aesthetic changes also translate into cold hard cash, as a recent survey of realtors found that 82 percent agree that simply adding hardwood floors meant that properties sold faster and for more money.

For rental property owners, the advantages are even better, as this is not just a one time value increase but a way to continue to get more for the property every time it is rented out.

Because the property is now more attractive to renters, you not only get more money for it, but you may have more interested potential renters.

Long Term Savings
Hardwood floors may cost more to put in than simply carpet, but over the long run most landlords with hardwood in their properties will end up paying less overall than those with carpet, and enjoy the higher rental income as well.

This is because carpets usually need to be cleaned after a guest moves out, which often involves a professional service of shampooing, vacuuming and drying.

Hardwood floors on the other hand can be quickly cleaned with a mop and some good sterilizer and hardwood-safe spray.

Carpet also will need to be replaced at some point, especially if the property gets a lot of turnover.

It is only a matter of time before a major spill or accident takes place.

Once again, hardwood floors rarely stain and are not as susceptible to damages from cigarettes or other burning material and therefore withstand the test of time much, much longer.

Hardwood Floors and LEED Credits
For those that would like to get their property certified as a green building by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), getting hardwood floors put in is often a necessary step.

A green building is one that uses a certain amount of environmentally friendly products or materials in its construction, and in doing so contributes positively to the environment.

Green certified buildings also tend to fetch higher price points on the rental market, as the supply of them is limited and those that demand them tend to be willing to pay more.

If you have a historic building that is made of wood, stone, or other natural materials, simply replacing the carpets with hardwood floors may be all you need to do to earn the LEED green building certification.

For newer buildings however, there are many more areas of the edifice that may need to be replaced before it can be considered green.

 

Dealing with Tenants That Refuse to Show House

As a property owner, it can be difficult enough to try to sell/rent a home when there are tenants living there. Potential buyers/renters like to see a home as a blank slate instead of how someone else has decided to use the space.

When tenants won’t give you permission to enter the house to show it, the process becomes even more difficult. Landlords in just about every jurisdiction are able to enter a property to show it for sale upon giving reasonable written notice to the tenants. Having a tenant present who doesn’t want the property to sell, however, can be just as much of a deterrent to a sale as a messy property can be.

If you’re dealing with tenants that refuse to show a house, here are some of the best ways to turn that situation around:

1. Offer Compensation

In the landlord/tenant relationship, if a property is sold to a new owner, there is nothing of value that comes to the tenant. They gain nothing from the transaction. Not only is there the potential of a new owner of whom they know nothing about, but it could mean they’d need to find a new place to live if the new owner no longer wishes to lease the property out.

If a tenant has nothing to gain, then they have no motivation to show the property. Make a deal with the problematic tenant. If the property sells, give them a small percentage of the sale for keeping the property in show condition.

2. Avoid The Eviction Process At All Costs

Evictions can cause three undesirable outcomes.

  1. It creates a risk that a tenant may destroy the property before they are forced to move out of it, making it not ready for sale until extensive repairs occur. This may cost you time and money.
  2. It may turn away a potential investor who wants the rental income from a good tenant.
  3. It creates conditions where the tenant may seek retribution, including claims of theft, that must be resolved before a sales contract will go through. Again, this may cost you time and money.

Think of it like this, even if you just have to wait until the end of a lease before showing the property, the only issue you’ve got is a need for more time. For the tenant, they’ll need a new place to live. Sometimes waiting it out is the best course of action.

3. Know Your Landlord/Tenant Law

For some jurisdictions, a tenant can actually break their lease and move out of a property when it goes up for sale. Others require tenants to maintain a show-level condition at all times when the property is for sale.

Make sure to do your research and know what to expect so that you don’t get an unpleasant surprise with a lease-breaking notice that you can’t do anything about.

4. Avoid Needless Showings

The problem with showing a house to prospective buyers/renters is that it can become quite cumbersome for the tenant. If you are showing the home three times per week, that’s a lot to be asking of the tenant even when they’re being cooperative especially if those showings fall at times when the tenant is at home.

Consider doing a video walkthrough of the property instead. This will give you the chance to let people see the home without having to show it in person as often. You could offer video walkthroughs as a first option and then in-person showings to those who are still interested after they have seen the video.

5. Address Their Concerns

The problem that tenants generally have with a showing is that potential buyers/renters tend to snoop around. They open cabinets, closets and pantry doors because they’re curious about the space. To the tenant, however, this is often seen as a violation of their personal privacy.

Another problem that tenants have with showings is that they often happen in the evenings and at weekends. When the tenant is at work all day, they want the opportunity to relax at home in the evening which isn’t possible when you are showing people around their home.

If you can address their concerns and create limits that can address the issues, such as the time of day you show people the property, the tenant may become more agreeable to showing the house.

6. When All Else Fails, The Eviction Process Still Works

As long as your lease allows you the right to entry with reasonable notice, a tenant who is refusing to cooperate with you is violating the lease. If you’ve tried mediating the issue, offering incentives and nothing seems to be working, then what you’re left with is a formal eviction.

Because this isn’t a non-payment of rent issue, there may be a 7-14 day notice required to explain the violation. Most tenants will let you in to show the property after receiving this notice because it stops the eviction process as they’ve rectified their violation. If, however, they are still refusing to cooperate, you’ll need to file for an unlawful detainer or similar hearing in your jurisdiction over the matter. You’ll need to present your case before a judge if it goes that far, pay for the filing fees and pay a process server to deliver the summons. It works, but it could take more than a month and if the tenant suddenly complies before the court orders them out of the property, you could be out legal fees and wind up starting all over again.

Dealing with tenants that refuse to show a house can be a headache, but these options can help you to be able to address the situation quickly and effectively. As long as you give a tenant some incentive to help you out, you’ll be able to show your house to find a buyer for it without much hassle at all.

9 Tips for Verifying References of Potential Tenants

An important part of any interview process is obtaining references, but how do you know these references are legitimate?

Here are some helpful tips to ensure you’re getting honest renters!

1. Your First Point of Reference: Interviewing the Tenant
Always interview a potential tenant first before calling references.

Some critical questions to ask:

  • “What is your monthly income?” – Verify this information with their current boss.
  • “What are your monthly debt obligations?” – Verify by running a credit report after they sign a consent.
  • “What do you think your former boss (and/or landlord) will say about you?”

Specific questions like the above will help you notice any discrepancies between what the tenant says and what their former boss/landlord actually shares when you call them.

2. Find Your Own Contact Number
For employment references, instead of calling the number given by the tenant, Google the business name and then ask for a person in HR and/or your prospective tenant’s supervisor.

This will ensure that you have a legitimate reference to interview.

3. Use an Online Tenant Background Service
Double-check all the information a tenant has given you with an online tenant background service.

If they have supplied any incorrect information, this should be a red flag that their references may not be legitimate.

Any discrepancies with the background check are indications of a potentially deceptive tenant.

4. Confirmation
Ask every reference to confirm their relationship with the tenant.

If possible, have the reference send you an email from a business email address that matches with the business the tenant listed.

5. Always Call
Written references are much easier to forge by potential tenants, so always call!

Never rely solely on a letter.

Furthermore, there are many subtle clues that are lost when a reference is in writing.

You may not get the full tone of a comment, and you don’t have the opportunity to question something you’re unsure about.

6. Don’t Limit Yourself
You don’t have to exclusively call the references given by the prospective tenant.

Do your own investigating.

For example, go to their former residence and speak to their neighbors.

Leverage your own social circle; maybe someone you know and trust has known your candidate for a long time and can provide you with a candid reference.

7. Ask References for Additional References
Expand your circle even more by asking the references you speak to for more names of other references.

This will give you a variety of insights into the true nature and character of your applicant.

For example, you could say, “Thank you Mr. X for your time, can you please provide me with the contact information for another individual who has closely worked with my applicant?”

Then start contacting these secondary references to verify what you have already learned.

8. Check Public Records
If the landlord reference is an individual and not part of a management company, be sure to check public records to ensure that the landlord is who they say they are.

9. Read Between the Lines
Omitted information is very telling, so always look for any blank sections on the application.

When an applicant knowingly does not provide a former employer or former landlord on an application, it’s probably a red flag.

To encourage them to complete this section, consider asking for at least two former bosses and two former landlords.

Their current landlord may be trying to get rid of them, so it’s always better to speak with a former landlord.

Top 7 ways to ensure a tenant’s smooth departure

The best way to ensure tenants’ smooth departure is to begin planning for it before the tenants move in — before you have even met them.

Starting early allows you to attach a rider to the lease, so tenants will know what to expect when they move out.

If you did not prepare early, the good news is that it is never too late to start.

Here are seven effective ways to ensure that tenants depart smoothly.

  1. When tenants sign their lease, attach a rider that amounts to a checklist of expectations the tenants must meet to get their security deposit back when they move out. The list can be numbered with a blank space to the left of each item for tenants to check.
  2. Send the tenants a move-out reminder no more than 30 days before their last day to thank them for giving notice of their departure. The reminder should also contain the checklist from the lease rider, if you have one, or a list of your expectations, such as removing personal items, vacuuming the carpet, reporting any damage in writing, and returning the keys to you after vacating the premises. This reminder should also wish the tenants luck in their future home.
  3. Schedule an inspection to take place three to five days before the tenants’ last day. The move-out reminder letter or checklist can request that the tenants call or email you to schedule this. Try to accommodate the tenants’ schedule as much as possible; while it is not strictly necessary to have a walk-through before they move out, it is a good idea.
  4. If you did not attach a checklist to the tenants’ lease or to the move-out reminder, create one now. You can also use a template. Landlord Station has pre- and post-lease inventory checklists. Your checklist should contain essentials such as walls being clean and the same color as when tenants moved in (unless prior permission to paint a new color was given), electrical systems working, windows cleaned and smoke alarms working properly.
  5. Show up on time for the walk-through inspection. If the relationship has been pleasant, bring the tenant a small token of thanks as a gesture of goodwill. One possibility is a gift card for $20 to $100. Alternatively, depending on your relationship with the tenant, you could bring a handmade gift or baked treats. If you anticipate major issues with the walk-through, it may be best to wait until afterward to see if a gift is appropriate.
  6. During the walk-through, give the tenant a copy of the checklist, and discuss any items that come up or requirements that cannot be met. Depending on the situation, the tenant may be able to remedy something before moving out. If there is damage, take photos that show the date or use a Polaroid camera with images that print out immediately. Have the tenant initial them.
  7. If you expect that you will not be able to return part or all of the tenants’ security deposit, explain why and estimate how much. If the tenants end up owing you money, provide them with various payment methods. If necessary, explain that you will send them a bill, and ask for their new address.

Bonus tip: Know the difference between damage and wear and tear.

Landlords cannot subtract wear and tear amounts from security deposits.

Examples of wear and tear include a thinning carpet, faded paint, and small scratches on the wall.

Examples of damage include permanently stained carpet, water spots on the wall caused by hanging plants, and an excessive number of holes in the walls that will require patching or repainting.

Adding a Pet to a Lease

Pets are a part of life for many Americans.

In fact, The Humane Society of the United States reports that more than 164 million Americans own pets.

When you’re seeking tenants, you don’t want to rule out this large subset of the population by banning pets from your unit. At the same time, you don’t want a dog or cat to damage your rental.

The key, then, is offering a pet-friendly unit with an ironclad lease that protects your rental from potential damage.

Several methods allow you to protect your investment and attract pet owners at the same time.

Pet Security Deposit
You probably already collect a security deposit from your tenant to help fund any potential repairs.

If your tenant has a dog or cat, consider adding a pet security deposit to the lease as well.

This deposit might not be as high as a full month’s rent, but you might charge several hundred dollars so that your tenant can have a furry friend.

You can make this deposit refundable (pending a thorough inspection of the unit when the tenant vacates) or nonrefundable.

This security deposit can go toward any cleaning expenses or structural repairs, such as erasing scratches on the door or walls.

Pet Rent
Consider the pet another tenant and charge pet rent.

Specify precisely how much rent you intend to charge per month for the pet.

This pet rent is typically established in lieu of a pet deposit.

Tenants might prefer a modest monthly pet rent fee rather than paying a lump sum security deposit upon move-in.

Thus, in a competitive rental market, pet rent can be an appealing option and may help you attract tenants.

Consider setting the rent based on the pet’s size.

For example, a larger and potentially more destructive dog might carry a higher monthly rent than a small cat.

Protective Measures
Add language to your lease that specifies the condition in which the tenant must leave the unit.

For example, you might request that tenants with pets have the carpets professionally cleaned before vacating the property.

On the other hand, you may prefer to have the carpets cleaned yourself, in which case you will want to note that the cost of carpet cleaning will be deducted from the security or pet deposit.

Also, the lease should list specific pet-related damages like chewed windowsills, scratched doors, or holes in the walls and explain that the tenant is responsible for the cost of such repairs.

Penalties for Unreported Pets
In your lease, you should also make the effort to deter tenants from not reporting their pets and paying the specified deposits and rents.

Consider adding language to your lease that stipulates that the tenant will be assessed an unreported pet fee or have to pay for past months of pet rent should you find an animal living in the unit.

This clause will encourage tenants to be upfront with you, which will allow you to collect the necessary fees to protect your unit from potential damage.

Conclusion
Welcoming pet owners into your rental unit broadens your options for tenants.

Creating a lease that specifically addresses the problems that pets may cause allows you to confidently hand over the keys to a pet owner, knowing that your investment is well protected in case of pet damage.

Guarantors, Escrow, and Rent Insurance: Options When Renters Don’t Earn Enough Income

One of the key ways to ensure that your tenants will pay the rent is to check that they have sufficient income before signing a lease with them.

Typically, landlords require tenants to have an annual income that’s between 40 to 50 times the monthly rent.

If someone seems like a good tenant but doesn’t meet your income requirements, don’t automatically turn them away.

You have some options that can give you the assurance you need to rent to these tenants despite the lack of income.

Guarantors
New graduates starting their first jobs and renting their first apartments are a typical example of when the rent would be too large a portion of their income by the usual standards.

In some cases, a grad’s parents may be willing to cosign the lease and become a guarantor, taking on the responsibility of making the rent payment if the lessee fails to do so.

Many landlords only accept guarantors if they are local.

It’s also important to verify that the guarantor has enough income to meet this commitment.

In most cases, this means checking that their income is as much as 80 to 100 times the monthly rent, allowing for their own housing expenses as well as the apartment they’re guaranteeing the rent for.

If the guarantor has no rent or mortgage payments of their own, the income they need can be less.

If you allow a guarantor, be sure the agreement specifies the circumstances when the guarantor needs to make payments and which fees, in addition to rent, they would be responsible for.

Escrow
It’s possible that the prospective tenant or guarantor has a low income but has a large amount of savings.

You shouldn’t rely on that alone, as the money could be spent on other things.

You can ask the tenant to use those savings to pay the full year’s rent upfront.

In some cases, the tenant may not want to hand over a check for the full year but may be able to fund an escrow account, from which monthly payments would be drawn.

Many banks provide services to manage escrow accounts.

Ideally the renter should establish the escrow account with the bank you use in order to simplify management of the funds.

The renter will need to provide the bank with details specifying how funds can be taken from the account.

Rent Insurance
Rent insurance should not be confused with renter’s insurance, which protects the renter’s property.

Rent insurance is insurance the renter purchases to protect their landlord; if the renter doesn’t pay the rent, the company will make the payments.

The insurer basically becomes a guarantor.

This ensures you’ll be paid, but you will need to begin eviction proceedings first.

If you are willing to accept rent insurance, you need to sign up with the insurer.

Currently there is only one institutional rent guarantor: Insurent. Their service is limited to New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia.

There is no fee for landlords to participate; your agreement is needed solely to accept the lease guaranty.

Waive the Requirement
If none of the above options work, you can consider waiving your income requirements.

In some circumstances, the character of the prospective tenant outweighs the concern about their rent.

You also need to consider how long it will take to find another tenant who can meet the income standard.

Depending on the rental market in your location, you may not want to wait to find another potential renter.

5 Novel Ways To Transform Into An Exceptional Landlord

Landlords are often portrayed negatively, with unnecessary demands and lack of empathy for their tenants.

While this may be true of some, it certainly doesn’t tell the whole story.

A little innovation and free thinking could propel you to the top of the landlord chain.

And where there’s a good landlord, good tenants are likely to follow.

Here are some novel ideas to help you transform into an exceptional landlord.

  • Customize the Lease – While a standard lease is readily available to cover basic elements such as security deposit, rent, and duration, you should only use it as a framework for preparing your own lease document that covers details related to your investment property. Yours may include any special rules with respect to furniture, sound limits, and pets. Set certain rules not just for the tenants, but also for yourself as the property owner, then follow them. Your lease should include details such as repair responsiveness and paying attention to tenant needs. By using as many details as possible, there will be no room for ambiguity − resulting in a much better tenant-landlord relationship.
  • Respect Privacy – Everybody wants to be treated with respect, especially when it comes to privacy. No tenant wants to a landlord who shows up at odd hours to inspect the property. As a landlord, you certainly have the right to conduct property inspections, but be sure to give your tenant advance notice and agree on a mutually beneficial time − not just one that is convenient for you. Remember, every business relationship needs mutual respect to function properly.
  • Open Communications – While you don’t want your tenant pestering you at all hours, you still need to offer an open communication line to address any problems quickly. Tenants feel more comfortable when they know that you’re easy to get in touch with. Give them your business number and include an email address. An email helps to reduce after-hour calls and records the written communication between you two. While some tenants can be annoying, most tenants won’t get in touch with you unless they have to. Make sure the tenant knows that you have heard the request and plan on addressing it − this will reduce any friction and distrust between you and the tenant.
  • Satisfy Your Side of the Contract – You expect your tenants to follow the rules, and you must, too. When you receive a call or email, listen to your tenant’s grievance and do your best to address it as quickly as possible. If a tenant brings up an issue with the building or burst pipe repair needs, make sure you tend to it as soon as you can. Remember that a good working relationship can only be sustained when both parties do their part.
  • Have Win-Win Negotiations – The aim of any negotiation is a win-win solution for both parties. The same applies when dealing with your tenants. For example, if a tenant finds the place too hot, offer to install an air conditioning system at a nominal rent increase. You could also offer to buy certain equipment, if the tenant is willing to pay for the installation. Negotiate a rental increase at the end of every lease term that benefits both you and the tenant, without being too heavy-handed in your expectations. These win-win tactics go a long way in building good relationships − making you a good landlord with good tenants.

While the business side of being a landlord is important, remember that small thoughtful gestures can also make a big impact.

A small gift on your tenant’s birthday or for the holidays will go a long way in developing a good relationship.

Happy tenants are likely to better care for your property and are a lot easier to deal with than disgruntled tenants.

Set the stage for a good landlord-tenant relationship at the beginning to assure tenants that their decision to move into your rental was the right one.

5 Mistakes Landlords Make With Incoming Tenants

Most property managers feel a huge weight lifted off of their shoulders when they begin to get calls from people interested in renting out a property.

The likelihood that an empty property will soon start generating money is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Unfortunately, there are several mistakes that property managers make when bringing in new tenants.

These mistakes can potentially land you in hot water, so avoiding them is essential.

1. Not Making Disclosures to Tenants
Although laws may vary, each state has disclosure requirements related to incoming tenants.

These are rules about information that a landlord must disclose before renting out a unit.

For example, in horror movies, you have probably seen instances in which real estate agents disclosed recent deaths in a household; this is a real requirement in some states.

It’s important to note, though, that there will likely be other things that must be disclosed.

Laws about lead paint disclosure, for instance, are very common.

Additionally, landlords may have to disclose the presence of mold or even sex offenders that they know of who live in the area.

Knowing these state-specific laws is essential.

2. Mistakes in The Screening Process
There are a host of screening errors that can lead to less-than-satisfactory tenants moving in or even legal action being taken.

The Federal Fair Housing Act, for instance, prohibits property managers from asking certain questions that may be viewed as discriminatory.

Questions that seem to focus on familial status, religion, national origin, or other protected statuses could land you in court.

Landlords may also make mistakes when conducting screening related to background checks.

If you’re not careful, you could end up using an untrustworthy background check website that doesn’t discover all relevant information.

Fortunately, there is online property management software that can perform the appropriate background check with ease.

3. Not Correcting Potentially Dangerous Conditions
One potentially serious mistake is not correcting known hazardous conditions.

While it may seem like a hassle to fill in the hole the last tenant’s dog dug, fix the deadbolt while the lower lock still works, or provide sufficient outdoor lighting in a neighborhood with criminal activity, failing to fix any of these situations can land a property manager in court.

In most areas, landlords are required by law to create safe environments for their tenants.

If they fail to do so, they could be held responsible for damages.

In the end, it’s simply safer to correct all hazardous conditions before handing the keys over to a new tenant.

4. Rental Application Errors
Another common error when bringing in new tenants is related to rental applications.

Many landlords simply download the first application they come across on Google and continue using it forever. Unfortunately, these applications may be outdated, and in many cases, language contained in these “one-size-fits-all” applications may not even correlate with your state’s laws.

Additionally, creating your own application harbors the same potential dangers.

You run the risk of inputting language that simply cannot be upheld legally in your area.

Fortunately, many of the aforementioned property management software suites provide state-specific rental applications.

5. Letting Your Mouth Write The Checks
In an effort to quickly rent out a property in an improving economy, it becomes second nature to speak highly of a property and even make promises that certain improvements will be made.

Once these promises are made, though, it’s essential that you follow through.

Even if these promises aren’t in the lease, the incoming tenant can break the lease or take you to court for the value of the difference.

Without the promise directly written in the lease, there’s no guarantee that they’ll win, but the time and money expended dealing with this issue is hardly worth it.

Being a property manager is an undoubtedly difficult job, but the aforementioned mistakes can turn a tedious task into a nearly impossible one.

Fortunately, all of these mistakes are easily avoidable.

With just a few proactive measures and the right tools at your side, your mistakes with incoming tenants can become a thing of the past.

Top 10 New Technology Solutions for Realtors

As a realtor, you handle many duties — from connecting with new clients to scheduling open houses. If you try to handle every aspect of your business operation manually, you can’t maximize your productivity if you spend more time on administrative tasks than you do with duties requiring a human touch. Implementing technology in your day-to-day operations can help make more productive use of your time while providing an even higher quality of service to your clients. In turn, clients are increasingly looking for more online solutions these days. Using technology to streamline your business is a win-win situation.

  1. Online Forms

Make it easy to stay on top of paperwork by keeping digital forms. Your listing inquiry forms, property paperwork, rental applications and other paperwork can be filled out online and submitted to you without requiring an extra trip to deliver them in person or depending on fax machines or scanned documents. You can then easily pair your online forms up with electronic signing (see below).

  1. Online Scheduling

Trying to find a time when you and/or a colleague is free at the same time as your clients is time-consuming, not to mention, confusing at times. This is where online scheduling tools come in handy. Your clients can book a time that suits them from a list of times that you have previously approved. No need for calls and back-and-forth emails. Acuity and Calendly are great scheduling tools to try out.

  1. Customer Relationship Management

Do you provide timely feedback when a potential client contacts you about listings? Do you have your clients’ contact details and preferences saved somewhere easy to find? A customer relationship management (CRM) tool helps you stay on top of your client contacts. You can sort messages, make notes, attach files and schedule follow-up contact through email, phone or in-person meetings.

  1. Email Automation

Another tech option is email automation. You can auto-respond to emails, address common questions and reconnect with previous clients. You can also set up emails to automatically send clients new listings that meet their parameters and other time-saving configurations. If you use an email marketing tool like MailChimp or ConvertKit, you can also deliver regular newsletters to your clients to keep them in the loop and ensure that your company remains front and center in their minds.

  1. Video Marketing

Video marketing can benefit your business in a number of ways. You might want to send your clients a quick video message introducing yourself – a personal touch and a great way to put a face to your name (and help you stick in their memory). Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are giving preference to video content which means that if you are including video in your marketing strategy, more people are likely to see that content over standard text and image content. You can also use video to showcase your properties that allow people to get a much better idea of exactly what is on offer and view it at a time and place that suits them.

  1. Cloud Storage

Photos, videos and other media are likely just sitting on your computer’s hard drive, USB drives and SD cards. Instead of searching through multiple drives when you need a particular listing’s media, you can consolidate your media into a cloud storage service such as Google Drive. Using cloud storage also means that your team members can access and share those files from anywhere which will save time when you don’t have to keep searching for them or resending them via email.

  1. Social Media Scheduling

Social media sites provide a valuable way to connect with potential clients, but you need to post at specific times to get the widest audience for your content. Instead of sitting at your computer to update your social content, you can use a scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to automatically post your message at a scheduled time. Most of these tools will recommend the best time of day for you to post based on when your audience is the most active and offer sophisticated analytics to help you figure out which strategies are working well and which need to be tweaked.

  1. Automated Listings

Instead of manually inputting listings on multiple sites, you can use a service that posts your listing across all of them automatically. This will maximize your property’s visibility by putting it on as many sites as possible while also saving time in the process.

  1. Floor Plan Software

You provide renters with plenty of property information through video tours, photos and descriptions, but it’s still a challenge for tenants to visualize being in the property before they actually tour it. To increase your chances of matching tenants with the best property for their needs, you can provide detailed floor plans to give them another way of sorting through properties before they request an in-person tour of the property.

  1. E-Signature Software

If there’s one thing that is certain, it’s that any real estate transaction requires a lot of signatures. Trying to find a time and place to collect those signatures from different parties can be time-consuming and often frustrating for everyone involved. Using a tool like HelloSign or DocuSign means that you can send documents to the relevant parties, they can sign them electronically and then return them to you in a matter of minutes.

Maximize your working hours by putting technology in place to automate and streamline many of your day-to-day realtor business processes. Whether you need a way to find listing photos or quickly post new listings, these tools give you many choices. You can spend less time on repetitive, administrative work, allowing you to focus your energy on bringing in new business and wowing prospective tenants.