The couple pulls up in a snazzy-looking car. As they get out and walk up to the front door you are checking them out and saying “Man, these look like just the people I want to rent to!” You open the front door and everyone is all smiles. Not so fast!!!
Everyone looking for a new home will almost always show up with a smile on their face. It is literally like going into an interview. If you do your job right, that is exactly what it is — an interview.
Have some light talk and start building a relationshp. Any psychopathic tendencies coming out? Are their social manners good? Stay away from sex, religion and politics. Weather is always a good icebreaker. Can you relate to these people? If not it is going to be a long 12-months.
This is step one. If you don’t feel good going into step two then you are likely wasting your and their time.
While showing the property to the prospect(s) ask motivation questions — questions that start with ‘why’. Why do you work where you work? Why do you want to move? Why do you want to move here? Why do you swear all of the time? (just kidding) The ‘why’ questions help you peel back the onion and see what drives the prospect.
Always, ALWAYS ask them if they have anything they want/need to tell you. This would include black marks against their record — rent history, credit history, etc. Shut up and let them talk. The longer the story becomes the less likely you should be to want to rent to them. “Well, you see, my brother’s cousin’s barber’s girlfriend stole my credit, and…..”
While engaging the prospects in conversation note not just the content of their speech, but their context. Accents would be highly discriminatory — don’t go there. But if they show up looking and talking like a criminal you have to ask yourself if that is the kind of tenant you are looking for.
Talk is cheap. There is a lot of information you can glean from other sources during the showing. Here is a list of some of the ones we use:
- Does the car they drive match the neighborhood?
- Do the kids stick to the parents for at least the first 2 minutes of the showing, or are they immediately using the hallway as a racetrack? Kids will be kids, and they will eventually use that hallway as a racetrack. But do they mind their parents when the parents ask them to behave? Do the parents even ask them to behave, or let them run wild?
- Do the prospects check out the place like a place they really care about, or do they walk through the unit in 2 minutes flat and say “I’ll take it.” This speaks to how well they will take care of the place. Will they honor it.
- What does the car look like? If the backseat is full of fast food wrappers then your rental will look like that in about 3 months.
- How are they dressed? To impress? Good. If he/she shows up in work clothes that is good, too. Means he/she is a hardworker. If the crotch is down around the knees, well, you be your own judge.
Putting the puzzle together
Showing rental property and tenant screening is a lot like putting together a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Except you are only give 400-700 of the pieces!! You’ve got to put enough of the puzzle together to find out what kind of scene it is. If it is a dark, sinister-looking scene don’t walk away. Run! But if the scene is of a couple on a vaporetto going down a Venetian canal with a blue sky and a rainbow above, then bingo! Sign that lease.