Now that you have pre-qualified your prospective tenants, it is time to show them the house. Before you show them the house, you should have completed the steps discussed in the previous post. Here’s a quick recap:
- Pre-qualify them by communicating your income and credit requirements and asking them if they meet those.
- Make sure they have visited the neighborhood and have looked at your house from the street.
- Make sure that all those who need to see the house to make a decision are available at one time. You don’t want to go there and be told, “I like it but my wife has to see the house as well”.
Note these are pre-qualification steps to showing them the house, not for approving them as your tenant. We will discuss the lease application and approval process later in this series.
As you prepare to show your prospective tenants the house, remember that you are still meeting strangers in a vacant house. So it’s prudent to take some safety measures:
- No blind showings. As we discuss in these posts, always establish phone contact and talk to the person (or head of household) before showing them the house.
- Know your area and your house well. This may seem obvious but it is important to state. Know where the exits are and what they lead to. Know which rooms have locks on the inside.
- Show the house during the day when there is sufficient light outside. This is not only a safety measure but the house will show better in natural light and the tenant can see the neighborhood well also.
- Let someone know where you are going and the names of the people you will be meeting. Give them an estimate of when you will meet them and how long the showing will take. Optionally, you can have them call you 10 minutes into the showing. They should be willing to visit the property if they can’t reach you.
- Know how many people (including children) will be visiting the house. Take a friend with you if you think you can’t monitor the actions of all by yourself.
- We talked about knowing your rental home’s neighbors. If you haven’t met them you can go there sooner and see if you can strike up a conversation. Let them know you are showing the house in a few minutes. Mention your prospective tenant’s names: “I’m showing the house to Tom and Jill Jones today. Tom just moved into the area and his friend lives here as well.”
- Get to your rental at least 10 minutes before the showing. Park your car on the street or in the driveway. Do not park it in the garage. The tenant needs to see how spacious the garage is and your neighbors will also know you are at the house.
- If you keep your blinds closed at the rental, open all the blinds. Turn on the lights. Keep the front door open.
- Meet your prospective tenants in the driveway or the walkway. Introduce yourself outside the house and see if they introduce themselves as the people you are expecting. On the odd chance that they are not, politely tell them you are waiting for your appointment and your company policy is to only show with an appointment. Take their information, hand them a flier and deal with them over the phone or email later.
- During the showing, leave the front door open. This makes your prospective tenants feel safer as well. This is another reason you may want another person helping you at the showing. They can monitor the front door while you conduct the showing.
- Last but not the least, do not show an unsafe house that’s still under rehab to families with children. We talked about your contractor allowing people to visit during construction and it’s merits and pitfalls earlier.
- Do not allow pets at the showing.
Additional Safety Tips
Go to either your local police station or the police station by your rental property. See if they have a person who teaches real estate agents how to be safe during showings. Ask them if that person can spend some time with you or can give you some notes. Most likely they will be more than happy to help you. Alternatively, you can ask your agent to share with you any material they have received at their training and give you any tips he or she has.
Some landlords and agents like to carry pepper spray or mace with them. Holding a piping hot cup of coffee from the local Starbucks might add some deterrent value!
As we have talked quite elaborately about safety in this post, let’s pick up on presenting your property and getting to the application in the next.