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Property Management Blog

Published on Friday, February 21, 2014

The DOs and DON’Ts of Showing Your Rental

Private Tour

Scheduling a one-on-one tour with an applicant may be the fastest way to fill a vacancy, because it takes advantage of a prospect’s own sense of urgency. Other advantages of a private tour include the ability to interview the candidate more in depth, and to protect the privacy of the current tenant.

When conducting individual tours, DO:

Evaluate the candidate before you agree to give a tour. That way, you don’t waste your time with unqualified applicants;

Show up early for the appointment and do a quick walk thru. If something isn’t right, call the applicant and reschedule.

DON’T meet the candidate for the first time at the property tour. That poses a significant risk to your personal security.

Open House

There are two advantages of an open house showing over the traditional one-on-one tour:

Open houses can create a sense of competition between candidates; and,

The landlord may be able to fill the vacancy with only one visit to the property.

DO take the time to advertise the open house is a number of different places to improve turnout. If you can’t generate interest, then you won’t create a sense of competition or urgency that scores multiple applications. In multifamily properties, you can ask other tenants to invite their friends or co-workers who may interested in moving. The more bodies in the rental during the open house, the better the chances of closing a lease.

DO stage the property so those touring can follow the flow on their own.

DO ask each attendee to sign in and get contact information.

DON’T host the open house alone. Meeting strangers at the property is risky. Bring along co-workers or friends, or stay in touch with someone by phone or computer during the open house.

Auto-Showings

This is a relatively new way of showing properties, taking advantage of technology to do the legwork. For example, Rently.com offers automated showings using a lockbox, eliminating all time spent touring properties. ShowMojo allows prospects to schedule showings on a pre-set calendar. These services take advantage of the popularity of using the Internet and mobile techology to search for rentals.

Advantages of these auto lead generation services is catching these busy applicants while they are searching, at times that you would miss them using only the phone, driving more traffic to the vacancy. It’s this same anonymity, however, that has the potential of creating problems for landlords, who may find they are showing to unqualified candidates.

DO work closely with the service so that your tenant qualifications are clear.

DO monitor the results, including any comments from visitors.

If using an auto-showing service with a lockbox, DO check the property routinely for any damage.

The showing service also may offer online rental applications or leases along with the showings. DON’T lease to a tenant you have never met in person, and follow your our tenant screening and leasing policies.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for all your property management needs. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

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Author: Web Master

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Landlord Knowledge Base

If you’ve ever considered investing in a few rental properties in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA now might be a good time. Prices are still low in Philadelphia, but have been on the upswing. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price of an existing home in a US metropolitan area grew 13.7% between July 2012 and July 2013, the latest in a 17-month streak of year-over-year price increases. 

New landlords can choose from properties that are likely to appreciate and a large pool of potential renters.Licensed realtor Pat Mueller cites a few reasons for this trend: “Many families have lost their homes to foreclosure and are entering the rentals market for the first time in years. Mortgages are also harder to get now, so fewer people are qualifying for a new one.”The more skills you bring to the table to get into Houses for Rent in Philadelphia Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA and the more time you have to devote to your properties, the faster you can make a return on your investment. 

But investing in rentals can also be disastrous (or too stressful to be worthwhile) without expertise. Here are three professionals you may consult about your new rental properties, and what you can do to mitigate how much they cost you:Handyman:  You may need to hire a specialist for some work on your rental. If you need new outlets or new pipes, for example, hire an electrician, plumber or licensed contractor. Handymen usually tackle smaller, more manageable tasks, like:

  • Painting and paint removal
  • Drywall repair
  • Minor appliance repairs (fixing a leaky toilet or faucet, among others)
  • Installing tiling or flooring, moldings, windows, doors
  • Refinishing decks, cabinets and other wood items

When You Could Skip It: You could do any (or all) of these projects yourself if you have the time and interest in learning. Of course, this only works if you live relatively close to your rentals and are flexible enough to service them on short notice. And if you’re willing to respond to the occasional 5 AM basement flooding.

Average Savings: Any base rates or costs-per-hour vary from location to location in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA , but nationally, you can expect to spend an average of $60 to $85 per hour for repair costs. It general costs less to hire an individual handyman than a handyman employed by a company. Expect an additional charge if your job requires a trip to the store for materials.

Resident Property Manager As the owner of a handful of rental properties, you may be able to manage them yourself, but if you want help, a single resident manager would probably be more cost efficient than a property management company. Resident managers may:

  • Serve as a handyman
  • Advertise vacancies in your units
  • Show apartments to prospective tenants
  • Review rental applications
  • Collect rents

When You Could Skip It: Again, the closer you live to your properties and the more spare time you have, the less likely you are to need a manager. The obligations of being a boss will also cut into the time you save on maintenance.

Average Savings: The national median wage for residential managers is just over $25 per hour. Research the wages in your community and adjust according to how much responsibility your manager will take on. 

Real Estate Agent: Once you’ve gotten your financials in order and done your own research on the neighborhood(s) you’re considering, you might contact a realtor to show you potential properties. You can also arrange for a realtor in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA to show rentals once they’re ready to rent.

When You Could Skip It: It depends. Even if you’re a local, or have thoroughly researched the neighborhood(s) you’re considering, a realtor is a great resource for a first-time rental buyer. Realtors have access to data and statistics not necessarily available to the general public and first-time buyers may not know all the right questions to ask. Using a realtor to fill your Houses for Rent vacancies is less of a no-brainer, depending on your other time commitments or whether you plan to hire a resident manager who could do the same thing.

Average Savings: As a buyer of rental properties, as when buying your own home, sellers typically pay most, if not all, of the buyer’s realtor fees. In this case, Mueller points out there’s little reason not to work with a realtor. For help in filling your units in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA, the services of a realtor would set you back between 10-20% of the unit’s rent per month.  Mueller recommends interviewing with several brokers before making your final decision to invest into Houses for Rent .

The Bottom Line: As a new landlord, you can’t necessarily control the flexibility of your schedule or the amount (and cost) of unexpected repairs to your properties. Rentals are a long-term investment. However, to maximize profits from your Houses for Rent, new rentals, you can buy close to home and start small. It is best to begin with just one or two properties. This will allow you to maximize the time you spend on your properties’ needs, and minimize the amount you’ll have to pay anyone else.

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