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The sign is in the yard – Now fielding the first calls

September 5, 2011

Picking the right tenant is probably the most critical thing you do as a landlord and it all starts with that first phone call. They have seen your sign in the yard and perhaps read a flyer you left in the front window – They like what they see and now they call you.

This event is critical. I found I have gotten much better with practice – but I have made some blunders. The key is to get some good intel, but don’t sound overly interrogating. I like to try and get the following accomplished with this phone call:

  • Answer the phone. Be sure you pick up your phone – don’t let it go to voicemail.
  • Be focused. Do not take the call while doing 3 other things. Focus on the call and be present to the conversation.
  • Establish rapport. Make some small talk, but be sure and get the caller’s name and phone number. Keep a call log with details of each call.
  • Ask some critical questions. Find out where they work? When they plan on moving? How large is their family? Be careful how you ask some of these as you need to stay legal.
  • Listen. Listen to the background noise on their phone line. Is it loud, yelling, dogs barking, 3 kids screaming?
  • Uncomfortable pauses. I like to ask why they are moving and then just remain quiet and let them talk. Some will just keep talking and tell you their life story and end up saving you some time.
  • Invite them to view the property. If you like what you hear, let them know when you will be at the property and invite them to fill out an application and view the inside.

Ideally you want them to view the place and complete an application. This further illustrates they are interested in the property and this will give you another opportunity to analyze whether they will make good tenants. The key here is to make an appointment and actually have them show up. I can’t tell you how many times they won’t even show up.

I have found one strategy is to give them maybe 2 options.  Say something like this, “I can be at the home at 10 am Saturday morning or 2pm in the afternoon. Which time works for you?” Then have them pick one of the two time slots. I then call them an hour before the time and let them know that I am ahead of schedule and will be at the home at 9:45 am or 1:45pm if they want to come a few minutes early. This is merely a reminder tactic that I use.

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From → Landlord

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