As most landlords will tell you, the stress level of any income property owner is directly related to the quality of the tenants they currently manage. Finding the right tenants can be tricky but settling for an under-qualified applicant may come back to haunt you.
A fantastic technique for attracting great renters is by hosting an open house. Though this is traditionally used for real estate agents to pick up new buyer clients, hosting a well-planned and professional open house could land you the elusive low maintenance, rule-abiding, long-term tenants you’ve been dreaming of.
The key to any successful open house is getting a lot of visitors. A crowded event will let guests know the unit is desirable and will motivate them to act quickly. Creating a sense of urgency will net you more applications, and in return, increase your odds of approving the right tenant. Use this open house checklist and take the following steps to attract the most guests to your open house.
Tips to Get Potential Tenants in the Door During Your Open House
1. Scheduling the Best Time for Potential Tenants:
Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 3 pm work well because it is late enough in the day to get the after-brunch crowd. If those times don’t work for you, just be sure to pick a time when most people won’t be working and stay open for at least two hours. Keep in mind that most people have nine to five jobs. If the weekends don’t work for you, consider having a late afternoon to early evening open house on a weekday (4 pm to 7 pm works perfectly)! This also gives potential tenants an excuse to cut out of work early, which will definitely put them in a good mood!
2. Advertising is Key (Encourage Walk-Ins):
There is no such thing as too much promotion. Use a free picture editor to overlay your images with text to describe the open house. Include the address, date, and time of the open house, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the price of the rental. Also, if possible, hang a sign in front of the unit with the same details. On the day of the open house, place a few open house signs directing traffic from the busiest nearby streets. If you turn people off a main road, give them an indication at every subsequent turn. The cheap red real estate open house signs from a home improvement store work well. Just make sure to write “rental” in big black lettering to make it clear that you aren’t selling a house.
3. Invite Everyone You Can:
If you own multiple units, you should put your other tenants to work. Good renters know other good renters, and they are just as afraid of getting a bad landlord as you are of getting a bad tenant. So, who better to sing your praise than your already satisfied clients? Send out a mass email at least two days before with open house invitations, inviting anyone and everyone you know. Put it on Facebook and ask friends to share.
Also, having friends and family come to the open house is a great way to “fill the room.” This creates a sense of urgency for any potential tenants stopping by to see the space. The more people in the room means, the more potential competition to secure a lease. Create a sense of urgency by letting every prospective tenant who walks through the door know that there is competition for the home.
4. Push All of Your Scheduled Showings to the Open House:
Tell everyone who calls to inquire about the apartment that they may view it during the open house. This will help you keep your open house crowded and keep your weeknights free. It’s a win-win!
Be Prepared for the Big Day
1. Make Sure the Unit is 100% Rent Ready:
Now that you have the whole town coming to your open house let’s discuss some logistics to ensure it goes off without a hitch. The unit should be move-in ready. All outstanding work should be finished ahead of time, and the unit should be cleaner than your own home. A sparkling unit will give them no leverage for price negotiations and will stand out compared to the other units they see.
2. Use a Sign-In Sheet:
Gathering all of the guests’ contact information will allow you to build an email mailing list for openings in your buildings and result in a faster turnover of units in the future. Also, be prepared for applications. If you are a user of property management software, either bring an iPad with internet access to permit guests to apply on the spot or print out postcard-sized flyers with information about how to apply online. The postcard is another good opportunity to highlight any conveniences you provide that may set you as a landlord apart, such as accepting rent payments online.
3. Get There Early and Make Sure You’re Set-Up:
Getting to the unit an hour or two before the start of the open house will be plenty of time to turn all the lights on, open a few windows for fresh air (if weather permits), and set out all of the open house signs to direct traffic from the main streets. Consider providing a small snack, as people tend to linger while eating, and it will give you a chance to have a conversation with them.
4. Safety First:
Take your safety and the security of your property into consideration. Never do an open house alone and make sure to check that all the doors and windows are locked when you leave. You don’t want to come back to the property another day to find all of your appliances or copper piping missing!
Follow Up with Potential Tenants
You may think the hard work is over after the open house has ended. But, not so fast. Even if you receive a few applications after your open house, take this as an opportunity to get even more. Send an email out to the entire sign-in sheet that lets them know that due to high interest in the unit, you will be reviewing all applications at 5 pm Monday night. Setting a hard deadline will get anyone on the fence to act fast. Then, when you’ve gathered your list of potential renters, conduct a tenant evaluation to make sure you get someone reliable.
Now that you have all the tools get out there and host your first open house! And be sure to come back and let us know how it went. If you don’t have time to set up an open house yourself, consider hiring a property manager like the ones at Bay Property Management Group. We here to keep you organized, get you started, and lock-in those qualified tenants!