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The Complete Showing Process

March 25, 2019

Written by Connor Swalm

Intro: Welcome to the landlord’s resource.

Jamie: Hello, I am Jamie swalm and I’m here with Connor Swalm and we are the hosts of the landlord’s resource brought to you by Swalm property management where each week we provide practical content to educate and empower landlords just like yourself. So welcome to another episode. Connor, how are you doing today?

Connor: I’m having a great day.

Jamie: All right, well we have got a very special show for you today. We are going to be talking about the complete showing process from start to finish. So as you know, as a landlord or your property is a significant investment for you and ultimately you make money on your investment by having tenants in your property or properties that lease those properties. And so the amount of money that you are able to make over time is directly dependent upon the quality of the tenants that you have in your property and also the speed or the velocity at which you’re able to put a tenant in place. And then the amount of time that you’re able to have a tenant stay in that home. In other words, you want to have a tenant in your property as much as possible and you want the least amount of vacancy as possible, and all of this starts with the showing process. So we’re going to tell you a little bit about the process we use and we want to encourage you to simply to emulate that process. So, all right, Connor, why don’t you start us off?

Connor: Yeah. Uh, the first step to showing a property is marketing your property, right? People have to know about it. Now, there’s a lot of ways that some people have decided to go about doing this. Like, I know some individuals put out craigslist ads, some individuals put out on Facebook groups, some individuals go with realtors, so they list their home with a realtor, or some of them actually just have a list of renters that they market to see if they can get anyone to bite on it. We happen to use our property management software to market your property on extremely popular rental sites. So some of those include Zillow, rent pads, Trulia, realtor.com, condo.com, show me the rent. There’s a lot. Those aren’t all of them. Those are pretty much the most popular ones that we end up marketing your property on. So we’ll take pictures of the property and we’ll put down a description that you want. We’ll get down the rental criteria, like the length of the lease and then the amount that the owner would like to rent it for. And then we create this marketing package and put it on all of these websites for you. We also have a paid version where if a homeowner, would like to pay to get more premium exposure. Almost all of these websites that we market on have a paid option where you can pay something like five bucks a day on for each of these sites. So you could spend about a hundred bucks over a month and get a lot more exposure, a lot more quality tenants applying as a result. Some owners opt for that. Some owners don’t. We always give them the option, but we just as a standard always do the rental listings on a lot of these popular rental websites.

Jamie: So once we’ve marketed your property, typically that results in a lot of individuals expressing an interest in potentially renting your property. And so the second step is we pre-screen all of those individuals that are interested through a program that we use called a Tenant Turner, which is a very, very powerful program. So the first step is that a prospective tenant answers a lot of questions, such as what is their, what is their desire move in date? What is their income source? You know, do they have pets? If so, what kind of pets? Uh, what is their legal history in terms of renting? And what is their financial history? So we request a significant amount of information., and then in addition to that, we also have our request an ID. So typically in this second part of the process, we then narrow all of the individuals that have expressed an interest. To those individuals that are the most qualified, and then we move on to step three.

Connor: Yup. So step three is scheduling a showing. So if someone is interested in your house, they see it online or they maybe make a phone call, they get prescreened through the process we just talked about and now they want to schedule. Now this is where a lot of homeowners who maybe manage the property themselves where a lot of old school property managers run into issues because typically in order to show the property, someone has to be there. Normally the time that your company or the time that you have to show the property does not mesh well with the time the prospective tenant has to visit the property. So sometimes there’s a lot of juggling the schedules so that you can get someone in there. As a result, a lot of people will end up not even seeing the property because you don’t have the availability to show them or the old school property manager does not have the ability to show them. So that’s something we actually thought about when you were going through the showing process, and we tried to get away from that by going to a 100% automated showing process. And part of that is the pre-screening process. So the reason we have such a hardcore pre-screening process is so that the individual that’s seeing your home: We know who they are, we know what they want and we can tell who that individual is. So it’s not just some random individual coming through your home. Uh, so we actually know something about this information, but the thing that it allows us to do is have them schedule at their own convenience. So right now, currently what we’ve said as a company standard is 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, the lockbox, the electronic lock box we have on the door will work. So if it’s before that and if after that nobody can get into the property. So there’s no one there in the mornings before nine and there’s no one there late in the evening visiting your property either. So it definitely puts some criteria on that. And it’s seven days a week. So any day of the week, nine to five a tenant can schedule in advance to view the property. And it’s a really simple process. They just text the serial number of this box to a phone number, and then they receive a one time code that only works for them. So you can definitely see who had access to the box, whose code was put in and who got your keys, who went in your house. And then also you can see when they locked it up. So it’s actually a pretty secure process. And like I said, the number one benefit is it allows the prospective tenant to schedule whenever they would like to whenever works best with them. And we’ve actually seen a huge increase in the amount of people visiting a property because now it’s just convenient for them to do so.

Jamie: Yeah. And, and the, and the question that we’re asked most of the time is, well, isn’t that risky to do self showings, and the short answer is a no. It’s not risky at all. Prospective tenants prefer it because they can view the property at their convenience and a person does not have to physically be there to let them in and out. And then, you know, the question is, well, you know, it doesn’t that create a risk of that the tenant might do something to your property. And the answer is no. That the screening process is so effective that we actually, I don’t think we’ve had any problems with any of the tenats. I think one time maybe a door was left open is that, that’s the worst that we’ve had?

Connor: Yeah. One time I remember one time a tenant actually texted us through the service, said they couldn’t lock the door, and so the door was left unlocked, but we handled it the next day, and that really was just a result of the door not working correctly, not even a result of the tenant. The reason that they would let us know about something like that is because we know who they are we have their ID, and your driver’s license is going to say where you’re currently living or where you’re currently listed as living. We have their phone numbers, their emails, we have all this history that they’ve given us, and so really we know who they are and they’re not going to do anything to your home as a result of that.

Jamie: Yeah we’ve just had a great response to it and great feedback. Now I’m, the next step is the fourth step, and that is once a prospective tenant has seen your property, then they give us feedback on the property and then they receive an application request electronically. So we turn that around very, very quickly. So literally a person could see that property and then shortly thereafter receive an application.

Connor: Yup. It’s actually automatic. So 30 minutes after their scheduled showing, they’ll actually receive an email requesting them to leave a feedback, one to five stars and then any notes that they’d like to leave and then also they receive a second email automatically. That is a link to our completely online application process. So there’s no paper involved, no documents. It’s just an online application requests that we have. It’s sent automatically and they can fill it out right there, right then in there.

Jamie: Yep. Absolutely. Then the fifth step is they fill out the application and on that application we do a lot of checks. So we do a full criminal check, a full legal check, a full financial check, a full living history check, and we pay a significant amount of money every month for the software that we have access to that runs all of those screening checks. And that is enormously important because what it means is that ultimately when a decision is made on, which tenant is to go in a property, we know a lot about all of those prospective tenants.

Connor: Yup. That’s completely accurate, and they’ll fill out the application if they have questions. They have all of our contact information through those emails. So they just, if they have a problem filling out the application or any of the documents that we request on there, then they have no issue contacting us. Then we get that all sorted out with our screening company. Then once that happens, usually turnaround is one to three days, we will receive all the information back from all of the courts and the credit bureaus that we need and then we’ll make our decisions. So, actually, I really like our screening process and our decision making process because it gets rid of any type of discrimination. So there is no discrimination because the only thing that we have is your name and the financial, criminal, legal and living history information that we have received from credit bureaus and courts and all of those organizations. So we actually make our decision 100% on the information about that person that we’re given that is objective. It’s fact. It’s there and that’s how we make our decision. And then once we do that, we’ll give you a call. We’ll say, hey, you were accepted or you were rejected for this reason. You know, maybe your credit score is too low, maybe you didn’t have the amount of income that we’d like to see in a property of this amount of rent. Maybe your criminal background check came back with some issues. Maybe there was some type of criminal issue that we didn’t, we didn’t want to see, and all of that is online. So we have a basic minimum screening criteria. If you don’t meet that, we tell tenants not to apply because there is a very good chance, actually you will get rejected for those if you don’t meet those criteria. And they’re very basic. So pretty much anyone can meet them. We don’t like to see people wasting money because the screening process is pretty expensive, so we put up those criteria so people can know, hey, if you don’t meet these, give us a call before you apply and, and we’ll talk with you about it.

Jamie: Yeah. So step six is we receive all the information on prospective tenants and then we make a decision as to which tenants to put in, and it’s important to note that we run the same process the same way every time. That way the process is totally objective. It is not subjective at all and purely based on who’s the best person to put into that property based upon a number of those screening factors. Then number seven is once the tenant is chosen and notified. Step seven is that that tenant sends in a security deposit, and when we receive that security deposit, then that home is reserved.

Connor: Yup. So a good thing to note is sometimes what I’ve seen with other property owners in the past, is they accept the tenant and then they take the property off of all marketing and then the tenant that they’ve accepted ends up never contacting them back, never ended up moving in, and they lose two, three, four weeks of marketing as a result. So we’ve gone through that. We don’t ever want to go through that again. So we actually will continue to market the home. We will continue to screen applicants and we will continue to applicants until we receive the security deposit, which is in Delaware one month’s rent. So until we receive a certified check or a cashier’s check for one month’s rent for the security deposit, we will continue to market the home and we would continue to allow other people the opportunity to move in as well. That completes step seven, step eight is that we complete the movement inspection with the tenant. So we’ll send someone out. Sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s other people. We’ll send someone out will complete an inspection. There’s a whole list of things we go through with the tenant, like shutoff valves, who to call in the event of emergencies, our phone numbers. So we have an emergency maintenance hotlines, we have regular maintenance hotlines, we have online maintenance portals for the tenants, and then we also have, if we’re not managing it, we at the owner’s contact information and we have a lot of criteria for tenants. Like if they do not report maintenance issues, who ends up paying for the result of that. We have a whole packet of information we go through with the tenant and then we accept first month’s rent. So if they move in on the 15th, we’ll accept half of one month’s rent and then we’re done. Then we complete the move and inspection, hand them the keys and they are living in their new home. Then we are either the property managers or we’re transferring that to the owner.

Jamie: Absolutely, and that’s the last step, step nine. As you can see, the process that we go through is pretty robust, and one of the things that we encourage all people who are kind of self managing, as landlords, as the owner, is we encourage you at a minimum to have a professional property management company tenant your property. It’s not very expensive. However, the security that there is involved for you and following that process is enormously beneficial. Very seldom have we seen an individual who is self managing their own property be able to go through the depth and the complexity and the magnitude of the process that we go through simply because we do it all the time on a regular basis. And we have it very buttoned up. So at a minimum, if you’re in the process of tenanting one of your own properties, I would encourage you to have a professional property management company do that. Certainly if you would like to talk to us about that, we were happy to talk to you about that. All right, any last thoughts?

Connor: No. I really like to stress actually that last point you made a tenanting a property isn’t extremely expensive. The benefits significantly outweigh the costs which are anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to one month’s rent. We’ve said this on almost every other podcast episode before; you make or break the quality of your investment with a good tenant or a bad tenant. So really spend time, do some research, find a professional management company and find out what they charge to professionally tenant your property. And you can never go wrong. Yeah. And currently are we offered that as a service for a half a month’s rent. And my rate is that right? Half a month’s rent. So a minimum of 500 bucks, half a month’s rent. We will go through this showing process with your property. We’ll find you the tenant. And typically we see we’re able to tenant the property with a very high quality tenant. Usually around 30 days, sometimes 21 to 30 days. This is what we aim for. And that’s typically what we’re able to hit with almost every property.

Jamie: Yeah, so if you’re listening to this at some time in the future, check out what we’re currently doing. We offer a different specials and different incentives and different things like that at different times. So what is the easiest way for people to check out what we’re currently doing?

Connor: If you’d really like to check out what we’re doing, some of the prices and some of the things that we offer, just go to our website, www.swalmpropertymanagement.com Pretty simple. Then you can see we have pricing tabs, we have our offerings tab. Then typically we have some type of special, so if you give us a call, sometimes we’ll do one, or your first two months of management free if you decide to go along with us. Maybe if you were to sign a year long management contract, then we’ll tenant your property for free. It Really changes. We have a schedule that we adhere to. So just give us a call or visit our website.

Jamie: All right, well thanks for joining us for another edition of the landlord’s resource. We look forward to seeing you on our next episode.

Connor: Hey guys, thank you for tuning in today. We are extremely appreciative that you would spend some of your time with us. It would mean the world to me and I mean the world. If you would leave at like rating or review, we would love to see some of your feedback.