Traditional Open Houses may work really well for Real Estate Agents, but I’ve found that they are not as useful when trying to find Tenants for my rental properties. Tenants usually “just need a place to live”, which is a far different motivator when compared to a Buyer who is “looking for a home”. I have found that tenants typically want to minimize the time spent when trying to find their next home. After all, most tenants view a rental property as a temporary home and are less invested than traditional buyers.
Over the years, I’ve created something called a “Landlord’s Open House“, which is a hybrid approach, between Traditional Open Houses and Single Appointment Showings, that tends to work well for all parties involved.
When scheduling appointments for showings with potential tenants, try to consolidate them all on the same day – within 30 minutes of each other. Tell your current tenants to leave the premise during the showings. Encourage potential tenants to bring a deposit check with them. Show the property to as many people as you can in a single day (by appointment only). By the end of the day, you will hopefully have multiple applicants!
Instructions for hosting a Landlord’s Open House
- Pick a Day/Time.
Pick 4-5 hour window of time, on a single day to show the property. This day/window of time must be acceptable for both you and your current tenants living in the property. I usually try to pick a Saturday afternoon – from 1-5pm.
- Ask Tenants to Leave.
Politely ask your current tenants to leave the property during those hours. Tell them the truth – that it is just less awkward for everyone if they were not there during the showings. The incentive for them is that it is far less inconvenient for them to vacate the house for a single 4 hour period than multiple individual showings scattered throughout the week. It’s less disruptive to their lives and minimized the invasion on their personal space. They will thank you for it.
- Start Advertising.
Advertise your rental property for 1 week prior to the day of your Open House. I post an ad on Craigslist every 2-3 days to make sure my listing stays at the top of the listing feed. In the ad, tell folks to email or call you to schedule a showing. Optional: About 3 days prior, I will create a new add (or change the current one) to including something similar to: “Scheduling Saturday Appointments Now” or “Saturday Showings – By Appt Only”. I usually never say the words “Open House” because I don’t want people to think that they can just show up whenever they want.
- Receive Inquiries and Schedule Showings.
When potential tenants respond, even if they want to see it immediately, propose that they come see the property on the day that you have chosen for the Open House. Try to line up each appointment 30 minutes apart. In a perfect world, you’ll have 8 showings, from 1-5pm, one right after another, every 30 minutes. Be sure to get their cell phone number when confirming the appointment. In my email response, I usually say:
“It’s great to meet you!
I’d love for you to come see the place. How about Saturday, MM/DD/YYYY at 1pm?”
- Send out Reminders of Appointments.
If I get a lot of interest, I will sometimes send a follow-up email (24-48 hours before the appointments) to the scheduled people, and attach an application to the email. I usually tell them:
“Hi there, I’m looking forward to meeting you on Saturday.
You seemed really great in your email, and I just wanted to give you a head’s up. I’ve had a lot of interest in this property, and a lot of appointments scheduled for this Saturday.
If you think you might want the place, you should come prepared to provide a completed application and a security deposit check on Saturday.”
- Saves Time. You don’t waste a lot of time on no-shows, and can knock out a ton of showings in one day.
- Creates Excitement. It creates a sense of competitiveness and hype between the potential tenants that do show up. Often times they will run into each other during the showings and it will give your property a greater sense of appeal. Human history shows us that we want something that someone else is interested in.
- Keeps your current Tenants happy. It’s respectful to your current tenants. They usually don’t mind vacating the property for a few hours – especially on a nice saturday afternoon. What they do mind (and get annoyed about) is when you schedule a single showing – every weeknight at 7:00pm, for 2 weeks straight.
- It WORKS! In the past, this strategy usually produces at lease one interested party who is willing to give me a deposit check and fill out applications on the spot.
I have one property (a group house) that is in a fantastic location, and I usually get 8-12 responses for each Craigslist ad I create. Last year, when I held my “Landlord’s Open House” for this property, I had 6 groups view the property within a 4 hour window, and 3 deposit checks in hand by the end of the day! This strategy worked so well that I even had one group call me later that day and offer to pay more in rent if that would help me choose them over a different group. I then proceeded to review all the applications and the pros/cons of each group of applicants. In the end, I gave the apartment to the most qualified group of applicants, and cashed their deposit check. After confirming acceptance with that group and ensuring that their deposit check was good, I then notified the other groups who were not accepted. You have to give them a tangible reason as to why they weren’t accepted and cannot discriminate over race, religion, gender, etc. If I get to the point of pulling their credit report, I will give them a copy of the report when I mail them back their deposit check. Some states/cities do not allow you to share a copy of these reports with tenants, so make sure know the rules.
Obviously, getting 6-8 scheduled appointments on a single day is a Landlord’s ideal situation, and it doesn’t always happen this way. Inevitably, appointments will cancel, or just not show up. But even if you get 2-3 showings on a single day, it’s better than not having any. I also have a pet peeve – which is having to make dozens of trips to a property over many weeks. Performing a Landlord’s Open House is respectful of everyone’s time, and helps me save on the number of trips that I have to make to the property. Using this process has made hosting showings a less daunting task, and allows me to get the property rented quickly – which is my primary goal.
What’s Your Opinion
Use the Comment form to answer these….
- What has your experience been with this strategy?
- Do you have any suggestions for improving the “Landlord’s Open House”?