After you successfully advertised your rental property, interested renters will start contacting you to see the unit in person.  Learning how to successfully show a rental property can make the difference between retaining the perfect tenant or just settling for whoever decides to sign the lease.

That said, it’s important to remember that at this stage, the potential tenant is also screening you and your property to see if it’s a right fit.  It’s therefore critical that you make a good impression. Consider it an interview for your rental property!

In this article, we’ll go over the steps a successful landlord needs to do to prepare for a rental visit.

While You’re Booking the Appointment

As your setting up the appointment with the tenant, you should start your tenant screening process.  A few questions strategically slipped in can screen non-qualifying tenants from the beginning. Why waste time showing the unit to someone who doesn’t fit your criteria?

Quickly Respond to Communications and Be Flexible

Remember that your prospect is also evaluating you.  As you’re setting up the appointment, respond quickly to questions regarding directions and parking (if done by text or email).

Although you should always book visits during daylight (more on that later), bear in mind that tenants have day jobs.  Try to be flexible and attempt to accommodate the renter.

Do Your Homework Before the Showing

It goes without saying that the property should be in rentable condition before you show it.  Any repairs need to be completed already.

The same applies to cleanliness.  The tenant shouldn’t see any dust or dirt.

Finally, ensure curb appeal is up to standard.  Nothing spells out bad landlord to a potential tenant than an overgrown garden.

Potential tenants need to be able to picture themselves in your rental.  If it looks run down, dirty or in need of maintenance, it’ll be hard for the tenant to see the positive features of the rental.

Arrive Early and Prepare the Rental for the Visit

It’s not because you left the property in good condition that it’ll remain that way for the next visit.  Arrive early and inspect every room for cleanliness.

While you’re inspecting the unit, it’s also a good time to prepare the unit for the showing.  Here are a few action items:

  • Get the air circulating: there’s nothing worse than stale air.
  • Adjust the temperature: the tenant needs to feel comfortable.
  • Turn on all the lights: this creates a sense of security in the unit (if showing at night) .
  • Open all main doors, close all closet and cabinet doors: the unit needs to look organized.
  • Flush toilets: if water sat a long time, algae may have formed.

Make a Good First Impression

Remember that the tenant is screening you as well as visiting the rental.  When the tenant arrives, you need to make a great first impression.

That doesn’t mean you have to dress in suit and tie.  But at least be cleanly dressed.

You can make yourself look more professional by bringing a clipboard or document holder with you.  Nothing spells organization more than someone who arrives with all the documentation ready to go. Bring with you the following:

  • A copy of the standardized lease for the tenant to bring home.
  • A checklist of positive points about the rental you want to show the tenant.
  • Points to cover with the tenant as part of your screening process.

Use the Power of Positive Priming

Throughout the interview, avoid using negative sentences with the tenant.  A phrase like “you can’t make noise past 10PM” could be said as “we want a tenant that considers the neighbors by maintaining a peaceful environment”.

While this may sound like new-age politically-correct speech, it’s actually a powerful sales tactic.

By using positive sentences you’re priming the tenant to think in pros rather than cons about your unit.

In competitive rental markets, this subtlety can make the difference between signing and losing a tenant.

Ask Questions During the Visit

Since you have the potential tenant in front, why not use the opportunity to ask questions that are part of your tenant screening process?  The in-person interaction lets you gauge the reaction and ask follow-ups when appropriate.

Asking questions is also a great way to make the tenant feel like you care about your rental and the people that live in it.

Know and Casually Pitch the Unit’s Selling Points

Make a list of each room’s best feature.  During the tenant visit, casually bring them into the conversation with the tenant.

Don’t overdo the sales game though: potential tenants can figure it out on their own.  Mention the feature and let them picture how it will fit in their daily lives.

Give Space When Necessary

Once you’ve shown one room or part of the property, back off and let the tenant explore on his or her own.  In every room, the tenant is trying to picture his or her life. Nothing breaks the imaginative process more than a stranger continuously talking.  

Just stay back and be there to answer any question your visitor may have.

Inform Potential Tenant of Next Steps

As the visit wraps up and if the potential tenant made a good impression, let your guest know what the next steps in the rental process will be.  If you plan on calling the tenant’s current employer and running a credit check, let them know you’re going forward with that. Remember to give timelines and call back dates.

This serves two purposes.

First, you’re showing the potential tenant that you’re organized and have a process.  This adds to your credibility as a professional landlord.

Second, you’re increasing your odds of sealing the deal if the potential tenant was on the fence about the property.  It’s a sort of used car salesman tactic: don’t ask if they like the beat up car, just show it and start filling the paperwork.

Use the Opportunity to Validate Information from the Tenant Screening Process

Depending on how you set up your tenant screening process, now is the perfect time to validate their photo ID and collect any documentation the potential tenant needed to have prepared.

It’s also a good opportunity to validate information you previously collected over the phone from the potential tenant.  Here, you can ask the same questions spun in a different way and see if the answers are consistent.

Thank the Potential Tenant for Visiting the Unit

If you used positive priming throughout the interview, now’s the time to wrap it all up.  Thank the potential tenant for having come out and visited the unit. Let the tenant know that you’ll be in contact soon.

Again, if the tenant was on the fence about the property, making yourself approachable and personable could make the difference between sealing the deal or having to start the process all over again.