We all know first impressions are important. A tenant tour of a building is the first introduction property managers have with prospective tenants, and you want your building to shine in comparison to the property down the street. Here's how can you make this crucial first meeting work harder for you.
Make sure the unit is ready. Most prospective tenants expect that all repairs and cleaning will be finished before you show it. "If at all possible, the carpets need to be clean, the repairs need to be done, it needs to be ready to go," says Michael Daniels, director of property management for Cagan Management Group. If you have to show an occupied apartment, "you're at the mercy of the person living there - if it's a really bad apartment, you might want to show another similar one so that you don't scare them away," Daniels says.
Play up the building's strengths. You want to be sure you highlight your building's best qualities when giving a tour. If you have an outstanding fountain in your courtyard, lead the tour that way first. If you have beautiful stairways but dingy elevators, use the steps when possible.
Downplay the property's negative qualities. "Avoid any work in progress on the buildings if possible, as well as nasty areas like the central trash pickup," says Paul Grucza, regional vice president for RTI/Community Management Associates, Inc. "You want to stay away from anything that devalues the perception overall of the community."
Daniels says this includes not pointing out things that prospective tenants might not notice otherwise. "If there's a mess on the patio, I might be thinking, 'Oh no,' but the tenants might not even notice," he says. "Don't volunteer unsolicited information."
Show off the amenities, but be honest. Overselling a property or making false promises will almost always get you in trouble. "You don't want them moving in later and saying, 'I had no idea my parking space was so far away,'" says Daniels. "Show them these amenities - the parking, the laundry rooms, the pool - right away."
Make prospective tenants feel at home. Offer refreshments, like a freshly baked cookie or a beverage. Plug them into the community by mentioning special events, like a neighbourhood barbecue or the book club that meets every month. Give them a copy of the property newsletter. Introduce them to outstanding, friendly tenants. Grucza says he often gives prospective tenants a take-away - a key ring, mouse pad or letter opener after their visit to leave them with a good impression.
One of the best ways to leaving a lasting impression on prospective tenants, however, is to make them feel comfortable in the new environment. "Answer their questions, but also anticipate their questions," Daniels says. "Ultimately, you want them to say, 'This is a cozy place - I could live here.'"