As a new landlord who self-manages the properties, one of the first things I came across while turning over a vacant unit is the “prospective tenant no-show”. Someone probably saw my listing on Zillow or Zumper, and casually send me a message saying that he/she is interested. Then, I, being a proactive landlord and eager to minimize vacancies, responded to the inquiry quickly. And, after a few brief exchanges, I put down a showing time for 6pm tomorrow.
The next day, I went to the property on time. Texted the prospective tenant, waited, and texted again, and wait some more. Finally, it’s 6:30 and it’s safe to say it was a no-show. “What a waste of time!“, I thought.
If my story resonates with you, it’s because this is normal and can happen quite often. Since then, I have developed strategies and tools to help me, almost, eliminate no-shows, and I hope it can help you to achieve the same thing.
Listing websites like Zillow, Zumper, and Apartment.com do an excellent job to attract prospective tenants and make it really easy for them to reach out to landlords or property managers. Sometimes, it’s almost so easy that the person who clicks the buttons doesn’t actually have a strong intent to follow through the entire process.
By making the showing scheduling a little bit more work, it helps to filter out prospective tenants who are unlikely to attend the showing and have little interest in the application process. So, what exactly I meant by “a little bit more work”? Of course, you can come up with your creative solution, but what worked for me is that I’ll ask prospective tenants to complete a short showing request form. The form just provides some basic information such as name, age, move-in date, and reason for moving. It takes less than a minute to complete but is definitely more work than just clicking a few buttons. If a prospective tenant won’t even take a minute to schedule a showing, how likely is he/she to actually drive to the property to see it? So, only those high-intent prospective tenants will complete the form.
Even with the showing scheduling form as the pre-screening, prospective tenants can still forget about it. Things can come up here and there, and we all forget things. So, before the showing time, we can send out a reminder.
For me, I will trigger a text message reminder that includes the location and time of the showing to the tenant approximately one hour ahead. At this point, the tenant will need to confirm that they will be at the showing or tell you that they won’t make it. If they cannot make it to the showing, then you’ll be able to either reschedule or cancel it.
In the showing scheduling form, a prospective tenant is required to provide the full name and date of birth. With that information, you will be able to conduct a free preliminary background check against public court records. The court record specific to your state can be found at the National Center for State Courts. Usually, if you identify some obvious disqualifier, you don’t even have to waste your and the prospective tenant’s time to go through the showing, only to decline them at the application. Instead, you can decline their showing request and provide a legitimate reason for doing so. This can save tons of unnecessary shows too.
For everything that I learned about turnover and all the processes that I’ve developed, I have created tools in PortfolioBay to automate everything I’ve mentioned above. Whenever a prospective tenant makes an inquiry on Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, Apartment.com, or other compatible listing sites, PortfolioBay will send them the following showing scheduler automatically.
Then, their information can be screened and reviewed. If automatic disqualifiers were identified, the landlord can decline the showing adding the reasons and automatically triggering an email response.
If the prospective tenant passes the pre-screening, a showing confirmation email will be triggered, which includes time, location, and contact.
Approximately one hour before the showing, I can trigger a confirmation text to the prospective tenant, and the prospective tenant will need to manually confirm the showing in order for the showing status to be changed to ‘Confirm’.
Once the showing is confirmed, I can confidently head out knowing there will be a high-intent prospective renter meeting me at the property.
While it’s normal to have no-shows in a turnover, using PortfolioBay can drastically improve the outcome and get better tenants faster.