Getting to Yes With Prospective Tenants
Getting to “Yes” with Prospective Tenants
In previous blog posts, I explained how we do our marketing to find new tenants and how our screening process works.
This is all about the process we use to get to find the best tenants who will say “Yes” to us (and to us minimising the time with the time-wasters so we can get to the serious applicants).
Most of the work is actually done at pre-screening. Both our adverts and our phone calls and emails weed out the time-wasters, so we know that when we go to do a viewing, that anyone who is coming can indeed afford the property and probably pass our checks and provide the final proof (via at least 3 months worth of bank statements) that they can indeed afford to pay the rent.
So the actual viewing is just a case of them looking around and deciding if they want to go ahead, plus if they like the area (though one can find out a lot from Google StreetView these days too). The document we have already sent them in advance tells them all they need to know about what documents they will need to provide for referencing/affordability checks, how the tenancy will work etc.
Everything is that document: How much the council tax is, what EPC band the property is in, what furnishings will be there and what (if any decorations) will be done ahead of their tenancy starting.
So at the viewing, once I have answered the door, I don’t really have to field any more questions. They know already all the key information. I just ask them to just go and have a look. I always walk behind so as not to take up space. (As I have got older and heavier, I tend to take up more space!)
As explained in a recent post, the vast majority of our applicants are not British – and so over the years, I have got to know how people of other nationalities react and the buying signals they give.
I have to say we get a far higher conversion rate from viewings to take up from the non-British applicants, which is why the vast majority of our tenants are also non-British. I don’t really know why that is.
The British applicants are inclined to say, “Thanks for showing us, we have some more to see, so we will let you know”. One rarely hears from them again.
My favourites tend to be the Lithuanians, Polish, Bulgarians and Romanians – the bulk of our applicants – who will often just say, “We want it. You want those documents right? We will organise that today.” And that is often all they say. Unlike, Brits, they tend to keep things short and sweet when talking business, (though they will open up more later).
Usually it will be the wife (where it is a couple) who makes the decision, often after a short consultation with her partner.
I have learnt not to be put off my the often glum looks sported by some nationals – especially those from the Baltics – when doing business. It just seems a national trait and they do smile a lot more at the conclusion of business. And even better, once they have moved in, they tend to be rather “handy”, fixing small things that need repair, thus saving on our time and cost. (Plus, when you come round to do an inspection of the property in a years time, you will be offered cakes, tea and some of their hard stuff, which never happens with us Brits).
One does not really have to “sell” the property to anyone at a viewing, though I will bung in the odd benefit from time to time in response to anything they may say. For example, if they say, “What’s the parking like?” I may say , “Oh it is easy to park here and though there is no allocated space, parking is never a problem – and it is £200 per annum less than the on-street parking permit costs” or whatever.
Really, the property should sell itself – and the advert where they first saw it and the email I sent before the viewing has also repeated the key features and translated them into benefits already.
How to translate a feature into a benefit to get a tenant to say “Yes”?
Well, a garden might be a feature. The benefit of the garden is being able to use it to work and /or play outside on a nice day. Have a barbecue, sit in the sun or whatever – that’s the benefit.
Whenever someone says they want to take our property, we remind them they must get a move on to get the place – they need to get all the documents we need, ideally within 24 hours. If they don’t do this, they end up losing out to someone else. This is in the document they have already received too – but it is important to repeat this.
Sometimes it can be a tie break with two sets of applicants coming through with all documents and references at the same time, which can be tough.
In that case it might come down to who has the best credit score and / or who we think will stay longer. A couple in a relationship or a family will usually stay longer than say two sharers, so in event of a tie break and if the credit scores are much the same, the family will get it. Another way of deciding between applicants, is which one can start a tenancy at the time we prefer – to minimise any void periods.
Getting to “Yes” for Tenant Applicants
So, these are the ways we get to “Yes” – Yes for them and a Yes for us.
It can be tough telling the losing party, but I refer them to how they can make sure they get the next property they look at. Put simply – take all your references and proof of income to viewings! They are always grateful for the help and I know their search will also be short because if they pass our checks, they will also pass other agents and landlords checks too. They just have to be faster off the mark to prove they can afford it and show their references are good.
I also may point them to my book, “Tenants Guide to Successful Renting”, which has loads of tips for tenants looking to get a great place to rent.
Final point – don’t start marketing a property further out than 5 weeks away. So, if a place is available from first of August, don’t advertise it before 24th June. If you do, response will be low and you will find more tyre kickers than serious applicants.
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