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Dude, where’s my resident?

All the emphasis and effort on renovations and inspections is ultimately an attempt to control the controllables enough to create a desirable home for a future resident. Once a home is “rent ready,” it signals the baton handoff to the next department and team member. 

Single family rental leasing has consistently tried to take pages from the multifamily playbook but SFR has always lacked the two biggest multifamily advantages/attributes: uniformity and density. Even without these characteristics, in the early days of Auben we tried to copy the multifamily showing techniques and design a personalized resident viewing experience.

Prior to the invention of electronic self-showing lockboxes, we scheduled and arranged personal tours of our homes in a very analog process. Residents called in, and, if we were lucky, we were able to answer. Until you have listed and tried to lease an affordable priced rental, it is hard to fathom the intensity of call volume that a single rental listing can generate. Years later while using Voice over IP phone systems which tracked all of our activity, we saw that with 30-50 active listings, it was not uncommon to field 200 phone calls a day.  

The questions and inquiries always ran the full gamut, however, because our initial homes were predominantly in working class neighborhoods, the most common initial question we received was, “Do you accept Section 8?”

We did and do. But, having a Section 8 voucher was not immediate grounds for approval. We discovered with many other landlords or rental agencies that a voucher meant automatic approval. If memory serves, we made this mistake just often enough to create a policy change where, regardless of any subsidies or assistance programs, you still had to meet our rental criteria. 

As the calls rolled in, we scheduled resident viewings with very little pre-screening activity. Residents called, asked to view one of our properties, and went on our scheduled showings calendar. Our leasing specialist, originally my dad, logged many miles covering the far corners of the CSRA, opening up doors for prospective residents—when they bothered to show up.  

It was remarkable how many “no call, no shows” we encountered. Affordable home leasing is not easy on the ego. 

We learned, in time, to trust but verify. Calling to confirm appointments and trying to group scheduled showings was the result of many mad dashes to empty doorsteps and unanswered calls to residents who had been extremely eager to access our homes only 24 hours prior. 

In addition to grouping showings and verifying appointments, our other biggest improvement was pre-screening questions. Asking residents to confirm they had no prior evictions, met income requirements, and had the minimum credit score didn’t ensure they were going to tell us the truth, but it did at least allow the honest ones to opt themselves out. 

Many of the processes would be fundamentally changed by self-showing lockboxes, but core practices continued.

If you are looking to learn more about leasing best practices, reach out to an Auben team member today!