Running your business: Remember to consider how potential renters will view your property

When I buy and list my properties, I try to think what a potential renter could be looking for.  Of course that involves the basic description of your property: how many bedrooms and baths?  Is there a yard, and is it easy to care for?  A garage?

But also, remember to ask yourself: What impression is the property making?  Also, when I meet with my soon-to-be renters, what impression am I making?

Not long ago my husband was transferred to Denmark, and we found ourselves in need of a small apartment and only one day (luckily with a friendly and competent “relocation specialist”) to find it.  We managed to see eight properties that day.  Any one of seven of those properties would have been perfectly fine.   In each case we met the landlord (that’s how it’s done there), toured the apartment, and asked questions, mostly about utilities, public transportation, and commutes.  We were extremely pleased with how friendly everyone was, and what good condition the homes were in.

But it’s the eighth property that left an impression on me, as both a potential renter and as a property manager.

We had arrived on time, but the landlord was a good 1/2 hour late.  We had to wait outside in the cold and rain, without a covered area.  He was quite unfriendly and unapologetic.   The flat was messy, but there was a current renter, so that’s understandable.  But alarm bells sounded when he mentioned that the bathroom had plumbing issues.  “I’ll fix them before you move in” was his glib response.  But there was a renter already there — how could we believe that he would fix anything for us, when he couldn’t be bothered to fix it for his current renter?  The third strike was the so-called second bedroom.  We were only looking a places with two bedrooms, knowing that we would have visitors (at least an occasional adult child would visit!).  This apartment’s “second bedroom” was so small that only a desk and chair fit.

The landlord had wasted our time and his.  Even if he hadn’t struck us as someone undependable (and someone we would not want to deal with), there wasn’t a true second bedroom.

Being on the management side of the equation, it can be easy to forget that impressions matter.  They do.

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