Successful Summer Showings: Five Expert Tips

First thing’s first: Moms rock. Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of you supermom landlords and property managers out there! Hopefully you all got to spend last weekend with family and friends.

Now on to the good news: We’re not weathermen, but the five-day forecast is showing very little chance of rain and temps in the mid-sixties all this week. You know what that means…summer’s just around the corner, and so is Seattle Real Estate season!

Everything looks better in sunshine, and your vacant units can practically turn themselves over if the weather and timing are good enough (especially in this market!). But there are some things you should always be sure to do when you show your units. Here are five expert tips for showing properties to prospective tenants.

Spruce and clean like there’s no tomorrow.

You may think this goes without saying, but it’s amazing how often a prospective tenant loses interest in a unit because the turnover details haven’t been attended to. Fresh carpets and paint inside combined with a power-wash and some basic landscaping in the exterior can change the first impressions of your property¬†exponentially¬†for the better. One reason people move is for the promise of something fresh, something renewed in their lives. To evoke that promise, an apartment must look fresh and renewed itself. Details matter!

Arrange for plenty of light.

When the previous tenant has moved out and taken all of his lamps with him, a unit may be left looking a little dark around the corners. This is often more of an issue in older buildings, where there may be fewer ceiling lamps and less natural light. Tenants don’t want to rent what they can’t see, and dark corners can tap into their fear of the unknown. So: open those blinds! Turn on the lamps you have, and if necessary, bring in some neutral lighting to brighten the unit up. A little extra light goes a long way (especially when it’s raining).

Set the temperature.

You should always strive to show apartments at a comfortable temperature. This can be a bit tricky in Seattle, of course–depending on the weather, you may need to open all the windows and get the fans going to dissipate the heat wave, or turn the heat on to warm the place up on a dreary morning. Be sure to arrive early enough that you can moderate the temperature before the prospective tenants arrive.

Consider showing a unit with–or without–furniture.

The decision to show a unit furnished or unfurnished can be a tough one–tenants may prefer to view an apartment free of distractions, while others like to see what a unit might look like once they moved in. If attractive furniture is readily available for your unit, consider its strategic use–to fill up large, echoey spaces, for instance, or to demonstrate how a small space might be cleverly used (furnish sparingly in the latter case). If a unit has been empty for awhile despite repeated showings, consider rethinking your furniture decisions.

Have an application on-hand during the showing.

Although many property managers use online applications these days, it’s good to send the tenant on their way with a next step–something tangible to connect with their thoughts and daydreams about the unit. If you utilize paper applications, hand them out along with a fax number or self-addressed envelope; if you only accept applications online, consider making up a flier with instructions and a list of questions that the prospective tenant will be asked. Smartphone or tablet users may prefer not to carry paper; offer to e-mail PDFs while they are still in the building. This will keep your unit from getting lost in the fog of the Internet as the tenant views other properties, and will make it all the easier for him to apply once he’s ready.

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