Property managers use software to automate the process of finding, screening, and approving tenants. There are a number of property management software tools on the market – Appfolio and Buildium are a few of the more popular ones.
With these tools, a property manager simply plugs in the info about your property, uploads some photos, and the software will syndicate your rental listing to major real estate sites like Trulia, Zillow, etc.
You, of course, can subscribe to these tools as well, and do this yourself. I recommend Buildium; plans start at just $45/mo.
Now, as you can imagine, people see your listing online, and they start calling. Now you might be thinking, “Well, wouldn’t it save me time having a property manager field all those calls instead of taking the calls myself?” Well – yes, but there’s a smarter way to handle these inquiries.
Forget Taking Calls & Showing Properties
Among other duties, property managers primarily focus on the following tasks:
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- Promote rental properties
- Follow up on rental property inquiries
- Show properties
- Screen/approve tenants
- Draft leases
- Handle maintenance requests
I would argue that items 2 & 3 on that list are largely a waste of time if done manually, and more importantly, it slows down the process of getting your properties rented quickly to good, qualified tenants.
The reason is, at least in my experience, most inquiries are from looky-loos who aren’t serious and won’t qualify anyway.
On top of that, people seem to have a less-than-positive view of property managers and other real estate professionals. They tend to put us in the same bucket as used car salesmen and politicians, so you can expect that getting stood up at showing appointments will be all-too-common.
Now, you might be thinking, “So what? It’s the property manager wasting their time not mine.” True, but the busier they are doing time-wasting activities, the slower they will be at handling time-worthy activities like actually answering their phone when a qualified prospect calls. So, what’s the solution? Software.
Software Automation: Your New Best Friend
You can provide immediate responses to rental inquiries and even automate property showings by doing two things: 1) purchase a lockbox from Rently (I’ll explain Rently in a minute), and 2) purchase a vanity number that routes calls to an auto-attendant. I’ll elaborate.
What Is Rently?
I heard about Rently early on when I first started self-managing my rentals, and I’ve been a satisfied client ever since.
Simply put – Rently allows people to self-access your properties. What?! Yep – they enter your properties by themselves, unattended. I know it sounds crazy, but read my post on Rently before you jettison any credibility I may have with you.
So, as I mention in my Rently post, when people respond to your listings online, Rently will send them an automated email with information on how to view the property themselves.
They can also receive self-showing instructions from your auto-attendant or from your website (if you have a website). Well, what about the phone calls? That’s where the vanity number comes in.
What Are Vanity Numbers?
Vanity numbers are typically used to help people remember your business (and your number). 1-800-FLOWERS would be an example.
For your purposes, though, a vanity number will route the caller to an auto-attendant that answers questions, provides additional property information, and also provides an option to speak with someone (you) if the caller still needs help.
This saves you an enormous amount of time since most people will get what they need without you having to speak with them. Vanity numbers can be purchased inexpensively from companies like RingCentral.
Let’s summarize all this into one word: AUTOMATION. The promotion of your rental is automated, responding to prospects is automated, answering of inbound calls is automated, and property showings are automated.
The beauty here is you save a huge amount of time, and prospective tenants get the information they want immediately, and they can schedule to view your property at their convenience.
It’s a win for everyone, and this will lead to you getting higher quality tenants faster than what a property manager would accomplish manually.
In addition to the time wasted by doing these tasks manually, property managers also got a bunch of other clients to serve – sorry you’re not the only one.