The Awesomeness of Holding an Open House to Find Tenants

Holding an Open House to Find Tenants

Let me tell you how much I despise one-on-one showings with perspective tenants.

Okay, “despise” is a strong word. It’s meant for dramatic effect.

But I’m a busy person. And driving to my property to show a vacant unit to one person is a massive waste of time.

Yes, I pre-qualify the tenants over the phone. I’ll ask them a series of questions to make sure that they have the proper credit history, they can move in at the proper time, and they are generally serious about looking for a place to live.

Regardless of how much time I spend trying to prequalify a tenant over the phone, though, I still lose far too much of my precious time conducting showings that will obviously go nowhere.

Sometimes a potential tenant will very clearly dislike the unit. Their disappointment with the house is evident — it’s written all over their face.

I’ll see them glance at some aspect of the home that I can’t control, such as the square footage of the kitchen, and I know immediately that the 15 minutes I spent driving to the unit, the 10 minutes I spent waiting for the potential tenant to show up, the 10 more that I will spend showing them the place, and the 15 minutes that I’ll spend driving back home are just a total write-off. Bye-bye, one hour of my life.

Other times the potential tenant will no-show, which is even more frustrating.

But don’t worry — there are two awesome solutions.

The first and most obvious fix: Hire a property manager. That’s a different conversation for a different day.

But here’s a second, less-obvious fix: Hold an Open House.

The Awesomeness of the Open House

I took a page from the real estate sales playbook and started hosting open houses.

When I list a vacant unit, I plan two Open Houses: the first on a weekday evening, and the second on a weekend.

For example; I’ll state that I’m hosting an Open House on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Note: Don’t plan the Open House too early in the morning. People like to sleep in, myself included.)

When potential tenants call to ask me about a vacant unit, I’ll tell them that if they want to see the unit, they can come at one of those two times. I’m clear that I’m not doing any private showings.

The vast majority of potential tenants are okay with this. Every now and again, someone will protest: “Oh, I can’t make it during one of those times!,” at which point my reaction is — basically — “Tough. If you really want to rent this unit, you’ll find a way to make it happen.”

(Note: I once rented a unit to someone who couldn’t come to either of the …read more