Showing a rental unit in it's best light takes planning.

During my early twenties I moved five times in four years. My reasons for moving varied, but one part of relocating always stayed the same; touring rental units. For every move I made, I looked at 5-10 units each time, always in search of the perfect place to call home. There are a few key things a leasing agent can do before showing a unit that make prospective residents like myself much more likely to sign a lease.

Get it really, really clean

A clean rental unit is likely to attract eager residents.

If your kitchen is so clean I could lick it, you’re doing it right.

Just before my senior year I decided I wanted to live alone to focus on schoolwork and adopt a cat. I found a cute, 10-unit apartment building about a mile from campus and went to check it out. I loved the apartment and the neighbors were hip, grad student types, but the unit was filthy. The bathroom hadn’t been cleaned since the last tenant left and there were some very established cobwebs in every corner. The mess seriously distracted from the positive aspects of the rental unit, and I passed on signing the lease.

Take care of any maintenance ahead of time

Last year I begged a friend to lease the vacant apartment in my building. I was sure the lease was all but signed before she went to tour the unit. Shortly after the agent unlocked the door, my friend sent me a photo of the bathroom wall. There was a gaping hole in the sheetrock and bits of plaster littered the floor. My friend was horrified that the apartment needed such an obvious repair and passed on the lease, despite the perk of living next door to a good friend.

Set the thermostat to cozy

One time I toured a townhouse in the middle of June while most of my college town was empty. The townhouse looked wonderful from outside, and I was excited to take a tour. The agent unlocked the door and I stepped into the living room. The inside of the apartment was so hot and humid that it was hard to breathe. I started sweating and my glasses went foggy. I’m sure it was a nice place, but I barely noticed because of the heat. I preferred not to live in a sauna, so I passed on the lease.

If the unit is occupied, give the current tenant ample notice

I’ve toured occupied rental units several times, and it’s very helpful to talk to current tenants about their likes and dislikes about the property. But if the current tenants aren’t notified of an upcoming tour, the rental unit may not look presentable and inviting. My current apartment was occupied during my tour, and the tenant had obviously cleaned and tidied in preparation for my visit. The tour was pleasant and straightforward and I signed a lease that day.

I can literally see this shining beacon from my doorway.

I can literally see this shining beacon of goodness from my doorway.


Know the neighborhood

I live in a college town with a vibrant arts, music, and food scene so most neighborhoods here have more than a few perks, but my current neighborhood is miles above the rest. My leasing agent put together a pamphlet showcasing all the walkable attractions near my apartment and I almost wanted to sign the lease without even touring the rental unit.

Point out special details

I toured a house just before my Junior year that I wasn’t thrilled about. The listing said the living room was carpeted, which I was very against because of my pets. I went on the tour anyway, and the leasing agent walked me through the house and pointed out so many intricacies of the property that weren’t included in the online listing. The tile in the bathroom was multi-colored and wonderfully funky. The kitchen cabinets had cup hooks drilled on the back of the doors to hold mugs. The front porch was shaded by trees and very private. There was an old-fashioned gospel church in the backyard and the congregation sang old hymns three times a week. I was hooked and suddenly the carpet didn’t matter anymore.

Sometimes the difference between a successful lease signing and an hour of wasted time is as small as a few cobwebs or a few turns of the thermostat. When showing a rental unit, come prepared and never neglect the details!

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