This article was posted on Wednesday, Jan 01, 2014

If you have a vacancy or an upcoming vacancy, your main goal is to get it rented as quickly as possible.  The best way to rent your available unit is to make sure you treat each and every single piece of traffic – calls and walk-ins – like your next tenant!  Don’t leave it up to them to call you back or think about when they want to stop by your property.  Get their information, set an appointment and make them feel important.  This is where your AOA Guest Card will come in handy!

The AOA Guest Card

The AOA Guest Card is a tool to help you keep track of each of your prospective tenants, as well as make them feel special because you will remember what they told you – excellent customer service right there!  Build that relationship with your prospective tenant and they are more likely to trust you with one of the most important decisions of their life and one of the biggest expenses they will have!

The AOA Guest Card also helps you to be consistent and avoid a Fair Housing suit against you by providing Equal Opportunity Housing to all your prospective tenants.  Use it to record their basic information such as name, address, phone number, email, etc, but also, there is much more to ask to make your job easier and find the best fit for your prospective tenant.

Qualifying Questions

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“What kind of apartment are you looking for?  How many people is it for?”

These are the kind of qualifying questions that can save you time.  Your prospective tenant could be looking for a one bedroom for five people, but your occupancy standards may only allow three people.  Now you know to direct them to a two bedroom unit since they are over the maximum occupancy for a one bedroom.

“When are you looking to move?  What price range are you looking for?”

These questions will help you place them in the apartment that best fits their needs.  Don’t let the price range trick you into thinking that they can’t afford your home.  Plenty of times, people won’t answer this question or will lowball their answer.  Continue to sell the value of your available home and let them decide if they are willing to pay more than they originally stated.

In 2007, I was working in a luxury building on the sand in Santa Monica.  My one bedrooms ranged from $2,200 to $3,800 and I had a caller whose price range was $2,400.  I showed him the unit within his price range that was on the side of the building facing another building and it was not what he wanted, but he knew he wanted to live in the area.  I immediately offered to show him another available that was a bit more expensive and encouraged him to take a look since he was already there.  I showed him an ocean facing, 7th floor unit for $3,600 and wouldn’t you know it?  He rented it right then and there!  He left me his holding deposit, application and application fee and loved his apartment when he moved in!

“What are you looking for in particular?” Asking them what they are looking for in particular or what they haven’t found yet gives you the opportunity to find out what their needs are or what’s important to them and point out what you have that meets their needs.  Always counter with why your apartment is what they want even if it doesn’t have what they are looking for.  Remember, leasing is sales and customer service and you can’t sell them if you don’t know what they want.

Don’t be afraid to ask these questions.  Get used to asking them, even if they choose not to answer.  You’ll see, as you converse with them, the answers come out naturally and you can note them down to remind yourself when you speak with them again.

Follow Up!

You’ve gathered all the information you could about what your prospective tenant is looking for and now it’s time to make note of the units you actually showed them and the prices you quoted.  Also, write what they liked or didn’t like about each particular unit so you can remember to highlight details that pertain to their specific needs.  This way, you can offer them similar upcoming units and know the ones not to offer the next time you speak with them.

Once you’ve identified their wants and needs and you noted what you’ve shown them, it’s time to turn that tour into an application.  The best way to do that is to follow up, follow up, follow up – and the AOA Guest Card will also help you keep track of your follow up communications.  You may think you don’t want to bother them, but your future and now personalized communication with your applicant raises your chances of getting your unit leased.

Do you want to be proactive and get that renter or will you sit under the tree and wait for the proverbial apple to fall on your head?  Get out there and make it happen!  No more writing tenant notes on newspapers, napkins or your latest utility bill envelope. Use the AOA Guest Card as a tool to keep yourself organized with prospective renters, on track and help with documentation to prevent possible Fair Housing claims. Members can download the AOA Guest Card in the forms section of our web site at   Happy leasing!

Cristine Tablante is an advisor with AOA and has had years of experience in the property management field. 


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