Open houses have a long history in helping sell houses. Yet many homeowners and rental agents have turned away from the practice, for several reasons:
1) Security: We’re all more safety-conscious these days. The simple fact is that an Open House provides would-be thieves free access to steal small items around a property and study the grounds for future thefts.
2) Effort: It takes a lot of work to plan and prepare a property for an Open House. Of course, you may have taken many of the same cleaning, repair and repainting steps for a new tenant. But with an Open House you’ll have to clean again after the event, and may have to make minor repairs, too.
3) Results: There’s no real evidence that Open Houses drive rentals. In fact, one national survey indicates that renters use online tools and word of mouth far more than unit visits to find living quarters.
All that considered, there are still some solid marketing benefits to having an Open House for rentals. For example:
You can generate some “buzz” around the property
Having an Open House can help you create some interest among renters. You can advertise it on apartment rental sites, in local newspapers, with lawn signs (make sure your community allows them!) or with flyers.
As a bonus, a well-attended Open House can make a unit seem more desirable to renters. That can generate some competition among interested renters who feel they need to act fast to secure the property.
It can you connect with potential future tenants
Steal a page from the real estate market here. Agents know that Open Houses rarely sell homes. They do allow the agents to make contacts with dozens of potential buyers who may become clients. If you manage more than one property, you can take the same approach with your Open House. Consider it a chance to network with potential tenants who may be better suited to one of your other units.
Remember if you’re having an open house for rentals to have a sign in sheet so you can collect contact information from prospective future tenants.
You can get valuable information on how people perceive your property
Having an Open House allows you to show off the properties features and see if you’ve correctly identified the features that matter to renters. As an added benefit, the questions you’ll get about the property will likely be asked by more serious potential renters on private tours. Hearing these questions at an Open House gives you a chance to rehearse how you’ll answer the questions
It can help you sharpen your market focus
Do you have properties that are difficult to let? Hosting an Open House for rentals gives you a chance to get feedback from many potential tenants. You can use their comments about the property to identify items that need repair, or perhaps change your focus on who might want to rent there (ie., perhaps the unit is too small for families, so you may want to focus on students or young singles.)
It can serve as part of the tenant screening process
An Open House gives you a chance to mingle and talk with renters. Many landlords trust their guts as much as an application or credit score when screening tenants. If you take this approach, you can consider the Open House a chance to get more information to help you form an opinion.
For more information on tenant screening for landlords, be sure to check out the American Apartment Owners Association tenant screening page.
An Open House for rentals is far from a sure thing. You may go to a lot of work and get sparse attendance. If you decide to have one, however, you may find it’s helped you develop a better understanding of your property’s desirable features and where it sits in your local rental market.
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