When do you begin showing a property?

We just had a situation where we leased up a unit but were not involved at all with the turnover.  The unit had been picked up at a foreclosure auction, so you had to assume things were “not as they should be”.   The owner (who is a relatively new landlord) got one of his own guys to do the turn but didn’t inspect it himself.

Sure enough, the tenant moved in to a unit that was not ready to be moved into!  Unhappy camper.  Not the best way to start off, that is for sure.  Now we are throwing resources at the situation to limit the damage, restore our credibility as a good property management company, and (most importantly) get our tenant’s unit into great shape!!  We could have (and should have!) had our leasing agent report the situation immediately.  Our leasing agent had show it several times, but he did report that the unit wasn’t up to our standards. (We are making the adjustment within our company to prevent future occurrences!  This is our take-away.)

Our goal is to not show any property until it is in move-in condition.  That is particularly true with vacant units (such as the instance above), and a little harder to accomplish with occupied units.  We find that when a unit hits the market for the first time, that the good tenants are often the ones who have been waiting on the sidelines looking at ads for a week or two waiting for that right unit to show up.  It is incumbent upon us as property managers or landlords to present that unit to the prospects in its best possible light, and that means having it in move-in condition.  Of course, there are always lots of exceptions to this goal, particularly with occupied units, but that is at least what we are striving to achieve.

The flip side to this, of course, is the desire to show the property as early as possible to get it re-rented and reduce vacancy time.  The problem with this strategy is you can burn through your best prospects by showing them a dirty unit.  Even though most prospects will say “Oh sure, I can see past all of the filth.” the reality is that they cannot.  By the time you have it in show condition, you’ve burned through the patient prospects and now you have to wait for a new prospect to come along.  You might as well have waited and done it right the first time.

I know as a private landlord I struggled with this timing dilemma.  But as a property manager it is obvious which strategy is the preferred.

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