Summary: The Do’s And Don’ts of Apartment Tours
1. DO schedule an appointment for the visit to the property and the tour.
Everyone is busy and no one wants to wait. Leasing is no different. Explain to prospects that you want to give them your undivided attention and you’ll be available and ready when they arrive at the property. When you schedule appointments, use the information the prospect gives you to prepare for the initial meeting. Once the appointment is set, the responsibility to prepare belongs to the management team. Failure to prepare for this appointment almost guarantees that the prospect will walk away.
2. DO take control of the conversation.
As a leasing professional, having the knowledge and skills to successfully present a property requires the agent to do much more than simply open doors and rattle off some bullet points. It’s impossible to overcome objections if you don’t know what they are. Identify the prospect’s “must-haves” to give some structure to the leasing presentation. Remember, the prospect visited the leasing center because they have plans to rent an apartment. Use your resources to end their search and help them select a new home.
3. DON’T hand out keys for prospects to tour themselves.
You never want to release any keys to the property prior to the lease-signing, much less during a tour. This is a terribly lazy and irresponsible practice, which happens more than you’d expect. One risk is that the prospect may never return the keys. Furnished models and accessories could be pilfered or the prospect could fall or injure themselves. Agents that expect the apartment to sell itself are naive at best. Without an informed agent to make the sale, there is no opportunity to sell anything. Another major concern is if the apartment is left unlocked, it could easily be vandalized or burglarized. It’s possible that a property use master keys to prevent these issues, rather than keys to specific apartments.
4. DO pick the apartment homes that best satisfy the prospects’ needs.
Regardless of the number of vacant apartments at a property, a prospect should not be shown more than three to five apartment homes. Realtors take prospects on numerous visits to properties, but only homes that meet the prospect’s needs. If the realtor has dozens or hundreds of listings available to them, the prospect expects the realtor to identify homes that they will be interested in. A prospect may have “must-haves”, but if you ignore these specifications when touring the apartments, they may wonder if you listened to anything they told you.
5. DO tell the prospect to anticipate follow up calls, emails and texts.
Follow-up is critical in this business. Even if the prospect decides not to rent the apartment, you can still follow up with them; thank them for visiting and offer to assist them in the future if needed. Ask the prospect what the best method to contact them is. By establishing your interest in the prospect, you set the stage for future contact.
“I’d like to be able to contact you later in the week to see how you’re coming along in your hunt for apartments. If you need help finding one that’s right for you, let me know. Would it be okay for me to call your cell? Is there a time of the day that’s most convenient?”
6. DO ask open ended questions to identify objections.
Without understanding prospect’s needs, it’s impossible to customize the apartment for the prospect. An inexperienced leasing agent may view a lack of objections as an “easy” showing, but if the prospect didn’t sign a lease as a result, there are unspoken objections that caused the prospect to walk out the door. Probe with questions like, “Tell me about your furniture…how would it fit in this room? ” or “Would you place your bed on this wall or facing the other direction?” Find out if they’d use the balcony more in the morning or at the end of the day, or if they plan to use cable or satellite for the internet and television.
7. DON’T show an apartment that is not 100% ready.
Showing an apartment that is not 100% ready is the equivalent of setting a restaurant table with dirty dishes. Carpet stains or marks on the walls will be unforgettably bad memories for the prospect. Sometimes, for prospects that must see their future home today or who have traveled a long distance, the apartment they want to see is not available. Not only will the prospect be disappointed in an “almost-ready apartment”, but you would be violating the Fair Housing Act, because you refused to show this apartment to others. If a property has a large number of floor plans and limited availability, prospects may have the option of taking a virtual tour.
8. DO personalize the benefits of the apartment features.
If prospects want to know where he or she can store a bicycle they use daily, don’t waste time describing the benefits of the deep kitchen sink or the number of shelves in the linen closet. Think WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) as it applies to the leasing presentation. With so many apartments at a property, what makes this apartment perfect for this prospect? A cooking hobbyist doesn’t care about a step-saver kitchen; they’re concerned about counter space, cabinet storage for culinary equipment, and the size of the refrigerator.
9. DO ask for the sale.
The ‘Always Be Closing’ (ABC) policy applies to every minute of the tour. When the prospect’s buying signals are apparent, lock in the lease. Remember, the prospect is visiting your property looking for a future home. Too many leasing staff members close a tour by handing the prospect an application and asking for the prospect to contact us if they’re interested. (They just spent an hour touring apartments, they’re obviously interested!)
With a seeming fear of being told “no”, many leasing agents avoid popping the big question: “Do you want to rent the apartment today?” Oftentimes, prospects tour several apartments only to confide that no one asked them to complete an application, much less make a commitment on a lease. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale.