Speed vs Accuracy: Efficiently Finding Quality Tenants
The Dallas-Fort Worth rental market is one of many (and one of the most) competitive rental markets in the nation. Due to the upward-trending boom in Millennial and Gen Z populations, as well as the unexpected conditions of the pandemic and the Texas freeze – there is a crunch for renters applying to properties. You may have felt the crush of applications and with it, the anxiety of meeting such an increased demand. While it is better to have more options rather than fewer when it comes to applicants, as paperwork piles up you may find yourself rushing to approve someone for the sake of having it done.
Not so fast.
You want to find a tenant who meets the standards you hold for the property. While you are not holding out for the best possible tenant in existence, you do want a tenant who absolutely qualifies. With the increase in document fraud and online scams, reviewing your potential tenants with a fine-tooth comb is necessary. But how are you able to do so when you have multiple applications on one property? When you are processing them all yourself while also receiving calls and emails and texts from agents, interested parties and applicants following up on their applications? Here are tips on how to be efficient, effective and most importantly, accurate in reviewing your applications:
Use an Application Portal
In a competitive market, applicants have zero time to waste. As properties are being snapped up, they need to be able to apply as quickly as possible. That means not having to trek to your office to pick up an application.
An application portal guides applicants through the process intuitively. Portals that require a registration will help you better track your applications to easily parse the completed apps from those in progress.
State Qualifying Criteria Up Front
It is your legal obligation to require that every applicant review the qualifications for the property that you manage. This includes the income requirement, your policy on the credit history and criminal background check, pet policies (including breed restrictions) – absolutely everything that needs to be considered before submitting an application. Eliminating the most obviously disqualified applicants before they apply is sure to lighten your workload and save both you and the applicant some disappointment.
Charge an Application Fee
If you want everyone to participate in a program, you make it free. When you want to restrict participation to interested parties who can pay, you charge an admission fee. It’s also true of applications. Processing applications costs time, and running screenings for applications costs money, which justifies charging an application fee.
You may, however, consider a reasonable compromise for your applicants: If you don’t process their application, don’t process their payment. If you have spent no time on an application and did not run a screening, then the applicant paid only for the privilege of being on a waiting list. This can leave a bad impression with applicants who would otherwise try to rent with you at a later time, or if your accepted tenant falls through. Renting housing is a business, which means that customer service is something to consider. You are not legally required to refund application fees at all in Texas, as application fees are considered nonrefundable so long as the law is followed.
Process Applications on a First-Come, First Served Basis
Utilizing an application portal makes it easier to pin down when exactly an application is submitted. Prioritizing applications on a first-come, first served basis is the easiest way to stay compliant with the Fair Housing laws, eliminating the opportunity for any bias to come into play when reviewing multiple applications. You simply take whoever is first, and work that application.
There is a big however – just because an application is submitted first does not mean that the application will remain in first place. When reviewing multiple applications, if your first application is missing documents or information, move on to the next completed application in line while they get back to you. An application can fall from first place to second in line, and so on and so forth as more applications provide everything that is required. Keep the lines of communication open so that your applicant can have the opportunity to provide the materials, but by no means should you lose out on the next potential applicant waiting on the first. Remember, these applicants are moving very quickly in this market, so while you may have multiple applications, don’t mistake any as a guarantee. Many applicants are inquiring into several different properties at once. There is simply no time to waste. Communicate quickly about missing information and move on.
Once you have the broad strokes of receiving applications down, you’ll find it easier to work through your application list in an orderly, systematic manner. Creating a Standard Operating Procedure in this way will help you be consistent and organized in the face of waves of applications. Knowing when to move on, who is immediately disqualified, and where to narrow your focus will help you find the right tenant in the right time.
If this sounds like a job in and of itself – you’re right! Frontline Property Management has a department that is dedicated to processing applications for our clients! Our Tenant Coordinators work daily to communicate with potential tenants, review documentation, run screening reports and comb through the details so that our Property Managers have all the facts when reviewing the results.
Contact us today if you’d like to leave the application process to the professionals and start enjoying your investment as a truly passive income!