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  • July 11, 2011 4:17 PM PDT

    Last week a friend, who owns a handful of rentals in my hometown, told me an embarrassing story...

    Since he manages the properties he owns using Rentec Direct, and he works a full-time job beyond property management, many times he doesn'€™t walk his vacancies until just before going to show them.     He'€™s not a slacker by any means -   he'€™s done all the big stuff before accepting appointments to view his vacant home -   he's had them painted, cleaned, fixed any maintenance issues, placed all of his advertising, and has rental applications on hand   '€“ but sometimes there will be 4 or 5 days in between his property visits.  

    This last week, he received a call from a prospective tenant who wanted to meet him and walk through the home.   So, they set a time for later in the day to meet at the property.   A little before his appointment, my friend arrived so he could turn on the lights and open the blinds '€“ you know, make the place look bright and cheery.     He wasn'€™t planning on the surprise that greeted him at the front door:   a dead cat. And obviously it had been cooking in the 90-degree heat for a few days. Not exactly the welcome mat you hope your future tenants see.   Frantically, he looked for something to put the partially dehydrated animal in before his appointment arrived.   He scrounged a plastic bag from his car and scooped up the cat and ran and put it in the garbage can on the curb just in time (although I can'€™t help but wonder if there was a lingering eau-de-feline.)   The prospect arrives and after they exchanged niceties, my friend, attempting to slough off his recent discovery, is told '€œyeah, I drove by a couple days ago and got out and looked around, and there was a dead cat by the door'€¦.'€   GULP.

    Years before working as a consultant for Rentec Direct,  I worked as a Property Manager for a large company in Portland, Oregon.   Now days I love helping owners and managers navigate , but for years, I prided myself on being a pretty dang-good manager and successful sales person.   However, from those 10 years of experience, I too can tell you a few '€œdead cat'€ stories.   Once I made an appointment to show an occupied condo to a prospect.   I felt very confident in making this pre-vacancy-showing as my current occupant was such a nice little-old-lady; tidy, sweet and a little on the ritzy side.   She was very willing to show her place and it was in a great location, so I felt confident it would only help me rent.   So, I show up, my future renter and his family en-tow and walk into the rental.   Wow, it was pristine and appointed with the finest furnishings, including several GIANT NUDE PAINTINGS of the little-old-lady.   I never knew she drove a motorcycle.   GULP.  

    We'€™ve all had similar stories happen to us, and after-the-fact, they become good after-hours conversations where our friends chuckle and give the rhetorical '€œREALLY?!!!'€   but in a tough rental market, this sort of blunder is likely to lead to a whole slew of negative events, the most obvious being that you lose a possibly qualified renter.     The side dressing is money and time lost - word-of-mouth '€œHey he had a dead cat at the door'€ advertising,   maybe disgruntled neighbors, and, if you are a professional property manager, you might also have a ticked-off client for your negligence and failure to secure rental income in a timely fashion.  

    Moral of the story '€“ walk your vacancies daily and preview everything you show.   Walk around your building.   Walk every room.   Open every closet, every door and even look in the toilet .   I'€™ll never forget the impression a repair worker left one time'€¦

    '€¦ and then there was the time I went to show a lovely home located on a bluff with an excellent   view of the sunset.   Only problem was that the Boxelder Bugs loved to swarm in early fall and decided that day to rest on the whole face of the front side of the home'€¦ thousands of those little harmless bugs!   Amazing!   You couldn'€™t even see the door!   Somehow, I couldn'€™t really convince those prospects that I'€™d never seen anything like it'€¦   

    • 5 posts
    July 18, 2011 8:49 AM PDT

    I enjoyed your post very much- this is all part of that essential due diligence.

  • July 18, 2011 12:25 PM PDT

    Thanks, Beth.   Yes, indeed.   We all have such full plates that sometimes the most obvious and easy tasks can get ignored.   I am new to Let's Talk PM and I'm enjoying the articles and connections - never a day goes by where we can't learn or laugh!

  • August 1, 2011 7:54 PM PDT

    Oh this had me howling with laughter. Thanks for sharing it.