Marketing Your Vacant Home Today vs. Yesterday – by Alex Craig

Marketing your vacant home is much different today than it was a few years ago and that is a good thing. The game changer has been self-showing platforms that automate the entire leasing process. For most of my real estate career as a property owner and manager, the key to leasing a home was sign in the yard, amazing marketing photos, tenant referrals, descriptive content, having your listing syndicated to all the relevant sites and answering and returning about 30 to 40 calls a day per listing. The biggest challenge was the phone piece and the ability to schedule all the showings—when you have 30 to 40 vacant homes, it is almost impossible to accommodate everyone’s schedule. While we still have to do most of the aforementioned, self-showing software has been able to greatly assist the prospecting, nurturing, automating the phone process and scheduling of leads. Once a prospective tenants inquiries about a home either from seeing a sign in the yard or our property advertised online, they are automatically entered into a CRM that will give them text & email updates not only about the home they inquired about, but other similar homes in the area. That lead can view a home within the hours we set that is convenient to their schedule, ensuring there is a 100% chance they will view the home if they desire. A problem with 100% agent showings are the amount of no-shows; I can safely say 25% of scheduled agent showings ghost us, thus wasting valuable time for an leasing agent. Those no shows are now greatly reduced. After a self showing, prospects are sent a survey of the home that can give valuable feedback. For example, if a large number of the survey’s mention the carpets are to worn, we would suggest replacement to the owner; from there, we can contact those tenants and let them know the house is getting new carpet and encourage them to apply. To that last point, during the rent ready process, we would have already suggested new carpet, but sometimes, property owners like to extend the lifespan of certain components when they should be replaced. That is a different topic for another post. Self-showings ensure 100% of all leads are followed up, eliminating phone tag and email chains. Through the pre-screening feature, greatly reduces the number of non-qualified showings.

Implementing this platform has eliminated the need for us to use 3rd party leasing agent services, whose individual agent goals often time are not aligned with our values and goals. Today, the leasing agents we use are 100% in house. Our Tenant Hospitality Agents (the term we call leasing agents) still are a valuable resource to us. For prospects that do not want self-showings, they can still talk to our THA’s and get that personal experience and in person showing they are looking for. Although there is the automated follow up piece to the self-showing systems, we still follow up to those prospects whose survey’s indicated they liked the house and intend to apply. After an application is approved, our THA’s will run through the steps from approval to lease signing. The combination of self showings and our THA’s have been the biggest gamechanger for us.

I was skeptical at first, due to the potential of issues that can happen when someone is left unattended in a home. Our concerns were eased with the features our self-showing platform has in place to minimize these potential problems.  For us, when we kicked off the self-showing platform, it would be a “let’s see how it goes” in regards to potential theft or vandalism. Going into our 3rd year of using, we have had zero problems that could be directed back to the self-showing software.

Take a look at the metrics below.  These metrics are 100% generated from our self-showing platform on vacant homes thus far in 2021. These metrics do not include the individual efforts of our office and THA’s.