Finding Quality Tenants; Learning to Pre-screen Our Applicants, Part 2

for rent (9_12)By the time Kid Saggy Pants left, we’d learned our lesson: it was time to pre-screen our applicants.  Up to this point, we’d simply agreed to meet everyone who showed interest in our Craigslist ad … And our apartment, being only 850 sq ft and with a rent of $565 per month, was attracting the interest, thus far, of a group of people that we, in turn, had no interest in.

A quick google search of “how to find quality tenants” confirmed that we were skipping the essential — and simple — step of pre-screening interested parties.  After reading a few articles, we sat down and made these changes:

  • We raised the damage deposit from $250 to $400: initially, we were going for affordability; we decided, however, that a stronger “skin in the game” factor would sweep some “fluff” away.
  • We asked for an application fee of $10: not much, but it covered our costs and required a small investment on the part of the prospective tenant.
  • We asked emailed inquiries to provide the following info:
    Number of People & Relationship to You:
    Intended Rental Term:
    Your Occupation(s):
  • And finally, once we had a prospect on the phone, we asked 1) why they were moving; 2) what was they’re credit like; and 3) could they proved a positive rental history?

Along the way, with our quick phone pre-screening, we were able to wish good luck to a few people who didn’t match our desired tenant profiles. Simple changes, really — common sense stuff — and suddenly, within days, we landed three wonderful prospects.

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Purchasing Our First Rental Property, Part 1

The housing market sagged like a hammock, property values hit the ground, and we here at The Fishcreek Outfit had our hands on a small amount of liquid cash: We’d always talked about investing in a rental or two … Say hello to the FannieMae Homepath program.

Let me clairfy: a “small amount of liquid cash” for The Outfit — a married couple, no kids, both school teahcers — equals a few thousand dollars; and, of course, eyes bigger than our stomachs, we bit off more than we’d originally planned to (more on this later) … Alas, we scavenged a couple thousand more from other designated pots, and now we’re the proud, trepidatious, curious, excited owners of an 850 square-foot condo in a working class downtown neighborhood — great schools, walking distance to the park, pets under 35 lbs accepted … Need a place?

How did we begin? The FannieMae Homepath website is a catalogue of foreclosed properties across the US.  We searched through the listings in our area, visited a few, and waited patiently for a property that 1) needed minimal repairs 2) fit our projected budget 3) was in an attractive part of town and 4) inspected well.  Over the course of a year or so, we kept our eyes on the revolving properties until we found one that matched our criteria.

(Had we a bigger budget, I should say, we could have snatched up several different properties along the way; the website is full of great deals on homes that need updating and repairs.)

Once we found the property that worked for us, our realtor* put in our bid and the waiting began …

Stay tuned for Purchasing Our First Rental Property, Part 2, in which we’ll discuss the bidding process and securing a mortgage for a condo investment in the Age of Stingy Banks.

[*We highly recommend using your own realtor as opposed to the listing agent: in our area, at least, the listing agent appears to have her hands full; we wanted someone who could walk us through every step.]