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How to Place a Great Tenant


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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PODCAST:

0:49 – Introduction to Jacob
1:28 – Jacob’s journey to where he is now
5:01 – Communication
8:27 – Mistakes we see in leasing properties
10:47 – screening tenants and not cutting corners
11:15 – Screening criteria
16:10 – Scams our landlords can avoid
20:24 – How can you protect yourself?

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THE PODCAST AUDIO:
Jacob West:
There are a lot of places out there. There’s actually a bunch of them. If you Google it, you can find places that’ll do it for you for about 80 bucks, but they’ll falsify income documentation for you so that you can give it to them and get in a property even though you make no income.

Spencer Sutton:
All right, everybody. Welcome back to another episode. I am your host, Spencer Sutton, and Matthew is not with us today, but that’s okay. We have another team member here and somebody that is going to shed a lot of light on our leasing practices. We have our Detroit team leader, Jacob West. And in addition to that title, he is still the acting director of our leasing department. So Jacob West, welcome to the show.

Jacob West:
Thanks for having me. Glad to be part of it.

Spencer Sutton:
Yeah. Good. Well, I think you’re going to be a great guest. I know we’re going to have you on some other podcasts as well, just because you’re a wealth of information. Jacob’s been with us for right at four years. He told me in two weeks, it’ll be four years. He started out in our accounting department. He has been in accounting. He has been in leasing. He has been in property management and now he’s a team leader in one of our newest markets in Detroit. But the reason I wanted to bring him on is because last week in last week’s podcast episode, I was talking about how hiring a property manager can actually help you make more money by allowing a property manager to focus on low return activities and you focus on high return activities. And so I thought, “Hey, this would be a great opportunity to bring somebody in to the conversation who has really had a lot to do with how we lease houses.”

Spencer Sutton:
And so what I want to do is provide you all with a ton of value, a ton of content that is going to help you probably better lease houses. As you build rental portfolios, I’ll kind of want to give you a bird’s eye view or a sneak peek into how we do it. Jacob’s had his hand in a lot of that over the past year, and we have put a ton of focus on leasing houses. So Jacob, why don’t you kind of tell us a little bit about your journey at Evernest. I know I mentioned a little bit of it and then what you’ve been doing specifically in the leasing department for us.

Jacob West:
Yeah. So like you mentioned, I’ve done a little bit of everything. Before coming to Detroit, obviously focusing on the leasing department, but the two things that I did before that were work with acquisitions. The last, I guess, normal job I had Evernest, before that acquisition thing started with Atlanta, was Birmingham Leasing. I suppose you could say that planted the seed for wanting to put some focus on the leasing department in general. Spent about 60 days in Birmingham Leasing in the trenches, doing the boots on the ground role, having my phone ringing off the hook all day, every day, live it and see what’s wrong. What do we need to fix first? What can we improve?

Jacob West:
That kind of started our initiative. That was in late 2019. And then 2020, after the Atlanta market had kind of calmed down and I was able to get out of there, that was when my focus really turned to leasing. So that was what we spent most of 2020 doing, especially early 2020, kind of the pre-COVID and early COVID time was a lot of process improvements, a lot of trying out new systems, softwares, communication methods, organizational methods, division of work, all those kinds of things, very experimental. And then kind of by summer of 2020 is when we really started firing on all cylinders with some of the stuff that we’ve worked on.

Spencer Sutton:
Yeah. I think one of the issues for us as we began to scale, and as we began to grow is just, how do we have a better system for leasing properties that’s going to give our owners a lot of value? Right? So if we’re telling them, “Hey, we’re experts. We lease thousands and thousands of properties. You need to come to us,” then we need to be able to back that up and provide them an excellent service.

Spencer Sutton:
So up until that point, we had been doing an okay job, but like Jacob said, there were a lot of holes in our processes. There are a lot of things that were not necessarily working out great. So why don’t we start out. So Jacob started focusing on this at the end of 2019, and I just want to give you just some stats on how well we’ve been able to do. So 2020, which we know was the year of COVID. So think about that, 2020 year of COVID, everybody’s nervous about leasing properties because everybody’s worried about layoffs, just all kinds of things going on with the market. Tell us how many houses did we lease in 2020?

Jacob West:
865.

Spencer Sutton:
Okay. So we leased 865. And what was the average days on market?

Jacob West:
Average days on market was 28.3 across all locations.

Spencer Sutton:
Okay. Across all locations. So that’s going to take into effect Birmingham. It’s going to take Atlanta. It’s going to take all of our Colorado market, all of these markets, we’re combining them. And so the average was around 28 days, which I’ve been here quite a while. That’s probably the lowest days on market that I’ve seen on an average for, on an annual basis. So what are some of the specifics that we tightened up? Now, I know you mentioned communication. How did we tighten up the communication?

Jacob West:
A lot of it was organizational. Our leasing system pre-2020 was really built to allow one person to handle the absolute maximum lead volume possible and to try and automate our way into that. And when we built this system, it was built for someone in the Birmingham office to do that.

Spencer Sutton:
Right.

Jacob West:
We have kind of shifted away from that. And what we’re trying to do is un-automate some things, staff up and then really make sure that someone is owning each property. Each property has a leasing agent assigned to it. It’s not one person trying to send out a bunch of workflow emails to a bulk list of a thousand people from different locations. We wanted to get better organized, have someone owning each property. We wanted to automate the right things and un-automate the right thing. So we had a lot of automations in place that were not always in the best places.

Jacob West:
We were probably wasting our time automating some things, kind of having to pick up the pieces on the backend when we realized that our hit rate is not very good. We’re doing a lot of automated emailing, which we found hit rate was super low on.

Spencer Sutton:
Right.

Jacob West:
So we’ve started trying to automate the right things at the right time. So sending a lot of automated text messages, sending them right before showing or right after showings, kind of focusing in on the right times to send those batch communications, and then on the backend, staffing up so that we don’t rely on automation. It’s a great supplement, but we want to personally reach out to and talk to every single person who’s interested. If they are serious enough to sign up for a showing, we need to talk to them.

Spencer Sutton:
Yeah. I think this is one of the biggest changes that we have seen is just in the communication department. I mean, for so long, we were not communicating well, I would say. We had so much lead volume that we couldn’t handle it all, right? So if there was a complaint, it was that, “Hey, I wanted to see this house or I wanted to… And they were just too busy to get to me.” And so now staffing up in that regards is huge. And just for all of you, you may be wondering, “Well, why do you need to automate certain things? Why do you need to have so much staff?” Well, because when we market a property for an owner, we’re going to get significantly more volume for that and eyes on that property than a typical landlord who is posting something to rent. And that is because, I mean, just imagine we get thousands upon thousands of hits to our website each month. And a vast majority of that are prospective tenants looking for properties.

Spencer Sutton:
So they know, in each city, they’re going to find property managers who are reliable. There are residents out there that will not lease from an individual landlord. They want to deal with a firm that’s been out there and maybe they’re going to go and look at reviews and see, “Hey, how well does this company treat their tenants?” So we have a massive amount of volume, a ton of eyeballs looking at our properties. So we have to have all these systems and things in place.

Spencer Sutton:
So let’s get into some things that I think will be really interesting to our listeners. I want to know, because last week I told the story of I used to rent my own properties. Back when I was wholesaling houses, I rented my own properties. And I mean, I had a few decent leases that I wrote up, but there was one that was a nightmare that that’s when I turned my properties over to Matthew and Evernest back in 2008/9. And I was like, “I’m done with this. I’m not going to do.” It was like seven months of non-payment. And so I turned it over. So what are some of the mistakes that we see people make when they’re leasing properties, just a typical landlord?

Jacob West:
Probably the biggest one that I would say would be a lack of a screening process or a very basic screening process. And I’ve kind of experienced the same thing on the tenant side, being a tenant who’s renting from a landlord who doesn’t use a property manager. They should not have rented that house to me with the information that I gave them. No way. We didn’t do a credit check. They didn’t ask for any documentation of my income beyond just telling them who my employer was. We reported our income, self-reported.

Spencer Sutton:
This during this COVID.

Jacob West:
Oh, yeah. Yeah. We self-reported income, filled out a one page for both my wife and I, one front page of information. And I don’t believe they call either of our employers. At least neither of our employers said they got a call. So I could have been anyone with any level of income. I guess we appeared pretty put together when we did the showing, but…

Spencer Sutton:
But a lot of people can do that.

Jacob West:
A lot of people can do that. And I don’t think that all of them are quite so lacking there, but you know, there are definitely a lot of ways in which our underwriting process is a lot more sophisticated. We find out more about residents than the average landlord and in a lot of cases, the average property manager.

Spencer Sutton:
Yeah, I want to come back to that because I think that’s important. The first thing I do want to say, and Jacob brings up a great point and that’s that, I know when I was leasing own properties, the temptation is to slack on the screening process and to say, “Hey, you start getting nervous. What if your house has been on the market for 20 days, 30 days?” And you’re like, “Oh my goodness, I’ve got to get this thing leased. I want to get at least as quick as possible.”

Spencer Sutton:
So what you do is you start cutting corners, you make exceptions. You say, “You know what? We don’t need to verify this guy’s income. He looks good. They’re trustworthy. They seem like trustworthy people,” all of this junk that you know what, you can’t do because whether you own one rental property or whether you own a hundred, you are in business. This is a business. And that rental house is a business, and the tenant is the asset. That’s what I mentioned last week. The tenant is the asset. So you have to get that right or else it’s going to be a very bad investment for you over the next 12 months. So let’s kind of segue that into how do we screen, what is a screening criteria that we would use, Jacob, on any one of our houses?

Jacob West:
Yeah. So I’ll try and be fairly brief because we do have a fairly sophisticated underwriting process that we’ve developed over the years. A lot of what we’re looking for is the same information that a lot of big property managers are looking for. We look at rental history. we look at their ability to pay, so income employment, all those things, their credit score. We actually use the TransUnion product, the Resident Score. It’s a landlord specific product and criminal history. So we look at all those things that everybody looks at. Maybe where I would say that we’re going above and beyond is how we verify all those things.

Jacob West:
So credit scoring pretty darn straight forward. You get the credit score and it is what it is. You can trust trans union to provide you accurate data, but other parts of it like income, that’s not as easy to verify. There are a lot of places out there. There’s actually a bunch of them. If you Google it, you can find places that’ll do it for you for about 80 bucks, but they’ll falsify income documentation for you so that you can give it to a landlord and get in a property, even though you make no income.

Spencer Sutton:
Wait, wait. Hold on. So you’re saying a tenant, if they wanted to, could cheat the system because there are companies out there that will falsify their income?

Jacob West:
Correct, yes. They’ll provide you all kinds of fake documents, bank statements, W2s, whatever you request, they’ll provide it. And that’s getting worse with the proliferation of technology, with COVID hitting, a lot of people being out at work. It’s really quite the epidemic. One of the key things that we use to verify that is application processor called Fine Digs, which allows us to directly link with the applicant’s bank account so that we can exactly verify what they’re paid when and by whom. Essentially fraud proof, unless somebody… The only way you could defraud that system would be is if you have completely stolen someone else’s identity because we’ve got identification, social security number, their bank account, their pay stubs. We’re calling their employer, verifying they still work there, how many hours they work, what they’re making. You would have had to do a really good job stealing someone’s identity to hit all those check boxes. So it would be near impossible if not impossible.

Spencer Sutton:
So, you’re saying that Fine Digs, and Fine Digs is the prospective tenant knows what we’re doing by verifying all of this. Right. So it’s totally above board.

Jacob West:
It’s basically, instead of using some other software platform for a tenant to fill out their application form online, it’s another form of that, but they consent to the bank link. I believe they use Platt, if I’m not mistaken, as the interface, but it’s the same sort of completely secured, encrypted interface as someone would use to do those personal finance helper tools that I believe Quicken offers one.

Spencer Sutton:
Gotcha. Okay.

Jacob West:
So things like that, anything you’ve used to connect your bank to online, it’s the same sort of encrypted system that they’re all using.

Spencer Sutton:
Gotcha. Awesome. I mean, one of the things that we’re doing above and beyond very sophisticated that is verifying this income and what they say they’re doing.

Jacob West:
Correct. Yes.

Spencer Sutton:
I know during COVID we were actually calling employers.

Jacob West:
Yeah. we’re we’re still doing it. Yeah. That’s not going away. Too many people lose jobs for that to go away, and it is labor intensive. It’s super labor intensive. The employment verification stage easily takes the longest out of any step of this whole process, but we’re making time for that because it’s important. And we’ve got systems in place that allow us to automate all the other steps so that we can spend time doing things like that.

Jacob West:
We’re not doing any data entry anymore. We’re not having to send things to TransUnion. All these things are automated so that the only thing we’ve got to do is review the information. So, we’ve got our team, who’s bought in and invested to the success of that tenant in our property, reviewing the information, ensuring they meet all the qualifications. And then the manual digging is on the employment verification side. So it allows us to spend that time because it is worth it.

Spencer Sutton:
Right, yeah. It is worth it. Most definitely. I mean, again, this is the most important thing you as a landlord are ever going to do is find a great tenant and put them in that house. So much focus for real estate investors is on buying the house at the right price and all that. And that is important, but my goodness, if you can put a tenant in your home and keep them for 5, 6, 7 years, and they pay every month on time, it’s going to improve your, obviously, your investment is going to be a great experience for you. Let’s just say that.

Spencer Sutton:
So talk to me, Jacob, about some scams that our landlords can avoid. We’ve seen different scams. I know because I get messages. They come across on Slack within our team, but talk about some of the things that we’re seeing out there right now that landlords need to be aware of.

Jacob West:
Yeah. So I talked a little bit about people providing fake documents. That’s not necessarily new, but it’s kicked into a new gear with the application side. We’ve seen people go as far as to falsify a somewhat verifiable employment situation for themselves. We’ve seen people create websites. And if you click around on the website a little bit, you’ll start seeing that only the front page is fully built out. Maybe there’s some example text or pictures in there, maybe it’s…

Spencer Sutton:
Some filler text.

Jacob West:
Yeah. It’s supposedly a law firm. And then they’ve got a shop section where you can add shoes and TVs and things to your cart. People will go that far. They’ll give their employer’s contact information as their friend, and they’ll do that. And the only way to check all of it and to be sure about it is to check every piece and to use them all as crosschecks and really reconcile, “Okay, employment. Here’s the employer. We can find them on Google. They really exist. This is a real business. Here’s the employee’s manager. Do they exist? Are they on LinkedIn? Can I find them?” And then cross-reference that with the income that we’re seeing come into the bank with the pay stubs. And if all three of those check out, we can verify it. And if all three of them don’t check out, then we’ve got a problem. The employment stuff is, and the fake websites, those are always super fun to look at. Usually, if you point that out to the applicant, they just kind of stop talking to you.

Spencer Sutton:
Right, yeah. They disappear.

Jacob West:
Yeah. The jig’s up. They’re gone. So we’ll see that. There’s a lot of people out there who are putting up fake listings. So not the applicants themselves trying to scam the landlord. People out there, oftentimes, doing this from other countries as we’ve seen, but they’re using a web-based phone number that they can change kind of at their leisure and putting up a fake listing on Craigslist or Facebook using all the photos from a legitimate landlord’s rental. Even if you watermark it, it doesn’t matter. They’ll use that and just say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m, so-and-so.” It’s a little harder to get away with that when you say, “I’m Evernest.” You can Google ever nest and the number’s not going to match up. And if you call our number, that’s not who you’re going to get. But people do it. What’s more common is people saying that they’re the owner. Say, “Oh yeah, that’s my property manager, but you could talk directly to me.”

Spencer Sutton:
Gotcha.

Jacob West:
So we will see that occasionally.

Spencer Sutton:
What are they hoping to do? They’re hoping to get somebody in that property and essentially take a security deposit and take first month’s rent.

Jacob West:
Yeah. And they actually really don’t care if someone gets in the property. A lot of times, that’s more of a side effect for them. They don’t care what happens to the property. They don’t care if that person burns it down. It’s not their property. They don’t live in the city. They may not live in the country. It’s a form of wire fraud. They’re trying to get someone to wire them money. Some people will do it, actual wires. Some people will do Venmo, Cash App, credit card payments. Could be anything, but they’re trying to get the deposits or a first month rent or whatever they can convince the applicant is needed to secure the house.

Jacob West:
Sometimes they’re successful in getting someone into a house. We use Rently lock boxes. So we have had people who’ve done a legitimate showing through a Rently lock box and sent the wrong guy the money because that’s where they saw the ad first. So then their bias is that, “Oh, well, I saw it on Craigslist first. I’m going to send this person to the money.” We’ve had that happen before, but that’s definitely something that, if you’re putting listings out online, there are scammers out there who are just waiting on listings to pop up and then duplicating them to try and…

Spencer Sutton:
How can landlords protect against this?

Jacob West:
So the best way to protect against it is to be as easy to find as possible, which is what we focus a lot of our effort on. It needs to be very easy for someone to determine who the right landlord is because what’s unfortunate about Facebook, especially, is that Facebook actually doesn’t allow you to put the address on their listings. They say for security reasons, but what that really means is that it’s impossible for me to search for fake listing. And on Craigslist, they don’t necessarily have to put the address on it either if they don’t want to. Finding the listings and preventing them from ever reaching a prospective tenant is nearly impossible. So you need to make sure that they can find who you are, that it’s really hard to mistake anyone else for you. We put a bunch of flyers up at the houses, telling people what to do and not do.

Jacob West:
And the benefit is that these scammers are predominantly, at least from what we’ve seen, they’re predominantly virtual. So by being there, by putting your marketing materials, your flyers all over the place, you are usually able to kind of circumvent the scammers because if someone goes to a house with instructions from a scammer saying, “All right, when you’re done with the showing, you call me, pay me and you can take the key home. This place is yours.” If they get to the house and there’s a sign right next to the lock box that says, “Do not remove this key when you leave. If someone is telling you to take this key with you, they are trying to steal your money.” We get a lot of people who call us after they see that and say, “Hey, I just saw this thing, and this guy wanted me to send this money. It doesn’t seem right.” And we’re like, “Yeah, that’s not right. Please send us that listing because we need to flag that.”

Spencer Sutton:
We put that outside by the lockbox, but we also put it inside the home with flyers, like on the counter, kitchen counter.

Jacob West:
Yeah, we’ve got a couple different ones that say different things. The one next to the lockbox is going to… We don’t put them outside because we don’t want them to blow away or anything. We put them on the door just inside of the lock box.

Spencer Sutton:
Gotcha.

Jacob West:
So that they see it as they leave, and you can’t miss it. So if you’re turning the door, handle to leave, you’re going to read it.

Spencer Sutton:
Yep.

Jacob West:
And we’ve got a couple of different ones to say different things. The text is this tall, so they can’t miss it. It’s all about making the right way as obvious as possible because the wrong way is going to be out there. The scammers are literally just waiting for ads to pop up and duplicating them. And it’s easy to do. Everybody’s listing online.

Spencer Sutton:
Everybody wants to list online. It’s an easy way to get stuff out there.

Jacob West:
You don’t want to forego those leads. Right? You can’t.

Spencer Sutton:
I mean, also having your number prominently displayed on a yard sign would be very helpful. So if they say, “Well, there’s a discrepancy in the phone number. I called and this number here that says, ‘Call me at, if you want to see this property.'” So that’s another good way.

Jacob West:
Identifying yourself on yard signs.

Spencer Sutton:
Yep.

Jacob West:
Always watermark your photos. It doesn’t totally prevent it, but if the right person’s name is staring them in the face on the wrong person’s ad, it’s going to make it less convincing.

Spencer Sutton:
Yeah. Sure.

Jacob West:
Everything you can do.

Spencer Sutton:
I would imagine scammers will… There’s plenty of them that aren’t watermarked that they can get to that that’s going to be the lower hanging fruit. So if you watermark yours, it may be somewhat of a deterrent.

Jacob West:
Correct. Yeah.

Spencer Sutton:
Well, good. Anything else that we can share with the landlords out there, people who are interested in building rental portfolios, Jacob, that you think would be helpful? I think we’ve given them some great information. Our screening criteria technology we use, talked about different scams, mistakes people are making. Anything else?

Spencer Sutton:
Well, we talked a lot about some negative things, but on the positive side, one thing, we mentioned using our Rently system to do showings. It is a huge benefit to do. There are other risks that happen when you use a self touring mechanism like Rently. It is technically possible for someone to move in illegitimately. Whereas, if you’re doing agent showing only, they’d have to break it to do that. So that’s less likely, but it allows you to do so many showings.

Jacob West:
The worst thing that can happen and the most unsafe thing that can happen to your rental property is for it to sit for too long. The properties that are vacant for too long attract that kind of problem. Maybe it’s not a scammer. Maybe it’s someone breaking in and vandalizing. It could be anything. The key is getting that house leased as quickly as possible. The key to getting at least as quickly as possible is doing as many showings as possible.

Spencer Sutton:
That’s right.

Jacob West:
It is all about getting people in the house. You can write the best description on the planet. Your photos can be professional and touched up and beautiful, but what they care about is “Okay, nothing in the photos turns me off. I like what this house looks like in general. I like the stats. I can see square footage, beds, baths. That’s all good with me. I like the area. I like the price.” They got to go see it in order to sign a lease. Almost everybody in a single family game is going to do that because it’s not like an apartment. It’s not a standardized product.

Spencer Sutton:
Right.

Jacob West:
Units one through 200 are not the same. So no one is going to go… And there’s no sample unit for them to tour anyways. They’re going to have to put eyes on it in most cases. We do lease houses relatively frequently before people tour them, but it’s got to be priced high, and that person’s got to be very sure.

Spencer Sutton:
That’s not the best way to do it, right? The best way is not to lease a property without them walking that property because the worst thing that can happen is they can sign a lease, go in there and say, “Oh, well, I didn’t realize this was this way. Or this was this way. I don’t want to rent this.” And you’re like, “I’m sorry, you’ve already signed a lease.”

Jacob West:
Yeah. You don’t want to have that conflict for sure. But definitely, the amount of showings you can do as quickly as possible is better. And to be honest, if you’re not getting at least five showings a week on your property right now, anyways, maybe in January, I’d say some different, probably be more like three in January. But our rule of thumb is five plus most of the time. honestly, the market’s pretty hot right now. I’d start getting a little worried if you aren’t getting closer to 10. And if you’re out there doing these showings yourself and you’ve got, let’s say, three properties on the market and a small portfolio…

Spencer Sutton:
It’s rough.

Jacob West:
I mean, yeah. I mean, you’re looking at “Okay, best case, I’ve got to go out to each of these three properties, 10 times this week for, let’s say, half an hour a piece,” and you’d be happy to get that. You’re not going to be happy when you’re done doing all the showings, though.

Spencer Sutton:
Yeah, that’s right.

Jacob West:
That’s brutal. So definitely utilizing something like Rently, it’s a low return activity. You’re there to unlock the door for them. If you think that you being there is the only thing that’s going to sell them on the property, that’s probably not the case. And if it is the case, you’re a real good salesman or that property got some problems.

Spencer Sutton:
Listen, we’ve been doing it for six years. We’ve been using Rently for about six years. We’ve only had a handful of incidences where something went wrong with a Rently, like a handful in thousands and thousands of properties on the market. We’ve had a handful, maybe five, where somebody’s gone in and stolen something or whatever. It just doesn’t happen all that often. They’re safeguards there with Rently. So I agree with Jacob that that’s a low return activity. You going and opening the door is a very low return activity for you. So find a way to automate it.

Spencer Sutton:
That’s definitely one of the ones that we were a little nervous about it because when we started it, we were only in Birmingham. We’re like, “Hey, is this going to work?” But it works. It works everywhere we are, all 11 or 12 markets that we’re in. It absolutely works.

Jacob West:
And it’s not just us using rental either. So people will become Rently users, and that’s their new way to find homes because they know they can go tour as many as possible when they need to move. So, people will see ours. they’ll see multiple of ours in a lot of cases. Maybe they’ll see somebody else’s, too. But once they do Rently one time, they’re going to love it.

Jacob West:
Sometimes we’ve got to really hold people’s hands to get them signed up and to know how to schedule showings. Sometimes people, especially who are old school, maybe a little older, but they start using it, and next thing you know, week later, that person’s toured a dozen homes in Birmingham.

Spencer Sutton:
Yep. Yep.

Jacob West:
If they’ve toured a dozen of our houses, as long as they’re qualified, we’re going to rent them something.

Spencer Sutton:
That’s right. Yep.

Jacob West:
It’s a very sticky in that way.

Spencer Sutton:
Yeah. It’s very sticky.

Jacob West:
That would be my best positive bias is you use something like Rently. We like Rently because it’s got some additional security measures versus some of the other ones. But lots of people use code boxes with good success. So there’s a lot of providers out there, and the only other thing would be the market’s hot right now. Whatever repairs you got going and get them done and get that house on the market because they’re leasing like crazy.

Spencer Sutton:
And that’s what I was going to say. To Jacob’s point where he said, you should be showing your house five to 10 times a week. If you’re not, then you either have a pricing problem or you have a problem with the product. Right. So people, somehow they’re not finding it. They see it, and they’re not attracted to it. So they’re not going to see it. So find out what it is. Are you being over, optimistically to price or do you have some things you need to take care of at the house? If you’re getting showings…

Jacob West:
Are you surveying people when you do showings? If you can get people in, it’s very important to survey them. We survey everybody automatically with Rently, but we also call it follow up. Sometimes people will be pretty brutally honest in surveys. And then sometimes they won’t leave any survey feedback. We want to coax that out of them because it’s important. Sometimes things…

Spencer Sutton:
It’s great feedback.

Jacob West:
Yeah. I mean, sometimes things as simple as, “Oh, the neighbors have a big, scary dog.” They might not have that dog. When I went out there and put the sign out, or they may keep them inside sometimes, and that’s what I’m seeing. I’m seeing no scary dog. So I think it’s great, but applicants, they don’t owe you anything. So they may not give you the best feedback right off the bat. But at the same time, they don’t feel the need to be nice to you either. So if you coax it out of them, they will often be very harsh critics.

Spencer Sutton:
They’ll be brutally honest.

Jacob West:
In a constructive way.

Spencer Sutton:
And that’s what you want. All you want are the facts. That’s all you care about. You want to hear from the market. The market, you are marketing something, and the market is trying to talk back to you. And that’s what you’re looking for, as much feedback as possible.

Jacob West:
And get data. You’re showing data.

Spencer Sutton:
Collect as much data as you can.

Jacob West:
Your inquiry data. If you’ve got enough of that, historically like we do, I have a very good feel for how many showings, for instance, how many apps, how many inquiries and all that, that leads to a house that will rent in an under 21 days.

Spencer Sutton:
Yep.

Jacob West:
And if the metrics are not looking like what they need to look like within the first 10 days, we know what to do.

Spencer Sutton:
Well, this has been great, Jacob. Thank you so much for your time. As you can tell, Jacob knows everything about our leasing department. He was a big part of us leasing over 800 properties last year in the middle of a pandemic, and I think we’ll probably lease some more this year. So big, big things in 2021. All right, everybody. That’s another episode. That’s a wrap. So leave us a review on iTunes if you haven’t already. And we look forward to seeing you on the next episode.