Overcoming Fears of the Leasing Process

One of the benefits of working with gkhouses is our leasing department. We are extremely focused and disciplined in our marketing and screening process.

Just last year we rented 421 houses.

Caroline Teal is a part of our leasing department and Matthew Whitaker recently interviewed her about our process.

You can find a full transcript of the the interview below this video.

Matthew and Caroline


In this video Matthew and Caroline discuss typical fears that owners have when they think of leasing their house.

Matthew: Hey, everybody. I’m Matthew Whitaker.

Caroline: I’m Caroline Teal.

Matthew: And we’re here with GK Houses and we’re going to discuss leasing.

Now, one of the things we know about owners is they have some serious fears about leasing, especially people that do it themselves, so we’re going to discuss things that are owners’ fears.

Things like, “How do I keep from renting to the wrong tenant? They may tear it up. How do I keep a bad person from moving in? How do I rent the house quickly?”

So, we’re going to jump into some of those questions, address them, and hopefully you will find it to be helpful. I brought some questions.

We’re going to ask the resident authority at gkhouses, so we’re going to dive right in.

So Caroline, let’s start with a typical day for you.

What does a typical day look like just for you?

Caroline: So, I would say it’s going to probably begin with looking at what I currently have available. First and foremost, making sure that everything is marketing correctly and to the best of our ability.

I want to make sure that all marketing photos are correct and are a great quality, making sure that all the information that we’re presenting to prospective tenants is also accurate. And of course, looking at all the inquiries we’re getting, looking at the flow of questions, and maybe even concerns for certain properties.

That’s probably my biggest thing. And then of course, handling applications, new applications, pending applications, and trying to speed up that process, and working with each and every applicant as fast as I can.

And then hopefully signing a lease.

Matthew: So, one of the things that’s really important, and this is kind of a pointer for everybody, is getting the right information online, because I saw a statistic recently that it’s like 60 of 70% of people actually will see it online before they ever decide to go see it.

So, the important thing would be making sure there’s great pictures online, making sure there’s a great description, making sure that we’re selling that property, because the whole goal is to get a tenant to go see it. And then once they go see it, the whole goal’s to get them to apply.

So, talk to me about what’s the most houses you’ve had available at one time?

Caroline: I would say since I’ve been here, the most houses we’ve had available at one point in time was 150.

Matthew: Okay. And so what would be the benefit to an owner of working with a company like ours that has 150 houses available?

If I was an owner, one of my biggest fears would be like, “Dang, that’s too many. How does Caroline keep up with it? How do we make sure that we don’t forget about a house?”

Caroline: Typically they’re going to see signs outside houses. I have people tell me all the time they see our houses everywhere, they see our name everywhere, whether that be out in yards or on the Internet itself. So, when they come in, they’re pretty well aware of us already. I don’t really have to give them much of a background, which is awesome.

And then of course with having that large inventory available, that leaves room for more opportunities for each owner and each individual, so if you have an interested person in one property, but they go to visit and it maybe not be exactly what they’re looking for, we’re going to have 149 other options that might be just the right property for them.

Matthew: And so, I think one of the things to point out too is just being with a large property manager gives credibility to tenants.

One of the great things about us is we’ve become a source for people in Birmingham to find houses to rent. So, the next thing too, and I kind of jumped ahead of our questions here, but tell us a little bit about the marketing on it.

Again, one of my fears would be, as an owner, “How do they keep from missing my house? Maybe they get 149 right, but then miss mine.” How do you make sure that doesn’t happen?

Caroline: Right. So, I think with having a large number of other homes that I can compare with that are on the market at the same time, maybe even in the same area, I’m able to accurately price a home and hoping that it will rent in a short amount of time and to a qualified tenant.

So, every week what I’ll do is I’ll go through our current availability, all of our current homes, look at them, sort them by the date they started marketing, and ask myself, “Okay, if it’s been really over…” I mean, I’m looking at it in three weeks, because I want to be more aggressive than not.

And look at the potential feedback, look at the number of showings, and if we’ve received any applications, and I move forward from there and try to figure out the best path to move forward with that property.

Matthew: And I think one of the things to point out too is we actually have a team audit too, so you do it individually and then we get in here every Friday as a team and basically look at all the marketed properties.

So, we’re going through and saying, “Hey,” we’re talking to Frankie, who’s our leasing agent, “Why is this house not leasing? What are people saying about it?” And we always have that price and product. Is this something that we need to drop the price because of the product, or is there something that we can do that’s keeping that house from leasing?

Caroline: Right. I think it’s incredibly valuable to have myself in here that deals with leasing, the leasing agent, and then also the property manager himself, who’s been at the property, very familiar with the property, and maybe possibly good or bad things about it. So, I think it’s important to have everybody’s input.

Matthew: So, tell me, one of the other questions I think an owner would have is, “How long does it take to rent my house?” So, if I’m an owner and I’m coming to you and you’re the person that’s renting all these houses, what’s your answer to that question?

Caroline: So, something that we started this past year is recording the time it takes for the house to not only be 100% marketed, but also the time it takes to sign the lease and move somebody in. So, currently we’re looking at less than three weeks to sign a lease, and then less than five or less to move the tenant in.

Matthew: Five or less weeks total. So, from the time that we start 100% marketing a property, we’re signing a lease in less than three weeks on average, and then the tenant’s moving in in less than five weeks total from the time we started marketing.

Caroline: Right. And something to take into consideration there is that, as I mentioned, it takes two to three, on average, business days to go through that approval process.

So, with that, it’s not a 20-minute turnaround time, and that’s just because we do want to guarantee our owners that we’re placing a qualified tenant.

You’re taking in the application process, which honestly can take a couple of days, and then add in signing a lease and time for that person to be prepared to move in. So, I think being able to do that in three weeks and then five weeks is great.

Matthew: And then you said something that I think is important; a qualified tenant. One of the things that I believe is that a qualified tenant comes from getting this house out to a lot of people, showing a lot of people, getting a lot of applications. You get a lot of applications. I think at one point, one month, you got like 500 applications.

And so, how do we underwrite those applications? What do we look for? Because I think that addresses the fear of, “How do you make sure that the wrong person doesn’t get into my house?”

Caroline: We actually send out our applications to a third party that’s dedicated, five days a week, to look over every one of our applications. I think with that, you’re relieving any biased opinions.

So, it’s very difficult when I do have an applicant in here who is telling me the reasoning behind their bad credit, or criminal background, or something of that nature, and as a human, it is hard sometimes to look past that, but I think that that’s why we have this third party.

Matthew: And so, what we’ve done is we’ve basically said, “Hey,” this third party, “This is our criteria. We’re not going to deviate from the criteria. If we have to show the house 100 times, get 100 applications, this is the criteria to rent the house.” And so, that’s what kind of produces a good tenant.

All right, so the next question I want to talk about is when an owner has a house available, they’re always curious, like, “What’s going on? How many people have seen it? What are people saying?” So, what type of information does GK provide their owners?

Caroline: In the weekly email that’s sent out, it’s going to give each owner how many applications have been received total, how many that week, how many showings total, and how many showings that week, so they’re constantly being updated on the status of the home.

When a home’s marketing and I do see that it’s been over maybe a month and we haven’t had a tenant yet, I would say I have a look at the feedback that’s received.

We do receive a lot of feedback. Every single day, there’s going to be somebody who’s going to view a house with our leasing agent, or independently. We do have both options, depending on the property.

And so, I will gather that information and look at, as you mentioned, product or price. So, we’ll make suggestions maybe that have been commented on repeatedly, or look at the price and maybe consider a price reduction or even a rent promotion.

Matthew: Good. Well, I appreciate your help. And this is “Overcoming Fears of the Leasing Process,” and I hope it was a helpful video.