- Treat your leads like prospects because prospects are people who need to find a new place to live.
- Focus on the experience that you are creating for the prospect.
- Help prospects create a strong rental application to increase their odds for lease approvals.
- Nurture rental leads until they are ready to buy. Stay in touch.
Rental leads are something that agents normally like to pass on, but they are a great opportunity to build relationships with consumers that could be lifelong clients for your real estate business. This is also a great place for new real estate agents to begin building a pipeline.
I turned to one of the most “people passionate” industry experts, Billy Ekofo, director of leads management at Century 21 Redwood Realty in Ashburn, Virginia, for the best advice about how new agents can turn rental leads into viable prospects for their pipeline.
Ekofo is a trained communication and business professional with over 10 years of combined academic and professional experience from living, studying and working in Central Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Ekofo completed his MBA at the College of William and Mary with an emphasis on real estate and entrepreneurship in May 2013 and joined Century 21 in January 2014 as an agent focusing on the Northern Virginia-D.C. Metro market.
Here’s what he had to say about building a pipeline from rental leads:
Many agents pass on rental leads because they feel like it is a waste of time. Why do you think it is time to change this perspective?
First: let’s change the word “lead” to “prospect.” A lead to me is too random. Prospect implies a person, and a person is worth caring for.
So when you approach rentals from that perspective, you know that you’ll be servicing a person, or people. That changes your outlook on the whole transaction process.
Now that the agents have prospects, what will they need to keep in mind about incubating their newfound database?
They are going to need assistance, and you’ll be there for them.
In a year or so from now — granted that you keep in touch with them — they might find themselves in a position to either rent or purchase. You’ll be the person they’ll want to work with.
What is the best way to handle a rental lead to make sure to maximize its potential?
Just like any real estate prospect, maximizing rental potential is about a focus on giving a great experience.
A good number rental leads/prospects are new to the rental application process in general, so they’ll be looking for someone who can guide them while expressing a great degree of patience.
What is the most important thing an agent should keep in mind when working with rental leads?
Their needs are worth your time. It might not be a highly sought-after home in an expensive neighborhood that they are looking for, but at the end, they are looking for a home.
Can you recommend any sites that are providing rental leads that a new agent might be interested in signing up for?
Check out rentalbeast.com. Also, do not forget to check with any listing agents handling investment properties. Often, many of those agents are overwhelmed with prospects they do not have the time to help.
The key to creating any great pipeline is staying in touch with the clients that you help. Whether you use an elaborate CRM (customer relationship management) system or simply pick up the phone and check in a few times a month, staying in touch will improve your conversion rates.
New agents, do not underestimate the power of patience and kindness. Building lifetime clients does not happen overnight, but the agent that believes that prospects are people will find success and joy in their future real estate career.
What can an agent do to help a renter create a strong application when credit is an issue?
Here is Ekofo’s ultimate success tips for showcasing your new rental client to potential property managers or landlords.
Remember: The credit is only part of the application — it’s only one side of the story. There are people who have absolutely stellar credit, but end up being some of the worse tenants ever.
I think agents tend to dismiss low-credit applicants very quickly, and as such miss out on opportunities to help, and potentially educate, landlords as well.
- Make sure the paperwork is flawless: Have all the spaces filled out completely. Do not omit anything. Make sure you complete your application using a computer (PDF, etc.). No handwritten applications.
- Create a stellar memo: This is key. The listing agent will not have to shuffle through paperwork. He or she will have a clear understanding of the prospect’s financial situation and the types of documents included in the application. The memo should be printed on company letterhead and attached to the front of the application, if you can drop the application off at the listing agent’s office. If you are submitting electronically, make sure the memo is the first page.
- What should the memo highlight?
- A summary of all the materials provided in support of the application (bank statement, W-2s, check or money orders, previous landlord recommendations, etc.)
- Your client’s ability to pay for the rent. Be familiar with local rental income expectations. This means that some property management companies or landlords are asking for specific income ratios before approving applications. For example, if the rent is $2,000 per month, your income or your combined income should be at least $80,000 per year. If your client(s) make slightly less than that amount, that’s OK.
- Finally, a good record of their rental history and endorsements from past landlord will be of help.
By day, Rachael Hite helps agents develop their business. By night, she’s tweeting for listingdepot.com.