Why do an in-home interview?
We have three properties on market right now for rent, and the quality and amount of applications coming in is great. This is a stark difference from the craziness we experienced in late fall of last year. Then, we had 200 applications submitted for just one property. And of those, only 20 percent were filled out completely, but most of the applicants didn’t meet our minimum criteria. That fact made finding a quality tenant difficult.
This season, however, we’re getting great-looking people on paper. They have stable income, which we define as being on the job for at least a year. And in order to qualify for the house, applicants must have a total monthly income of three times the rent rate.
Not only are we getting people with that stable income, but most of our applicants have money in savings as well —– like thousands of dollars. This situation is due either to tax returns going out, or from better planning on the potential tenants part. Either way, it makes for a better selection process for us.
Our paper application is meant to do a few things. First, we’re looking to see if people can follow directions. We’re explicit as to how we want the applications filled out and returned to us. If applicants don’t follow those guidelines, they are denied.
Next, we are looking to see if they can afford the house. We ask about job history, rent history and how much they pay where they are now. We even have them fill out a mini financial statement. We then verify all that information.
The whole purpose of this process is to make sure the potential tenant is stable, i.e. they don’t move from house to house and job to job, and they’re not getting into a situation that is financially over their heads.
We also ask some questions to see if they can do what we call the four jobs of a tenant, which are as follows:
No. 1: The tenant needs to take care of, maintain and improve the property. No. 2: The tenant must pay on time. No. 3: The tenant must be comfortable to work with, which includes being respectful and maintaining good communication. No. 4: The tenant must be a good neighbor.
These four jobs are the criteria needed for a good tenant. But the paper application only goes so far as to let you know if they can perform these tasks. To really know, you have to do an in-home interview.
This means going to the potential tenant’s current house, sitting down with them and having a conversation. I let them know that I’m there for two reasons. First, we want to take the applicant from a piece of paper and turn them into a real person. Next, we want to educate them about the four jobs of a tenant and let the know how we expect them to perform.
After that, we sit and have a friendly conversation where I learn about them. But most importantly, I’m observing how they act in their environment and how they keep their home. That’s why we call this an in-home interview and not at in-house interview. The way they keep their home will let you know if they can do jobs 1, 3 and 4. And you can’t glean that information from a piece of paper.
Take an in-home we did last week. The applicant looked perfect on paper. They were disabled, but still brought in over $5,000 a month from their benefits, which was way more than they needed to qualify financially. (Disability checks also means very stable income) They had home maintenance skills, their financials looked great, and they had lived long term in their current residence.
When I got to the in-home, however, their house was dirty, there were holes in the walls and there was an overwhelming pet odor. The smell was due to the four dogs, two cats and one parakeet I found at the property. By the way, only two pets were listed on their application. Also, I found a large petrified pile of puppy poo on the carpet in the back room.
Without this in-home interview, we would have allowed someone into our house who would have probably paid on time but would have caused damage to our house. And that scenario is why you should do an in-home interview.
Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.