Is New Self-Help Rental Tour a Good Idea?
According to its founders, two college students and renters, Rently.com was designed to free apartment hunters from the hassles of the back and forth of calling to schedule a tour. They say it also makes showing vacancies easier for landlords and managers by eliminating time spent on the phone and in transit to unproductive showings.
This technology automates the entire vacancy showing process using the company’s QR stickers on For-Rent signs, and a unique link on existing channels, like Craigslist.
When a renter interacts with the vacancy QR sticker or link in an advertisement, a user account with credit card verification is created. The renter can then go out and see the vacancy and an entry code is delivered via smartphone upon arrival. The access code can only be used once on a high tech electronic lockbox. Managers and landlords pay $99 per vacancy, and Rently markets online until it rents.
The company provides state of the art electronic lockboxes that rotate access codes every hour. All visits are logged and monitored by a customer service team 7 days a week. The company offers to reimburse the landlord for any loss or damage as a result of Rently-enabled showings.
The service has received positive testimonials from property managers, but there is some concern that the current system will work out better for prospective renters than for landlords. For instance, having a credit card may not mean that the person taking a tour is a qualified renter. The landlord isn’t present to point out the best features of the property. Because the service is free to renters, there will undoubtedly be some curiosity-seekers who don’t intend to move in.
At some juncture, the renter will have to take the time to sit down with the landlord and discuss the terms of the lease. There seems little question that a self-help tour option will generate more renter leads. The big question, however, is whether it will generate qualified leads.
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