Getting a lead is exciting! Soon you’ll be pouring over their wishlist, finding apartments that seem like a great fit, arranging showings, and, hopefully, helping your client go over a lease. But, have you ever gone through the whole process only to learn that your client’s budget is far lower than that apartment they love is priced? Or have you ever found out that they won’t be able to rent that pre-war walkup after all because their credit score is prohibitively low (always a sensitive issue). Before you log onto your local MLS or Rental Beast, make sure that you don’t forget to ask the important (and even slightly uncomfortable) questions. The time, gas, and resources you waste on a client who isn’t ready to rent can add up to one big heartache, but what questions are the most important and how do you ask sensitive questions? Scroll down to learn how you can sensitively ask the most difficult client qualification question you to make your renter is ready to rent.
Scary Client Qualification Question 1: What is Your Credit Score?
A credit check is a standard part of the rental application process, and a client’s credit level can be instrumental in the landlord’s decision to accept or reject them. However, some clients might not know how important their credit score is for their application, or might not want to share the credit score. It can be a sensitive issue; however, its important piece of the apartment finding puzzle. Similarly, working with a client who has an eviction history can prove to be problematic.
How to Ask: “When you’ve found an apartment you’re ready to lease, you’ll be asked to fill out an application. The landlord will have access to your credit score and eviction history. Do you think we might run into any problem with this? Is there anything I need to find out about now?”
This is a good question to ask because it covers both concerns about credit score and eviction history. Also, the phrasing is delicate enough that it might soothe concerns that a renter with a low credit score will have.
What if the Answer Isn’t Good?: If the client has a borderline credit score, there’s a couple of things you can offer.
- Ask: “Do you have family members who might be able to cosign with you? This means that, if you cannot pay your rent one month for any reason, the responsibility will fall to this cosigner. Considering your credit score, I’d recommend a guarantor.”
- Say: “If you have the money to pay this year’s rent, or the next six months in advance, that will be very beneficial to the landlord.”
These measures are aimed at letting the landlord know that this client will not default on their rent, and will give the landlord a little bit more security in working with a client whose credit score gives them reason to pause.
If your client’s credit score will probably prohibit them from renting an apartment, there’s a couple of things you can do.
- Say: “It might be difficult to rent an apartment with this credit score. Here’s the name of a credit repair agency to consult with.”
- Say: “I might recommend trying to build your credit a little bit more before you search for apartment.”
Again, honestly is highly important. If the client’s score won’t get them into an apartment, it will save both you and your client time and grief by directly letting them know that they might struggle to find an apartment with their current credit score.
It’s up to you if you want to continue working with this client. Remember! You can informally ask your client for their credit score, but handling physical credit reports,
Scary Client Qualification Question 2: When Do You Want to Move?
It might be so exciting to get a lead who’s genuinely interesting in finding an apartment that you forget to double check when your clients about to move. However, this is a highly important question to ask.
How to Ask: “What’s your time frame for renting.”
What if the Answer Isn’t Good?: If your client is looking to rent far in future. Then let them know that typically the rental market moves fast, and what they see on the market right now will likely not be available when they are looking for an apartment. For the best results, they should contact you at a time closer to their move.
Scary Client Qualification Question 3: Are You Working With Another Agent?
If the client has a contract with an agent already, they won’t be able to work with you. They might not know that they can’t get help from another agent after they’ve signed a contract with one agent, but, if they do, you can’t work with them.
How to Ask: Directly— “Do you have a written contract with another agent?”
This question may not be as daunting to ask as the first two, however, its also important to make sure
Top Tips for Asking Client Qualification Questions:
Build an Environment of Trust
Be honest and open. Avoid any statements of judgement (“Wow! You’re credit score’s that bad!” “It’s pretty stupid to be looking for an apartment six months out if you’re moving in Boston.”) These are going to leave a sour taste in your clients mouth. In your future interactions, your client is more likely to be honest if you’ve fostered an environment of trust and respect from the get-go. And, chances are they’ll be more likely to recommend you to another person.
Liars Exist (Unfortunately)
Sadly, even with a robust client screening process, and even when you make sure to ask these questions directly, there might be people who don’t give you the full story and lie about their readiness to rent an apartment. Unfortunate. But, doesn’t negate the importance of lead qualification
Add Them To Your Email List
Even if they’re not ready to move right now (either because of credit or a different timeline), ask them if you can add them to your email list. This way, they can stay on your radar and in your book of business.
Now that you’ve through a bit about how to phrase these difficult client qualification question, start getting in front of more people and making more money! To learn more about the Rental Beast platform or to request a no-obligation demo visit Rental Beast for Real Estate Agents