Phone Screening Tips
Phone screens save you time and effort regardless of the time they take to execute. After all, there’s no need to meet with every interested renter for a showing if you have deal-breaker stipulations they may not meet, such as a murky criminal history or a giant dog. Or if you’re in a position where you have a lot of demand and you have an idea of who would make an ideal tenant, a phone screen will identify who meets the right profile. If you think that phone screens are as effective as asking questions with a form, you may be surprised how much time you waste by meeting with people who fibbed on their forms. Here are some tips to help you prepare for and conduct your time-saving phone screens:
Do your homework
You want your phone screens to be efficient, not long-winded conversations regarding a renter’s life story. Determine your qualification priorities in advance, both in terms of your ideal tenant’s background and what a prospective renter could say that would take them out of the running for the unit. This will help you streamline the conversation while you’re having it, and then to make it useful in your decision afterward.
Decide what to ask
Take your qualifications and turn them into your questionnaire. Make sure all of your priorities are represented, and make sure there are openings for the wrong answer. Open-ended questions are better because renters often can guess the “right” answer to a yes-or-no question. An open-ended question beckons the truth and sounds less confrontational.
Double-check Fair Housing
As always, make sure you’re in compliance with any and all Fair Housing laws.
Use your intuition
If you think someone is not telling the whole truth or sounds squirrelly, this is precisely the reason you decided to speak to them on the phone instead of taking their word for it on a form. Don’t waste this intuition; pursue your line of questioning deeper, and don’t offer your time to meet in person if you’re not satisfied.