To be a true winner as residential real estate investor, one will need to master how to to connect with the tenants truly. In this article, I have shared the 11 steps from beginning to the end of this exciting journey. Enjoy!
It took me many years to realize the true title of “landlord”, like any other professionals, need to be earned. One of the most important traits to set the awesome landlords from the rest is how he/she connects with the tenants truly. In this article, I will share with you 11 steps on how to build a lasting and trustworthy relationship with one of your most important real estate investment partner – the tenants.
Step 01 – Start with “DECENCY” in mind. This is the corner-stone to be set up right long before you start to put your ads on. In practice it means a constant question we need to ask during the tenant screening process- “Is this people decent?” Searching “decency” instead “perfection” allows you to start the relationship building on a solid bottom line, instead of a muddy or foggy one. Two things keep in mind – first, there should be 70-80% of total in the available tenants who are regarded as decent. Second, use “quantified certainty” instead of “gut feeling” when you decide decency. Without going into too much detail, I have developed a score system of 0 to 10 (0 means worst and 10 means best), anyone who has scored of 6 or higher should be qualified as decent for the next levels screening.
Step 02 – Understand your tenants by asking and listening, with much less talking. Ask well-thought & structured question, then shut up and listen. You should have various sets of questions ready for various occasions, such as before tenant application, before tenant move-in, the first visit after tenant move-in, etc. All these occasions present different opportunities for you to learn various aspects of the tenants, and the more you learn, the better you will know how to interact with them as the real person, instead of just a tenant.
Step 03 – Begin from a common ground. Over the years, I have developed a concept called “Culfidant community”, which was created based on this “common ground” principle. Start from day 1, it is the landlord Sole and only job by showing, not talking that we are “sharing” home with the tenants together, instead of “renting a house’ to/from each other. It means instead of lecturing tenants why they need to take care of property, I, as a landlord get the house spotless clean and deficiency free before the tenants move in; It means instead of returning phone call or messages from tenants when issues raises, days later with moaning and dragging feet, I tackle it without delay; It means I call or text in advance with proper notice before I come and visit. The reason is simple: Treat the others the way you like to be treated. This is the common ground we can, should all begin with. The only caveat on this to the landlord is that it is the landlord responsibility to take the first solid step from this common ground, with the hope that your decency tested tenants to follow. Most of them, they will.
Step 04 – Take on issues with a positive approach. It is no secret that landlord-tenant relationship is steeped with negativity. We have all heard the stereo-type of “tenants from hell”, or “slump landlords who only care nothing but money”, and don’t be surprised that your tenants might be on the negative side when the relationship starts. After all, it is a big environment we are all in. However, as a landlord, it is again, your job to take solid steps to navigate and lead the relationship towards into the positive territory.
Step 05 – Understate instead of Overstate. It seems trivial, but the way how you communicate with tenants largely decide the outcome. Try to be diplomatic whenever is possible. While there is no guarantee that respect will lead to the same as the return 100%, the respectful firmness in your approach to understate the point deliberately is always one of the most effective ways to get points crossed beautifully, as long as you are dealing with someone who is decent.
Step 06 – Concede when the tenants have their points, or you are simply wrong. Many times people interrupt admitting mistakes or buying in the other’s points that might against our own as a sign of weakness, without realizing only the ones with strong minds can have the courage to accept such points/mistakes as fact, take the full responsibility and correct and learn from them before carry on. In any relationship, such action can only gain respect and trust from others.
Step 07 – Don’t ignore small stuffs – there are many small stuffs that can make a huge difference. Don’t ignore them, instead, take care them with little extra efforts. For example, The furnace filter to be replaced once very 3 months in a home is small trivial thing, quite often than not, people pay little attention to it. But over the years, the accumulated problems are much bigger than we may realize: it could not only cause serious health issue for the residents due to the poor filter efficiency, it may also lead to costly fix/repair due to the lack of attention to the clean filter replacement. Come up with a thoughtful program doesn’t take rock science to do, it does take the right heart at the right place with the right attention and act.
Step 08 – Don’t overwhelm the relationship – As a landlord, you also need to keep a delicate balance in between a professional trustworthy landlord and someone who plays Jake of all trades. You should not confuse or overwhelm your tenants with who you really are . You need to behave like swan swimming in the lake, on the surface you looked relax and elegant. under the surface, you are working hard to keeping the balance all the time. learn from the swan.
Step 09 – Focus on the most important things – In the residential real estate investment, the status of the home and the tenants should be you focus. Keep them both at the mint condition all the time, it will bring handsome pay-back for the years to come.
Step 10 – Never accept things that are wrong or against the principles. Know when to say no to yourself and to the tenant firmly yet respectfully, because reputation is also built on the top where the bottom lines are. be crystal clear to all where they are, and act immediately and firmly when they are being touched. Do NOT wait till it is too late.
Step 11 – Let time be your friend. Remember, many times it takes time to get the result we hope. For example, when you try to persuade someone, it is very rare that they will agree with you right after the talk, instead of trying to get the result right away, give it some time, because more often than not, if you are patient enough, time will be your friend instead of enemy. Turn time into your friend whenever you can.
To close, here are the 11 steps to guide me to build strong relationship with my tenants: 01). Start with decency; 02). Understand first; 3). Begin with the common ground; 4). Take a positive approach; 5)Understate not overstate; 6). Concede when needed. 7). Don’t ignore small stuffs;8). Don’t overwhelm the balance; 9). Focus what matters; 10). Never compromise; 11). Let time be your friend.
I hope these common-sense rules are worthwhile for you to put into daily action that may help you you to become the true winner in connecting with your real estate partners – your tenants truly.