In this article – I will share with you the lessons we learned via a mistake that costed us 1-month of wasted time after numerous showings with no result, and the rent loss of $1145.00. In addition, you will also learn how it only took 5 minutes and $0.01 to fix this “small yet expensive”problem, once we figured out the root cause.
After the previous tenants moved out, we went in this 2-bedroom condo, did our routine maintenance and cleaning inspection, followed by the move-out cleaning and a few maintenance work (include a fresh coat of paint, see note 01) to lift the condo up with a nice feel for the show.
Showings went great, then a pattern appeared: ~70-80% of the people seemed like to stop at the kitchen and play around with a small piece there for few seconds, some of them ask a quick question about it, before they moved on. We assured them that this was a small issue which we have ordered the new part to replace it.
Long story short, after a month, no one applied. This puzzled me. Normally It means something wrong with the house or the way how we showed it. But we just did a thorough cleaning and even an extensive painting, the house looked great overall. And we did not change any showing tactics in any significant way – things just did not add up…
Then another showing gave away the hint. It was a couple in their 70s coming to view the house along with a few of their friends. Now we had an army inspecting the 2-bedroom condo for almost an hour. They literally spent half of the time to make all the comments on that small little piece in the kitchen, the one that most of previous viewers had touched and played with. And with no exception. After 1-hr screening, the old couple decided it was a no-go.
Right after this showing, we went in and had the small piece removed.
The next showing very next day – Now the small pieces was gone, they did not even notice it were there before ( I will show you the pics before and after later to compare the difference), they applied the same day!
So what is this costly small piece that was this ’eminently” expensive? it was the left over part off the broken fridge handle, the small piece still be hold on the top edge of the fridge door (You may see the pictures in the link here before and after)
below are the 4 lessons we have learned with this tiny and yet “mighty” piece.
Lesson number 1 – we need to understand human nature
It has been scientifically proved that human beings are irrational creatures. Most of us tends to put our subconscious mind on auto-pilot mode and have it make most of the decisions for us then justified with so called “reasons or logic” as an “after fact”.
Understand: “our irrational nature” is the “invisible” power that dominates almost all human behaviors on the surface. The home showing process has no exception.
Most believe that people are analytic and logic during the viewing. It is actually quite the opposite.
Viewing a home to most of us is “exciting”, “boring”, “exhausting” depending on what stage of the house hunting (starting, middle, or the end) we are at. But very few actually bring a checklist or score-card along with them and kick their mental state onto high gear to think logically.
Viewers are in “auto-pilot” where the instinct is actually doing the screening work. Clean, nicely maintained house with a fresh smell, bright light can assure the viewer’s instinct that everything are safe to go further.
But if there is something that comes across as unpleasant, dislike; many won’t tell directly, instead, they will likely only spent half of the normal time to view the home, and left you with the notes such as “I have a few more to view and get back to you later” kind of rejection in a nice way.
To play the game for win – you need to make sure everything happens during the showing stage is to “keep the viewer’s emotion in check”, or even better, make them realize this home is time-sensitive for taken or it will be gone.
What had happened to us actually reveal something quite essential – besides the clean and maintenance free, you also need to be aware of any kind of “eyesore” that will turn people off, big way.
Logically, we might think a small issues like the broken fridge handle should be not a big deal. But in the real life, when people see them, their “instincts” set off the alarm. The emotions associated with the “alarming” reaction can range from “unease”, “dislike”, or “discomfort” all the way to “fear”, “careless landlords” or “disgusting” etc, depending on the individuals. What is the natural action under such emotion? It is to “flee” away from this kind of undesirable emotions. . No wonder we had a vacant home for over 1 month.
Another thing we noticed is that what the viewers experience in the first 10 seconds or so has the so-called “first impression effect” onto them. This fridge happens to be at the entrance area. And naturally it draws people’s attention at very earlier stage of the showing.
This phenomena is also part of human nature – as when we encounter anything new, our brain also need to make very quick judgement on whether we should keep going further or not. Anything showing in this so called “first impression zone” need to be “absolutely perfect if not stunning”. An eyesore in this zone is a big no-no and dimolish your opportunity to rent it out to hopeless pieces.
Through this valuable (or costly )experience, we have learned the importance of paying attention to the tiny details. And more importantly, To play the showing game right, we need
Be humble to learn and work with the invisible human nature that plays significant role in the process.
Note 01 – we keep the same paint color for all of the rental homes we manage, so the fresh paint is very easy to do and also 1-coat instead of 2 normally does the trick.