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Top tips to make the right first impression for your rental property

First impressions last so make sure your rental property impresses for success with this simple six-step guide.

“As you only get one opportunity to make a great first impression it's important to showcase a rental property's potential from the very beginning of its marketing journey.

An initial impression is one that sticks and it's very rare to successfully turn negative first thoughts around later. In fact, first impressions are incredibly influential in setting the tone for the entire rental viewing and, to some extent, can also dictate how the relationship between a tenant and landlord develops.

Creating good first impressions will ultimately make a property more popular with prospective tenants, build the foundations of a strong tenant/landlord relationship and help ensure that a rental unit fulfils its true possibilities and promise. Here's how…

1. Picture perfect

The first indication that most tenants will get about the suitability and quality of a rental property is from the marketing material.

It's useful to note that people often remember more of what they see than read so your marketing photography is of particular importance and should 'tell' a story and 'sell' a lifestyle.

All significant areas of the property should be included, along with any key features and the outside space. If rooms are particularly large it's possible to take pictures from different angles in order to offer alternative perspectives of the same room.

In general, we use about 10-15 pictures (for a three-bed house) but always have your specific property in mind and be careful not to include irrelevant or superfluous pictures as these will dilute the overall visual impact of your marketing material.

2. Instant attraction

Do you understand how today's tenants shop for properties? Be aware that most will do an online search before drawing up a shortlist and then doing a 'drive by'.

Creating attractive kerb appeal is therefore vital. Even if a property has ticked all a tenant's boxes on paper a 'drive by' can, on some occasions, prevent a viewing from being booked.

Help elevate your kerb appeal by ensuring front gardens are neat and tidy, driveways are weed-free and well-kept and any surrounding areas are well-groomed too. Additionally, remove dustbins from display, plus pay attention to exterior brickwork and paintwork and smarten up if necessary.

3. A warm welcome

It's commonly believed that people make up their minds about a potential new home, whether that be to rent or buy, within the first couple of minutes of arriving for a first viewing so make sure your property welcomes them in.

The first thing to consider (and refresh if needed) is the front door and its furniture as a prospective tenant will be looking at this for approximately 20 to 30 seconds after they have knocked. A badly maintained doorway will create a poor impression and can lead a tenant to look for evidence to reconfirm these initial findings once they enter the property.

It's also important to think about what a tenant will encounter within the first 60 seconds or so on entry as this too will help them form that instinctive, and often subconscious, decision. Always make sure prospective tenants are greeted by a clutter-free, clear and welcoming space as they step through your front door.

4. Key places and spaces

The two key rooms in a house, whether it be for rent or sale, are the kitchen and bathroom so it's particularly important to pay attention to the appearance of these.

The kitchen has become an incredibly versatile space where people cook, eat and entertain etc and prospective tenants will have certain aspirations of what it should offer. The first impression of the kitchen should be contemporary, light, bright and tidy, ideally aiming to create a lifestyle image in the viewer's mind. It is also advisable that food isn't in the process of being prepared during their visit as this is too much like real life and can impact on the illusion.

Bathrooms should also be clean, neat, tidy and clutter-free. Most of us will hang dressing gowns on hooks behind a bathroom door and have a selection of half-used toiletries on display but, for a viewing, it's beneficial to de-personalise this important space so that a tenant can continue 'buying in' to the projected lifestyle you're trying to create.

5. Relationship builders

During a viewing the prospective tenant will not only be forming a first impression of the property and what it has to offer, they will also be building up a picture about you too.

When searching for a new home most tenants will be looking for a landlord who is going to be helpful, honest, reactive and take their responsibilities towards the property and tenant seriously so it's important to demonstrate this.

Being punctual for the viewing so that a prospective tenant isn't kept waiting goes without saying. In fact, it's advisable to arrive 10-15 minutes early if possible so that you can switch on lights, open windows, activate the heating if necessary and make sure there's nothing unexpected in any of the rooms.

Make sure you also know the answers to frequently asked questions too (such as Council Tax bands and current utility providers) as this will help reinforce the impression that you understand and care for your property.”

6. Professional power

Asking a specialised management agent to market the property and do the viewings for you can help establish a professional first impression.

Emotional involvement often makes it difficult for a home owner to 'sell' the benefits of their property to a prospective tenant or buyer so the value of an accomplished and knowledgeable agent shouldn't be underestimated.

As experienced experts we understand the viewing process and how the sequence should unfold. We know what questions to ask and what answers to give, we can point out the main benefits and highlights of a property, plus we know how to overcome common objections and how to troubleshoot if necessary.

Ultimately, a good professional agent will be able to take the prospective tenant on a journey through your property, showcasing its best features and selling a lifestyle to help ensure a great first impression and a speedy and successful let.

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