As more and more landlords are seeking investment properties in cheaper markets or simply trying to save some time with their current rentals, leasing long distance rental properties has been growing in popularity. As a remote-landlord, having the right types of real estate investor tools is critical for leasing vacant units without having to physically be on-site. Below we take a look at the 10 essential tools that effectively and efficiently enable landlords to remotely fill a vacant rental unit – from rental property marketing, to signing a lease and collecting the first month’s rent.
1. Online Listing Services
Since a majority of prospective tenants start their search online, you will want to be sure to have your property on an online rental listing platform such as Zillow, Apartments.com, or Realtor.com. These services provide a platform to advertise rental vacancies to a wide audience of potential tenants and often provide tools for creating appealing listings with photos and detailed descriptions.Be sure to be detailed in your listing with good photos, competitive pricing, and attractive property details to generate more leads.
2. Virtual Tour Software
Media is more interactive than ever before. A video tour of your unit can be a great way to help prospective tenants tour the unit without having to physically be there. Some popular virtual tour software tools include Matterport and Zillow 3D Home, which allow landlords to create 3D walkthroughs of their rental units to give prospective tenants an inside look before committing to an in-person visit. This helps pre-screen tenants by showcasing the property layout and condition.
3. Scheduling/Calendar Apps
Online calendar and scheduling apps like Calendly and Doodle allow landlords and prospective tenants to easily schedule virtual meetings. These types of apps enable landlords to offer online appointment booking for showings, inspections, and meetings. Tenants can select available time slots that automatically sync with the landlord’s calendar, so that the remote landlords can unlock doors for set-appointment times or even plan to be available for a video chat.
4. Smart Locks and Cameras
Rental property smart locks and security cameras are probably one of the most important tools for long distance landlords. Remote access tools like smart locks enable landlords to grant access to a property for showings, without being physically present. When coupled with rental property security cameras, they also add a layer of security and convenience for landlords by letting them monitor their property.
5. Video Conferencing Tools
Some landlords and property managers are fine with a phone call, while others may want to mimic the face-to-face interaction akin to being in person. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet can be used for virtual tours with prospective tenants, allowing landlords the ability to conduct interviews and property walkthroughs live.This maintains the face-to-face interaction, which can also help clear up any misunderstandings or potential things that might be overlooked during a showing.
6. Application and Document Software
When it comes time to send an application or sign a lease, utilizing rental property document software for completing applications or filling out free downloadable lease agreement templates truly streamlines this process. Depending on the level of complexity, you can use a standalone real estate software to send the application and/or residential lease agreement or just simply exchange them through email. Either way can work and is much more efficient than paper documents.
7. Tenant Screening Software
Once an application has been received, you’ll want to perform a background search on the tenant to verify that their application information is truthful and accurate. Tenant screening software services such as TransUnion SmartMove allow landlords to check applicant credit, criminal history, eviction records, and income information to safely qualify tenants remotely.
8. E-Signature Services
If both parties are ready to sign a lease agreement, digital signature services such as DocuSign or AbobeSign offer the ability for landlords and tenants to electronically sign lease agreements and other necessary paperwork, enabling the entire leasing process to be handled remotely. These signatures are legally binding and further aid in leasing a long distance rental property.
9. Electronic Payment Processors
Physical checks can be burdensome to manage. An alternative for remote landlords is using an electronic payment service like Zelle, Stripe, Square, or even Venmo to collect the initial rent payment and any additional types of security deposits. Most of these processors allow you to set up a business account (with ongoing nominal processing fees) to separate personal and business finances. This can be a great tool to continue using for monthly rent payments, if you plan to self manage the property.
10. Property Management Software
If you have a decent amount of rental units, it might be worthwhile to consider a property management software. These software solutions aim to condense many common landlord tasks into one easy to use platform. They can help with a wide range of tasks from collecting rent payments, to intaking maintenance requests, and most include dashboards for both landlords and tenants to track activity and ongoing history.
Leasing a long distance rental property is more feasible than ever thanks to the aforementioned tools. By utilizing online listings, virtual tours, smart home devices, digital documents, property management systems, screening tools, electronic payments, video chat, and more, landlords can manage the entire leasing process virtually. While in-person interactions still have value, remote leasing enables landlords to at least have the option to lease their units efficiently from anywhere.