So you’ve found an apartment you really like. Now what?
Pounce on it like a lioness with hungry cubs pounces on a wildebeest! Chances are you are not the only potential tenant vying for that unit. You may find yourself communicating with the landlord via email only. Here are a five ways to make your email (or phone call) stand out and get you the apartment.
1. First impressions count!
Reaching out to inquire about a unit is the landlord’s first impression of you. You may think it’s when you meet the landlord to tour the unit, but the first communication, whether by phone or email, is the landlord’s first impression of you.
Remember that your communication with the listing agent or listing person (the owner, someone looking to for subletter, etc.) is the beginning of your relationship with them as a potential tenant. Put yourself in their shoes and realize that a pleasant person is going to be a more desirable tenant; they are trying to picture you living in their unit. Maybe I’m nitpicky about this as a future lawyer, but proofread your emails to them and try to use proper grammar. It’s not the most important thing, but it shows you care enough to articulate yourself as a potentially good tenant. That being said, you should also pay attention to how they communicate with you; are they the type of landlord you want? Are they attentive?
2. Be clear and succinct.
State that you are interested in the unit and would like to view it soon, listing your availability with several options. Give them options for how they may contact you and when. Then you should be available at the times you state. They won’t entertain a long game of phone tag unless the unit has been on the market for a long time and no one else is interested, in which you should be wary. Show that you value their time…and yours.
You want to be succinct because these people are likely managing multiple units, clients, and properties at the same time. Get to the point in a clear manner and they will appreciate it.
3. Don’t ask too many important questions via email before touring the unit.
People tend to be busy and may be answering emails on the go. This means that they won’t be reading as critically as may be necessary if you ask many complex questions when you haven’t met with the landlord yet. I would suggest using your initial email only to set up a time to view the unit. You may ask to set up a call if you have pertinent questions that you feel need to be answered before you view the place. Then future communications can clarify any questions you didn’t get answered during the tour.
4. Use proper language.
Don’t use acronyms (such as “lol”), uncommon abbreviations, and slang in your emails. You want this person to take you seriously, and even though you continue using informal language in your daily communications with friends and family, this person does not know you. Remember that they need to view you as a responsible tenant who will respect the property, pay rent on time, and be a good neighbor to existing tenants.
5. Respond quickly!
Stay on top of your communications. I happen to be connected via phone, computer, tablet, and can access from any Internet-connected device. Don’t use an email that you rarely check, because when it comes to apartment hunting, timing is everything. Being attentive to your communications can also be helpful if they don’t respond to you – for example, I called my listing agent, left a voicemail, and never heard back. I then searched for her email address, sent off an email, and – bam! – received a response shortly. From there, we exchanged multiple emails per day, scheduling showings, sending application materials back and forth, etc.
I later found out this was her preferred method of communication. So don’t fret if your first try isn’t successful. Try another method. Again, as a law student, I personally prefer email as a primary communication method because it leaves an automatic record that can be used to settle any misunderstandings.