One of the most important - and frustrating - things about being a buy-and-hold residential real estate investor is in finding good tenants for your properties. Please note, I am not speaking about answering late-night calls about clogged toilets or chasing down rent checks; this is about the initial process for screening people and securing commitments.
At least one component of this has gotten much simpler, thanks to the credit reporting agency TransUnion. Those folks have come up with a product for landlords and tenants alike called the "Smart Move" application. Check it out at www.mysmartmove.com. In this elegant application, the landlord sets screening parameters for the type of tenant he wants to attract into the property; once he finds a prospective tenant, the application invites the prospect to apply for the rental. The prospect inputs his contact info, social security number and so forth, and the computer screens the info. In the end, the landlord gets a go or no-go decision based on the prospect's credit score and arrest record.
The cost for this is relatively low, around $30.00 per incident. The landlord can choose to have the prospect pay this fee if desired. I like this, because then only serious people will spend the time and money. One of the beauties of the system is that the tenant's social security number is not revealed to the landlord. I like this security feature, and so do prospective tenants.
By the way, I do not get paid by TransUnion for promoting this product; I simply think it's pretty nifty and want to save others some headaches.
So, let's assume that you want to rent to this prospect. How do you get him to commit to you without wasting your time and tying up your property while he keeps looking for something better or cheaper? Money! I'll write more about this subject in another post.