Real Readers Ask: Traveling & Tenant Screening

tenantriskverification March 22, 2013 0



Want to know more about world travel and tenants? Welcome to the latest installment of Real Readers Ask. Today I want to share two questions that AA readers posed last week.

What Did You Do With Your Stuff When You Traveled?

Noelle wrote to say:

“Hi! You’ve inspired me so much with your drive to be “location independent.” I was just curious about one thing: Did you sell your home in order to travel? Or did you have your own place to come home to?”

(Note to New Readers: Noelle is referring to the time I traveled around the world for more than two years, venturing across the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Australia.)

For the sake of saving money, I didn’t have a home … or anything else.

I sold almost everything I owned, including my car and furniture. I sold some stuff for hundreds of dollars, and other things in $20 increments. All the money went towards my travel fund.

Anything I couldn’t sell, I donated to Goodwill or the Humane Society thrift store. The few possessions that remained, like my snowboard, I stored with friends.

I had been renting, so I timed my departure to coincide with the end of my lease. In the span of one week, I quit my job, moved out of my apartment, and flew to Spain with a one-way ticket.

Of course, I knew I’d be traveling for 2+ years. If I had only been going away for 6 months, I would have acted differently.

If I had owned a home, I would have placed a tenant in it and hired a property manager to oversee the building. In fact, I know a woman who has a handful of rentals in Atlanta, but lives in Paris. Her property manager sends her a check every month, which she spends on bicycles and clothes and croissants and whatever else people buy in France. ☺

If you’re a homeowner, and you lived by The One Percent Rule when you bought your house, you’re in a much stronger position to travel than renters are. Renting out your home is the fastest and most surefire way to retire young, travel anywhere, and live free.

How Do You Lead Tenants from “Showing” to “Move-In”?

Trevor, age 31, wrote to say:

“I have two rentals, and my own home. I love reading about real estate investing, but the thing I have the most problem with … (is) getting people from a showing, to tenancy. Could you write about your process? What info do you give them at the showing? What questions do you ask them? What credit/background check service you use?”

I have the same problem. I’ll do a showing for prospective tenants. The potential tenant “oohs” and “ahhhs” about the high ceilings and big backyard. They start mentally placing their furniture throughout the house – “My couch would look great here! I can put my table there!” – which is a fantastic sign.

Then I never hear from them again. They never fill out an application. So what do I do?

Nothing. If they’re not on-the-ball enough to fill out an application, I don’t want them as a tenant.

Besides, if they really wanted to live there, they’d apply.

As for the second part of your question, regarding tenant screening: I use TransUnion MySmartMove as a tenant screening service. It allows you to view their credit score and their criminal history.

(By the way, that is NOT an affiliate link or any kind of paid promotion. That’s just what I genuinely use.)

I also call their current/previous landlord and get a copy of their pay stub. If they live in an apartment building, look up the phone number of the building yourself rather than dialing the number they gave you. Plenty of tenants have their friends pose as a fake “ex-landlord” reference.

Should bad credit nix the applicant? Sometimes.

One of my best tenants had perfect credit except for a foreclosure. The foreclosure tanked his credit score, but I noticed that he paid all his other bills – credit cards, car loans, etc. – on time. His income was almost four times the monthly rent. So despite his low credit score, I let him move in, and he’s been a perfect tenant ever since.

This article originally appeared on affordanything


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