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Meeting your prospective tenants personally is an essential part of being a professional landlord. No-one else should be making such a crucial decision for you. The viewing can also be a painless experience for everyone involved if you get the preparation right.

Just like business meetings, the key is knowing exactly what you want to get out of the viewing before you start. Here's some tips we've picked up from our landlords which will make it a smooth process for everyone:

When's the best time to schedule viewings?

- Be as flexible as possible. Sacrificing a non-essential appointment may get you the perfect tenant and mean you don't need to find a new one for a very long time.

- If demand for your property is high you can always host an open day. This will make the most of your time and it's likely tenants will see others looking around the property creating a sense of competition. There's no point hosting an open day on a Tuesday morning however. When we asked them, our tenants told us Saturday morning is the best time for viewings.

- A daytime viewing at the weekend will usually mean the tenants (and you) are likely to be more relaxed and less time-pressured. Natural light will also give your property its best appearance, especially if you have outside space or views to show off. 

 How do I prepare?

- Unless the property is empty then you'll need to work with your current tenants to get the place ready. The ease of this will depend on your relationship, underlining the importance of maintaining a good rapport throughout the tenancy.

- Paying for a someone to spring clean the place before you start viewings may be beneficial to all. An alternative tactic is to offer the carrot of a small rent reduction to keep the place in top condition for viewings.

- Similarly make sure the place has been well aired (nothing is more of a turn off than a smelly property) and in winter that the place is warm and well lit. Clean windows can make a big difference, especially if this property benefits from views of the garden. If it does have a garden, make sure this is as well presented as the house. 

- Before the viewing, prepare your questions and answers and don't be afraid of writing your questions down to make sure you don't forget any. This will also let you keep track of who said what if you see a lot of potential tenants.

- Make sure you download and print off copies of your Upad Property Brochure (ideally in colour). You'll find this in the Property Details of your account. Handing these to the tenants as they arrive makes you look professional and organised. It should also answer a few of their most basic questions.

What questions do I need to ask?

- Rather than listing them all out here we've created a handy PDF guide of good questions to ask and what to expect the tenants to ask you. The guide also includes tips on making that decision about the right tenant: 

PDF Guide: How to Choose the Right Tenant

Should I trust my instincts?

- To some extent, yes. The real benefit of meeting prospective tenants yourself is gut feel. These people will be living in your property for (hopefully) years to come and you'll be dependent on them for a key income. Trusting your own instincts is a good place to start.

- Like any business, the best customers (i.e. tenants) are likely to be the ones you have a good relationship with. Don't be afraid to try and build a rapport during the viewing; be reasonably honest and open about yourself and see what you get back in return. If the answer is not very much, they might just be the shy and retiring type or perhaps they've got something to hide. 

- That said, keep your feet on the ground and don't rely solely on a warm fuzzy feeling. If you have half a dozen viewings arranged over the next couple of days don't be too desperate to secure those lovely people there and then. The perspective of meeting a few different tenants is a great thing to have; especially if it's your first time. The formal referencing process will also confirm (or otherwise) your feelings soon enough.

What warning signs should I look out for?

- If the tenant doesn't ask many questions and seems a little too keen to secure the property then feel free to probe a little deeper on their circumstances. For example, if you think they may be stretching themselves you don't need to ask them how much they earn but you can point out that they will fail the affordability check during referencing if their take home monthly income is less than £X (2 1/2 times the monthly rent).
 
- Asking when they plan to move and if they've told their landlord is also great way to find out more about their circumstances.
 
- One of our landlords always tries check out the condition of the car the tenants arrive in. If it's full of crisp packets and badly in need of a good clean there's a good chance this will reflect how your place is going to look in a few month's time. 
 
What do I do next?
 
- Well done. If you've got interested tenants, make sure you follow up with a call the next day. Many landlords wait for the tenant to call. While you're waiting they may get a new Rightmove alert with a lovely new property available down the road.
 
- If you think you've found The One, ask for a holding deposit to secure the property. This proves they are serious and gives you the confidence to stop viewings.
 
Then it's time to get them referenced. Just press the "start referencing" next to their name on your account at Upad.co.uk (or call us) and we'll do the rest.

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