How To Insure Your First Rental Property Is Rewarding

When I got that first call about my first rental property, I must admit I was pretty nervous. I realized there were some things I hadn't considered when the prospective tenant asked when they could take a look at it.

Here's Where I Wish I'd Had A Checklist 

My mind was racing as I floundered to speak an answer, wondering if I was asking too much, or if I would allow pets (and what kind of pets?), and should I wait for a group showing?

Fortunately we settled on meeting the next day, and I had some time to collect myself, and talk about the showing process with my husband. And boy, did he have a lot to say!

Must Dos For Your First Rental Property

It's exciting once you've closed, and get the keys, isn't it!



Here's a simple checklist so you can get great tenants in fast:

This is a just quick list, certainly not exhaustive by any means. I'm sure that there are some things you'll add once you have gone through the process of your first rental property yourself a few times.

  • Have the utilities turned on. Most cities require your proof of ownership, so be sure to take your closing statement with you.

  • If the rental needs any repairs, it's wise to pre-interview a few different contractors so you are ready to roll once you have keys in hand. Every day it's vacant, it costs you money. Be sure to get references for anyone who does work on  your property. 

  • Re-walk the house several times so you are familiar with everything. You'll need to let the tenants know things like where the gas turn off is, or the electric box.

  • Take pictures.  LOTS of pictures. You won't get the opportunity to show how good it looks, once someone moves in. And if the worst happens, you have proof of what it looked like before they moved in.

  • Make note of all the appliances, writing down their model/serial numbers and take pictures. (I have had tenants move out and take my appliances with them).

How To Find Tenants - Best Way To Find Tenants

Sometimes just a sign in the yard is all you need. Most people who are looking to rent drive the neighborhoods they are most interested in. Signs will generate curiosity calls, too. That's ok, many times a curious neighbor has a friend or relative that is looking to rent. Some are just nosey. There isn't one best way to find tenants, but this is what worked for me.

I placed an ad in Craigslist for my first South Carolina rental property. Not even 10 minutes went by, and my phone was ringing with interested tenants-to-be. Feeling overwhelmed, I began setting appointments. 

I wish I had known about TurboTenant then, but this first rental property I was winging it myself. 

Forms, Forms, Forms

I had printed off some application forms that I found online, and they did the job, but I actually ran out and had to stop the showings mid-day.

Since then, I have used TurboTenant, (it's free for landlords, and they have all the forms you need) and these days, since I'm a long-distance landlord, I have a real live property manager. But back to that first rental property, I had no idea how to check someone's credit and past rental history. So what I did, and this seems so lame now, was create a preferred list of the applications, and I called their employers and references.

By happy chance, we chose a wonderful couple who stayed in the house for over 6 years. Sometimes you just gotta go with your gut instinct. 


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