Whether you conduct viewings yourself or an agent does them on your behalf, it's important to ensure you've adequately prepared if you want to attract the best tenants possible.
What steps can you take as a landlord to ensure tenants viewing your property see it in the best possible light?
Keeping it clean
The most important thing you can do, by far, is to make sure the property is spotlessly clean – no matter how attractive it otherwise is or how much rent you'll be charging. After each tenancy ends, you should have the place professionally cleaned to do a 'top-up' clean before your viewings.
Make sure you've thoroughly cleaned the kitchen and bathroom – including the toilet – dusted all surfaces, vacuumed throughout, and cared for any cobwebs. It's also a good idea to have the windows cleaned inside and out – dirty windows can be very off-putting.
If there are repairs that you need to make before a new tenancy starts but haven't gotten around to yet, do the ones that are obvious before the viewing to give a sense of a well-maintained property. Just don't forget to fix the rest before the tenants move in.
Likewise, deal with any mould that may have emerged during the previous tenancy or void period. You'll need to find the source of this and get professional help if needed – don't just paint over it, as you could risk your tenants' health.
Make sure you also get rid of limescale where needed – this will spruce up taps and other fittings and make them look new. Top up any chipped or dirty paintwork and ensure the garden is tidy.
On the day of the viewing, ensure any condensation is wiped from the windows and the heating is set to an appropriate temperature for the time of year – turn it on if it's winter and open the windows if it's summer. If your agent is conducting the viewings, either arrive before them to do this or ask them if they can do it for you.
It's also worth airing it out a few hours before the viewing to ensure it smells fresh and neutral – don't use strong air fresheners as they may put some tenants off and insinuate you're trying to hide something.
If you're conducting the viewing yourself, be flexible on timings – many tenants will work during the week and will prefer to view the place on weeknights or weekends.
Consider providing tea and coffee as the tenants walk around the property. If anything, this will warm them to you and start a good relationship should they want to let the property from you.
Other key considerations
Be yourself! You'll want to find tenants you get on with, and they'll be looking for a landlord that they like and trust.
Show them where everything is, but don't overcrowd them – let them go at their own pace.
Don't take any criticism too personally; tenants are likely to forget it's your property and may make remarks that you don't like, but this doesn't mean they won't take the property.
Be knowledgeable and honest about the property – but stay positive! They will doubtless have lots of questions, which you're best placed to answer as the property's owner, and it's a great chance to extol the virtues of your property and manage their expectations.
You can also use a viewing as a learning exercise - listen for comments such as "it'd be great if it had..." and ask the tenants questions. If suggestions are cost-effective, put them into place. If the changes sound expensive – ask the tenants if they'd be willing to pay a higher rent to have what they want.
Don't forget your personal safety too. You won't have vetted your tenants at this point, so it's a good idea to have someone else there with you, as you don't know who you're letting into the property. At the very least, let someone know where you are and what you're doing in case of an emergency.
If you're short on time or don't fancy the idea of showing multiple people around your property, an agent will do it for you. You don't need to take out a fully managed contract with them; a let-only service should include viewings as standard.
Above all, have fun. This is a great chance to show off your hard work, meet potential new tenants and start to build relationships with the people who'll be living in your property and supplementing your income for, hopefully, the foreseeable future.