than a minute or two, which helps when renting property in a competi- tive market. What I suggest to rental property owners is find out at least the initial information from these reports, take people at face value and let them know if they’re preapproved. That way, they walk away after meeting with you feeling, “OK, I got it.” Now, of course, I’m going to still go ahead and do my complete verification process before giving the final approval. How can you fill vacancies quickly? If you’ve got a lot of rentals, you should always be advertising—at least marketing through your current residents. Let them know on a regular basis, maybe once every three months through an email newsletter or door hangers, “We offer a referral fee,” if that’s permitted in your state, a cash bo- nus or a free upgrade for those who re- fer a friend, family member or co-work- er. You should be doing something like that so you’ve got the phone continually ringing. A website is pretty much a necessity, one with plenty of quality,

impact of those changes on your busi- ness. This type of training is sometimes offered informally by a local real estate association. And consider (and Google) formal landlord-tenant trainings offered by companies for your state. What are the best strategies to guard against interruption of cash flow? Develop a customer loyalty program. I don’t want residents thinking they’re signing a lease and just becoming an- other tenant. I want to create the same type of feeling with my residents that I have when I think of my connection with my preferred airline—it’s the first one I think about when I decide which airline I’m flying because of its custom- er loyalty program. Mine is called theThree Star Resident program. I have perks frommove-in to anniversary gifts. Those gifts are usually im- provements to the property, so at the same time they’re receiving a gift, I’m also helping improve my properties. As years go on, my residents are loving it. One of my mottos is “We reward our long-term residents: The longer you stay, the better it gets.”

professional pictures so when people call, they can look at pictures or take a virtual tour on YouTube and they’re ready to make an application without necessarily seeing the property. What legal protections should landlords have? Obviously, insurance is important, and having an umbrella policy adds to your protection. Note that insurance doesn’t cover everything for which a landlord can be found at fault (environ- mental issues like mold, or fair housing issues like illegal discrimination, for example), which is why for asset protec- tion purposes it’s not good to hold title in your own name. This is a discussion that should be fully conducted with an asset protection specialist. How can landlords understand varying state laws? Review updates to the laws in your state each year. A lot of information is available online. Also, attend classes, seminars and trainings on an annual basis, so that you’re hearing the full

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