We Have An Apartment Available But You Can't See It

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate

Is this a new trend?  Recently, I was tagging along with a family member who was looking for a place to live.  We visited a number of different properties in the quest for new digs.  However, we were told countless times that although there was availability for the desired move-in date, we couldn’t see the units.  The leasing agents refused to show us apartments that were occupied.  What??  When did this start?

You sometimes never know what you’re going to find.  This is true.  Over the years, I’ve shown A LOT of apartments.  But, in our business, that’s just par for the course.  I’ve had nightmares about some showings that I prefer not to think about.  I’ve had to step over things, step under things, hold my breath, and even high tail it to the nearest bottle of hand sanitizer afterwards.  But, sign a lease for a place sight unseen?

Not too long ago, I remember having to give away 3 months free rent in order to lease an apartment.  Property managers were getting creative in all sorts of ways in order to get their properties leased up.  These days – not so much.  The rental market seems pretty hot right now.  Seemingly, the foreclosure situation has contributed to the increase in rented properties.  But, would your clients buy a home they couldn’t see?  Besides the obvious, what’s the difference between showing someone’s home and showing someone’s apartment?   

Yes, the model apartment looks swell!  But, that's not the apartment that is available.  Why can't I see the one that's available?  Disgruntled tenant syndrome?  Security issue?  I can't seem to get the answer.  If it's a matter of perspective -- I can handle that!  I'm sure the apartment will look much better when it's time to move in.  If I promise to keep an open mind ... can I please see it?

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carie shapiro

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Anonymous
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That is frustrating for sure.  I just had a similar experience with a co-op I wanted to show.  I called the listing agent on Monday and asked if the unit was still available and could I see it this Saturday. She said it was available and would get back to me by end of day. I called Tuesday, Wednesday and left an urgent message yesterday. No return calls. It is still listed as Active on MLS.  Don't get it. If you want to sell something, why no call back? Has anyone experienced this?  I can understand if you have someone interested in the unit and want to hold off..but this one baffles me!

Dec 09, 2011 10:01 AM #13
Rainer
240,130
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Nina:  Yes, sometimes that hand sanitizer sure does come in handy :)

Alan:  If I knew the secret, I would bottle it and sell it on ActiveRain!

Coral:  I agree!  The rental market is the craziest I've seen in a long time.

Ann:  Wish we had been looking in your old complex :)

Corinne:  Sight unseen is a little too risky for my taste!

Luis:  I guess they're hoping someone out there might take it without seeing it?

Jan:  I don't know what it's called but yes ... it sure is frustrating!

Anna:  Yes ... it's hard to say what the specifics might be.

Marnie:  You have to do the rental agent's job too?  You're right ... that is annoying!

Ben:  Amen!

Diane:  It's been a part of every lease I've ever seen provided that you are giving the tenant proper notice.

Michael:  That's possible.

 

Dec 09, 2011 10:32 AM #14
Rainmaker
163,569
Diane Lipps
DA Rock of Homes - Broker/Owner/REALTOR (469-879-1301) - Rockwall, TX
Broker "Lake Ray Hubbard Real Estate"

Carie, I do agree with you that it is a let down when you can't see the apartment.  I had one that refused to agree to that part, so a provision was made where they paid extra just not to have prospects come through.  I should have elaborated some on my 1st comment. But majority of the time, it is the leasing staff or maybe some "in house" rules.  Have a great evening!

Dec 09, 2011 11:15 AM #15
Rainmaker
926,944
Joy Daniels
Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd. - Harrisburg, PA
I don't work with rentals so I've never had this situation....seems ridiculous
Dec 09, 2011 12:13 PM #16
Rainmaker
638,444
Maria Morton
Platinum Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Carrie, I don't know about apartment rentals but there are several apartment buildings for sale that are very difficult to arrange showings. Same goes for other rentals that are for sale. The reason being is that the sellers have good tenants and do not want to disturb them. There are a lot of people looking to rent but when you have a good tenant, you want to keep them happy. Most inconvenient for us but perfectly understandable.

Dec 09, 2011 12:28 PM #17
Rainer
90,759
Maya Swamy
Funds Available - Long Beach, CA
Ph.D. Long Beach, CA - fundsavailable.com

I keep looking at this from the point of view those not representing the would be renter:

The tenant: He has no skin in the game of finding a tenant. Doesn't want have to clean up before work. Doesn't want his possessions put a risk. Doesn't want the liability of people getting injured and suing him.

Landlords point of view: Difficult to co-ordinate with tentant. Doesn't want the apartment to be seen in a bad light. Doesn't want liability of someone walking off with tenants posessions. Doesn't want liability of someone cutting themself on the knife tenant dropped on the floor.

Listing Agents Point of View: I am the agent of the landlord and not the principle. I can only what the lender says.

The work around: The landlord resigns himself to ten days or two weeks of not receiving rent. Landlord cleans and refurbishes the apartment before showing it. Agents lists the property as a coming soon with a comment in the remarks that it is available to be seen after whatever date. The would be tenants agent and the would be tenant don't try to be early shoppers at a garage sale. That is they don't insist on seeing the property before the available to view date.

 

Dec 09, 2011 02:03 PM #19
Rainmaker
513,061
Lisa Wetzel
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates - Carson City, NV
CDPE, SFR carsonvalleyland.com

Carrie ... Just saw nother blog about agents who make it hard to get into listings!  What is up with this?

Dec 09, 2011 02:29 PM #20
Rainer
82,253
Iris Stuart
none - Santa Rosa, CA

I do a lot of rentals and have seen a couple of listings lately that instructed applications be submitted subject to inspection.  Sorry, that's not going to happen.  There's too much paperwork to be submitted for a home the client doesn't even know whether they want.  I do understand that tenants are not always cooperative with showings but if that's the case, state in the remarks - "available for showing after (date)" and I'm happy to honor that.  I'm seeing more leases that now contain authorization to place a lock box and show during reasonable hours for use in the future when the new tenants leave.  One thing that makes me crazy is the time lag between when a tenant has been selected and the MLS status is updated.  After going on a streak of showing homes that had just been leased, I've taken to calling/emailing/texting the LA to make sure a rental is still available before showing it.  It's really frustrating when the LA won't take a moment to let me know the home's status.  We're all busy, but a response to an inquiry is part of being professional in my book.  

Dec 09, 2011 02:40 PM #21
Rainmaker
462,777
Brian Rugg
Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-818-6700 - Georgetown, TX
Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est

Hello Carrie:

 

I suppose its simple supply & demand.  If the landlord needed to show to get it rented, they would show.  Good luck.

Dec 09, 2011 03:37 PM #22
Rainer
179,112
Rosalie Evans
Meritus Group Real Estate - Sioux Falls, SD
The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale

I don't care what the circumstances there is no way I would rent or buy site unseen! There is just to much at stake to do something crazy like that! I have never in all of my time heard of this! This is even crazier then the landlords who have one open house and if you do not make it to that one open house you do not have a chance to look at or to rent the property! I guess there is someone always pressing the crazy envelope! 

Dec 09, 2011 07:21 PM #23
Rainmaker
1,387,996
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

Wow, how can you rent a place that you cannot see? That sounds like a recipe for disaster. 

Dec 09, 2011 11:23 PM #24
Rainer
212,763
Dennis Swartz
Full Circle Property Management - Columbus, OH
MBA, GRI...experience counts!

Could be the reason it may be available is an eviction issue? And if so, tenant may not be cooperative.

Dec 09, 2011 11:40 PM #25
Rainer
240,130
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Diane:  That provision you talk about is interesting -- can't say I'd heard of that before!

Joy:  And very frustrating, too!

Maria:  Good tenants are always fabulous :)  The situation is challenging if you need to make a decision and can't see many places.

Erica:  That's what I've been experiencing lately.

Maya:  Yes, there are often many variables involved.  But, if you're in need of a place and can't see much, it sure is frustrating.

Lisa:  I don't know ... but if you find out please tell me :)

Iris:  Someone else shared the situation you describe as well.  Having to use your valuable time that way is annoying, I'm sure!

Brian:  Yes ... I think there is something to the supply/demand theory in all of this!

Rosalie:  I'm with you!  No see ... no deal!

Cheryl:  Yes, too risky for my taste!

Dennis:  That is always possible, but it happened at so many places?

Dec 10, 2011 03:16 AM #26
Rainer
134,765
Stacia Whatley
Hawkins-Poe Inc. - Gig Harbor, WA
StaciaSellsHomes Your Western WA Realtor®

My aunt was looking for an apartment last year and the same thing happened to her. She had to base her decision on the model. What they failed to tell her was the actual apartment she would be renting had 8 foot ceilings and the model had 10! Some of her furniture wouldn't fit. She was upset. They did let her out of her lease, but the headache of moving in and then realizing this and having to go through the entire process again. Sucks!

Dec 10, 2011 06:05 AM #27
Rainmaker
375,666
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

Carie,

I haven't encountered this frustration because I don't show rentals.  However, it's interesting to me in that it indicates an ever-tightening rental market which is the percurser to a stronger re-sale market.

In Silicon Valley we sell apartments "subject to inspection" so the tenants aren't disturbed.

Dec 10, 2011 08:38 AM #28
Rainer
69,663
Danny Dietl
www.dannyrealestate.com - Minneapolis, MN
Buy, Sell, Lease - iMetroProperty.com

Tought to get it rented when no one can see it. In Minneapolis our vacancy rate is 2nd only to NYC so we actually had a handful of offers, sometimes above list, this summer from renters willing to take them sight unseen, but certainly not the norm.

Dec 10, 2011 09:10 AM #29
Rainmaker
421,409
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease

Carie, 

We don't rent too many folks sight unseen.  Did one this summer, but not as common for us.  We have had just one spouse in town sign a lease on a large number of properties, as by the time the other spouse was going to be here, the property would be gone.

Going, going, gone, could be the theme song in rentals.

If you like it take it, or someone else will.

All the best, Michelle

Dec 10, 2011 01:27 PM #30
Rainmaker
771,215
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

We see that a lot with foreclosures in NY, so I can't imagine it would be too strange to see it in rentals.

Dec 10, 2011 03:23 PM #31
Rainmaker
256,510
Susan Jackson
America's Network Realty Group, Inc - Sandy Springs, GA

I have seen this.  But just seeing the model does not work for most potential tenants, they want to see the actual units.

 

Dec 11, 2011 12:08 AM #32
Rainer
240,130
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Stacia:  How horrible for your aunt!  See what I mean?  I am so sorry to hear that and yes it sucks!

Lloyd:  I agree.  I think it's a symptom of the tight rental market.

Danny:  Wow ... why wasn't your situation the norm when I was a leasing agent :)

Michelle:  Yes, that appears to be the case.  In this rental market it is definitely take it or lose it!

Jill:  Foreclosures ... talk about not knowing what you might find!

Susan:  Just seeing the model wouldn't work for me either.

 

Dec 11, 2011 04:36 AM #33
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