6 Prospective Renter ‘Tells’

In poker, people have tells. Like when you notice ...

In poker, people have tells. Like when you notice that whenever someone has a really good hand they start humming. Or when someone else has a really bad hand and they always bet huge amounts to throw you off. Knowing someone’s tell can help you strategize your game accordingly. It’s also apparently really uncool to point out people’s tells because it gives away your advantage. So…um, sorry.

Tells aren’t just for poker players, either. The New York Times reported that real estate agents for single-family homes notice certain tells from prospective buyers about whether or not they’re actually going to buy.

But why should we just stop at single-family buyers? Prospective renters also have tells that could help leasing agents know if they’re interested or not.

And, as I’ve never been accused of being cool by anyone except for a handful of people (thanks, mom!), here are some potential tells for prospective renters.

Her tell–showing her cards–often works to the advantage of the other players.

Tell: They try to figure out if their stuff will fit in the apartment. 

Possible bet: They’re interested.

If you’re showing around people and they say something like, “My couch would look amazing there,” or “I think we could fit all of our wedding china in those cabinets,” or “I know there is room for your entire porcelain doll collection on those shelves in the bedroom, but that does not mean we’re keeping them—they’re going to come alive and murder me in my sleep,” that’s a great thing! It means they’re envisioning what it would be like to live in that apartment.

Tell: They ask about decorating options. 

Possible bet: They’re interested.

Like figuring out if their stuff will fit in the apartment, if prospective renters ask if they can paint the walls fluorescent green, they’re already imagining living there. And they have bad taste.

Tell: They ask if it’s a pet-friendly building. You say yes. They say they don’t have any pets.

Possible bet: They’re not interested.

Pet-friendly communities are great for animal lovers. But for those people who are not, pet-friendly communities pose the risk of loud barking all day and night, weird smells and the possibility of getting jumped on in the elevator. If you’re not getting an animal-loving vibe from your potential renters, you might want to steer them to a different community.

Tell: They come armed with information about the apartment, community and management company.

Possible bet: They’re interested.

It’s easy to do research on an apartment nowadays. There’s the apartment community website, but there are also apartment rating sites, social media sites and good, old fashioned word of mouth. Then again, it’s even easier for renters to do nothing before you see the apartment, and just plan to check up on things after they see an apartment they like (or do nothing at all). So if people take the time to learn everything they can about a place, and are still interested in seeing it, their mind is probably already half made up in the affirmative.

Tell: They react well to local businesses, transportation, etc. 

Possible bet: They’re interested.

If, for example, you tell potential renters that the building is five minutes from XYZ Gym, and they get excited, that’s a great sign. Why? Because no one cares about random trivia unless they have a vested interest in it. Like, if you told me that Don Draper and Betty whatever her name is on Mad Men got divorced, I’d say, that’s nice. Because I don’t watch Mad Men, and I don’t care about the plot points on that show. But if you were to tell me that the next season of Dexter might be its last, be prepared for me to freak out and then spend another half hour talking your ear off about how they shouldn’t do that because it’s awesome. So if your potential renters are excited about XYZ Gym, it means they either belong to that gym or are interested in joining, which means they’re interested in the apartment.

Tell: They volunteer to see other apartments that are way over their budget.

Possible bet: They’re not interested.

This could be a case of people “playing house.” For example, if they said something to the effect of, “Oh, my good man, would you be a dear and show us your penthouse in addition to this ground-floor one-bedroom we had originally asked to see? I think I would much prefer to store my champagne and caviar up there [giggle, giggle],” it probably means they just want to see some awesome apartments but have no intention of signing any lease. Or, they might not have given you a truthful budget to begin with, which, even if they are interested, will make it very difficult to help them find an apartment they’ll love.

What are some other “tells” from prospective renters?

-Jessica Fiur, News Editor

Photo credit: marcogarrincha