Technology has come a long way since we started in the real estate business back in 2000.
Self-Showing services are one of many new technologies that have come to the forefront of the rental property industry in the last few years. These services have changed the game when it comes to showing rentals and we are a real-life example of how they work.
There are a few major self-showing services out there right now, but we use a company called Rently.
Having used Rently for over a year now, we’ve had ample time to see the pros and cons of the service and thought we would share our opinion and experience with it.
This review is not paid for or solicited by Rently.
T&H Realty Services' Story
In the not-so-distant past, we had multiple Agents booked all-day long with showings around Central Indiana. We also employed part-time Agents to show evenings and weekends. If the prospect showed up 75% of the time, it was considered a success.
In addition, our Office staff spent hours and hours each day on the phone, pre-qualifying prospects and scheduling those Agents.
Clearly, it was an expensive and, frankly, inefficient system.
Beginning a few years ago, we received consistent sales calls from Rently. Our response: "No thanks. Too much risk." Frankly, the idea of letting a prospect into a home, without the presence of an Agent, concerned us.
However, thru various conversations with other Property Managers, we decided to give Rently a try. At first, we committed to the minimum 2-box order and then, within a few days, ordered A LOT more.
What is Rently?
Rently is a self-showing service that uses a smart lock box system which allows Renters to electronically schedule viewings of rental properties completely on their own. It offers Property Managers and Owners a way to automate their showing process so that they don’t have to be present for every tour.
How Does Rently Work?
Rently gives potential Tenants the convenience of scheduling a showing right from their phone or computer. In order to gain access to a home, there is a series of steps and precautions they must take.
- The Renter must create an account through Rently and sign up using their first and last name, phone number, and email.
- The Renter must upload a photo of themselves, a photo ID, and they must put a credit card on file. This provides some extra security in case they would cause any damage or other issues while viewing the home.
- The Renter must answer a series of pre-screening questions which are determined by the Owner or Property Manager. This helps ensure that the potential applicant isn’t just a lookie-lou and that they meet your rental requirements.
- Once all steps are completed and if the criteria is met, the Renter will receive a code via text or email to the lock box for the home they are trying to view. Viewings can be allowed 7 days a week, and the PM/Owner can choose the hours that the home is available for showings.
For Owners and Property Managers:
Rently offers Owners and Property Managers an easy and automatic way to show their properties using a very user friendly software.
- One of the best tools Rently provides is a rental listing feed that gives you a way to organize your homes for rent in an aesthetically pleasing way. It offers potential applicants a way to quickly search through your available properties and even has a customizable search capability. You can also have it styled to match your website or brand colors.
- When you become a customer with Rently you will sign up for an account. You will then be able to login and track activity on each of your properties that has a Rently lock box.
Rently’s reporting will show you things like:
- How many showings have been scheduled
- Feedback that Renters leave about the home
- The amount of calls and emails received on a property
How much does Rently Cost?
Rently has a very straightforward pricing structure: $30/month per lock box. Their pricing structure is very different than that of their competition, some of which charge by the number of door you manage.
Self-showing and scheduling solutions are only used on a small percentage of a manager's total doors, so it make no sense to have to pay for every door that you manage even if they are already filled with tenants. With Rently, you pay a flat fee for each active device regardless of the amount of doors you manage. This ensures that you are only paying for what you are using.
After more than year of using Rently, there’s only two major issues we’ve found.
- The first, is the lack of customer support for both Renters and Owners/PMs. Rently does not provide a telephone number, only an email or chat function with responses typically coming within a few hours. For the most part, this isn’t detrimental, but there have been cases where we needed help right away and were not able to receive it.
- The second issue is that Renters seem to frequently run into problems when trying to sign up to view a home. They often receive error messages and since Rently doesn’t have the customer support they need, they end up calling us. Sometimes we can help, sometimes we can’t as we aren’t trained on all the technical aspects of the software.
Some things to consider
If you look for reviews of Rently online, you’ll be bombarded with negative articles about rental scams. Don’t let that freak you out. Yes, rental scams can happen. But that’s an issue with the internet as a whole, not just Rently. One of our properties was involved in a rental scam through Craigslist and it was a mess, but that’s just a reality of the online world we’re part of.
Vandalism & Break Ins
This is probably the number one concern of anyone thinking about using a self-showing service. A lot of Owners and PMs have an opinion about Rently and if you look at discussions in places like Bigger Pockets, the vast majority say they wouldn’t use it.
It’s true, using a self-showing service can open your home up to the possibility of being vandalized or broken into. But, as we mentioned before, there is a process in place to help prevent that from happening. Whether you use Rently or not, vacant rental properties will always be more likely to be broken into, so you really aren’t changing your odds.
Incidentally, Rently does offer a secondary insurance plan that covers up to $5,000 and costs $10 monthly per box. Most clients do not opt for this considering all the security they already have in place.
Knock on wood, we haven't had any issues regarding theft or damages by prospects. In fact, we've had multiple instances when prospects have called to report various issues such has no heat that have been a huge benefit to us.
Increased Market Reach
One of the biggest added benefits of using a service like Rently is the fact that you open your property up to SO many more showings. You no longer have to worry about finding a time that works for the Renter and your showing agent. You no longer have to worry about taking time out of your evenings or weekends. Interested parties can tour homes on their schedule, as many times as they’d like, and all you have to do is wait for the application.
We’ve discussed quite a few aspects of the Rently self-showing service, both good and bad.
Here’s a quick pros and cons list:
- Convenient way for potential Renters to view your properties
- Activity tracking and reporting
- Customizable rental listings feed for your website
- Increased market reach
- Lack luster customer support
- Technical issues for Renters trying to sign up
Rently, and self-showing services in general, are not right for everyone. In order to determine if you should start using a service like this, you need to understand your business model and goals. For us, it just made sense. It’s been an invaluable tool in our Property Management services and it has enabled us to rent homes, on average, 3 weeks faster than our competition.
If you're hesitant to dive head first into self-showing services due to fear of change, remember that most technological advances have been met with resistance at first, but those that embrace it are usually the more successful ones.