Apartment Mystery Shopping

Anyone who’s ever rented an apartment or duplex can tell you stories about their quests for shelter that will keep you spellbound for hours. Anecdotes range from unbelievably positive experiences of beachfront properties rented for pennies on the dollar to kooky neighbors and managers to the most bizarre properties and amenities you’ve ever heard of. These variations are what make apartment mystery shopping one of the most fun and enjoyable opportunities offered by RBG.

RBG’s apartment mystery shopping assignments evaluate small to large apartment complexes, duplexes, and other multi-family residential dwellings. Clients use these assessments to assess manager performance as well as evaluate prospective tenants’ positive and negative comments about their properties to reduce vacancies and improve their competitive edge.

Most apartment mystery shopping jobs require scheduling an appointment by telephone or online to view the property, visiting the site, and reporting on follow-up communications. Details on the presentation of the site are of utmost importance to the client, as well as the physical condition of the property and the demeanor of the rental agent or leasing consultant.

Apartment shopping reports are typically straightforward, with a mixture of questions and narratives. Many require a waiting period of a day or two to finalize the report to see if your contact follows up with you to answer additional questions or attempt to close the deal.

The typical mystery shopper report for apartments includes the following sections, though some may require more or less detail.

Appointment Scheduling

The first section of the report typically requires details of your telephone contact with the leasing agent; some reports include a feature that enables shoppers to record the phone conversation. Key points in this section cover the phone greeting, the attitude of the agent, how the site was described, what incentives were offered, and how the apartment was presented to match the needs of the potential tenant.

Office Visit

How a probable tenant is initially received has a great influence on whether they rent a unit. This is likely where they will spend the majority of their time outside of work, so it’s imperative they feel welcome, comfortable and secure. Shoppers must comment on the hospitality of the rental agent including building rapport and offering refreshments. They must also report if protocols regarding proof of identification, income, credit checks and leasing terms are followed. Posters and flyers regarding federal, state and local fair housing practices must be verified on shopper reports as clearly visible. The condition and cleanliness of the rental office must be provided, and floor plans, business cards and brochures collected as proof of the visit.

Site Tour

Once the leasing consultant gathers all the contact information, it’s time for a tour. Ideally, the actual available unit will be toured, although in some cases a comparable unit or display unit complete with furnishings will be used for the presentation. Shoppers must ask a set of questions chosen by the client as well as raise common objections to test the knowledge and sales skills of the rental agent. The consultant is also expected to give the shopper a tour of the grounds and amenities as well as explain terms of use for common areas such as laundry facilities, parking lots, pools and clubhouses.

Follow-Up Options

Since shoppers in these venues don’t actually rent units, they must give feasible reasons for delaying their decisions such as still exploring options, discussing the decision with partners, or finalizing move-in dates. Agents are generally expected to gather contact information such as email addresses or phone numbers to follow up with interested parties in a day or two. Most apartment mystery shopping reports have a section to report on the timeliness and content of these follow-up communications.

Whether you have lived in many apartments or resided in a single-family dwelling your whole life, apartment mystery shopping can let you explore your fantasies as you describe your imaginary job and family and chat on about how the make-believe designer couch you just purchased will look perfect in front of your new apartment’s wood-burning fireplace. Pretending can be fun and therapeutic and, in this case, earn you cash.

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