The U.S. and China agreed last week week to issue longer-term visas for business, tourism and education for up to 10 more years with the goal of attracting up to 7.3 million people by 2021 (from 1.8 million in 2013).
The new agreement will result in an influx of people looking for apartments, as young professionals and students from abroad take advantage of new visas and need to rent, especially near major international hubs like New York City.
To effectively reach this new group of renters, leasing offices need to know how to accommodate applicants who are navigating the process remotely.
The Newport Leasing Office in Jersey City frequently deals with foreign renters and gave us their tips for successfully tapping into this market.
Top 10 Tips for Reaching International Renters:
1. Work to build trust and a strong reputation with any current tenants who come from abroad. The remote leasing process largely revolves around referrals, so word of mouth is your best marketing tool.
2. Be aware that credit history from outside of the U.S. will be limited or non-existent; a lack of history shouldn’t impact the approval process, however negative history should be taken into consideration.
3. Request an employment letter that states the applicant’s annual salary meets the income requirement and can cover the first month’s rent and a 1 month security deposit.
4. Ask for prepayment of six-months rent and a security deposit if the applicant doesn’t meet the income requirement, unless they have an in-state guarantor. You can’t follow up on finance issues across country lines!
5. Payments have to be made via wire transfer, credit card or a U.S.-based bank certified check.
6. Ensure the applicant mails copies of their passport along with a secondary photo ID and their application.
7. Require the signature on the lease to be witnessed by a Notary Public.
8. Translate simple phrases using mobile apps like Google Translate, which is available through iTunes, or online at: translate.google.com. Hire professional translators to convert applications and leases to avoid confusion on legal documents.
9. Establish a move-in timeline. Applicants should begin researching and preparing necessary documents at least 45 days in advance. The process for remote leasing takes a minimum of five days once the application has been submitted.
10. Create virtual video tours that allow applicants to manipulate the screen and zoom in on finishes, kitchen appliances, bathrooms and views to help them get a better feel of the apartment. Traditional tours of the amenities, lobbies and highlights of the surrounding areas are also helpful.