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Managing Property Rental Enquiries - Some guidance for property advertisers


Managing Property Rental Enquiries - Some guidance for property advertisers

Advertising your French property for rental has but one obvious goal - to have the property rented. An essential part of this process is receiving and responding to rental enquiries. We find that the vast majority of prospective tenants make the initial enquiry by email. They can often send several rental enquiry forms to their list of suitable properties. After a dialogue has been opened up with the property owner, contact may then switch to telephone. This can be desired by both advertiser and client in order to 'sound out' the other party before a rental contract is established or a property viewing is arranged. For tenants, the plus side of email enquiry forms is that they are quick, efficient and relatively anonymous ie several initial enquiries can easily be made with property advertisers that don't necessitate a more involved personal contact.

A property advertiser needs to be cautious when responding to enquiries. We monitor all incoming email enquiries and alert the advertiser should we detect anything suspicious. Not all sites perform this function, many leave it to the advertiser to filter the genuine enquiries from the false. Happily, most enquiries are sent by clients excited and eager to spend as long as possible in France.

Sending rental enquiries by email is next to instantaneous. This can sometimes result in an expectation (or at least a desire) to receive an instant response. Whilst this is obviously unrealistic an advertiser should follow best practice and respond in 'a timely manner'. A response within 24 hours is generally desired if possible. The danger of leaving it too late is that a potential rental can be lost. Even if your property is not available for the dates requested, best practice dictates that a polite decline is sent within a reasonable timeframe. After all, the tenant may be looking to rent your property again. If you are away on holiday, do try and still respond to email enquiries. If you are out of email contact have a friend take over or set up an auto responder on your email address. If the tenant is at least advised that you will respond when you return then this may prevent him from looking elsewhere. A mobile phone number on your advert can prove useful.

We always ask that new advertisers send a test enquiry to themselves to view the format and also to check that all is well. The danger is that otherwise an email enquiry ends up in your SPAM email box and is missed. The prospective tenant's email address cannot obviously be known beforehand and certain hosts have a habit of marking any unknown sender's email as being SPAM. It is therefore, important, to periodically check your SPAM box for stray enquiries. If you find enquiries are regularly ending up there, have a look at your filter settings and amend as necessary to allow the enquiries through to your inbox.

Be aware that some hosts will automatically delete the content of the SPAM box after a certain period of time. Some email accounts such as Hotmail have particularly strict filter settings. In our experience email enquiries to Hotmail email addresses nearly ALWAYS end up in the SPAM box. With a Hotmail.fr account the following options are showing as being available on their site:

"Étendu : la plupart du courrier indésirable est intercepté.
Exclusif : vous ne recevez que les messages envoyés par vos contacts, votre service Windows Live Hotmail et les expéditeurs et les listes de diffusion que vous avez autorisés.
Remarque : vérifiez régulièrement le dossier Courrier indésirable pour vous assurer que des messages qui vous intéressent n'y ont pas été placés par erreur.
Suppression du courrier indésirable
Le courrier indésirable est automatiquement placé dans le dossier Courrier indésirable et est supprimé dans un délai de 10 jours."

Basically, this means you are unable to change the filter settings and receive email enquiries directly in to your Hotmail inbox. The sole exception would be if you mark as valid (whitelist) a complete email domain eg yahoo.co.uk. This would mean that any email enquiry coming from this domain such as vaildenquiry@yahoo.co.uk would end up correctly in your inbox. The problem is so would all the SPAM  such as rubbishstuff@yahoo.co.uk. Finally, the SPAM box is automatically emptied every 10 days. In cases like this, a regular check of the SPAM box is essential. Any enquiries can then be marked as valid and moved to be stored in your inbox.

If you find one email account sets too strict a filter setting then you can always set a new account up with a more suitable provider. On our site we are happy to change your registered email address should this be required.

In summary:
*  Advertisers should respond politely and promptly to all genuine enquiries.
*  If an enquiry appears suspicious check with the rental site agency. We recommend that no response be made to a suspicious enquiry.
*  Check SPAM box regularly for stray email enquiries. Amend SPAM filter settings or change email accounts if necessary.

(Published November/December 2011)

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