Making the Initial Phone Call

Making that initial call

Most landlords receive many messages regarding a rental listing. Follow these tips to make a good first impression and improve your odds of receiving a return phone call.

Chances are good that you will reach someone's voicemail. Speak slowly and clearly. Repeat your phone number at the end of the message. Frantic messages with quick speech and an unorganized speaker do not encourage landlords to return those calls.

Things to do before making the call:

  • Review the rental advertisement to see if you have any questions about the rental in case the landlord answers the phone. For examples, see our “Questions to Ask About a Rental.”
  • Know your schedule so that you are ready to make an appointment to view a rental.
  • Decide how you would like to present yourself to the landlord and how to best show that you are a responsible individual (e.g., through your part-time job, volunteer work, research projects, past experience as a tenant).
  • Tell them where you found their ad.
  • Take a deep breath and prepare yourself to speak calmly, comprehensibly, and concisely.

Here are some examples of what to do and what not to do when leaving a message:

  • Caller #1: “Yeah, my name is Tom and I’m calling about your rental. I’m at 555-5555. Thanks.”
  • Caller #2: “Hi! My name is Tom Jones, and my number is 555-5555. I’m very interested in your Bay Avenue unit; the location is perfect. I am a student at UCSC majoring in chemistry, and I am quiet and studious. I am a very responsible person and I can afford the rent because I support myself with part-time work. I also receive financial support from my parents. I’d really like an appointment to see the place, so please call me. Again, this is Tom Jones, 555-5555, and I’ll be available between 7 to 9 p.m. tonight or you can leave me a message at any time. Thank you.”

There are several reasons why Caller #2 is much more likely to get a call back from the landlord:

  • Caller #2 speaks clearly and slowly and repeats the number for the return call.
  • Caller #2 indicates that they are quiet, responsible and able to pay the rent.
  • Caller #2 gives an indication of how they will be able to pay the rent.
  • Caller #2 speaks in greater detail, implying that they are a thinking and caring individual.

If the landlord answers the phone:

  • Speak clearly.
  • Know what you want to say to the landlord and what questions you would like to ask.
  • Be prepared to take notes on the landlord’s answers so that you can reference them later. This is especially important if you are calling on behalf of a group of people.
  • Set a date and time to see the rental. Inform the landlord that you will be ready to turn in an application if you like the rental.

For tips on inquiring via e-mail, see “How to Make a Rental Inquiry via E-mail.”