There are always a million things you can look at when you buy a rental property:

  • What is the rent?
  • Is there any water damage?
  • Is the house on a concrete slab?
  • What kind of neighborhood is it in?
  • Do the cabinets need replacing?
  • How many more years does the roof have left?

I could make a list a mile long, and it still wouldn’t cover everything a person could check or all the mistakes I have made.

There is, however, one set of questions that I always ask: How long has the tenant been there? How prompt are they with paying rent? What kind of maintenance do they request?

Why Do I Make This a Priority?

Landlords say tenant screening is one of the most important things to do. There are easily available tools online to get credit score, criminal history, and other applicant information. This processes is necessary to predict how reliable someone will be in paying their rent and how responsible someone may be with your property.

I would suggest that if longevity, reliability, and responsibility are the markers of a desirable tenant, there’s no better way than observing and verifying how someone currently live in their own home. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could visit each applicant before you rent to them? I would certainly have a better quality tenant on average if that were possible.

There is one circumstance where an investor can actually visit a tenant in his or her home: When buy the house they live in! Quality tenants are like neon signs in the jungle on a moonless night. The house is well kept and neat. The lawn is cared for. They do minor maintenance items themselves. They don’t bring up broken items when you are there.

Quality tenants are worth buying. They are worth paying up for. If…