The most frustrating part of an apartment search is missing out on an opportunity because you can't connect with the property manager or owner. Abandoned calls, long wait times and other phone mishaps can all lead to the loss of your ideal place.
So, what's the formula for getting in touch with these elusive people?
Apartment Guide wanted to help. After gathering and reviewing our data, we've discovered the best timeframe to call apartment communities. This is the sweet spot where your wait time is likely to be short enough that you'll tough it out until an actual person gets on the phone.
According to a six-month sample of Apartment Guide data from a few years ago, a total of 1,965,843 “good" calls came into apartment communities listed on the site. These “good" calls were answered and completed.
Within that same time, apartment communities received 952,879 “bad" calls, which were those that got missed, ended with a busy signal or were abandoned.
Calls came in throughout the day, but the highest ratio of good to bad calls was between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is your sweet spot, to ensure you'll get a real person on the phone with the least amount of wait time.
Once you do get a person on the phone, even if you end up waiting a bit too long, remember to keep it cool. “You want to remain as professional as possible. Remember that when looking for an apartment, first impressions are everything and starting with a call during business hours is a good start," says Kristen Valera from My First Apartment.
Interestingly enough, thousands of calls came into apartment communities overnight according to Apartment Guide's data. A total of 17,537 good and bad calls came in between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.
This is the one time when you're guaranteed not to get a real person on the line. You'll most definitely go straight to voicemail assuming the mailbox isn't full, limiting the chance you'll get a call back.
Queuing up with all the rest of the voice messages puts you at a distinct disadvantage when trying to secure that perfect apartment. If possible, try to call during regular business hours, even if you can't hit the ideal timeframe exactly.
Most incoming calls to apartment communities are about vacant units for rent, although some current tenants may also call about maintenance issues. Either way, it's important to be direct and succinct when communicating your needs. Remain calm and professional and patient.
More often than not, you're going to end up in voicemail when you call an apartment community. Especially if you're apartment hunting during a busy period, where many others are looking as well.
During this time, property managers may not answer their phone as often. Leaving the perfect voicemail message can require some finesse. “In an effort to avoid phone tag, be sure to slowly and clearly leave your name, address you are calling about, your area code and phone number, best time you can be reached and the phone number again," says Helene Lesel from The Seattle Times.
When you do get a person on the phone to speak to directly, make sure to hit the key points:
Beyond that, any other specific questions you may have that can't wait should get asked over the phone. If there are certain amenities you want to have like an elevator or on-site parking, ask to confirm they're there. You want to make sure the apartment building doesn't have any deal-breakers on your list before taking the time to go see the space.
If you go through the motions to report a maintenance issue over the phone but aren't hearing back, it's time to revisit your rental agreement. “Some leases also have provisions for how the landlord prefers to be contacted, so check yours before you reach out, and act accordingly," says Virginia K. Smith and Donna M. Airoldi from Brick Underground.
Some property managers may prefer maintenance requests in writing or sent to a specific email address. That's much easier than struggling with the phone and unreturned calls.
Patience is a virtue, but waiting on hold requires a special kind of patience. Someone “who is on hold for 5 minutes feels as if they have waited for an hour," according to Affiliated Communications. Luckily, wait times during the sweet spot of call-ins, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., waited on average only 17 seconds for good calls and no more than 25 seconds for bad.
Outside of the optimal call period, average wait times for all callers varied. Some callers waited for almost 10 minutes, which is an incredibly long time for someone to get worked up in the wrong way. This can put the caller in a bad mood once they do finally get a person to talk to, so it's important, no matter how long you wait, to be patient.
Rhett Power from Inc. suggests a few tips to maintaining patience when on hold, ensuring that you make the best impression possible when speaking with a property manager.
Regardless of the wait time or the number of messages you leave, don't give up on getting in touch with a property manager if that apartment is your dream home. Stay calm and be vigilant.
Focus on making a good impression with the property manager when you go talk and gather enough information to feel confident this apartment is the right place for you. Stick to the sweet spot for calling as best as you can, and good luck.
Apartment Guide tracked the total number of calls made to apartment communities that list on the site from October 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014, broken down by the hour of the day in which they were made. Calls answered and completed receive a “good" classification, while missed calls (i.e. never answered) and those that got a busy signal or ended up abandoned (meaning the phone was answered but the caller never spoke) received a “bad" classification.
The data reflects the total number of calls, the ratio of total good calls to bad calls, the average wait time for good calls and bad calls and the maximum wait time for good calls and bad calls. Call times reflect the time zone in which they were made.