Social distancing is a term that all renters and landlords are getting familiar with in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. This novel approach to life has landlords and leasing agents reconsidering how to host apartment tours in the days ahead.
Many landlords and agents are asking, "How can I showcase this vacant apartment to an interested renter if we're being safe and practicing social distancing?" This is where technology can help bridge the gap.
Staying Safe with Help from Technology
"Virtual tours are excellent ways to engage with renters who are out of state or just unable to tour apartments onsite," says Max Downs, the marketing director at PPM Apartments. "Whether it's through FaceTime, Skype or through video recorded on a phone," Downs says, "it's vital to our leasing process."
Landlords should indicate that they're open to arrange virtual showings in the apartment description field. Mention that you're willing to host tours via FaceTime, Skype, Zoom meetings, Google Hangouts or whichever platform is most intuitive and easy for you to use.
Anyone who has an iPhone can use FaceTime to showcase the excellent natural light in an apartment or broadcast the spacious floor plan. Leasing agents should make things interactive as well, not just giving a tour that's "on rails" like an amusement park ride. Allow renters to ask questions and try to show them with the smartphone camera exactly what they inquire about. For example, if a renter asks about the age of the appliances in the apartment then agents can point the camera at the kitchen and let renters at the other end of the video call see for themselves.
Using Video Chat Tools to Show Apartments
Agents and landlords should block out the time of a showing on the calendar so the video calls don't interrupt other errands or plans. Consider hosting a "virtual open house" where renters can connect via video chat in a certain set of hours. Leverage social media, email lists, and your ILS listing to advertise the virtual open house hours.
Domu's listing setup includes a field for open house dates/times.
Leasing managers who need to advertise a newly listed unit can try live-streaming a walkthrough on Facebook or Instagram Live. People are invariably turning to their phones during a time when they're instructed to avoid social gatherings and stay indoors. Landlords and brokers can accomplish a lot with virtual tours that they might have overlooked back when they were done in person. Start capturing tours on camera and sharing clips on social media to garner a following of apartment enthusiasts and prospective tenants.
Enhance Listings by Posting Video, 3D Floor Plans & Panoramic Photos
Photos are a crucial asset to marketing a listing. But landlords can further step up their photo game with panoramas and wide angle shots. Many of the latest generation smartphones have similar features built in to their cameras. Additionally, there's a wide array of smartphone accessories and apps that enhance photos taken on slightly older phones. Agents can use this time to get comfortable with posting walkthrough videos to Youtube. It's easy to share these videos directly on their Domu listings by adding the link in the listing setup form.
If a walkthrough video doesn't have fancy opening credits or high production value, that's fine. Don't sweat the details. But DO try to follow a few basic guidelines:
- Record videos during the day when natural light is abundant.
- Introduce the unit with its street address, unit number and leasing start date. Do this at the start of the recording and once again before ending the video.
- If speaking during the video, make sure audio is enabled.
- Consider purchasing a gimbal or another tool that will steady the video while recording. Shaky videos can make viewers nauseous!
- If it's too challenging to smoothly record while walking through, try standing in one corner of each room and slowly panning across the room to show it in full.
- Go slow and steady, don't rush through the apartment and miss any highlights that may intrigue renters.