The COVID-19 pandemic has had major effects on virtually every industry. While the common cold can develop anywhere from one to three days after someone comes into contact with the virus, the contagious and serious nature of the novel coronavirus has forced businesses to shut their doors for the past few months. And given the fact that millions of Americans have now filed for unemployment, it’s clear that many residents are unable to pay for basic needs.
That’s been a particular problem for many property owners who rely on tenants for their income each month. Although evictions have been put on pause, those moratoriums are starting to be lifted — which means tenants who are unable to stay current with their rent may soon be evicted. Whether a tenant leaves due to economic circumstances or you’ve simply had trouble renting out a vacant unit due to fears about the virus, you may be looking for new ways to reach would-be renters during a time when face-to-face meetings are considered risky.
Ultimately, using digital resources to find and show available properties is nothing new. Around 44% of homebuyers say they look online for properties and advancements in technology (and even in virtual reality) have made it possible to buy a property clear across the country without stepping foot in the door. But up until recently, it was relatively rare to find a landlord who would be willing — or have the capacity — to offer a virtual tour of an available apartment.
It’s something that property owners should consider moving forward, however. Although some prospective tenants will be willing to tour an apartment while masked and with hand sanitizer in tow, one property management software company found that 64% of owners felt virtual showings would remain relevant even after the pandemic. And since live-streaming has become so popular that 44% of entertainment viewers watch less television as a result, it makes sense to capitalize on that technology in order to appeal to a wider range of renters.
Although it will require a bit of an investment on your part in order to properly use teleconferencing platforms or even 3-D apartment tour software to provide a great experience, that investment is well worth it. Platforms like Zoom and Skype make it relatively easy, provided you have a smartphone or a webcam. Not only will offering live virtual tours reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but this is a feature that can actually drive traffic to your listings and end up saving you time during those initial meetings. And really, you aren’t going to learn that much more about a tenant meeting them in person than you might by meeting them virtually. Since you can send contracts digitally and take payments electronically, as well, you’ll cut down on the need to sign leases in-person — which can allow you to actually be more productive overall.
Virtual tours may not be ideal, but they can definitely have their perks. As a landlord, it’s essential that you’re able to adapt to the changing times — and to give potential tenants what they’re looking for. Offering a live virtual tour of an apartment can show that you’re on top of things and that you care about the health of renters. Even if the apartment isn’t exactly what a prospective tenant is looking for, you’ll be able to increase your brand perception and will be more likely to gain increased interest in a property due to your willingness to embrace technology.