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How to Help Prospective Tenants Rent Sight Unseen

By: Justin Chaplin
April 3, 2020

Unfortunately, the current COVID-19 pandemic has left us scrambling to figure out the new normal as we work to keep ourselves and others safe. We can achieve this through social distancing, which effectively means stay at home and avoid unnecessary excursions that will bring you within six feet of others. 

For the rental industry, social distancing means adapting to leasing to tenants who will sign a lease sight unseen. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, people still want and need to move. As a landlord, your job is to help prospective tenants get to know the property, without ever stepping foot in it.

It’s essential for landlords and property managers to ensure that any tenant who decides to rent sight unseen knows exactly what they’re in for. Here’s what you can do to help tenants get the most out of their sight unseen rental experience!

1. Be Honest and Transparent from the Get-Go

Transparency regarding any information that you’re sharing about your rental apartment is always essential. However, within the current climate, it’s important to not only be transparent but detailed

The pandemic has left many individuals wary of venturing out of their homes, even in cases when they have to. If you want to encourage prospects to move in, then you’ll need to include enough details to give them a full picture of the unit and its amenities. 

Here’s a list of important details to include:

  • Measures Taken to Protect Tenants
  • Closed or Restricted Amenities or Common Areas
  • Wi-Fi Capabilities (if included)
  • Changes to the Maintenance Procedures

If additional amenities like a gym, common area, or pool that has been closed to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, make sure you let prospective tenants know.

2. Include Plenty of Multimedia Elements

Prospective tenants want a full picture of the apartment that they will be moving into, so it’s important to feature different forms of media that’ll help achieve that. 

You’ll have to ensure that any media you feature is high-quality — there’s no use adding a blurry photo that doesn’t do your unit any justice. Some forms of media to consider are:

  • Photos (high resolution!)
  • Videos
  • 3D Tours
  • Floor Plans

This allows you to give tenants a thorough view of the apartment, which is especially crucial now with social distancing and stay at home orders. Make sure the media that you include in your listing gives a visual of everything that you’ve detailed in your listing. For example, if you list a rooftop balcony, take pictures of it!

3. Be Specific About the Furniture and Appliances Included

There are a lot of technicalities when it comes to a rental listing. Renters are very aware of this. 

Yes, you can list your apartment as furnished even if it only comes with a single couch. However, you may encounter some disgruntled prospects, regardless of the fact that the apartment is technically “furnished.”

For that reason, it’s important to be detailed and provide clarification whenever you’re making claims about your unit. Every listing should include a breakdown of the furniture and appliances that are featured in the apartment. 

The dimensions of any major furniture (think sofas and beds) included are important, too. Not only will this help prospects accurately narrow down their choices, but it will also allow them to plan ahead before moving in.

4. Schedule an Initial Call or Video Chat with Prospective Tenants

When dealing with tenants who are renting sight unseen, it’s crucial to prioritize communication. It’s a good idea to discuss the major details of the apartment with them. Scheduling a call or video chat will allow you to answer all of their questions and address any concerns.

You also can provide them with additional insight into the neighborhood. That can include pertinent information such as: 

  • grocery stores in the area, 
  • public transport, 
  • restaurant recommendations, and 
  • moving company recommendations. 

Your expertise in the neighborhood happenings (or lack thereof) can be a valuable asset in helping prospects make a final decision!

5. Host a Virtual Tour, or Upload a 3D Tour

If you want to give prospective tenants a full and interactive view of your unit, try hosting a virtual tour via platforms like Facetime, Skype or Zoom. This will allow tenants to experience a virtual walkthrough of the unit, while addressing any questions or concerns they may have.    

Another great option is hosting a 3D tour of your apartment unit. 3D tours are created using an advanced camera and software that takes panoramic views of a room to recreate it virtually. 

Tenants can use arrows to move around the apartment, just as they would’ve if they were able to visit in person and on their own time.

More on uploading a 3D tour to Apartment List here.

What if a Renter Doesn’t Have Access to a Smart Device?

In some cases, a prospective renter won’t have access to a smartphone. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t generate a full virtual showing experience for them! 

Consider filming a walkthrough video tour or slideshow. You can distribute this tour via DVD to any prospective renter.

6. Be a Resource Throughout the Process

Renting sight unseen is a challenging process in the best of times. During a global pandemic, it can seem nearly impossible. 

However, you can help to ease the stress of this process simply by being a helpful resource throughout it. From the first virtual showing to the lease signing, you should make yourself available when needed. Try to provide as many resources as possible.

As COVID-19 tears its way through the country, you may find yourself inundated with inquiries and requests from prospective tenants, whether they’re from couples who want to wait out the wave together or simply from those who need to move out during this time. 

That said, although on-site community events & gatherings are postponed for the interim, direct tenants to online resources such as Facebook groups or Nextdoor where they can get to know their new neighbors!

Final Thoughts

A dynamic rental listing platform is one of the most valuable resources for landlords and property managers who are dealing with the shift to more sight unseen renters.

Not only does Apartment List create high-quality listings for you, but we’re now offering virtual and 3D tours! 

For more information, email us at clientservices@apartmentlist.com, and we’ll help you get it setup. Stay safe and flatten the curve!

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