Virtual Showings During a Lockdown: Tips for Landlords

Written by Olya Doronyuk

April 21, 2020

While traditional in-person showings cannot be conducted during a national lockdown, virtual tours for rental properties are becoming more widespread. Thanks to the video chat apps and online tools designed mostly for virtual tours, it shouldn’t be hard to adapt to a new digital reality. But for many landlords and property managers, this is uncharted territory. Here are a few ways to stay on top of your rental business during this unprecedented time. 

If the property is vacant

If the property is vacant, a landlord or a property manager can visit the rental and create a video that can be used multiple times or go live with the potential residents who are interested in occupying the property. Capturing a quality virtual showing is a great way to effectively market your rental online. Videos can be uploaded on YouTube, for instance, and be available for all the applicants for a longer period of time. 

If you don’t have any YouTube account yet, you should consider setting up a business account. It’ll be used specifically for rental tours so you won’t miss any reminders or notifications related to property showings. Once it’s successfully set up, you can customize the account, add a channel description, use relevant keywords and tags to attract more applicants, and then share a YouTube video link with your prospects. 

You can read the full guide on how to create a YouTube business account here. 

If you still have tenants

Live video tours can be conducted via free online tools like Zoom, FaceTime or Google Hangouts. See if there is a time when the current tenants will be out for a walk (giving them a standard 24 hours notice) and use the right safety precautions like not touching anything and wearing a mask.

If you don’t feel comfortable with providing your personal information to conduct a tour via FaceTime, you can use a different Apple ID. For that, open FaceTime on your device, sign out of your current ID and tap “Use Other Apple ID.” 

If you’re planning to go with Hangouts, there’s a way to create a Google voice number separate from your actual number that still forwards to your phone. You’ll need to download the Google Voice app, sign up for a free account, and link at least one phone number. You can also create a new number for your team as a business if you have multiple people doing showings and share it.

Zoom is probably the best option for the landlords who don’t want to set up a new number. To sign up, go to Zoom and click the Sign up tab on the homepage. You can set up an instant meeting or schedule a future meeting by inviting the participants. (Landlords are likely to choose the second option and will schedule a Zoom meeting instead of starting an instant meeting.) To share the invitation, click Copy the invitation button and share it with anyone who’ll need to join the meeting. By doing so, you can save time and do a virtual tour for multiple applicants at once. 

This article might be helpful for first-time Zoom users. 

There are also software systems designed specifically for virtual tours. You can check them out here. 

A new industry standard?

Once the lockdown is over, video tours of rental properties will likely remain more popular than in-person rental showings. The rental industry has already adopted a digital model in regards to rent payments and property advertising, so rental showings are the next natural step.

Here are a few tips to help you create the best possible video tour: 

  • Open all of the window curtains and blinds to allow as much natural light in as possible. Natural light helps to see the real colors of the objects. Also, it makes the rental look more welcoming and cozy. 
  • Make sure the interior and exterior of the rental are clean and tidy. A clean, minimalist apartment always looks more appealing for the applicants. 
  • “Stage” the vacant rental with furniture and small personal touches when possible, even if you are only able to do one room. But too many non-functional decor elements scattered around the room might distract the applicants from the real perks of the rental. 
  • Start the video from the outside to help the prospective tenant feel like they are actually there and are about to walk into the rental. That’s the advantage of video tours over property images: the prospects can view the rental as if they are right there.
  • Do not talk during the video when recording. You can always add a voiceover later on if you would like. A voiceover is always a better option as you can come up with a “script” of what you’d like to say and eliminate any background noises. 
  • Keep the camera as steady as possible. Use a camera stabilizer if you have one, or set your camera up on a tripod to help it be as stable as possible in each room you are recording.

No one was ready to suddenly change their business strategy. No landlord or property investor had a well-structured emergency plan in the event of a global pandemic. But the way we react to the current crisis will define our future. The way landlords are reshaping their rental business by adjusting to new industry standards amid the coronavirus outbreak will then create a solid foundation for further business development. 

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