With all the uncertainty in the world over the past several months, investment property owners may be wondering how their rental properties will continue to be shown and leased. Thankfully, the proper use of technology has allowed the rental industry to continue to thrive via virtual tours, self-guided showings, online applications and electronic lease signings. These options are not only valuable time-savers for prospective renters, but they allow renters to continue to find and lease homes while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
In a time where people need to maintain social distancing and stay home as much as possible, finding nontraditional ways to show properties has become a top priority for property managers. One solution to this problem is the virtual tour. Having a video walkthrough of a property available allows prospective renters to get the experience of touring the home without ever setting foot inside. These videos aid in making the property "come to life" much more than just pictures and allow interested parties to get a feel for the layout of the home and size of the rooms. This can also help people narrow down homes that they're interested in and avoid wasting time looking at homes that may not work for their needs.
Great photos, however, are still important too. Having high-quality, properly staged photos are imperative to an excellent online listing. Things like making sure the area is clutter-free, ensuring proper lighting, opening blinds and using good angles can make all the difference in the experience the prospect gets when viewing photos of your listing.
Last but not least, it’s important to have a descriptive but succinct write-up about the property. Prospective renters need to have the basic details of the property listed so they can easily see if the main features will fit their needs.
Another great option for prospective renters during these times is self-guided showings. These types of showings are typically reserved only for vacant properties and are accomplished by use of a digital lockbox. An interested party can schedule the showing themselves directly from the property ad, provide some information and then receive a one-time code to a lockbox which will allow them to enter the property on their own. This is great for social distancing as there is no risk of unknown persons coming in contact with one another. Self-guided tours also work great for those who prefer to see a home in person or for those who perhaps aren't as tech-savvy when it comes to virtual tours. It also may be that prospects who are taking steps to schedule these tours are more serious renters as it is less likely that people are viewing properties just for the sake of doing so these days.
Online Applications and Lease Signings
Once a party has completed either a virtual or self-guided tour and they're ready to take the next steps of applying and signing a lease, those things can be taken care of electronically too. Online applications are preferred these days as they offer convenience (they can be done from anywhere and you can attach supplemental documents), online payments of application fees and generally cut down on the possibility of paper and checks getting misplaced. After an application has been approved, a lease can be generated and sent out via email for the new tenants to sign via a secure e-signing service like DocuSign. After that, the only in-person interaction that may be required is the new tenants picking up their keys on move-in day.
The goal here isn’t necessarily to minimize in-person interactions as that is something we all desperately need these days, but rather to ensure the safety of prospects and property managers alike. If tenants do have questions or would like to discuss something, there are great platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams which will allow for some face-to-face time with their property managers. Though we all hope things will trend towards "normal" in the coming months, many of these technologies have proven to be a great convenience in the lives of renters, property owners and property managers and are likely here to stay.