The coronavirus has made it significantly harder to fill rental vacancies. Tenants are less apt to move (especially if their jobs have been affected), and many just don’t want to risk the exposure that comes with shopping apartments or touring units.
Fortunately, all hope isn’t lost. In fact, according to a new survey from rental platform Zumper, a whopping 72% of today’s renters would actually rent a unit unseen. The catch? There’d have to be a virtual tour first.
It sounds like a simple strategy, but apparently it’s effective. That same survey showed 82% of property owners who posted a 3D virtual tour of their property were able to rent the unit out -- entirely virtually, too.
But virtual tours aren’t the only way to reach those socially distanced apartment shoppers. If you want to fill vacancies amid the pandemic, here are five other ways to enable sight-unseen offers that limit exposure for both you and your potential tenant:
1. Write better listing descriptions
If they can’t view the property in person, potential tenants are going to pay a lot more attention to the listing -- especially the description. Make sure yours is thorough, and include a bulleted list of amenities and features (this makes it easier when scanning the listing). Try to paint a picture for the reader. What does it feel like in the unit? How are the views? How close are community amenities? You want them to feel as if they’re in the property.
2. Learn how to offer Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype tours
A premade tour is important, but you should also offer one-off, live tours, too. You can do this via Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or even Facebook, depending on what tool you’re comfortable with. Just be sure you make it clear in your listing that these tours are offered.
3. Be more thorough with your photography
Just a few basic shots of the kitchen and bedroom aren’t going to cut it for renters shopping fully online. To give them the entire picture, you’ll need to be more thorough, including shots of details like the closet (and closet shelves), the cabinets, the shower, the balcony, the appliances included, and more. If the renter would see it on an in-person tour of the property, it should show up in your listing photos, too.
4. Set up a chatbot to continually answer questions about the property
Virtual rental shoppers could be looking at your property at all hours of the day. Unless you want to be on call 24/7 or lose those leads, you might want to look at a chatbot. Chatbots can field questions about the property, providing instant answers and feedback -- even when you’re offline or unavailable.
5. Include a floor plan and stage the property
One of the hardest parts of touring a unit virtually is that you can’t get much of a handle on dimensions. Exactly how wide is that wall? Will my couch fit there? How close is the bedroom to the bathroom? To help renters better gauge the space and layout, be sure to include a floor plan of the property. You can also stage it, putting some basic furniture in the unit to give it more of a lifelike feel.
The bottom line
It can be hard to find tenants in our new socially distanced world, but it’s not impossible. Optimize your listing and photographs, and be sure to offer virtual tours, floor plans, and chatbots to keep in touch. As long as tenants have a few ways to thoroughly evaluate the property, you should be well-poised to fill that vacancy. (If you’re charging the right rent, of course.)