As COVID-19 continues to take its toll on our economy and our health, it also profoundly affects the livelihood of landlords across the country. With new efforts to maintain social distancing, trying to show your rental property to prospective new tenants might seem like a daunting and risky task. In a recent survey 40% of property managers identified showing units as one of the most challenging workflows to complete remotely. While today’s climate brings new challenges to the property management industry, there is one irrefutable fact: people will always need a place to live; meaning there are still prospective tenants that want to rent your units. 

Before you decide to show a rental property, check your local and state restrictions on business services and activities to ensure you maintain compliance.  

Here are 5 ways to help adapt your leasing flow to the new normal: 

Eliminate the need for in-person contact 

While you want to meet prospective tenants in person under normal circumstances, you are probably reconsidering just how important it is now. Through the use of technology, you can remove the need for “in-person” professional interaction. For example, you can answer questions online or over the phone. Consider arranging face-to-face interviews with potential tenants through virtual mediums such Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts. 

As for showings, you can show the rental virtually, using a combination of photos, videos, 3D tours, and the same virtual mediums utilized for prospect interviews.  

Subsequently, digital tools enable landlords to evaluate applications and sign leases without ever meeting tenants in person. You can electronically collect a deposit and the rent for the first month — try services like PayPal and Venmo. After a lease is signed, you can set a time to meet the tenant to hand the keys over. You can do this by leaving your keys in the door and waiting in the parking lot until they arrive. 

Maximize your listings 

People are much less likely to be casually visiting rental properties at the moment, so most prospective tenants who are scheduling tours are probably more serious about renting an apartment and will want to see more information beforehand on your online listing. It is imperative that you build listings for these serious prospects by taking high-quality photos and writing accurate and comprehensive descriptions to generate as much interest as possible. 

Utilize technology for showing off vacancies 

When you have little or no opportunity to show off the property or meet prospective tenants, it can be difficult to try filling vacancies. Here are a few alternative ways that you can give tours of your units. 

  •  Walkthrough Videos – Video recordings guiding the audience through the viewpoint of the camera operator.  Beneficial because it allows you to highlight features you want to accentuate and lesson focus on detractions. 
  •  3-D (Virtual) Tours – Offers an interactive experience of the unit that a prospective tenant can explore at their own pace. There are a number of different software available to help you create the perfect virtual tour. Concept 3D, Fusion, and My360 are just a few.
  • Social Media – Social media can also become a powerful marketing tool. Showings can be hosted on Facebook Live or Instagram Live, and separate Instagram stories can feature various parts of the rental properties. These multiple social media platforms can be leveraged to gain more popularity and viewings. 

Offer self-guided tours 

Once a prospect virtually views the unit and is serious about renting it, you can offer them a self-guided tour as a final step before signing the lease. Self-guided tours are a perfect way to let prospective residents see the room while at the same time restricting in-person contact. Make sure that the unit is cleaned and disinfected before and after each self-guided show, and provide prospects with masks and gloves to wear during the tour. By following these additional measures, you will let tenants know that you are prioritizing and thinking about their wellbeing which reflects well on your property and community 

Maintain renter interaction 

Whenever you’re talking to a prospective or current tenant, you need to make sure you have a virtual option that allows you to interact face-to-face, so that the tenant can still have a sense of importance and connection. Emails and phone calls do not always cut it, and sometimes you will have a bigger conversation that needs to be had over a video call so that you can gauge body language and reactions. Before conducting a video interaction, make sure that you have a stable internet connection, a high-quality camera, and that there are no outside distractions such as background noise. 

Remember that this is intended to replace an in-person interaction, so try to make the experience as similar as possible to how it would be face-to-face at the property. 

Using the methods above, you can maximize your leasing flow and provide an outstanding customer experience while keeping prospective tenants and team members safe. You can continue to offer these self-service, no-touch methods as an option even after the pandemic subsides.