Social distancing is being encouraged throughout most of the country, which means a slow-down in lease signings and tour requests for many landlords and property managers. However, even if you’re not able to meet with prospective tenants in person, you can still show them around your property with a virtual tour. Virtual tours are often quicker and more efficient than an in-person tour, and they’re very affordable. There’s no need for expensive equipment or a videographer.
What you’ll need:
- A smartphone
- A video calling app, like FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Skype (if you choose to do live video calls)
- A 3D home app, like this one from Zillow (optional)
A benefit of meeting prospective tenants virtually is that it gives you an opportunity to learn more about the tenant’s needs, as well as focus on their areas of interest around the property. To make your virtual interactions go smoothly, be sure to show enthusiasm for offering the virtual tour. Once the virtual tour is scheduled, follow up to confirm the appointment via text or email.
Using Zillow 3D Home tours
The Zillow 3D Home tour app lets you capture and send virtual tours for free using an iPhone 7 or later. Potential tenants can click through the images, going room to room as though they were actually walking through the home. It provides an immersive experience allowing renters to clearly see the property’s layout and features. Zillow provides a step by step guide here. After you’ve created your home tour, you can add it to your listing using the Zillow Rental Manager.
Other virtual tour options
If you don’t use Zillow for your listings, there are other ways to provide virtual tours. You can offer video calls, where you walk through the property and answer the renter’s questions in real-time. Another option is to record a video where you walk through the property and talk about its features. You can send this to interested renters and then follow up with a phone or video call for discussion or to address any questions they have.
How to prepare
In many ways, you should prepare for a virtual tour the same way as you would for an in-person tour. Make sure the home is clean, orderly, and well-lit. Turn on all the lights and open doors and the drapes or blinds. Before you start the tour, plot your route. Select a starting point and the order you’ll show each of the rooms. Make sure not to overlook features like kitchen appliances, closet space, and parking. If you have any furniture at the property, you can do some “staging” with it to give renters an idea of what it will look like living there.
Video and live video call tours
Here are a few things you should keep in mind while you’re doing video tours:
- If you’re pre-recording a tour, you may want to put your phone on airplane mode so the video isn’t disrupted from incoming calls or notifications
- If you’re going to conduct a live video tour, check your internet connection at the rental property
- Treat both types of video tours as you would if you were doing an in-person tour. Be professional, friendly, and authentic.
- Narrate everything you see during video calls. Call out specific things that you know are important to the renter. Voice overs aren’t necessary if you’re making a video to send to renters, but if you do one, create a short script to ensure that all the important features are mentioned and nothing gets overlooked. If you choose not to do a voice-over, be sure to include good written descriptions of the rooms and features on your listing.
- Don’t keep your phone at eye level. Make sure to pan up and down so the renter can have a complete view of the ceiling fixtures and floors.
- Try to keep the video as steady as possible. Move slowly and take pauses so the renter can see everything well.
- Don’t overthink – keep your tours professional, simple, and effective.
- Ask for feedback at the end of the tour and if there is are any features they would like to see again or in more detail.
- Follow up with the renters after you’ve sent or conducted the tour to keep them engaged.
Adopting virtual tours during social distancing will benefit your marketing and help speed up the rental process. You may even find that offering virtual tours increases the interest in your properties and decide to continue using them even once social distancing has ended.