There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world as we know it, and while we’re certainly returning to some sense of normalcy, there are a few trends that emerged that are likely here to stay. In the property management industry, virtual property tours are one of tools that increased in popularity during the pandemic, and are likely to continue into the future.

Virtual tours or walkthroughs allow potential tenants to view your vacant properties without actually being on the premises. Renters can get a better feel and a more detailed view of the property that photos alone don’t typically provide. As a landlord myself, I was concerned in the beginning that virtual tours might mean less people physically visiting my vacant units and following through with the application process. Instead, I’ve found that my listings that include virtual tour aspects are getting more attention than those without, and when I do interactive virtual tours with potential tenants, I’m dealing with more serious, qualified tenants from the start.

Types of virtual property tours

My landlord clients are typically using one of two different virtual tour formats. The first option involves creating videos, 360-degree graphics, or similar content that is included with your vacant rental listing as part of your marketing efforts. Potential tenants can browse through the listing as they normally would, but your property is likely to stand out from the competition if it includes a video walkthrough or 360-degree view that gives renters a better sense of layout, light and the home overall. The great part about this option is that you don’t need to add any additional tours or meetings to your schedule – potential tenants will be able to access the “tour” and contact you as instructed if they are interested.

The second virtual tour option requires you to actually schedule a video call with potential tenants and walk through the property with them via Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or another video chat software. This method allows you to dig into more of the specific details that might come up in the moment – like checking out the water pressure in the shower or the storage space under the bathroom sink. Because these interactive tours allow you to speak directly with potential tenants and answer questions in real-time, they are usually beneficial for both parties even though they add more appointments to your calendar.

Tips for landlords

  • Treat it the same as an in-person tour: Best practices don’t change just because the tour is virtual – you should still clean and stage the unit and showcase all of the relevant details of the unit (don’t forget about small details or common areas). Prepare all of the relevant paperwork electronically so it is ready to send to interested parties as soon as the tour is over.
  • Make sure to answer questions: If you’re on an interactive virtual tour, your tenants can ask questions in real-time as they would during an in-person tour. Make sure to leave enough time when scheduling to be engaged, learn more about your potential tenants and answer any questions they may have prepared. If your virtual tour is posted as part of your rental listing and potential tenants can access at any time, be sure to include contact information so questions can be answered in a timely manner.
  • Stay on top of your schedule: Virtual tours can pile up quickly, especially if you have multiple properties. If you don’t already use a scheduling software, consider looking into a platform like Calendly, Square Appointments or HubSpot Meetings that will allow interested tenants to select an available time slot from your calendar.
  • It doesn’t have to be complicated: Simply use your smartphone or look into specific software and/or mobile applications to help you create your virtual tour. Kuula, LiveTour and Tour24 have all been gaining momentum among my clients. Don’t overcomplicate the content you’re creating, but make sure it looks professional and shows your property in an appealing manner.

Some things are better seen in person, but you always have the option to follow up a virtual tour with an in-person showing once you know the tenants are qualified.