Leasing a unit sight unseen used to be rare — until a couple of weeks ago. Now, it’s the rule, not the exception. To keep business going, here’s what agents have learned.

Leasing a unit sight unseen was the exception, not the rule — until a couple of weeks ago. With current events, remote leasing has become the norm. My company, Luxury Living Chicago Realty, has historically only seen 5 percent of our leasing business from sight-unseen clients. Today, it’s 100 percent of our business. 

We have made many pivots over the past several weeks, including building a database of video content to enable our leasing professionals to continue working. As we enter peak leasing season, here are a few ways to improve your remote leasing efforts with video.

Building a video database

Video tours are now the most important leasing tool. If you haven’t already, start building a database of videos for your apartment building. Capture panning shots of everything. You can’t have too much video content on file right now. The footage that we’re finding to be very important to our clients includes walking through the front entry, lobby, hallways, unit and amenity spaces. 

Tools like Matterport and Realync provide a realistic idea of what it’s like to walk through a unit. A link can be sent to prospective renters so they can “walk” the space. Make sure to get footage of every vacant unit. Having this footage on hand will empower property managers and leasing agents to lease in remote situations.

Don’t forget the basics

How do you lease an apartment unit to someone who has never seen the building and unit? Start with inquiring about the basics, such as ideal move-in date, price range, pets and living arrangements.

With the current environment, leasing agents need to be as transparent as possible about the building’s move-in recommendations. If the leasing agent has the ability to do a live tour of the unit over FaceTime or another video conferencing tool, that’s even better. 

While on a live video tour, remember the internet could lag. Also note that the prospective renter is seeing everything for the first time — and likely from a small screen. Move extra slow in the space, and really call out and highlight the features that matter most to the renter, in addition to the unit and building amenities.

Harness the power of social media

While our leasing traffic has dipped over the past few weeks, visits to our website are still high. We’ve accomplished this by promoting our “remote leasing” offering, as well as frequently sharing video content on the property’s social media accounts, in addition to our own channels.

Also, encourage your leasing and property management professionals to share the content. Now is not the time to cut marketing. It’s the time to double down. 

We’re all in this together. I truly believe empathy will go a long way in this crisis and in ensuring leasing continues even when you can’t physically show an apartment. Be kind and understanding with every lead. Business is not as usual, but the apartment industry can adapt and continue to help people find a new home.

Aaron Galvin is the CEO and co-founder of Luxury Living Chicago Realty.

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