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Leasing Through Covid-19

Updated: Jun 11

We're all learning at rapid pace how to use the tools we do, or did not previously, have available to us to lease during social distancing and potentially sheltering in place.


Here's a collection of tips to lease through Covid-19. Watch for more in the future on fine-tuning your video tours and posting them online. We're learning from each other on best practices.



Varying degrees of leasing tours being offered (as of 3/18):

  • No in-person, online/virtual only

  • Scheduled appointments only with pre-screening wellness questions (no walk-ins)

  • On-site tours, but agent directs prospects to a self guided tour of an unlocked model

  • Self-guided tours with lock boxes in place

  • FaceTime & Skype tours by on-site agent

  • Email/Phone combo using existing tools provided by management company

  • Email/Phone combo using existing tools provided by ILS partners

  • Email/Phone combo using website gallery of photos


Communication to prospects:

Have you posted information for your prospects to know how you’re handling tours?


On all web listings (website, ILS listing, Google My Business, Social Media (tag to top), signature line, etc, voicemail greeting (shortened):

"We’re still actively leasing - from a distance. While we aren’t taking in-person tours right now to comply with social distancing, we’re prepared to take you on a guided photo and/or video tour to make sure you can still move forward with your moving plans. Contact our leasing office and we’ll get your tour started, just please allow our staff and residents to practice social distancing by connecting with our office via phone or email instead of in-person. We’ll do our best to help you find your new home."


Telephone/ email response to tour request:

"We appreciate your interest and know that you still want to move forward on your apartment search. We wish we could conduct personal tours, but for the safety of our staff and residents, we’re restricting in-person tours for the time being. I’d be happy to email you our tour video, and then we can jump on a call and I can tell you more about the images and answer all your questions."


Creating Videos Via Smart Phone -


Use your camera to shoot a simple walk-through video, slowly making your way through the model or vacant (clean & ready, of course) apartment. You can narrate without getting in front of the camera, but be sure to test your voice volume before shooting the whole video and finding that you can’t hear your voice on the finished version.


Quick tips:

  1. Shoot once horizontally and then vertically. See which posts better on desktop and mobile view.

  2. Turn all lights on, and open blinds.

  3. Wait for your camera to adjust to the lighting before hitting start.

  4. Open all closet doors to show closet space.

  5. Call out what makes your apartments special - just like you would on a tour.

  6. For extra effect, add a plant on a kitchen counter, a rug, and shower curtain where there isn’t a shower door. Not necessary, but helps create warmth.


Here are samples that were shared with me by followers of the Multifamily Sharespace group on Facebook


Simple tour set to music - this one was shot with wide angle on a smart phone. The agent just created a gmail account for the property, then used the share feature from my phone to share to Google drive.

Narrated with agent guiding tour - this one was done with two people (social distancing of course), but is nicely done to feel like you are truly on the tour. Be sure to title the property and name of floor plan in your YouTube account and provide a description.

Edited with video and still shots - I'm not sure where this one is being hosted, but it's a fun combo of still shots and video that adds a bit of "personality"

Sample of "Hunkering Down" in your home - major creativity points for this one.


When your video is done, send it to your leasing email address straight from your phone (most photo apps allow you to do this right from the viewing screen). Your email attempt may say the file is too large. Follow the prompts to deliver based on size. It may be slow to deliver, or require you to send it through a cloud service.


Receive the video in your email and follow prompts to download it to your computer. Save it where all agents can access (YouTube channel and Google Drive are popular places), and name it for easy recognition. Don’t delete from your phone in case you need access to it later.


Now, final step, send a test via your leasing email to either a coworker, or your personal email. Check to make sure it has a proper name, title, and description, and pre-write a paragraph introducing what your prospects will see:


“We’re taking steps to make sure you can still tour our apartments, while respecting social distancing. I have attached a recorded tour of {our most common - or insert name of} floor plan. You’ll see the finish style, lighting, and other details that make us special. I also attached the floor plan for the style you’re most interested in so that you can see how the layout may differ from the video. Let’s talk when you have a chance to look at these so I can answer any questions via phone.”


When you’re sure it’s received well, start following up this way with all leads! Don’t wait for them to ask you for a tour, just include it in your first follow-up to cut to the chase.


Email to former prospects in your pipeline:

“Hello from {property name},


We know you were actively searching for an apartment, and want to make sure you can still proceed given the required COVID-19 social distancing. We have recorded a video tour {insert link if possible}, and attached photos for you to review in place of in-person tours. We’re still actively leasing and ready to answer any questions by phone or email.


We look forward to helping you find your home.”


Photo Tour on your Website:


Have a good gallery on your website, or feel free to use your ILS listing? Provide a link in your email follow up explaining what a prospect can see in the photos without visiting for an in-person tour.


Think about these topics:

  1. Dog owners - lead them to look for the photos that show areas for walking dogs; neighborhood, fenced park, spa, etc.

  2. Amenities - lead them to look at the fitness center, lounges, etc., that are available for residents.

  3. Package acceptance - lead them to the photos of your package lockers, digital entry system, etc.


Get crafty in your email responses to deliver a great tour without having to be in-person


“I would usually tour you through all the great amenities of our property, but for now, let’s use the photo gallery on our website so you can tour from your device or computer. For our dog lovers, check out the photos of the spa, fenced park, and nearby walking trails. For our fitness buffs, you’ll see our cardio and weight options in our fitness room photos. Be sure to zoom in to see the high quality of our equipment. For our remote workers, when the social distancing lifts, you’ll enjoy our wifi lounges pictured in the gallery. Take a look and then let’s talk by phone so you can ask all your questions. I can tell you about the neighborhood too!”


Google My Business:


If you have a Google My Business page, take some time to update the product cards with your floor plans and starting prices.


Update your office hours and procedures for tours. Update your photos in an order that feels like a tour. And within photos, you can upload a video so your prospects will have access to a tour before even reaching out to you.


Add a post to show how your office is operating under the circumstances.


Social Media:


Facebook - Update your office hours and procedures for tours. You can upload a video just like a photo to your timeline posts. Be sure to also save it in an album so it doesn’t disappear down the timeline. You can either upload a video you already have saved, or shoot live within the Facebook app and give it a new title. Consider even pinning it to the top.


In the Timeline Post - write your post to address prospects “today”

“We’re making sure you can still tour our apartments without risk of in-person interaction. Take a look at our walk through here, and then give us a call to get all your questions answered. We’re still here to help you with your apartment search!”


In the Photo Album - add a message that will greet viewers today and in the future. This is a good place to start an album where you can post multiple tour videos; units, amenities, etc. and house them all in one easy place in case your prospects look here long after your timeline post.



TOOLS/ RESOURCES:


Realync - https://www.realync.com/ - Video and leasing engagement tools

Rently - https://use.rently.com/ - Self showing technology

One Shot Media - https://www.oneshot.media/ - Photography and Matterport tours

BoxBrownie - https://www.boxbrownie.com/ - Virtual staging and image enhancements

LCP360 - https://www.lcp360.com/ - Google virtual tours, 3D renderings, virtual staging

Power Pro - http://www.powerproleasing.com/ - fully integrated leasing app

SmartRent - http://smartrent.com, tony@smartrent.com - Self guided touring platform - special pricing to get 1-3 units running quickly


For Tours - WhatsApp, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Video Call from Facebook Messenger, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Live for group tours


Website Communication Samples:



Hopefully, this post provides you plenty of ideas and tips to communicate online with prospects and residents. Stay tuned for more tips!



Automated_virtual_tour_options2020pdf


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