How to Lease Apartments During COVID-19 and Social Distancing?

How to Lease Apartments During COVID-19 and Social Distancing? thumbnail

How to Lease Apartments During COVID-19 and Social Distancing?

COVID-19 has changed the world in more ways than one. Besides being a health pandemic it is also impacting the way we do business. In fact, the last few months of living and working during the Coronavirus pandemic have been a challenge for everyone: property owners, residents, the state. It feels like changes are being made almost by the hour. As a property owner, it’s hard to keep up with multiple issues- there are new rules (See: California’s COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium), actions to be taken to keep residents safe, guidelines on what property managers are or are not allowed to do when it comes to putting up units for rent.

The number one question we’ve received from property owners these past couples of months is “How do I rent my vacant apartment units if I’m supposed to shelter in place and maintain social distancing?”

For starters,

  1. Don’t have an open house or in-person viewing unless absolutely necessary
  2. Switch to virtual tours

It is now possible for residents looking for an apartment to take a 360-degree virtual tour of the apartment from the comfort of their homes.

What is a Virtual Tour?

360-degree virtual apartment tours allow prospective residents to do a “walk through”, using their mouse or keyboard arrows and move around as if they were physically in the unit.

Unfamiliar with 360 virtual tours? Here’s an example of the software we are using here at Beach Front Property Management

Such technology eliminates the need for open houses or in-person viewings. While we have had some success using FaceTime video calls with our leasing agents walking prospects “virtually” through the unit, the 360 virtual tours have been a game-changer – cutting leasing time in half and helping to protect all parties.

In addition to the fact that they are the go-to mechanism in times of social distancing, some of the other benefits of these virtual tours include:

  • It is a convenient way of showcasing the property, allowing the potential renter to navigate through the property on their own through a seamless virtual interface. By design virtual tours are interactive, from zeroing in on the little details, such as the light fixtures, to looking at the size & scaling, it takes away guesses that still photos usually give room for.
  • It creates an instant sense of ownership for anyone looking for homes for rent. Odds are that the renter is likely to take the next step in leasing the apartment, without having to go over the details time and again.
  • Virtual tours are cost-effective and easy to create, no staging costs and other open-house expenses.

How to Find 360 Virtual Tour Photographers

There are a number of photographers who specialize in this service and can create a full “leasing walkthrough experience” in a matter of hours. It can also be conveniently posted on your website as well as any other advertising medium such as apartments.com.

The process is extremely easy. Here is a step-by-step guide to facilitate the process:

  1. Point your browser to Google Maps
  2. Search Google Maps for “360 virtual tours + [Name of the city your property is in]”. Example: “360 virtual tours Anaheim”
  3. Book a time with the 360 virtual tour photography company
  4. Provide a lockbox code to access the keys to the vacant unit (doing so maintains proper social distancing: no contact with you, the property manager, or residents)
  5. 360-degree 3D images are shot, and a walkthrough video is created
  6. Photography company sends an email with an embed code and an invoice that’s payable online.

Simple, right? And, no one ever needs to meet face to face! Safety in the times of the pandemic is, therefore, ensured.

You can also check out these three resources for additional insight on the 3D tour process:

  1. Matterport’s HDR panoramic cameras and subscriptions
  2. Zillow’s free mobile app “3D Home” which includes a step-by-step instructional guide
  3. RICOH THETA’s 360-degree cameras

With housing high-up on the list of essential businesses and with technology providing the much-needed support, you need not worry about your apartment lease. Simply follow the steps above and you can make sure that anyone looking for “apartments for rent near me” can conveniently check out your investment building.


Trevor Henson is the founder of several property management companies and is the current Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer at Beach Front Property Management in Long Beach, CA. He is a CMO, entrepreneur, Trojan, EO LA member, investment property addict, change agent, and bourbon aficionado.