Rental Showings, Virtual Tours, and Social Distancing
There are a lot of things going on in the world around us these days – primarily the effects of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 - that are impacting the normal way we handle business. And, while this virus is changing life when it comes to grocery shopping, entertainment, fitness, and more, it is also making waves in the real estate and property management industry, too.
If you get a call about a rental vacancy, you often set a time for the interested party to come out and do a walk-through of the property to decide if they are interested. If so, then you move through the process of completing the application, reviewing the application, and coming together to sign the lease.
Here’s the million-dollar question, though: How can you go through the necessary movements to fill a vacancy and still keep people safe from COVID-19 by practicing social distancing?
Perhaps the safest and best way to get the job done is to stay distanced altogether. We live in a technologically-advanced society which means you should be able to handle business without ever truly having to meet in person.
Virtual showings allow your potential tenant to get a real-life view of the property without ever visiting it. There are different methods for putting these together depending on whether you want to do it yourself or hire a professional. For instance, you can gather photos of the property and put them in order of how they would see it if they walked in the front door. Be sure to either add voice or descriptions to the video so the potential tenant knows what they are looking at. Of course, if you want to get more advanced, you can have always someone come out with special cameras to create a virtual reality tour.
With any luck, after viewing the property you will find someone who shows interest. If they choose to move forward with the application process, do not hand them a hardcopy of an application. Instead, do everything online.
Email the application to the tenant. Then, once it is completed, ask the tenant to scan and email it back to you, as well as any supporting documents.
We know that there is something to be said about meeting applicants in person and matching up the things they say and the way they behave with the submitted application – all as part of the screening process. Due to COVID-19, this is not advised.
Here’s an alternative – consider having a video chat with your prospective tenants. Things that you would meet in person to discuss, do it via platforms such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Google Duo, and more. Don’t resort to just using email as you may miss something very important.
Finally, when you approve a new tenant and it is time for the lease signing, do it digitally. There are programs available, such as DocuSign, that allow both parties to authentically sign and submit a digital original to both.
Electrically signing documents is very common and recognized as a legal method of signing.
If you find that it is absolutely necessary to meet in person to show the property, you can still practice social distancing. Meet, open the door, and step back. Allow the individual/s to walk-through the property alone while you wait outside. Of course, avoid handshakes and fist bumps, too! And, always, always wear a mask or cloth covering your nose and mouth. If they are interested? Handle the rest of your business via the internet.
Stay safe – and stay distanced.
Marina Shlomov, a managing partner at ALH|Podland Rental Homes Property Management is the author of many articles on Landlording, Property Management, and Real Estate Investing. A residential builder in the state of Georgia since 1999, Marina is an investor herself. Her property management company is intended “For Investors” and “By Investors” for a simple reason – she knows what investors’ goals are and she works hard to reach their goals. In her spare time, Marina likes to spend time with her family, friends, garden, read and travel. Check her out atwww.alhpodland.com. You can find Marina’s articles and comments at @rentalhomesatl on Twitter, on Facebook, Google+, Blogger. and YouTube, Bigger Pockets and REI CLub and LinkedIn.