How Technology Can Help With Apartment Leasing During COVID-19

by Apr 29, 2020

Property managers and apartment leasing agents contend with high levels of stress even during normal times. But during this global pandemic, the demands are unprecedented. Leasing offices are expected to continue keeping occupancy high and their residents happy while also keeping themselves safe.

The Multifamily industry has been forced to adjust quickly, with property management companies adopting new protocols and policies in response to COVID-19.

The result is a leasing staff that’s overwhelmed and overworked. But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Read on to learn about the apartment leasing trends that have emerged to make the lives of apartment professionals a little bit easier in the wake of the coronavirus.

Virtual tours.

A virtual tour gives a prospect a 360-degree view of an apartment, and these tours are nothing new. But while the technology has been in place for quite some time, prospective renters have still preferred to see an apartment with their own eyes and would only accept the offer of an apartment virtual tour under extenuating circumstances.

These are extenuating circumstances, so 3D apartment tours have become commonplace over the last six weeks. Depending on your apartment community, you have several options if you choose this route. First, there are pre-recorded apartment video walkthroughs, which show how the rooms connect as well as where the amenities and common areas are situated. You can upload the videos onto YouTube and imbed them onto your apartment website.

However, prospects usually want to see the actual unit they would be living in. Video conferencing options like FaceTime, Zoom and Skype allow leasing agents to give potential residents more of an authentic feel for how they’d be living if they chose that particular apartment. It allows for more interaction, too, giving prospects the ability to ask questions in real time.

Virtual leasing.

Virtual leasing is what (hopefully!) happens after a successful apartment virtual tour. The entire transaction can be completed without any face-to-face interaction. Application materials are filled out and processed electronically, and financial details like credit checks and deposit payments are done online. Leases can be sent via email, which can then be signed and either scanned or photographed, and emailed back.

If your apartment website has an online portal, it might be a good time to explore the possibility of having prospects fill out an electronic application and upload the necessary documents for leasing staff to review all within a portal environment. Some leasing professionals have reported that the portal route can be more efficient, but communities should use whatever virtual leasing system makes the most sense for them.

Artificial intelligence.

If you’ve wished for an additional set of hands in your leasing office, you can have it — virtually, of course. Apartment chatbots are like virtual leasing agents that can take some mundane tasks off the plates of human agents, freeing up their time for things that require a human touch.

There are different kinds of apartment chatbots out there, but basically it works like this: Apartment chatbots live on apartment websites and can engage in text conversations with prospects, answering questions specific to your property. 

Some apartment chatbots are more sophisticated than others. The Respage Chatbot is the most robust chatbot offered in Multifamily. It uses natural language processing, so conversations are human-like. It also schedules tours, hooks prospects up with virtual tours, shares rich media files, speaks Spanish, and texts using an A.I.-driven Text Us button. Our Chatbot hands off seamlessly to a human for Live Chat, so prospects and residents have a choice in how they engage. Most recently, we’ve added the capability to communicate any COVID-19 related messaging to prospects and residents. And finally, it has the ability to track leases back to Chatbot leads and conversations, so you can measure your ROI.

Conclusion

The technology that’s making leasing agents’ jobs a bit less hectic during the COVID-19 pandemic is nothing new. What we’re noticing is a surge of interest in and adoption of these tools as a way to make the process easier and safer. This technology can also give your apartment community an edge over the competition. But while the pandemic has set the stage for tech to play a more prominent supporting role, human agents should remain central to the leasing process. Respage can help, so reach out to us!