The way we interact with each other in the world has changed. We can no longer do business as usual. Across industries we have found new and unique ways to do business. For multifamily real estate, that new normal must include learning how to create a virtual tour and how to effectively implement, support, and utilize virtual leasing best practices.
In a time when the pivot to virtual had to happen fast, many didn’t budget for the level of technology that may have been desired or ideal, they transitioned to what was needed. As a result, the question for most leasing teams quickly became “how do I create a virtual tour”, which was very quickly followed by the word “affordably”. What should you budget for and what is going to get you the highest level of investment return?
Here are a few things to consider as you look at budgeting for your virtual leasing solutions for your multifamily community:
Virtual is Mandatory
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, multifamily communities understood that having virtual tour options was critical. Prospects had less time to travel to and from locations, consumers demands were changing, and for the first time, we saw 14% of consumers no longer wanting to visit a property in person before signing a lease. But now? There is no doubt that all multifamily leasing teams need to know how to create a virtual tour and need to offer virtual leasing solutions as part of their leasing toolkit. And that may not be something they budgeted for in 2020.
Almost overnight, teams had to switch from their normal in-person way of touring to entirely virtual. That means finding ways to connect with prospective residents, show the space, and instill a sense of trust and transparency without traditional human-to-human contact and interactions. While it may not have been in the 2020 budget originally, virtual leasing software quickly became a necessary function to keep business moving. Teams have to quickly consider real estate virtual tour pricing and real estate virtual tour services costs, and make the quick call on whether that investment trumps other items they may have already budgeted for instead.
Add to that the other costs or fears related to a global pandemic and multifamily leasing teams have immense pressures from all directions to be smart and creative – to find a way to make it work, to stay competitive, and keep leases rolling.
Are 360 or 3D Tours the Answer?
More often than not, when people think about how to make a virtual tour, their minds go to 360 virtual tour hosting or 3D virtual tours for real estate. That technology can certainly have a place in a property’s marketing plan and budget. And they can be great for top-of-funnel on a website or listing platform. More often than not though, the price associated with getting unit-specific coverage and content created using 360 and 3D tour technology, is inhibitive when budgets are tight or something wasn’t budgeted for altogether.
Add on top of the price point for that technology that today’s consumers are seeking a live look into a property and want more than anything else to be able to see the exact unit that they could be leasing, and those 3D and 360 virtual tour options can fall short. Despite social distancing and changing consumer touring behaviors, that human-to-human engagement and interaction between leasing team and prospect is absolutely necessary for virtual leasing efforts to drive any sort of positive ROI and conversion. Unlike 3D and 360 virtual tours for apartments, live virtual tours create the opportunity for the leasing team to be fully engaged with a prospect in the process. They can show prospects what they want to see via a virtual platform that’s convenient and easy to use for all, build the relationship, give their sales pitch, and more via live streaming video.
What Does ‘free’ Really Mean?
As we mentioned before, many teams may not have budgeted for virtual touring software or prepared for virtual leasing in 2020. Or may not have budgeted for it at the level they needed for current usage and demand. That may lead you to look for how to create a virtual tour for free. Before you start looking for how to make a 360 virtual tour free or how to create free 3D virtual tours, please keep in mind this one thing:
Your virtual leasing solution and virtual tours are going to be what showcase your community and may literally be the deciding factor for prospective residents to choose whether to live there or not.
With that in mind, are free virtual tours really worth the investment or tradeoff versus finding the proper built-for-multifamily solution that fully equips your team for virtual leasing success?
There are tons of free virtual tour options, free virtual tour hosting and/or free virtual tour apps available. But, before you bite, there are some key things to consider. Will these free platforms allow you to integrate into your current leasing platforms and processes? Or will it just cause more work? Will it comply with Fair Housing regulations and best practices? If you have to use, for example, FaceTime, to tour your prospects, you are potentially giving your personal phone number out. Is that a risk you’re willing to take? While these free options are tempting options, you may quickly find that your team wants and needs a platform built for multifamily leasing.
What to Budget for in a Virtual Leasing Solution
So, free isn’t really the answer. And 360 tours and 3D tours are not going to provide the interactivity necessary to close deals or may cost too much to be able to provide full coverage across all your units or floor plans. So where do you turn for a built-for-multifamily virtual leasing solution that is affordable and can deliver real-time connectivity and leasing ROI in this increasingly virtual world?
This is where you look at video leasing. Why video? It’s cost-effective, DIY, cloud-based, and with a platform like Realync is fully integrated and built to handle any and all leasing activities thrown at it. Your leasing team needs a virtual leasing solution that allows them to do what they do best more effectively, more efficiently, and affordably. That’s the power of live video tours. They’re simple, dynamic, personalized, real, and, despite all of that, affordable! Add on integrated into your systems and processes, and Fair Housing compliant as well, and it’s a winning equation.
We could go into all of the details about how Realync is purpose-built for this virtual leasing environment that our industry is now living in, but that’s what our website and team are for. If you’re looking for the best virtual leasing solution or want to learn more about video leasing best practices, please do reach out! We’re here to help!
And if you’re looking to budget for virtual touring or virtual leasing solutions for next year, let us know. We’re happy to run through the ins and outs of virtual leasing, the key considerations to keep in mind, and help plan out budget impacts and build the ROI case for the platform as well.
Until next time…keep it real!