One of the biggest barriers many multifamily communities face when trying to sign a prospective tenant is geographical distance. When we say “geographical distance” though, we don’t simply mean someone that is moving from out-of-state or out-of-country. Distance can be a barrier even if there’s a local prospect that is a busy professional and has limited time to visit in person or a stay-at-home parent who has to juggle multiple kids and schedules which equally makes visiting in person more difficult.
When a prospective tenant cannot physically get to the property in person, it poses various difficulties for the onsite team. Not being able to physically showcase all their property has to offer is an obvious one, but missing out on the chance to make a personal connection and build a relationship with that potential new resident is a key part of the sales process as well. Whatever the scenario may be, there are equal stresses on both the onsite team at the property and the consumer searching for their new housing.
Multifamily communities may have been able to scrap by waiting for these out-of-market or busy leads to eventually make it onsite and visit in person in the past, but they can no longer afford to sit back and passively pursue those leads. In today’s day and age, consumers have increased access to property information and neighborhood data, and technological advancements are giving buyers and renters confidence to sign on the dotted line without even visiting a property in person. How much confidence? According to a new survey from high-tech brokerage, Redfin, one out of three consumers are pulling the trigger on a property without seeing it in person.
This study emphasizes how important it is to not only push online marketing for your properties to reach those out-of-market leads, but also equip your onsite teams to connect with and close those 33% of consumers signing sight-unseen. This study also marks a generational shift towards using technology to make housing decisions. They found that Millennials were more than 3x as likely to make home decisions sight-unseen, with 41% having said they had done so, compared to 30% of Gen Xers and only 12% of baby boomers.
So what do you do? Prepare!
Multifamily professionals have several tools and technological solutions at their disposal that are built specifically to assist in scenarios when distance is a barrier. Below are, in our opinion, a few of the best:
- Live Video Tours
What’s the next best thing to being there in person? Connecting live with the prospect via live video tour. By connecting live, leasing agents are able to give their sales pitch, walk the prospective tenant through the property in real-time showing them what they as an individual care about and want to see, answering their questions, and building a relationship with them the entire time. Going live with a potential new resident allows them to make the experience truly their own, instills trust and transparency into the process, and builds buy-in despite them not physically being there. By choosing Realync as the platform used to host these live video tours, prospective tenants are also able to not just interact live with the leasing team while on the tours, but can also can capture photos and make notes while on the tour, view interactive maps of the area with key landmarks on them, and have the entire experience saved to the cloud that they can pull up later to review with friends, family or roommates.
- Record Tours
Nervous about going live with a prospect or can’t find time for even a live video tour because they’re so busy? Pre-recorded videos can be just as effective as a live tour or in-person tour when done properly. As we mentioned above, each individual prospect will likely care about different things and want to see different aspects of the property. Simply recording a video walking through the property and calling out those features, then walking through available units featuring the, for example, “gourmet chef’s kitchen that you know they’ll love” can be an incredibly powerful leasing tool. The key though is to make those videos personalized. There is absolutely a need for polished, professional marketing videos that sit on the website to get people interested in a community, but when it comes to working with a real prospective tenant and converting them to a signed lease, it needs to be personal. Without that prospect physically being there in person, the priority is instilling trust and transparency and nothing points more directly to that than personalizing a tour for that individual, calling them out by name, and showing that you care about them, understand them and are there to help. That is the exact sort of extra effort that can take an inbound lead from prospect to tenant and potentially even an ongoing advocate for the community.
- Live Virtual Open Houses
Don’t have time or the resources to host / record individual tours for all of the out-of-market / busy leads coming in for your property? Not to worry, there is even a solution for hosting multiple prospective tenants for tours simultaneously. Hosting a live virtual open house is a great way to walk multiple interested parties through your community simultaneously. It is still live and allows you to engage with the prospects to build a relationship, answer questions and show them what they want to see; however, all of the attendees on these open houses are anonymous to each other and their microphones are muted, keeping the experience clean, polished and professional. Sometimes the easiest way to close a prospective tenant is to make touring easy for them and it’s an added benefit when that just so happens to make the process even easier for you as well by streamline your touring requirements.
- Multi-Device and Multi-Channel Strategies
Don’t be scared by the title of this section. Putting it simply, your prospective tenants are on multiple different devices throughout the day from a computer to a tablet to a phone and visit countless apps / websites when actively searching for a place to live. That means your community needs to be on those sites, in those apps and on those devices to be in front of them and top of mind during their search. Now imagine a potential resident finding your community website while browsing properties and then has the opportunity to book a live video tour or request a video straight from your website? Putting specific calls-to-action like that in front of consumers removes significant barriers for those prospective tenants that know they will not be able to visit in person for various reasons and can drastically increase the leads that your community will receive from various online channels. Consumers today will look at all channels and that includes social media. Make sure your marketing efforts are producing content (vide) that engages consumers, showcases your community, your team, your neighborhood and everything that conveys what it could be like to live there. The internet has no physical boundaries – your marketing and leasing activities shouldn’t either.
Nearly every industry is making a move to being increasingly digital; don’t let your multifamily communities and teams lag behind that trend. Using available technology to streamline processes, connect with leads and get the right resident into the right unit at the right time is no longer a “nice to have” tool, it’s a requirement for many consumers. Making the rental process as simple and pain-free as possible can defeat any barrier, including an ocean. If you are interested in seeing how these technologies could work for your community schedule a Realync demo today to get started!