Showing properties during the Covid-19 pandemic presents unique challenges. Many communities are under orders from local governments to shelter in place or at home, and only essential businesses may be open. In some areas, real estate businesses and rental offices are considered essential businesses, but there are important restrictions regarding what activities they can do.
Many real estate and property management offices now show properties virtually, limiting the contact with others in the building. They’ve embraced the digital world, using Instagram, Skype, Zoom, or Messenger video for in person tours.
When conducting a live virtual tour, it’s best to find out from the prospective tenant what app works best for them. Schedule a time that is mutually agreeable, and be sure to answer any questions the prospective tenant asks. Using your tablet or phone, walk through the unit, showing each feature you want them to see and tell them about. Let technology be their eyes and ears.
Many realtors have been creating virtual tours for years using platforms such as Matterport and Ricoh. These platforms allow you to use 3D imaging, and provide an immersive experience. Layout plans, maps, photos, walking tours can all be integrated for the prospective tenant to view. Given that the real estate industry is embracing technology more fully in response to Covid 19, it’s a good to develop virtual tours of properties which can be shown easily to prospective tenants through a website or a link.
When it is necessary to physically show a unit, it should only be done by appointment, ensuring that there are as few people present as possible. Gone are the days when a prospective tenant brings along half a dozen family members to get their opinion. The unit should only be shown to the prospective tenant. Meet them outside, and make sure to observe 6 feet apart social distancing.
Do not touch anyone. No shaking hands, no touching whatsoever. Remind tenants to maintain distance. Never share an elevator. Maintain distance by using the elevator separately.
It’s a good idea to wipe down handles before and after any showing. Make sure you have gloves, mask, and protective gear.
Some property managers are using services such as Showdigs.com for showings. The units are shown by professional agents, which means managers have more time to attend to other needs. Make sure that anyone who shows an apartment follows the recommended procedures.
When it’s time to sign the lease and other documents, remember that any shared documents are considered contaminated for at least 24 hours. The way to move forward safely is to have all signers use masks and disposable gloves. If this is not an option, the document needs to be set on a surface for the first signer, who then steps away and remaining signers repeat the process. Make sure everyone has their own sanitized pens. The surface should be sanitized when complete. Documents must remain in a designated area for 24 hours before being moved into the general office for scanning, copying, etc.