The entire multifamily industry is looking to virtual leasing as a solution with the requirements of social distancing and “Stay Home, Stay Safe” protocols in place due to COVID-19. Fortunately, leasing sight-unseen and online leasing have been around for years to accommodate the needs and preferences of customers, and the technology is already there to support it.
Customers are already accustomed to using video chat to engage with businesses and brands virtually across many different industries, like healthcare, recruiting, retail and banking. In multifamily, it is no wonder that we are already hearing great success stories of leasing professionals closing deals without an in-person tour when 30% of customers are willing to lease without ever coming onsite (up from 16% last year) (April 2020 Kingsley Survey).
“30% of customers are willing to lease without ever coming onsite (up from 16% last year).” — April 2020 Kingsley Survey
How You Transition Will Determine Your Virtual Leasing Success
So the technology and customer need exists to make virtual leasing work…that’s the good news. Next, the leasing agents and managers —who are already in unfamiliar and stressful circumstances from this pandemic— need to be prepared. There is a lot happening very quickly, requiring immediate change management to identify a plan, create policies, provide training and assess for further ongoing improvement and risk mitigation. Management companies are responding at different speeds, eager to get guidelines and resources in place, because leasing never stopped. Virtual leasing is already happening today at their communities, with or without change management.
While the basics of traditional leasing still apply: assess needs, sell on personalized value, close, and follow up, there are significant differences with virtual leasing that can make a world of difference to your customers. It is common for people to mistake virtual leasing for online marketing, and rather than leasing, simply send the customer a link to view a video or to the community website for a 3D tour. Virtual leasing is most effective when it replicates the in-person leasing experience in a way that builds trust in your customers to lease through authentic, personalized and convenient selling. That is when leads are converted to leases.
“Virtual leasing is most effective when it replicates the in-person leasing experience in a way that builds trust in your customers to lease through authentic, personalized and convenient selling.”
Virtual Leasing Is Here to Stay, So Get it Right Today
One more bit of good news: while traditional leasing will still be the primary practice after this pandemic runs its course, the fact of the matter is that pandemics like these change behaviors. Virtual leasing will be more prominent and accepted that it was before COVID-19. It may change the competitive environment for leasing, with a community that is able to provide the most personalized, yet convenient, virtual experience scoring the lease. What your teams are learning and applying today on virtual leasing will benefit your communities and your organization long-term.
For more help with virtual leasing, download our Virtual Leasing Tour Library Checklist.