Prospective renters continue to lease apartments amid uncertain times—after all, as many say, people will always need somewhere to live. Property owners are actively implementing new technology for their communities in an effort to keep communication open and to continue closing leases. Digital transformation, such as transitioning from agent-led tours and on-site staff to video tours and chatbots, is necessary due to social-distancing and the need to work from home.
The ability for leasing agents to freely tour prospects around an apartment community have been suspended. Although traditional tours have been paused, a new way of showing apartments is taking precedence. Prospects have a trending desire to tour their future community virtually. According to a new report published by Redfin, agent-led video tours saw a 494% increase in March, and for those of us in the multifamily industry, we are seeing a very similar trend.
“The future of real estate has come earlier than any of us could have anticipated,” Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman said in a statement. “The way things are during the pandemic won’t last forever, but at the end of all this, things won’t go back to the way they were either. We hope we’re well prepared.”
Leasing agents are quickly becoming acclimated to their new role as virtual tour guide. Leasing agents and real estate agents alike are learning how they need to adjust their selling techniques in order to close. An Indianapolis agent said in a statement, “I’m talking more than I would on a traditional tour, pointing out things that would be obvious in-person but that aren’t as clear through a camera lens, like the quality of workmanship on any repairs or whether or not a room would fit a king-size bed.”
Another solution that is seeing surging demand is 3D tours. Unlike agent-led video tours, 3D tours are available to prospects any time. By clicking and dragging their mouse through a series of panoramic and 3D photos, prospects are able to instantly navigate the features and layout of a unit.
According to Zillow, the number of 3D Home tours created in March was 188% higher than the previous month. Additionally, they stated that listings that feature a 3D Home tour are labeled with a tag that helps them stand out. In March, listings with 3D Home tours received about 50% more site visitors and were saved about 60% more frequently.
Multifamily rental listings saw by far the biggest jump in the number of 3D Home tours created. Tours for that listing type increased an incredible 3,714% from the month prior during the last week of March, and 2,327% over the full month.
There are many viable leads that turn cold due to leasing offices missing calls or not returning emails. On average, nearly 49% of calls go unanswered by leasing offices. With recent hard times, those statistics have become even more sobering as leasing teams become understaffed and overwhelmed.
Now more than ever is the time to ensure that every apartment prospect is properly nurtured. That starts by ensuring prospects have immediate and open communication to satisfy their top three leasing requests: unit pricing and availability, and tour scheduling—and for the time being, virtual tours. Demand for chatbots, alongside other virtual leasing tools, are growing. They are a cost-efficient method for operators to keep their communication lines open 24/7 to renters. They ensure that no leads fall through the cracks.
The latest generation of chatbots are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). This allows the chatbot to be self-learning and adapt to renter’s needs. One such chatbot is ACE from LeaseHawk. Unlike other chatbots, it’s fueled by machine learning and can converse with prospects on the communication channel of their choice. ACE chats with prospects on property websites, answers leasing office phone calls and can text with prospects too.
Your leasing agents can’t be available on-demand. That’s why a chatbot, or virtual leasing assistant like ACE, is a necessity. So far in 2020, ACE has converted 29% of prospect calls to appointments. Let ACE set the appointments for your property’s virtual tours. See how it works here: ACE self-guided demo.
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