How to Successfully Close a Sight Unseen Lease
by Kyna Garrett, on Jul 1, 2019 9:00:00 AM
Renting sight unseen is a big risk apartment hunters rarely take. And it's not hard to see why. It's intimidating and overwhelming.
But what if I told you that 85% of the consumer’s experience with a company will include zero human interaction by 2020? With the way the internet has progressed in the past 10 years, renting sight unseen is soon to become just another norm in the multifamily industry.
More than 90% of people conduct online searches to find new living arrangements and more than half of renters turn to Google. If you’re in multifamily, senior living or any form of real estate for that matter, that only means you need to be putting as much information out there online as possible to market properties.
Needless to say, there will always be those prospects who are more than willing to rent sight unseen. (Think: college students, active military and those moving for short-term work.) For communities in development, it's the only option they have.
With really smart marketing and honest selling, you can help your prospects feel comfortable in their decision to rent sight unseen and place more tenants sight unseen.
How to Increase Sight Unseen Leases
To help apartment hunters feel 100% confident to rent sight unseen, you have to be the best at your marketing and selling.
We’ve laid out some crucial marketing approaches that are changing the game for multifamily by helping apartment hunters feel confident in renting sight unseen.
1. Be Honest and Up Front (About Everything)
If there's one thing you should never do when placing a sight unseen tenant is to leave out any detail.
Updated high-quality photographs are sure to open up the truth about your community, but when selling to the prospect, keep an open dialogue about all the facts. That means even the not so pleasant ones, like any flaws in the model unit or if your business center isn't a full-scale media hub.
Honesty is the best policy. Renters will figure it out, so it's always best to disclose all details about your property to avoid any misunderstandings.
2. Strengthen Your Google My Business Presence
There is no doubt that your Google My Business listing will be one of the first things apartment hunters come across in their search, whether they are searching locally or directly at your community.
The good news is that an apartment's Google listing is a pretty valuable tool. It houses all of your photos, 360s, reviews, information about your community, how to contact and much more.
The problem is that many businesses still do not utilize their Google My Business to its full potential. If you're in multifamily, it's a definite must.
Majority of apartment hunters turn to Google search to find their next dream apartment, and in order to show up in the top of search results, your property has to display high-quality photographs and virtual images. If you're under development, Google allows you to upload still renderings and 360 renderings of your soon-to-be apartment community.
Displaying photographs on your Google listing is an honest approach to your marketing and helps prospects refine their search.
As far as reviews go, you'll need to be clever in your attempt to keep adding fresh reviews to your listing. Renters rely on reviews to make their decision, even more so if they are renting sight unseen. According to a study by J Turner, more than 50% of renters look at reviews at the start of their search, and three-quarters use sights such as Google and Yelp.
Active apartments will often reach out to renters and have them leave a review perhaps after a maintenance request or appointment with the leasing staff.
If your community is still in development, getting reviews can be pretty tricky since there isn't much to review. If you have a pop-up leasing office, you can request that stop-ins and appointments leave a Google review based on their experience while at your office.
Most importantly, you need to get creative with your Google listing and add as much information to it as possible. An empty or out-of-date listing won't promote any sight unseen leases.
3. Turn Your Websight Gallery into a Virtual Tour
The gallery page on an apartment's websight is easily the most popular among renters. It shows off your amenities, personality and everything your community includes.
The websight gallery, however, has become outdated over the years. You can expect websight visitors to spend about a minute or two browsing your photos, but what if you could increase that time on sight and double renter interest?
Virtual tours are beginning to replace apartment galleries by incorporating a truly interactive component to the apartment search. Rather than skimming through still photographs, a virtual tour is an interactive experience that allows users to click through 360 photos of your community. It's a complete walk-through that renters can take from any location or device.
Not only do you increase engagement and time on sight, you're catering to those individuals in need of an off-sight virtual tour. Perhaps a college student in Minnesota is thinking of making the move to California for full-time work. Or a young 20-something needs to move from Texas to Washington, D.C. for school
Turning your gallery into an interactive experience addresses those needs for long-distance leads.
4. Promote a Lifestyle with a 3D Fly-Through
Developments have no choice but to promote sight unseen leases. Sure, a 3D virtual tour can do the trick, but there are plenty more hurdles involved with a multifamily development.
Many sight unseen renters want to see actual photographs, so this can cause the experience to be even more daunting. How do you convince renters that your new community is right for them? Still renderings and 3D content is a must - but the answer lies in selling more than just a property. As a development, you have to really push selling a community and a lifestyle.
One way to do this is with a 3D fly-through animation. These types of videos will dig a little deeper into your new community's purpose. Apartment hunters will get a sense of your brand, personality and what kind of lifestyle they can expect when they move in.
The key is to use 3D renderings that are photorealistic. At LCP360, we like to say the devil is in the details. When you're selling sight unseen, renters want as much detail as possible. Great photography will give you that naturally, but your renderings have to tell a story that hasn't yet been told.
So look for 3D rendering services that aren't cookie-cutter. They need to be visually appealing and resemble what the actual community will look like with beautiful detail and precision.
5. Don't Lose That Human Connection
While property managers will admit that the on-sight tour is the most crucial, it's simply not always an option for some renters. Just because the prospect is remote, doesn't mean you can't make that important human connection with the right tools.
First and foremost, after a prospect takes a self-guided virtual tour or visits your gallery page, make sure you've captured their information. Then schedule follow-up calls with the prospect. Ask them what they enjoy most about your community and what their goals and desires are.
One key area to make a human connection is by hosting a virtual tour meeting with the prospect. An agent or property manager can walk through the community at the same as the prospect and answer any questions they specifically have about amenities and areas of the property.
Close More sight Unseen Leases
If there's one thing to take away from this article, it's that you can no longer avoid placing tenants sight unseen. Whether your community is in development or you're trying to keep occupancy rates high, more and more renters are seeking sight unseen leases in their busy schedules and it's up to multifamily providers to deliver.