Not so long ago, the only way to see an apartment was to see it in person. They had to meet with rental agents and walk them through the unit to learn about their size, condition, and flaws such as natural light. While the way agents conduct home inspections has already evolved, the pandemic has accelerated those changes. Now you can tour the apartment virtually, take a self-guided tour, or watch recorded tours online.
Each option has advantages and disadvantages. Which option is right for you? What steps should you take to make the most of this trip? We’ve explained each method, along with the pros and cons.
The traditional way of viewing apartments, a personal tour gives you the best perspective. You can stand in virtually any room, test the water pressure and assess the overall condition and cleanliness. It’s also easier to imagine you’re living in an apartment when you’re in it.
One of the biggest advantages of personal travel is that you can ask questions. Bring a checklist or at least jot down the features and topics you want to cover during the tour, such as B. Accessibility. Due to the Fair Housing Act, the types of comments landlords can post and ask are limited. You cannot ask about your marital status or religion. Therefore, if it is important to know if there is a Catholic church nearby, you must ask.
You may also want to volunteer relevant information about your lifestyle so that rental agents can tailor their tours for you. For example, if you like cooking, mention it. The agent can then point you to the new and improved stove or tell you about the gourmet grocery store across the street.
There are some downsides to personal travel. For one, an eager broker might stalk you instead of giving you a chance to explore the apartment on your own. Second, an agent can force you to “close the deal” by signing a lease on the spot. If you want to sign, fine. But if you need more time, you might find it awkward to say no.
- You can measure
- You can check the water pressure and other issues
- Agents are there to answer questions
- The agent may not give you a seat
- Signing a lease right away can be stressful
Self Catering Apartment Tour
This contactless travel option has grown in popularity during the pandemic. The process is simple. You register online to view the desired apartment and receive a QR code for access. You will also get a link to a landing page designed for your visit with information about the unit and a map to guide you there once you arrive. Scan the QR code on the apartment door to enter.
Because you are alone, you will not be welcomed by the rental agent. Instead, voice-activated, Alexa-like devices should exist throughout the unit to provide pre-programmed answers to basic questions. For example, you can ask, “How many square feet is this bedroom?” The device should be able to tell you. Some systems even broadcast recorded information when you entered a room.
Although you are alone, the rental agent should also answer any questions you may have in real-time. So take note of any issues during the tour and call the agent before departure.
- You can enter the apartment alone
- You can see the condition of the apartment
- Reduce the stress of signing leases on the spot
- If you have problems with technology, no one is there
- You may need to ask questions via phone or online chat
- For some, the experience may be too objective
Virtual home visits have been popular for a long time. After making an appointment with an agent, meet and visit online. The landlord walks into the apartment, notifies you in real-time, and answers your questions as if you were there in person. This option is particularly attractive for long-distance travelers who cannot come in person before signing a rental agreement. It’s also a great option for those who can’t take a vacation or want to visit from the comfort of their own home.
Just like visiting in person, you can ask questions or instruct an agent to direct you to a specific part of the unit. But this approach also has some drawbacks. At first, you can only see what the agent is showing you via video. Second, you can’t measure an apartment or test how well the hot waterworks. You never have a moment of your own. Agents interact with you all the time. After all, technology will let you down. The proxy may lose signal, video or audio quality may be poor, or your battery may be dead.
However, this technique also gives you advantages that you cannot get by other methods. Some agents will record tours for you to review later. This is helpful if your partner or roommate is unable to take a virtual tour.
- You choose the most convenient time and place
- You can interact with agents in real-time
- Tour can be recorded and viewed again later
- Your view is limited to your screen
- You cannot open the shutters or test the water pressure
- Technical issues may interrupt the trip
Recorded home visits
Just like virtual tours, you can use recorded apartment tours anywhere. However, since you don’t have to make an appointment, you can also watch it anytime. You can watch the tour over and over again.
That’s because the recorded tour is pre-produced. You see the actual unit you want to rent, but you cannot ask questions or interact with the rental agent. Most recorded tours last less than two minutes. For most people, the recorded tour is enough to pique their interest, but not enough to keep them signed on to a rental agreement. Following the recorded tour, you may wish to take an in-person, self-guided or virtual tour.
- Video can be recalled at any time
- The agent has no technical issues to resolve
- You can watch the tour over and over again
- You can’t ask questions
- You only see what is logged by the proxy