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Why Customers Won’t Rent Remotely and How You Can Fix It

We are all living in the “new normal” of COVID-19, and this presents unique challenges to apartment operators. It has never been more important to limit contact during the renting process to ensure everyone’s safety and abide by guidelines. This begs the question, are future residents comfortable renting an apartment sight-unseen? According to the 2020 NMHC Resident Preferences Report, only 14% of current apartment residents are willing to rent an apartment without seeing it in person. This reluctance is understandable, but operators need a strategy to bridge this gap in order to remain viable during the pandemic. 

Photos Still Matter

The 2020 NMHC Resident Preferences Report asked residents what they would need in order to rent an apartment sight-unseen. 83% of renters agreed that photos and slideshows were essential for their apartment search. Additionally, 64% said they would need photos of the community as a whole and its amenities. This seems like a no-brainer — supplying a variety of detailed images to represent your property can make a huge difference. A website platform should empower operators with easy-to-use content management and fully customizable templates that result in a strong visual impact. A customer is unlikely to rent if they can’t get a feel for the apartment, and low-quality photos are a sure way to scare them off. However, a well-organized and comprehensive gallery can give a prospect the confidence they need to sign a lease without seeing the property in person.

Show Them Around

Renters also expressed a desire to get their bearings within the community. 64% wanted to know the location of their unit within the community. 59% said they would need self navigating, virtual, or 3D tours. 26% expressed a desire for a live walkthrough video tour of their potential apartment. It’s hard to replicate the benefits of an in-person tour given by a skilled leasing agent, but a virtual tour helps the potential renter see their apartment’s location and get a sense of the community’s layout and amenities. The need for virtual tours isn’t going away any time soon, and apartment websites need powerful integrations so that information given in virtual tours is up-to-date.


Whether a prospective resident visits in-person or virtually, their needs are the same. They want to see the community, understand its major benefits, and get a feel for the features and layout of their future apartment. Most importantly, they need to figure out whether they can see the apartment as their home. In a season where not everyone is willing or able to physically tour an apartment, operators can still help people meet their housing needs. Show potential customers that your property is a safe bet by ensuring your apartment has a robust content management system, maps and floor plans, and virtual tours.