Leasing activity has plummeted in the past two months in major cities around the country, almost entirely as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Potential tenants are uninterested in putting themselves at risk to take a look at a property they may or may not want to rent. Those that can are staying in their current housing situation, and those that cannot are minimizing the number of showings to find a new house or apartment. Savvy landlords can increase interest in their properties by making life easier (and safer) for themselves and their potential tenants with virtual tours. Below are five tips to help you create a better virtual tour during coronavirus so you can make your property stand out even if your tenants can’t stand in it.
1. Make A List of Common Renter Questions and Interests
A little bit of thought and preparation can go a long way. Making lists will save you time and frustration on the day you plan to shoot your footage. Start with a list of the property’s finest features. Do you have an outstanding entrance or a phenomenal kitchen? Prioritize the elements you think are key to the promotion of your property. Renters and buyers will also want to know basic information that can be captured in imagery like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas and exterior features.
Take a moment to think through all the different questions prospective tenants typically ask you during tours and make sure all of them are addressed. It is far easier to organize on paper first than to edit in post-production.
2. Prepare the Unit for Shooting
“Mise en place” is a philosophy in French cooking that translates to “everything in its place.” Mise en place in a kitchen is the act of preparing all components of a meal or dish before cooking begins to ensure everything comes together precisely as intended. For our purposes, its usefulness goes beyond creating the perfectly crisped croquette. Before you begin any virtual apartment tour, “mise” your space. Check the list you prepared and make sure everything is in order.
There are some obvious things that must be attended to. The beds must be made correctly as the camera will pick up any wrinkle, crinkle and fold. Put away any piles of clothing, toys and shoes. If you’re renting out a space you’re currently occupying, remove any personal photos, letters or inappropriate artwork. You will not want images of your children circulating around the world once the virtual tour is uploaded to a public format. Make sure bathrooms are clean and tidy– no bottles and jars of beauty products on the counters, and make sure the toilets are closed. The same critical eye should be used in other rooms, particularly the kitchen.
If you haven’t already done so, this is an ideal time to give the rental property a deep clean. Polish windows and glass, wipe down counters, and clean off oil stains. If the prospective tenant is interested, they’ll likely watch your video more than once, so this may be their first and last impression – make it count.
3. Keep it Light and Bright
The time of day you shoot your virtual apartment tour will make a difference. Harsh morning light can highlight insignificant things like dust on a windowsill or a speck of dirt on a cabinet. Instead, film in mid to late afternoon when the light is softer and warmer. Open all drapes and blinds and turn on any ceiling lights and lamps. Consider where the shadows are in each room and try to avoid creating scenes that look like they may have been in The Blair Witch Project. If you are very familiar with the property being filmed, you may be able to work out the best shots beforehand which will help speed the actual filming (more mise en place!). If you are filming a property that is occupied, you will want to keep your exposure to a minimum so any details that can be decided ahead is beneficial.
4. Understand How to Shoot a Video
Modern smartphone cameras have come an incredibly long way, and most pictures and video you take will look good. That being said, a bit of effort can go a long way in making your video look great. Spend some time researching techniques for recording better quality videos. If you have the resources, renting professional equipment will make a difference and can add a great deal of polish and help your property standout. Just make sure you know how to use it.
5. Keep Things Safe
Current coronavirus safety measures should be addressed before you enter a property. If there are occupants, arrange for them to be out of the house, along with any pets. Facemasks, gloves and shoe covers should be worn by anyone involved in the filming. Camera equipment and additional lighting should be covered in disposable materials or disinfected before entering the premises and after leaving.
Do not put anything like coats, bags or binders down in the property as the virus can live on solid surfaces for several days. If the property is vacant you will still want to wear your protective gear since other people will have touched the surfaces and doorknobs before you.
Virtual Tour Wrap Up
Whether you’re looking to lease a small apartment in a suburb outside of Cincinnati or a massive penthouse in New York City, filming a virtual tour during coronavirus simply requires a little bit more preparation. The creation of a tour that allows viewers to explore the space is invaluable during this time when in-person tours are limited. It is worth the effort to ensure your customers can fully appreciate your property.
If you need some help, consider hiring a professional videographer. They’ll prepare the shoot, bring the equipment, and handle video editing. We strongly advise prepping them with the list you made above of what potential tenants are typically looking for, but they’ll handle the rest. Someone who specializes in real estate video work will understand the proper room progression for maximum viewer interest. If you are adding written descriptions or captions, the videographer can set those up too.
Hiring a professional may sound like overkill, but remember, the value of this video will last beyond the current COVID-19 crisis. You can use it in future listings and share with out of town interested parties. All that being said, if you’re feeling the economic pinch, don’t feel obligated to go overboard – you can do this! Follow the steps above and you’ll end up with a video you can be proud to share with your future tenants.