Virtual tours are a great way for you to show off your property without having to physically go to the rental with potential tenants – a perfect solution during times of social distancing. You can now easily upload a video tour to your property listings in your TurboTenant account in the properties tab! Virtual tours not only serve the same purpose as an in-person tour, but are also quicker, efficient, affordable, and make your rental listing more attractive. During the COVID-19 crisis, while the rental turnover rate might slow down, people will still need places to rent and landlords will need to fill their vacancies. As you adapt to running your rental business virtually, we have prepared a full guide for you on how to create a virtual tour so you can easily market.
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What is a Virtual Tour?
A virtual tour is exactly what it sounds like – a tour of a rental completely online. Luckily, we have easy technology right on our smartphones to enable us to record and upload a virtual tour. Potential renters are more likely to apply to a property with great photos and a video tour should increase those numbers as well. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, most renters searched for properties online, and since things have changed, virtual tour requests have only increased.
While you might be used to doing in-person tours, adapting to virtual tours during social distancing will actually benefit your marketing and help speed-up the rental process. Additional benefits of a virtual tour are that it’s free to DIY on your own, it will save you time, you only have to do it once, and renters will be able to view properties in detail at a safe distance.
Things to Do Before You Make Your Tour
Before you start on creating your virtual tour, there are a few things you should do to prepare your rental and for recording your video.
- Cleaning and Maintenance: Make sure the property has been cleaned and take care of any minor maintenance problems, like paint touch-ups, so it looks up-to-date and nice on video. Disinfecting should be a priority right now as well to kill any germs and bacteria.
- Staging: If there is furniture included in the rental, or if you have the means to “stage” your property, it will help enhance your video so renters get a real picture of what it will look like living there. Even completing minimalist staging such as curtains in the windows, a lamp, kitchen rug, flowers, or hanging towels in the bathrooms will enhance the experience – even virtually.
- Plot Your Route: Knowing exactly how you will take the video will help you be more organized. Make sure you include outside shots in your route as well. Plan the order of which rooms you will go in and specific things about the property you are planning to highlight. Also, this is the time to experiment with different angles to see how you can get the best lighting – do a couple of trial runs.
- Plan a Short Script: While a voice-over/talking is optional, you could memorize a few talking points about the property while taking the viewers on the virtual tour for informative purposes. If you choose not to talk, make sure your listing description includes all the necessary information you would’ve included in an in-person showing.
Create Your Virtual Tour
If you are familiar with recording videos or have a camera you know how to use, feel free to use that. However, for a simple video tour, using a smartphone will work just fine and save you money from going out and purchasing recording equipment. Hopefully, you are familiar with the camera on your phone whether it’s an Android or iPhone, but, regardless, do a couple of practice videos so you know your route and what you’re going to say (if you choose to do so). It’s best not to include music because of copyright issues.
If you want more of a professional looking virtual tour, consider using an app such as Matterport which lets you capture a 3D representation of your space using your phone or a regular camera.
Stay professional through the video and make sure you go very slowly and pan out on all the rooms and areas – if you rush the video then it will be too hard to watch. Do several takes to make sure you will have a viable option to upload online and don’t overthink it too much – it should be simple, but effective for renters to view.
How to Upload Your Video
Once you have your completed video, if you want to try to edit it with free apps such as Adobe Premiere Rush, Splice or iMovie, then feel free to. Editing apps are easy to use and can help you adjust audio, add titles, voiceovers, and enhance the video aesthetic. However, editing is completely optional and if you are satisfied with your raw footage then it’s time to upload.
We suggest uploading your virtual tour to YouTube or Vimeo so you can have easy access to a link to share to your listing and with renters. Your first step will be to create a free YouTube or Vimeo account.
Virtual Showing Options
While having a permanent video tour of the rental is a one time thing you can send and publish whenever you need to market your property, you can also opt for a live face-to-face video showing with applicants who are serious about renting your property. There are a variety of free online tools for a virtual showing including FaceTime, Whatsapp, Skype, Zoom, Google Duo, and Google Hangouts. Doing a live virtual showing provides more of an interactive experience and opportunity for you to quickly answer questions the potential renter might have – just like an in-person showing would have. However, it could become time-consuming to complete a live showing for every lead, so maybe reserve a live showing for those who have actually applied to the property.
How long should a virtual tour be?
The length will obviously vary depending on how big your property is and how many additional amenities you might offer. You probably don’t want it to be longer than 15 minutes so you don’t lose the attention of the viewer – however, it is important to be thorough and include every room and tidbit that’s important sell to the rental.
Should I hire someone to make it for me?
While hiring a professional videographer is an option for a virtual tour, they can be pricey and take a long time to turnaround. Living in the COVID-19 pandemic also means social distancing is important and they might be hesitant to come to your property. DIYing a virtual tour is much more affordable, faster, and efficient.
Do I need to go buy a nice camera for a virtual tour?
No, it is not necessary to go out and buy expensive camera and recording equipment to make a virtual showing. If you already have a vice video camera handy, then feel free to use that. Otherwise, your phone should do just fine!
Could I do a live virtual showing?
If you don’t want to take the time to put a permanent virtual tour up, a live virtual showing with potential tenants using video chat tools should be sufficient and actually has additional benefits like being able to ask live questions and answers. The only problem is it would be time consuming to do this for every potential tenant who applies to the property.
What if I can’t get in my rental right now due to COVID-19?
Obviously, if you have a different tenant currently living in the rental you want to fill, you should still follow social distancing. Follow CDC guidelines and do not risk safety to capture a video. Alternatively, you could reach out to the tenant and see if they’d be willing to help record something. If not, the pictures you have on hand will still be valuable for your listing.