The COVID-19 is real and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. If you’re like most people, you’re doing your best to maintain social distancing and trying your hardest not to touch those filthy hands to your damn face.
These unprecedented times have led to a whole new way of doing even the simplest things. You want to go to a restaurant? How about picking up your food curbside instead? Going to Costco? Not before running a gauntlet maze of shopping carts and wooden pallets just to make it to the front door. Hell, people are running into oncoming traffic just to avoid other people on the sidewalk! In light of all this, property showings for rentals are as challenging as ever.
Now the question arises: how do you show a property taking into account the Landlord’s as well as the current and future tenant’s fear of contracting COVID-19 from each other? This is doubly so for the current tenants as they have a total stranger coming into their home, roaming around. The prospects might say that they’ve been good and responsible and have been quarantining themselves and maintaining social distance like a good boy/girl but in reality, you don’t know where they’ve been. They could be COVID-19 factories on the verge of going nuclear for all you know.
Fortunately, there are ways to get around doing in-person property showings, and even if showings are a must, there are steps to take that can reassure the safety of everyone.
Record a Video of your Rental Property.
If you have a camcorder, great, but if all you have is a phone, that will still do. You want to ensure your camera and phone are both in portrait orientation and mounted on a stable platform for the best results. For an even more professional look on a budget, the DJI Mobile 3 cell phone gimbal is where it’s at. It uses gyroscopes to stabilize your phone as you film, providing a much more polished look. The best part of doing a video is you can make some edits and add some music for even more impact.
Perform a Live Chat Session on Your Phone to Show the Property Live
An alternative to a recorded video is to have the landlord or agent stream a live chat with the prospective tenant while walking through the home themselves. This way, the prospects can see the property and ask any questions they might have on the spot. A downside of this tactic is video chats use up huge amounts of cellular data so long or multiple showings done in this manner may not be feasible in the long term.
Record a 3D Walkthrough of the Property
There are companies that scan the interior of a home and put together a 3D virtual tour of the property that anyone can access online and walk through the property using their mouse. You can control your movement and look around as if you were there. This provides the best secondary alternative to actually being at the property in person. The downside is it can be an expensive service but on the other hand, it can be used over and over so could be worthwhile in the long run.
Be Extremely Strict with Any Tenants Who Need to see the Property in Person
As great as technology is, it still can’t replace seeing a location in person. Not only do you get a sense of how you move through the space but also the feelings that a space invokes and that’s very hard to do through a monitor. If your prospects insist on seeing the property and you think it’s worthwhile, you just have to be very mindful of the procedure to ensure everyone’s safety. Here are a few rules to keep everyone safe:
- If the unit is still occupied, please ask the tenants to vacate the premises for the duration of the viewing
- Screen your prospects on the phone and before you enter with the following questions:
- Have you traveled outside of Canada within the last 14 days?
- Have you been in contact with anyone who has traveled outside of Canada within the last 14 days?
- Do you have a cough?
- Do you have a fever?
- Do you have a sore throat?
- Have you recently developed any trouble breathing?
- If you are showing the property, wear disposable rubber gloves and a protective face cover
- If face covers are not available, ensure to maintain a social distance of 6 ft or 2 meters
- Do not let the prospects touch anything if at all possible. Provide hand sanitizer at the door as a precaution and ask them to keep their hands in their pockets as a reminder.
- Yourself or your agent (with clean gloves on) will open the doors, and can open anything else inside the house that the prospect would like to examine.
- If a tenant needs to fill out a form, send it to them electronically and they can send it back the same way.
- Dispose of the gloves after the showing and wash your hands
All these steps might sound like a lot but in light of the seriousness of this global pandemic and steps that government and businesses have taken to limit exposure, it’s far from overkill and frankly, it’s the least you can do to allow someone to show up for a viewing.
These steps don’t just apply to rentals either. These steps work just as well for realtors or anyone else having to let strangers into their home.
Until things improve, this is the way the world will be for a while so we either adapt or become irrelevant. Let’s choose the former.
Stay safe everyone.
AUTHOR – Phil Wong