For the operators of apartment communities and commercial real estate properties, self-guided tours are no longer merely a “nice-to-have” feature. They’re becoming more of a necessity.

Socially distancing mandates due to the coronavirus mean many prospective residents and tenants will be reluctant to go on an agent-led tour of a property.

According to property managers, self-guided tours were growing in popularity even before the pandemic started and will remain part of the real estate mainstream when the coronavirus is brought under control.

Scottsdale-based SmartRent, a provider of smart home and self-guided-tour technologies to apartment operators, has quadrupled its self-guided tour clients since March.

Since April, prospective renters have taken more than 115,000 self-guided tours at apartment communities equipped with SmartRent self-guided tour technology.

Property managers who haven’t implemented self-guided tours yet could soon find themselves left in the dust. Here’s an overview of why you should engage self-guided tour leasing technology now:

• Improved efficiencies for onsite associates. When they don’t have to spend so much time leading tours, property associates are free to focus on other critical tasks. In the apartment industry, this means that team members have more bandwidth to handle requests from current residents, follow up on renewals and lease applications and be available to other staffers and maintenance personnel around the property.

• Prospects can tour when they want. With self-guided tours, prospects don’t have to wait for a fit in a leasing agent’s schedule. They can tour a property outside of the leasing office’s hours, whether that’s late in the evening or early in the morning – whenever is most convenient for them. In fact, 31% of SmartRent self-guided tours conducted since April were initiated after the prospective renter used SmartRent’s “Tour Now” feature, which allows a prospect to tour after scanning a QR code while onsite instead of waiting for an agent. 

• Faster leasing. When a property offers self-guided tours in conjunction with associate-led ones, multiple tours can occur simultaneously. This leads to faster leasing and fewer vacant units, resulting in increased revenue and operational efficiencies without the need to hire additional staff.

Access control. It’s important that self-guided tour solutions take adequate risk-management measures. The right technology will verify a prospect’s phone number and ID before a self-guided tour is allowed. In addition, tour-specific access codes and a series of smart intercoms and smart locks can ensure that visitors are able to only access the areas they’re supposed to.

A new era in property leasing has arrived. Self-guided tours have emerged as a cutting-edge solution. And because of the benefits they offer property operators as well as prospective residents and tenants, it’s clear they’re here to stay.


CJ Edmonds is chief revenue officer at SmartRent.