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Renters Are Skipping the Guided Tour

National  + Weekender  | 

For many in the current generation of apartment renters, scheduling appointment after appointment to go on guided tours of potential living spaces is how their parents or grandparents did it. It’s not an example they need to follow.

A consumer study by Entrata finds that just 29% of renters require an onsite guided tour before signing a lease.  Nearly as many (25%) said they committed to the apartment without ever seeing it in-person. Increasingly, digital tools are supplementing apartment hunters’ site visits.

The move to online options is occurring in large measure because the current generation is discovering what their forebears already know: apartment hunting is a time-consuming process. Entrata’s report revealed that 68% of those polled spent an hour or more per day apartment hunting. And since much of the day is spent at work, apartment hunting can seriously impact productivity in the workplace.

“Today’s technology is changing the way people search for rental properties,” said Chase Herrington, Entrata’s president and COO. “Online photos, virtual 360-degree walkthroughs, video feeds—options such as these are making it easier and quicker to find the perfect rental property. These online tools are making it possible for a renter to sit at a computer and virtually tour a dozen different apartments in a single afternoon.”

However, while the technology is there, the content doesn’t always make the search as easy as it might. Take apartment community websites, for example: even as survey respondents reported that leasing offices were unavailable to provide the help they needed 21% of the time, those polled reported that they couldn’t always find the information they needed online.

The price of the apartment was available online only 9% of the time, Entrata’s survey reported. Meanwhile, floor plans and availability were available online just 14% of the time.

Moreover, Entrata reported that not all apartment communities have adopted online and automated tools. Many survey respondents reported they were unable to do such basic things as fill out an application or pay rent online.

“Renters are ready for the shift to online searching options, and leasing offices need to provide alternate ways to look at apartments,” Entrata concluded.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).