The apartment industry has just begun to embrace self-guided tours.
As an NMHC OPTECH session in November demonstrated, these tours work. They result in high conversion rates and offer benefits to onsite associates.
The panelists at the session included Phil Rogers, director of operational planning and analytics at Invitation Homes; Khushbu Sikaria, vice president of innovation and product development at The Bozzuto Group; and Mia Wentworth, director of digital marketing at CWS Apartments.
The Demand Is There – and So Are the Benefits
Consumers have grown accustomed to self-service in so many facets of their lives, and they will want the same option when it comes to touring apartment communities. The experience of the single-family-rental industry demonstrates this.
According to an Anyone Home analysis of the 2018 leasing activity of all of its single-family clients, 24.4 percent of all prospects booked a tour. Of those that booked a tour, 61.3 percent chose only a self-guided one, while 30.1 percent chose only a tour with an agent; 8.6 percent of prospects booked both tour types.
Additionally, single-family-rental prospects who take self-guided tours convert to lease at a noticeably higher rate – 9.3 percent vs. 5 percent – than those who don’t.
And to demonstrate the convenience that self-guided tours offer: 20 percent of single-family-rental prospects who lease take a self-guided tour outside of regular business hours.
The message is clear: prospects like self-guided tours and these tours play an important role in lease conversions.
The OPTECH session also touched upon the anxiety that apartment operators have about potentially exposing their communities and residents to unnecessary risk through self-guided tours. However, communities can – and definitely should – implement screening processes that identify potentially troublesome prospects before they take a self-guided tour.
Hopefully, this helps to ease whatever anxiety multifamily operators are feeling: In the single-family-rental industry, only 1.7 percent of prospects who request a self-guided tour are refused access to the property because of the likelihood that they are fraudulent.
Benefits for Associates
The benefits of self-guided tours aren’t limited to just apartment shoppers. When prospects have the option to take self-guided tours, this can ease the workload of busy onsite associates and give them more time and mental bandwidth to handle their many other responsibilities.
Associates can especially get a break when a prospect wants to visit a home multiple times before making a leasing decision, which is a common dynamic. Approximately 19 percent of single-family-rental prospects who sign a lease take at least four self-guided tours of their home before signing.
Self-guided tours are certainly in their infancy in the multifamily industry. But savvy apartment operators will realize the demand prospects have for them and the benefits they provide to all parties in the leasing process. The time of the self-guided tour is certainly upon us.