With stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines in place, searching for a new apartment right now may look different than it did even a month ago. But thanks to the magic of technology, you can still hunt for that perfect home … all while sitting comfortably on your couch or bed.
Virtual apartment tours allow you to check out prospective places right from your computer or electronic device. Here are a few tips for how to check out an apartment online … and the questions you need to ask when you can’t be there in person.
Understand virtual tours … and their limitations
While in-person tours are definitely ideal, they aren’t always an option. Whether you’re laying low due to local and state ordinances or you live in another state and can’t physically be present for a tour, a leasing company should be able to provide virtual or 3D tours.
Online tours are a great first step for seeing a space, getting a sense of the layout and determining if you’d like more information about the apartment. Once you’ve decided you’re interested in a potential apartment, contact the leasing agent or property manager and request a more personalized walkthrough using Skype, FaceTime or Zoom.
Ask the right questions during your virtual apartment tour
Since you’re not doing an in-person visit, you won’t be able to glean some of the nuances of an apartment, whether it’s the upkeep of the community or noisy next-door neighbors. Here are a few questions you can ask to help you get a better idea of the apartment and the overall community:
- How is the cell phone coverage in the apartment?
- Can you send me an overall layout plan of the apartment so I can envision the space?
- Where in the community is this apartment located? Is it in an end building? On the ground floor?
- Can you walk around the grounds so I can get a sense of the community?
- Can you show me other on-premises amenities (like the fitness center, pool and mail area)?
- Can you walk from where I’d park and into the building?
- How close is a major road, and how busy is it?
- Can you turn on the shower, open the oven, and show me the dishwasher? (This will give you an idea of how much room is in the kitchen and the water pressure in your bathroom.)
Don’t forget, you can also use our Apartment Hunting Checklist to make sure you’re getting all of the apartment details you need.
Request additional photos
Any apartment property manager should be more than happy to show off his or her community’s assets. Ask for detailed photos that go beyond what a virtual tour shows. Want to see how much light the apartment gets? Ask for photos of the living room and bedrooms in the morning and the late afternoon. Get pictures of the inside of closets, drawers, cabinets and under sinks. Does the apartment have carpet? Ask for close-up photos so you can see its condition. Worn-out, dirty carpet may be an indicator you need to turn your apartment search elsewhere.
Take a self-guided tour
Once you’ve narrowed your apartment choices down, it’s time to do an in-person visit, if you’re able. Ask your leasing agent if he or she will allow a no-contact self-guided tour. They provide the keys; you tour the space at your own pace. (Just make sure to wash your hands once you turn those keys back in.) And when you’re ready to pull the trigger and rent a place, ask about going through the leasing process online.
While virtual apartment tours certainly have limitations, by combining technology with walkthroughs and the right questions, you can pick your perfect place and practice social distancing. Irvine Company offers virtual tours, more personalized video tours and self-guided options for many of its properties.