The new normal created by COVID-19 put a focus on social distancing and transformed business processes completely. Thankfully, technology is present to help support those business processes nicely. Real estate has also undergone a significant transformation in its business processes.
The leasing process for rental properties underwent monumental changes. Social distancing is made mandatory due to the pandemic. In-person showings are next to impossible and this has made many property owners feel like as they cannot be able to rent out their property.
But a lot of leases have been conducted even during the lockdown. Those who wish to rent out their property, they should follow the steps below to see how they can do it:
Taking pictures of the property
Renters are cautious and are reducing visits to properties they find desirable. Property owners were at risk of missing out on potential renters but when they started using digital platforms and showcase their properties through pictures.
However, if the pictures aren’t taken properly and the ad is not attractive, then property owners are still at risk of missing out on potential renters.
Hence property owners should ensure that they take top-notch photos of their homes from both inside and outside. No high-end equipment is needed for this purpose but making sure the following are implemented is a must:
- Cleaning and tidying the property is a must. It would be best to organize things before taking snaps.
- Check the camera first. Ensure the lens are clean and batteries are at full power.
- Take the pictures with the lights on. Bright spaces are difference makers. In the daytime, take pictures with curtains open.
- Photobombing is strictly not allowed. If tenants are present in the unit, ask them to move out of the way when pictures are being taken. Property owners should check if their reflection is present in any pictures involving reflective surfaces and mirrors.
- Property owners must check their composition and keep vertical lines aligned straight in the pictures.
Filming a virtual tour
A video is worth more than a picture and that is something everyone understands. In all honesty, a virtual video tour is highly recommended as it is captivating and captures the attention of renters. The following steps should be followed in this regard:
- Before property owners start filming, they need to make sure the property is clean and ample lighting is present. The mic should be tested, and all windows and doors should be open so movement from one room to another is seamless and smooth.
- When filming, slow movement and a steady hand is preferred. Starting from the outside is a good step and then working the way in the unit and recording all important elements of the property is key to showcasing it properly.
- Showcasing the video can be problematic as most online sites do not upload large video files. An option is making a YouTube account so unlisted video files can be uploaded there easily. Afterward, a link to the listed video can be included as only those with the link can see it on YouTube.
Making a floor plan
A floor plan can supplement both pictures and videos of the property (even a hand-drawn plan using a pencil and a ruler works quite well). It helps potential renters visualize the residential property from a different angle.
In numerous listings of Toronto condos for sale, floor plans of condos are always shown (just like images and videos). The same goes for row houses and townhouses sale listings too.
The floor plan does not need to be exact and property owners should write ‘not for sale’ on the plan in case the plan was roughly drawn.
Platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Instagram, Kijiji, and Zumper are good places to showcase the property. Even real estate firms (and realtors) have their sites and pages where these pictures and videos can be posted.
Rents change quite fast (rise and fall sharply that is) and property owners should check other listings in the area upon the time of posting to obtain a sense of competition and to see if similar units are being listed and what offers.
If the property listed is in an area with fewer renters, it is preferred that property owners consider paying for ads to raise the property’s exposure. Apart from making a good ad copy, the following should be included in the ad:
- Property’s address.
- Monthly rent.
- Square footage of the unit.
- The number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
- Other attractive features.
- Amenities present in the neighborhood.
- The starting date of the rent.
- How to get around by own vehicle and public transit.
- Other attractive features of the property and the neighborhood.
A lot of property owners are used to showing the property first. The pandemic has now changed things. It is highly recommended by real estate experts that property owners prequalify renters before showing their property to maintain the rule of social distancing. Here some things they should check with renters at this point:
- The number of tenants seeking to rent the property.
- The job and income source of the renter.
- Any financial impact or subsidy renter needs/has applied for due to COVID-19.
- Information regarding pets.
- The reason why they are leaving their current place of residence.
It can be a bit hard to get potential leads in disclosing information. Here are some tips for property owners to get the needed information.
- Property owners should be responsive and respectful. If they respond quickly then the potential tenants will take the property on rent. These are the attributes tenants look for in landlords and leaves a very good first impression.
- Being flexible with communication is a must. Some renters prefer contacting by phone, some prefer messaging, and some prefer emails. If the renter does not reply through email, they should be approached by phone.
Carrying out in-person showings
Once the search for qualified leads has been narrowed, it is hence time to schedule the in-person showings. Here are some rules property owners should follow when being mindful of social distancing during in-person showings:
- There should be a gap of 10 minutes between each show so that there is only one part of visitors at any time. Scheduling apps can help in bookings in real-time.
- Reducing the size of gathering is a must. Potential renters should limit their party size to only key decision-makers.
- All inside doors should be opened and all lights should be turned on. The same goes for cabinets and curtains so visitors do not need to touch anything.
- Wearing masks and gloves for everyone is a must.
- Maintaining social distancing should be respected.
- It would be wise for both property owners and renters to reduce talking at the time of showing and only ask needed questions.
Review of supporting documents
Once the property owners are ready to move forward, it is thus time to verify the renter’s information like proof of income, credit scores, and references. These documents can be sent to them digitally. Using Google Drive or Dropbox is recommended due to its encrypted nature.
Completion of the lease
Property owners can download a digital copy of the standard Ontario Tenancy Agreement from the government’s website. The following additional schedules should also be prepared:
- Additional responsibilities for tenants and landlords.
- Guarantor Agreements.
- Fire and safety policies.
- Policies for lost and damaged articles and things.
Tenants not having a printer, or a scanner can find singing digital leases tricky. Electronic signing platforms for many years have been in use and are among the most effective methods for a lot of Canadians. Authenisign and Signrequest are the best paid and free options available.
Money transfers can happen digitally through online banking. Also, money can be deposited directly at a bank branch close to renters if they are provided the necessary details.
Coordinating shifting and moving
Property inspections should be conducted in advance to reduce in-person contact. Keys should be placed in a secure lock box located on the site. On the day of the move in, the lockbox’s code should be sent to the tenant.
Additionally, tenants can digitally sign off once they have moved into the property and provide the key receipt.