Covid-19 left apartment communities unable to conduct on-site tours and scrambling to find ways to show their apartments virtually. Without having the time to search for the best solution most of them opted to conduct live tours using FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, other streaming platforms or fee-based solutions from vendors. Some opted for Matterport and other 360 and 3-D platforms that lack the same impact as video and don’t engage renters as well as video does.
1. Pre-recorded videos at YouTube reach more renters
YouTube is the #2 search engine after Google. Renters actively search for apartment tours at YouTube, see suggested videos while they browse, compare apartments from multiple communities on YouTube Playlists – and find places they like, and rent them.
YouTube videos remain live indefinitely and reach renters for years. A YoChicago video published in May of 2017, for example, was viewed more than 5,500 times during the 90-day period ending November 17, 2020. More than 90% of those views resulted from YouTube’s search, browse and suggested video features.
Apartment communities that have YouTube channels can leverage their reach with links from their websites, blog posts and social media sites, communications with residents, outreach to key contacts at preferred employers, links in email signatures, links in ads and more.
Live tours are only useful for the much smaller number of renters who reach out to an apartment community for a tour.
2. YouTube is free
FaceTime, Zoom, Skype and other streaming platforms are free but users might incur phone charges to use them. Realync, a live tour platform for real estate, charges fees to apartment communities.
3. YouTube can be viewed anywhere on any device
YouTube apartment tour videos can be watched on any smartphone and computer and have worldwide reach.
4. YouTube is easy to use
Your prospects have been visiting YouTube for years. Users need to install an app to use FaceTime, Zoom, Skype and other streaming services to participate in a live tour. That adds a layer of complexity and puts a tour at risk of not happening.
YouTube makes it easy for an apartment community to create a channel, maintain it, optimize it, and monitor how it’s performing. YouTube has a clear and comprehensive Help Center .
5. Pre-recorded video is predictably higher quality
Live video is dependent on the speed and quality of your Internet connection, and there are many factors that can slow or disrupt a live connection. Live video will vary in quality if different leasing agents are using their personal phones to shoot the tours.
Even under the best of circumstances, live video can’t match the quality of the 4K or 1080p video that you can record to your phone or camera and upload to YouTube.
6. YouTube keeps you ahead of the competition
Most apartment communities don’t have a YouTube presence and the odds are high that the ones that do have executed poorly.
More and more renters are renting site-unseen based on YouTube videos. Communities that only offer live tours never hear from these renters.
Apartment communities gain a competitive edge with quality pre-recorded videos at YouTube.
7. Deliver superior service and instant gratification
You’ve heard it many times, and it’s true: for many, self-service is the best service.
Renters are watching YouTube videos when leasing agents aren’t available. Some renters won’t wait a day – or two or three – to tour your apartments in a scheduled live video. They should find your tours at YouTube when they’re searching or browsing, and they should be able to open tours from a link you send while you’re on the phone with them. Offering to send a link to a YouTube channel is a great way to harvest an email address or a mobile phone number.
8. Pre-recorded videos save renters’ time and yours
Think of everything that’s involved in a live tour and it adds up to a lot of time. Start with the time spent scheduling an appointment. Factor in touring multiple apartments in different buildings or on different floors, and a community’s amenities, and live tours can be a very inefficient use of everyone’s time.
Some renters will almost immediately decide that a layout doesn’t work for them when they see it on a live tour. They’re more likely to rent if they narrow their options and pre-qualify themselves by comparing layouts in pre-recorded videos.
9. Renters can personalize their tour at YouTube
Playlists on a YouTube channel make it easy for renters to compare selected apartments at a community and focus on the amenities that most interest them.
Renters can view thumbnails as they mouse over the progress bar on a YouTube video and skip to the apartment features that interest them the most, e.g. the kitchen.
A community’s YouTube channel can showcase its advantages, leading some renters to reset their priorities or see what’s actually most important to them rather than what they expressed to the leasing agent conducting the tour.
10. Pre-recorded videos eliminate no-shows
Some of your scheduled live tours will result in no-shows. That can be a huge waste of time when you’re waiting in a distant corner of your community or at a scattered-site location for a renter who can’t be reached, for whatever reason.
Worse yet, your prospect may find their ideal apartment on YouTube and cancel a scheduled tour.
11. YouTube videos reach key influencers more effectively
Renters can quickly and easily share links to pre-recorded YouTube videos with spouses, roommates, co-signers or other key influencers. By the time they reach out to you they may be in ready-to-rent mode.
12. Your apartments will always be showing-ready
If you’ve been in the business for any length of time, you’ve walked into “showing-ready” apartments to find painters at work or a toilet seat that’s been left up or cabinet fronts waiting for installation or burnt-out bathroom lights or a closet door that comes off the track when you open it or … you name it.
13. You can always show apartments at their best
You want to show your apartments when it’s sunny outside and bright inside. You can’t guarantee the best light when you need to schedule a time that’s convenient for your prospect and for the leasing agent who will be doing the video.
Some people are especially sensitive to sound, and noise can be a deal-killer. With a pre-recorded tour you can pick a time when the next-door neighbors aren’t having a loud party. You can set the thermostat to quiet a noisy a/c fan. You can wait out the sound of the siren from a passing ambulance or nearby construction noise or a dog barking loudly or housekeeping vacuuming the hallway or …
14. You can show and rent occupied units
Most communities don’t show occupied units. With pre-recorded videos, you can build a collection of videos of model apartments or vacant apartments with the same layout and finishes. Pre-renting occupied units increases your bottom line.
15. YouTube videos make leasing staff more efficient
Why shoot 10 or more live video tours of varying quality of the same apartment or a different apartment with the same layout and finishes?
When you consider all the time saved with pre-recorded tours you may be able to operate with fewer leasing staff or less staff time.
16. Easy do-overs and edits
It’s easy to misstate or fail to state something during a live tour.
You can use YouTube’s built-in editing tools or free or inexpensive video editing software on your computer or phone to optimize your videos, eliminate misstatements and add a caption describing a missed feature.
17. Management and marketing staff have greater input
Videos can be uploaded to YouTube in an Unlisted status, enabling management and marketing staff to review the videos before they’re made public and make changes or coach leasing staff on their presentation.
18. Increased leasing staff morale
Face facts: most leasing agents don’t like doing live video tours and most aren’t very good at it. Almost all especially dislike appearing on camera. And some are better at burning leads than converting them.
You can use an outside service to record and edit your videos or use only the agents who are best at it.
Leasing agents like tasks that are in their comfort zone. They love hearing from renters who found their community’s apartment tours at YouTube and pre-qualified themselves.
19. Ensure fair housing and ADA compliance
Create a templated clip that features Equal Housing Opportunity and ADA statements or logos and add it to all your videos.
20. A YouTube channel enhances your community’s brand value
A YouTube channel with video tours of all of your apartment layouts and video clips of your amenities brands your community as tech savvy, service-oriented and renter-friendly.
Stay tuned for: Best practices for an apartment community YouTube channel