As a real estate professional, I wanted to share my experience during this time to help ease the nerves of anyone with an upcoming move!
The apartment search can be stressful for anyone... add in a global pandemic and it can seem nearly impossible. Naturally, it's common to think that due to the current circumstances, the real estate market would be slower than ever. However, what I'm finding is that isn't necessarily the case.
What does apartment hunting look like during the Corona Virus?
The rental market is still moving, with competition high in many cases. Yes, it's true that many renters have looked at the current circumstances and decided it would be easier to just stay put. However, there's another prominent group that despises their current apartment and couldn't possibly imagine another potential quarantine period in their current space. Even without another future quarantine, people now more than ever people are spending way more time in their apartment just by working from home for so many months.
For those people who are apartment hunting and navigating the rental market, it can seem stressful. Under many circumstances, occupied units are not allowed to be shown and a number of landlords and brokerages do not have the best infrastructure set up for virtual tours. Sight unseen tours are now the norm, with many prospective renters only getting to analyze pictures and an iPhone video before applying for an apartment and signing a lease.
Leasing agents and brokers could not be more helpful during this time. First and foremost, they have access to an entire database that usually includes private company listings and third party listings. If something new comes on the market, an agent will likely be seeing it before someone who is browsing on sites like Zillow and Apartments.com. Not to mention, that the internal databases agents use are up to date with current availability, cutting through the clutter of units that have already been rented for days or even weeks.
Tips and Tricks to Help Make a Decision Through Virtual Tours
First, I recommend focusing on the main reasons why you're making a move in the first place. Is laundry in unit a priority? Do you want a bigger bedroom? Are you interested in living in a different area? Since viewing apartments in person is hit or miss, if you focus on the tangible facts of the unit it can help make the decision making process more clear. For example, if one of the main reasons for moving is to have a more spacious bedroom, figure out the minimum requirement, and focus on options that meet the criteria.
Second, I recommend walking around the area you're looking into (if you're not local check out Google Earth!). It'll help you get a feel for the surroundings of the unit and building. Try to map out grocery stores, gyms, and restaurants nearby since these establishments will likely become part of your daily and weekly routine.
Third, I recommend looking into the space provided in the pictures and videos and imagining your furniture and belongings in the unit. Will your couch fit? Do you need to get rid of anything? Will you have space you'll need to fill? All of these factors are important when planning out a move and can be done by looking at pictures/ videos.
For many of us, renting an apartment and making a move is nervewracking, even when you're able to see all the options in person. Renting sight unseen can be tough, but it can be made easier by using your resources, looking at the facts, and really narrowing down the driving reasons behind wanting to move.