While a face-to-face visit is one of the best ways to see a house or apartment, it’s not always a workable option. Whether you cannot physically visit because of COVID-19 or because you do not currently live in the same city as the one you are settling in, virtual tours offer an alternative. You may be thinking: “Are virtual tours worth it?” Virtual tours not only offer a quick overview of an apartment or house, they also offer the convenience of doing it directly wherever you are and saving you time and money. Follow this comprehensive guide on how to virtually visit a house or apartment.
What is a virtual home visit?
A virtual tour of a house or apartment is an online tour that allows you to view an apartment or accommodation using a mobile phone, tablet or computer. By doing this, you can learn a lot about an apartment, such as its condition, layout, size and amenities, without having to be physically there. With this information, you will be able to make a more informed decision on whether to rent the apartment. Some virtual tours are user controlled, allowing you to decide which part of the unit to check next.
Advantages of a virtual visit of the house
Virtual tours are becoming an increasingly popular option among apartment hunters, largely thanks to the COVID-19 and on-site shelter orders. But even when the dust has settled and the apartments can be seen in person, several advantages will have made virtual tours an integral part of the apartment rental process.
Visiting a future apartment in person can be a problem. You may need to take time off or sacrifice your free time for a weekend to physically visit the unit. In addition, you may have trouble finding a time that works for you, the rental agent or the owner. If the apartment you want to see is far away, you should also spend a lot of time there.
Virtual tours allow you to view the apartments at any time without having to schedule an appointment or go to their location. If a certain apartment does not meet your expectations, you can check another with minimal hassle.
2. Expanded geographic boundaries
If you move to another city, state or country and don’t have time to go there to see a house or apartment in person, you can visit the unit instead. Virtual tours allow you to hunt long distance apartments while saving time and money.
3. Enriched experience
The photos of an apartment give you a basic idea of how the unit will look, but they may not give you the full picture. A virtual tour, on the other hand, shows you many things that the images do not reveal, including the layout and functionality of the apartment. It allows you to view each room at your own pace and find the equipment that matters to you, such as floors, lighting and counters. You can take your time to explore the details of the apartment and then prepare questions to ask your landlord if you need clarification on anything.
4. Repeated laps
If you choose to visit an apartment in person, it can be embarrassing to review the unit if you missed something the first time. In a competitive market, you may only have one chance to look at an apartment before someone else rushes in and rents it out first. A virtual home visit is available at any time of the day, so you can check an apartment as many times as you want without feeling obliged to sign on the spot.
Types of virtual house tours
Virtual tours of apartments come in different forms. While some of them give you a more complete overview of the apartments, others are specially designed to allow you to view the units at your own pace. Here are four common types of virtual apartment tours that you can try.
3D virtual tours
A 3D virtual visit is a 3D simulation of an apartment that allows you to “cross” the unit by clicking on the direction in which you want to move. In this type of tour, you can explore a model apartment, see its floor plan, and browse the rooms. You can also consult the apartment’s collective facilities, such as the swimming pool, the fitness center and the residents’ lounge.
Personalized video tours
Video tours are perhaps the best way to visit virtually. A video tour allows you to click a button and watch the video throughout, stopping at the places where you want to get a closer look at some details of the apartment. When a landlord, rental agent or property manager is organizing a video tour, they can use various platforms. Some of the most popular include YouTube, Vimeo, Helix and Matterport. Zumper integrates all of this, so you can watch a video on Zumper that an owner has created and downloaded.
Real estate agents or landlords can use video calls in a number of ways to offer apartment tours to potential tenants. They can initiate an informal video call with you and show you all of the rooms and features as they walk around the apartment. Alternatively, they could host a virtual open day to allow tenants to see an apartment at a specified time via video chat.
If you prefer to visit an apartment at your own pace without the presence of a real estate agent, you can opt for a panoramic visit instead. Also called a 360 virtual tour, you can often find them on the apartment website. They give you an uninterrupted view of every room in a unit as well as other community facilities using a fixed camera that has taken a number of different shots from a single point of view. This allows you to have a 360 degree view of an apartment, which makes you feel like you’re there in person.
Tips for getting the most out of virtual tours
If you are going on your first virtual visit, here are some tips to make sure your virtual home visit is a success:
- Note everything: Take notes on what you liked and didn’t like about the apartment. Was the kitchen too small? Did you like the layout? Once the visit is over, your notes can help you make your decision.
- Ask the right questions: Ask the owner questions about aspects of the apartment that the virtual tour does not show, such as cell phone coverage, noise levels, neighborhood vibe, and parking spaces.
- Request additional photos: It is also important to get detailed photos of some of the rooms and features of the apartment, such as photos showing the amount of sunlight entering the rooms, the interior of closets and cupboards, and the condition of the carpet.
Wherever you are, you can find your perfect apartment more easily and effectively using virtual tours. Make sure you choose the type of virtual tour that suits you best and ask the right questions to get all the information you need about your future apartment.
Ready to start? Check-out thousands of apartments for rent on Zumper and filter your search results by apartments offering online tours.