Using Drones to Lease Apartments Sight Unseen

Leasing an apartment sight unseen is not super common but is becoming a new reality in real estate. There are many reasons why an individual would need to sign an apartment sight unseen in today’s leasing environment. Virtual tours, video, photography, brochures, and floorplans can all help market a property remotely to an individual. As time goes on, property managers will need to utilize different marketing tactics to adapt to remote tours and leasing apartments sight unseen. 

Drones have provided a new way to virtually tour, market, and lease a property in recent years. How can property managers and leasing agents use drones to help market their rental units and ultimately rent out apartments sight unseen?

What Does It Mean to Lease Apartments Sight Unseen?

Renting an apartment sight unseen means an individual enters a rental agreement by signing a lease without visiting the apartment beforehand. Many reasons might call for this. For example, it would be hard to schedule an in-person tour if you’re moving across the country or even internationally for work. Time may be of the essence, and it’s quicker to view several apartments virtually than in person. Maybe a loved one has an unexpected hospital stay out of state, and you’re looking for a short lease to a furnished apartment to stay nearby. Maybe you’re a student looking for college housing many states away right before the semester starts. You may even be taking safety precautions due to public health and prefer virtual tours. 

Regardless of the reason, it’s evident that more people will need the option to tour a space remotely and to sign a lease remotely. According to a survey from Zumper, 72% of today’s renters would rent a unit sight unseen. The catch? Potential renters would need to see a virtual tour of the property first. 

When marketing your rental apartments online, are you providing video, photos, floorplans, and virtual tours? With online apartment hunting, it’s essential to give potential renters as much information as possible. In one case, drone videos complemented other marketing tactics a college town property was using. 

Case Study for Drone Videos: Beekman on Broadway

Beekman on Broadway, an apartment complex located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, worked with Indoor Drone Tours to create marketing assets for their apartments. 

“The pandemic has made it really hard for people to travel, and they’re more often trying to make decisions remotely,” Alison Solway, Marketing and Leasing Director for Morningside Group, says. “So we used drone videos in conjunction with other marketing materials to showcase different units and to get a feel for the community and amenities.”

On their website, Beekman on Broadway utilizes many different marketing tools, ranging from 3D tours to floor plans, maps, e-brochures, photos, and now, drone tours. The 5-minute full property drone tour features satellite imagery, exterior drone footage, drone flythroughs of different units, amenity spaces, building layout, etc. 

Because Beekman on Broadway is in a college town, there are a few unique challenges to leasing the space. One major demographic that lives in that particular building is international students.

“[International students] often weren’t allowed to travel because of the restrictions last year, and I think being the only property with a drone video in our submarket was a major advantage to us.” Solway said, “Students can feel like they were making a well-informed decision from abroad, which is really hard to do.”

For Solway, the almost seamless flythrough of the drone video helped orient the whole building layout for those relying on virtual tours to make a leasing decision. With travel restrictions and the pandemic, there was a definite need to cater to those who wished to tour remotely.

“We’ve seen a higher number of sight unseen tours, where they did not visit the property but still chose to lease,” Solway said. Drone videos helped give international students and other rental prospects more information about the apartments before signing a lease.

Using Drones to Lease Apartments Sight Unseen

What Drones Can Offer for Sight Unseen Tours

While drone technology was a positive addition to Beekman on Broadway’s marketing, how can they help market other properties?

1. Orientation & Building Layout

Compared to filming a space with a handheld camera, drones can help paint a complete picture of the building layout. It’s more fluid than holding a handheld camera from room to room and helps showcase the orientation of the space. 

“It’s very hard to tell from pictures certain qualities,” Solway said. “For example, are those amenities in different buildings, are they spaced out? The fluidity of drone tours from moving space to space makes it so that people can quickly view it and understand the overall community and layout.”

2. Show Proximity to Key Areas

We see satellite imagery for the nearby area at the beginning of the Beekman on Broadway drone tour. The satellite footage highlights the distance to the University of Michigan hospital, the nearest airport, downtown Ann Arbor, and more. 

How you communicate your location is vital when marketing a rental space. This is especially true when renters are from out of town and unfamiliar with the area.

3. Entertaining

When touring a space via drone tours, all you need to do is press play. There’s no need to click through a gallery, flip through a brochure, or click through a 3D tour. Drones can give a cinematic, modern edge to the typical virtual tour.

“What I like about drone tours is that they’re entertaining, quick, informative, and fluid,” Solway says. “Having a high res video that is modern and matches our brand as a new construction building with contemporary amenities and high tech touches.”

It’s essential to keep potential renters captivated and entertained; a recent article from even highlights this need for engaging information. Especially in the commercial real estate industry, the most entertaining information is the information that ultimately gets consumed.

4. Easy to Implement with Indoor Drone Tours

Having the right equipment for a drone video is one thing, but having a stellar team behind the scenes can make all the difference. 

“It was easy to plan, easy for us to implement,” Solway says, “I told them my vision, and they brought it to life perfectly and added in creative touches I wouldn’t have even imagined were possible.”

The Indoor Drone Tours team makes the process fluid with pre-shoot calls, goal discussions for the shoot, and ensuring everything runs smoothly and looks great for the end result.

Learn More About Drone Tours for Real Estate

Still need more information about drone tours? If you have any questions or want to contact someone at Indoor Drone Tours, please reach out! Take a look at Indoor Drone Tours’ flight portfolio to see different drone tours across all types of industries. Visit our website to contact someone at Indoor Drone Tours or schedule a flight. We service all 50 states, so no matter where you’re located, we look forward to flying with you!