Join the 3,000 people getting fresh weekly insights about proptech and the real estate industry.

    This blog has been updated on October 27, 2023.

    Key takeaways 


    • Self-tours of rental homes streamline the leasing process, providing a hassle-free and efficient method for prospective renters and property owners to conduct and manage property viewings.
    • By embracing self-tours, landlords can facilitate more viewings, catering to the modern renter’s desire for flexibility and convenience, potentially leading to quicker occupancy of vacant properties.
    • Meticulous safety measures implemented by tech-savvy property managers like Poplar Homes address security concerns during self-tours, ensuring a safe and modern leasing experience.


    The traditional process of scheduling rental tours can be time-consuming for renters and homeowners. Enter the game-changing solution: self-tours of rental homes.

    According to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s (NMHC) 2022 Renter Preferences Survey Report, 39% of prospective renters opted for touchless self-guided tours while searching for a new home. Additionally, 26% of the renters preferred self-guided tours for their next apartment community, marking a 10% increase since 2016.

    If you’re a property owner keen on modernizing your operations and enhancing the appeal of your rental homes, embracing self-tours could be your ticket. This guide will unravel insights into the multiple advantages of rental home self-tours.



    Understanding self-guided tours for rental homes 


    Self-tours enable prospective renters to have a quicker and more efficient method to secure a home. This trend has been catching on among property owners who want to enhance the property viewing experience while encouraging a higher return on investment (ROI). Being able to conduct more viewings increases the chances of filling a vacancy in a shorter amount of time.

    The convenience of booking and the flexibility provided to rental applicants make self-guided tour rental properties stand out from traditional industry practices.


    Rental property showings vs. self-guided tours 

    Guided tours, also known as rental property showings, are traditionally conducted by the property owner once a prospective tenant expresses interest in their property. This personal interaction distinguishes guided tours from self-guided tours. Typically, guided tours may be organized in an open-house format, where a set date and time are designated for a group of potential renters to tour the property together. Alternatively, property owners might offer one-on-one showings to individual applicants.

    On the other hand, self-guided rental home tours offer a more autonomous experience. A prospect simply books a self-tour online and visits the property at the scheduled time. Access to the property is granted through a secure code box, with the entry code provided on a designated web page or app. This streamlined process reduces the time and coordination efforts. 


    How self-tours for rentals speed up the leasing process 

    A survey by the NMHC reveals that 76% of renters find weekends to be the most favorable time for property tours. Also, self-guided tours may distinguish a property from other vacancies and capture a growing market hooked to the Internet. Traditional rental open houses last about 10-15 minutes per applicant and can consume a significant amount of a landlord’s time. With a notable 48% of renters in 2022 being individuals under 30, streamlining every step of the application process for convenience is crucial for landlords aiming to attract this demographic.

    By facilitating self-guided tours, landlords are likely to see an uptick in the number of applicants touring their property, which in turn, could minimize the duration the property remains vacant.



    How a self-guided tour works 


    If you’re planning to set up a self-tour option for your applicants, it’s important to note that there will be a few things you’ll need to prepare to keep the process smooth and efficient.


    Adopt a reliable tool 

    Choose the right platform. These platforms will help schedule tours, provide access control, and collect feedback from prospective tenants who have just completed the tour. Selecting the right software also ensures you won’t need to head to the property to facilitate the self-tour.



    Ensure that the property is ready for showing

    Ensure the property is clean, well-maintained, and ready for viewing. Removing personal or valuable items is also advisable to prevent theft or damage.


    Set up an electronic lockbox or smart lock

    Electronic lockboxes and smart locks can be installed at the entrance of your vacant rental property. This technology allows prospective tenants to access the property using a unique code and is usually changed once the property is occupied.


    Provide detailed instructions

    Send instructions to the prospective tenants on how to access the property, any off-limit areas, and how to lock up after the tour.


    Collect feedback 

    After the tour, send a follow-up email to collect feedback, answer any questions, and provide additional information that may not have been clear to the applicants during their self-tour of their rental. 

    These fundamental steps are imperative to the success of a self-guided tour. However, it’s also important to consider the safety and security of your applicants and the property during these tours. The essence of self-guided tours is to provide potential tenants with a hassle-free and flexible viewing experience. However, this flexibility should not compromise the safety of your rental property.



    Ensuring safety during self-tours  


    The idea of allowing prospective renters to tour your property solo may spark safety-related concerns. The absence of a professional during the tour could, theoretically, open doors to vandalism or unlawful occupation by squatters.

    However, these concerns are thoroughly addressed by the meticulous safety measures put in place by lockbox providers and tech-savvy property managers. For instance, companies like Poplar Homes mandate prospects to provide contact and identification details as a prerequisite to booking a tour. This step ensures that only verified individuals receive access codes to the property and that access to your property is carefully controlled. The access code is changed after every tour for the next set of applicants.

    Poplar also requires self-tour rental homes to be unfurnished. This policy significantly minimizes the risk of damage to furniture, appliances, or other fixtures.



    Bottom line


    The evolution of property tours from traditional guided showings to self-guided ones reflects the broader shift in prospective renters’ preference for convenience and efficiency at this step of their renting experience. Apart from revolutionizing rental home tours, self-tour options significantly decrease the time and effort needed to lease out your vacancy.

    With Poplar, you can effortlessly transition into this setup without the burden of managing the logistics on your own. It’s not just about keeping up with the trends but also about providing value, safety, and convenience to you and your applicants. With self-tours up your sleeve, you’ll be well-positioned to navigate the modern rental landscape with confidence and ease.



    Get a free rent estimate and price your rental property with confidence.