Real estate practices can get stuck in the mud. Take tenant tours in the multifamily sector. What was a “long and drawn-out process,” according to Alison Solway, director of marketing and leasing at Morningside Group, a Midwest developer and operator, didn’t always reveal important information. That’s a dangerous and unnecessary practice in the sector, as potential tenants have further embraced the immediateness of technology.

“Prospects would find out about your properties from a number of mediums, but not always availability and pricing, and often missing key attributes about the community,” says Solway. Then came a long dance with many touchpoints without the ability for property managers to easily provide personalized views and information.

Solway notes that has changed with flexible tours. Multiple choices in types of communication, available information, and ways of viewing a property, all through mobile if desired, has changed the experience for both consumers and people in the industry.

“It is now possible for prospects anywhere in the world to view drone videos, take a Facetime tour, see floor plans or get notified when they’re available, and make a confident, informed decision, so when they show up there is no bait-and-switch and are happy and know exactly what they are getting,” Solway adds. “Our CRM, Knock, has allowed us to use all these different touchpoints and helps us stay organized with the preferred tour type the prospect wants.”

The reason for the changes is two-fold. One, technology makes it possible. Two, consumer demands make it necessary. People moving from another area no longer have to take time for physical visits in advance. Morningside has seen situations where people heading to a university town from other countries didn’t have the legal clearance to show up in advance due to pandemic restrictions.

Even if local, they can see what they need to on their own schedule, not someone else’s. It’s even possible to arrange access to a building through Bluetooth, so a walk in can happen without someone having to wait around.

“We use self-guided touring software that uses mobile technology to access the property, whether you’re Covid conscious or want to come after hours,” Solway says. “Your phone turns into a museum-type tour, with audio or text options to describe the different spaces and guide you through the community.”

She also says the system automation helps deliver a better experience for all. “All of the leasing agents’ contacts are well organized,” Solway says. “All of their communications with someone are in one thread so you can see that particular prospect’s total journey through the leasing funnel. We do a lot of auto responders so that when you contact our property, you know we’ve received your leads. And it holds our team accountable because we know we have told that prospect we will answer those questions.”

“The whole core in this industry is you want to get people while they’re hot, while they’re interested in your community,” Solway explains. “I think that we’re heading in the right direction. The better we can answer questions and be available outside traditional business hours, the more we can appease the public and engage them to tour and ultimately live in our communities. We believe the prompt responsiveness is reflective of what lift is like in our communities, as customer service is an important touchpoint in resident satisfaction and retention.”