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How the Closing Process Works during COVID-19
Thursday, May 7, 2020 @ 10:50 PM

You’ve wrapped up your virtual showings, chosen your newest tenant, and are ready to sign off on a year-long lease when your state government suddenly enforces a lockdown due to a global pandemic. Fiction becomes a frightening reality as landlords scramble to ensure rent remains collected, agents rapidly shift to virtual showings, and renters must decide whether to remain or move out of their current homes. For those who choose to change residences during this uncertain time, leasing agents become an invaluable asset if they determine how to show properties, screen applicants, and close the deal safely and efficiently.

 

Making your Business Virtual


Closing a rental successfully during a quarantine requires computer savviness and adaptability. Virtual showings have grown in demand during this time along with the need to screen tenants safely. Since you can no longer conduct a physical showing, you must rely on a video camera to capture all sides and angles of your listing. If possible, you can also use FaceTime or WhatsApp video, or even Facebook, to video chat with your applicants. Keep in mind that you should tailor your marketing strategy depending on which client you speak to. For example, if showing to a couple, emphasize the property’s privacy and spaciousness, if speaking to a family highlight storage space and square footage in your videos.


Incentives may represent an excellent opportunity to close a rental, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Landlords have creatively marketed move-in specials or a few months of rent at a reduced rate to correspond with the economic downturn due to the virus. As stay-at-home orders continue to be in place, you want to ensure renters are living in a disease-free environment, so consider deep cleaning your properties frequently to block transmission of germs on areas such as doorknobs.


Applicants will have questions throughout and after the viewing, so make sure you can answer them promptly. However, you will also have questions for your applicants as you speak to them throughout your showings. How can you be sure you are selecting the right tenant and close your rental safely during COVID-19? An essential component of the closing process is tenant screening, where you can assess an applicant’s background and current financial status to ensure you rent to the best qualified individual.


Virtual Tenant Screening


RentSpree’s entirely virtual tenant screening process saves you time and money, as the platform is entirely free for you. Applicants pay only a $30 screening fee, providing you with a rental application, credit score, and background and eviction report instantaneously. RentSpree’s process is contactless and requires no paper forms, keeping you and your applicants safe and at ease during this delicate process. Best of yet, you can close your rental much faster, as screening reports arrive to your inbox minutes after they are completed by each individual applicant.


RentSpree’s messaging feature allows you to correspond with applicants to request clarification on their reports. Communication is critical during rental closings, and having correspondence centralized removes a key pain point during the process as all messages are securely stored. You can even accept or deny applicants directly from RentSpree’s dashboard with customizable templates.


Now that you have your rental screening system in place, you can leverage additional software to close your rental virtually. Two useful tools you can use are DocuSign and CamScanner. DocuSign allows you to affix your electronic signature or initials to a PDF file such as a lease agreement, removing the need to hand sign each individual page. CamScanner allows you to scan important documents such as bank statements and pay stubs and saves them as PDF files, which can be sent through RentSpree PRO. Most importantly, these tools require no physical interaction and can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet.


COVID-19 has altered the real estate industry in the short term but could have considerable long-term ramifications. However, in a recent survey of 6,000 renters, 56% confirmed they still planned to move despite restrictions imposed by the federal and state government . Given this new environment, it becomes critical for agents to market a property virtually, screen tenants safely, and close a rental efficiently. With the right software and tools available, agents can confidently continue their business while protecting their own health and that of their applicants.


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