Why Are People Finding Apartments with Virtual Apartment Tours?

Advancements in technology over the years have meant advances in human convenience. We carry little computers in our pockets to connect with others at a moment’s notice, or to look up anything we might have a question about. We developed supersonic trains and assistant-driving cars to get us places faster and easier. And now, we’ve entered the age of the virtual apartment tour.

Even before the pandemic shut down in-person touring temporarily, virtual tours were picking up steam. As the market and demand for apartments increased over the past few years, virtual tours provided a way to see the latest listings asap, so people could snag the best deal. Today, virtual tours are a norm.

Looking to book a virtual tour? Let AptAmigo help find your dream apartment today with the convenience of viewing from wherever you are.

What Happens on a Virtual Apartment Tour?

First, it helps to understand what a virtual tour consists of because it can take many shapes and forms. Some apartments will offer digital tours of apartments on their website. These tours could take the form of a series of photos, a video walkthrough, or a 3D rendering. While all of these options count as ways of touring an apartment virtually, it’s ideal to complete a live video walkthrough with the building staff, where you can ask questions and see the place in real time. So, when we say “virtual tour” we mean an actual video call from within the apartment.

Taking a tour like this is easy. Many apartment buildings and complexes will use a well-known video platform, such as FaceTime, Skype, Google Meets, Zoom, or the like. On your end, you’ll want to sit somewhere quiet where you can access the video through a phone, tablet, or computer. Be sure to turn up the screen brightness all the way and use a good microphone or headphones so that you can be heard clearly when asking questions.

The tour itself should not be rushed. Ask the person giving the tour to slow down their room panning or focus back on a spot you didn’t see well. Make sure they take the time to answer all your questions and look at everything you want them to check.

What Are the Advantages of Virtual Apartment Tours?

  • Time: If you need to tour quickly to snag the space or can’t get away to tour in person, virtual tours provide a convenient way to overcome those obstacles.
  • Health & Safety: Virtual touring eliminates any health and safety concerns that might arise from being in close proximity with others.
  • Gas Savings: With prices on the rise, saving on the commute to see an apartment means automatic dollar savings you can put toward moving expenses.
  • Long Distance Moves: If you don’t already live in your chosen city, then virtual tours can bridge the gap between traveling there and renting sight-unseen.

What Are the Disadvantages?

  • Sizing and Proportions: Without being physically in the space, you may not be able to determine how big the square footage feels, or whether your furniture will fit where you want it to go.
  • Complex/Building/Neighborhood: Virtual tours might or might not include common spaces, amenities, parking lots, or the neighborhood to show you more than the space in which you’ll live.
  • Noise/Light: Without being in the space, you may not be able to determine how much noise can be heard from neighbors or outside, and the lighting may look brighter or dimmer on video than in person.
  • Space Testing: Not every person giving a virtual tour will take, or even have, the time to open cabinets or the oven or closets, little details worth testing and evaluating during a tour.

5 Questions to Always Ask While on a Virtual Apartment Tour

1. Is this the apartment I will be renting?

Before anything else, ask if the apartment you are seeing is the one you would actually move into. Sometimes they will use a model unit because your potential unit is still occupied. That isn’t a problem, but it’s good to know that the layout might be flipped, or that you’ll need to retest the appliances and water pressure in your own apartment when you lease it.

2. Can you test X, Y, Z for me?

Have the tour giver turn on the burners, check water pressure, open and close the doors and windows, and test locks. If the unit you end up renting isn’t the unit you toured, inspect these items before or when moving in.

3. How do utilities function?

It’s great to check that the lights go on and the shower works, but you’ll want to know exactly what utilities are included and which you’ll need to set up or pay for on your own. It isn’t always as cut and dry as tenants paying for their own electricity, water, and gas. This is also a great time to inquire about which internet/cable providers service the area and what the cell phone service is like.

4. What amenities are included?

Because a tour likely only includes being inside the apartment itself, it’s best to ask about the other building and complex amenities. This might include how mail is received, whether there is parking or bicycle storage, pool access hours, and when the equipment in the fitness center was last upgraded. 

5. How do maintenance and upgrades work?

Even if everything works on move-in day, things eventually wear down or suddenly break. Ask how easy it will be to deal with any problems. Ditto for upgrades. It’s not a bad idea to ask whether there are plans for apartment or building upgrades so that you know what to expect for the future.

Tips for a Successful Virtual Apartment Tour

  • Don’t Rush: When setting up your tour, tell the company that you want to be thorough and expect to stay on with them until your questions are answered, so they don’t try to rush you through an appointment.
  • Research: Looking up the building and layout ahead of time can ensure you don’t waste your time touring an apartment you know isn’t right or doesn’t have the features you want.
  • Prep Your Questions: Having a list of important questions ahead of time will ensure you ask everything of concern and are shown every part of the apartment you need to see.
  • Manage Your Schedule: It helps to book multiple tours on the same day so that they are fresh in your mind for comparison, but don’t space them so close together you don’t have time to be thorough.
  • Look Up/Down/Outside: Be sure to have the person giving the tour point the camera up and down and see outside because it can be easy to miss little things, like where the outlets are placed or whether there is a fan in the room.
  • Record the Tour: Whether it’s a live recording or screenshots you made during the tour, find a way to record what you see for reference later. Ask the tour giver to send photos afterward of anything you didn’t see or record.
  • For general advice, here’s our apartment touring checklist for further tips.

Now you have the tools you need to conquer those virtual tours, but when do you start your search? We know the best time to start looking for an apartment based on our extensive experience.

Need to Schedule Some Virtual, Luxury Apartment Tours? AptAmigo Can Do It for You!

We know moving—whether across town or across country—can be stressful. That’s why AptAmigo is dedicated to packing your apartment hunt with convenience. We curate a list of apartments based on your exact preferences. Then, you tell us which you’re interested in, and our dedicated apartment locating team will arrange your virtual tours. You’ll be first in line to snag your dream apartment. Get started with a locating agent today.

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About the Author
Jeanette Smith

Jeanette Smith is a writer, editor, and freelancer based in Dallas, Texas. Find out more at JeanettetheWriter.com.