If you read AFI’s latest blog post, then you know that virtual showings, self-guided tours, etc. are quickly becoming a key resource for the sales/leasing efforts of homes and apartment communities. According to Tina Hand, 2020 president of Bay East Association of Realtors, roughly 85% to 90% of showings have become entirely virtual or hybrid (Hall, 2020).
Virtual showings can provide a plethora of benefits to prospective renters including added convenience and increased safety/flexibility. However, there is an element of compromise that comes with these benefits that individuals need to be aware of (Vasishta, 2020):
- Deficiencies in harder to see areas such as gutters and windows may go unnoticed.
- Prospective renters will have no way of seeing or getting a “feel” for the surrounding neighborhood.
- Available natural light or even exact wall color can be more challenging to determine (similar shades of grey or taupe).
While the above items are certainly concerning, it is not unheard of for renters to assume the added risk and sign a lease on a property that he or she may have never seen in person. Such a decision accompanies the increased possibility of falling victim to rental scams designed to steal money through fake security deposits or move-in fees. As of September, 2020, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) reported 219 rental scams resulting in over $100,000 lost (Melli, 2020).
Avial.com has provided the following warning signs that may indicate a fraudulent listing (Manolas, 2020):
- Meet the Landlord – Always see the property in-person and verify the listing before signing a lease or sending money.
- Payment Before Signing – Renters should never be asked to pay a large sum of money before seeing, or having all parties sign a lease for the premises.
- ThE LiStInG HaS TyPoS – Serious Landlords and Property Managers will take the time to construct a well thought out listing free of serious grammatical errors.
- Always Read The Lease – All leases should be 100% complete prior to signing and free of blank spaces, vague writing, or incomplete sentences.
As discussed, the added convenience of virtual showings can be of real advantage to many on-the-go or safety cautious renters. However, the above tips are important to remember in order to maintain the safety of yourself, your family, and your investment!
Hall, Emma. “”It’s the wave of the future”: More home showings go virtual.” Danville – SanRamon, 23 July 2020, danvillesanramon.com/real_estate/2020/07/23/its-the-wave-of-the-future-more-home-showings-go-virtual
Manolas, Kasia. “How to Spot a Rental Scam.” Avail.com, Realtor.com, 30 Sept. 2020, www.avail.co/education/guides/a-tenants-guide-to-finding-an-apartment/how-to-spot-a-rental-scam
Melli, Heidi. “Better Business Bureau wants of rise in rental scams.” NBC Montana, 29 Sept. 2020 [Missoula, MT] , nbcmontana.com/news/doing-better-business/better-business-bureau-warns-that-rental-scams-are-on-the-rise
Vasishta, Jeff. “Six Pros and Cons of Virtual Home Tours.” Dirt Real Estate, Dirt.com, 8 May 2020, www.dirt.com/more-dirt/real-estate-listings/six-pros-and-cons-of-virtual-home-tours-1203319478/