Self-Guided Apartment Tours: Helping or Hurting?

The pandemic revolutionized contemporary commercial real estate leasing processes.

But, we all already know that. This past year has been flooded with conversations regarding commercial real estate’s online migration after COVID put an end to in-person transaction models. The new era of commercial real estate is a product of social distancing efforts combined with efficiency-boosting strategies.

The Popularization of Self-Guided Tours

With this in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that the trend of self-guided touring has taken off this year.

If you’re new to the idea of a CRE-sector self-guided tour, think a self-guided museum tour with headphones. Now copy that system over into a multifamily complex, where a renter would take an independent tech-powered tour of an apartment. This system can also be used to show listings for office spaces, retail, and other sectors.

Today’s self-guided tours are mainly app-driven and feature maps, security settings, and audio content.

The Value of Self-Guided Tours

Self-guided tours offer a pivotal alternative to other remote touring options – most of which take place behind a screen. Walkthrough video tours, 3D virtual tours, and listing photos cannot achieve the in-person experience that tenants crave. Self-tours have the upper hand over traditional team member guided tours since they’re socially-distant options.


Even outside of COVID’s circumstances, self-guided tours provide tangible benefits to an asset’s productivity. Prospective tenants don’t need to depend on a member of the leasing team or property manager to explore a listing.

Instead, they’re able to operate on their own schedule which expands the opportunity for showings. Plus, it frees up team members to take care of other matters.

For both team members and tenants, it seems like self-touring is a total win.

Analyzing Self Touring within CRE

However, nothing is ever that clear. A deeper look and some experience with the self-guided tour system is prompting some CRE professionals to think differently.

Recently, the question has been raised as to whether self-guided tour systems are helping or hurting commercial real estate. Across every CRE sector, self-guided tour models are revealing some prominent drawbacks in the system.

One of the main issues with the self-guided tour system is that it standardizes the marketing process. When prospective tenants are going on a technically-driven tour, they’re not able to ask questions as they arise in real-time.

Property managers and sales teams also lose the opportunity to personalize the tour experience to the prospect’s unique needs. Since the benefits of a listing can’t be explained in person, the tour may lose its potency.

Even though the self-guided tour system is intended to feature all of the details about a listing, the real-life experience that CRE is reporting notes that this isn’t the case. It’s not easy to anticipate the specialty questions a potential tenant may have, and it’s idealistic to assume that tenants will get in touch post-tour with property teams to make inquiries. As a result, self-guided tours may result in missed opportunities for leasing.

What’s your opinion on self-guided touring within commercial real estate?

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