Alma Living is doing real estate showings in Philadelphia without any agents. Just you and the peaceful silence of an empty house.
This might seem straight out of a sci-fi TV show, but listen: it’s happening. Say you want to rent a room or buy a house, and you already know a place you want to take a look at. In these times, no one really wants a real estate agent following everywhere. Say you can opt for something called ‘self-guided showings’. Interesting.
Unlike traditional home showings, self-guided showings let potential tenants tour a whole property without an agent. Without anyone, really.
So you get to this hypothetical house and type a code on the door to get in by yourself. Tour on your own, check out the kitchen, bathroom, backyard, at whatever pace you feel like. Whenever a question arises, you just say it out loud. And the room answers.
The room… answers? Well, it is a realtor talking through speakers on the walls or through your mobile, but still. A self-guided tour takes out a cumbersome part of the house showings equation and replaces it with something better: freedom. The future of real estate showings is right here in Philadelphia.
How does it work?
Ollie set up a house on West Firth Street with cameras and microphones, so the visitors have backup every step of the way. Not only does this help them indicate anything in the actual space, but it also protects the owner from any damage. The front door is locked with a one-time code provided by the realtor on the day of the tour.
Once inside, there are useful signs providing information about appliances, services such as cleaning or washer/dryer, and the steps to take if the customer is interested in the property. A quick snap of a QR code on the back of the door launches the underwriting process.
A turn in real estate showings
The pros of self-guiding visits go beyond their technical feats, of course. COVID-19 presents a huge challenge to the real estate industry. A safe, comfortable and socially distanced method of experiencing a potential purchase may incentivize people to go back out there and increase the number of showings. This way, the housing wheels start moving again.
“We want to provide an exclusive, modern and completely new service for those who visit us, but without losing human touch”, says Luis Durand. He’s the voice in the house. The man that makes sure future tenants feel at ease by themselves in an empty building. The one who answers all the questions.
At the time this article went up, the Ollie underwriting team had successfully booked 16 real estate showings without agents on West Firth Street. In less than a month, the whole house was fully rented. Learning from each one of these visits, Ollie plans to replicate and improve on the format to boost their visitor’s sense of freedom.
“This is still pretty much trial-and-error”, says Luis. “We are working on ways to receive more and more people without neglecting the quality of our service and always prioritizing the comfort and safety of our visitors”.
Hey, this sounds kind of neat, you may be thinking. If you’re looking for rentals in Philly, you should definitely give it a shot.