#Coronavirus: The rise of virtual DFW apartment tours

March 18, 2020 by Ted Bauer

What all is happening with virtual tours?

Glad you asked. We are actually keeping a spreadsheet (here’s a view-only copy) of different apartments offering virtual tours in our current era of social distancing. These virtual tours are taking a couple of different forms/formats:

  • Specific videos of vacant floor plans

  • Videos on model units

  • Tons of pictures

  • Pictures + video

  • FaceTime or Instagram calling 

Currently on our YouTube channel, we have 14 different apartment tours via video -- mostly in Bishop Arts, Kessler, Uptown, Frisco, and Knox-Henderson. Almost every apartment on our site (there are lots and lots of them - about 3,200) has photos as well. So you can find a good chunk of these resources with our help too, and avoid going over to a complex and potentially getting any exposure. Remember: we’re all out here trying to flatten the curve. 

We can help you coordinate a virtual tour with a complex as well -- and remember, one advantage of our whole deal is that we have pre-existing relationships with most of these complexes, so we can help you get answers faster and navigate a chaotic time + a chaotic event (corona) happening at the same moment. It’s not always easy to look for an apartment when your life is boring as hell. Try doing it now. It’s definitely not easy.

So couldn’t I use this virtual tour list and reach out to the complexes directly?

Theoretically, yea. But these complexes are inundated right now with current resident concerns, HQ calling meetings to discuss next steps, and trying to stay above 90% occupied. We have direct lines to most of them -- that’s how we’re putting these lists together in the first place. We can be a big ally in this process. That’s what we do all day long and make hundreds of calls/day to stay on top of all this as it unfolds. 

A lot of this ecosystem is currently happening by a complex sending you an individual email with a video link -- which, again, takes a bunch of time for them to get out with a crush of other responsibilities right now. We can stay on top of them to get that video over to you, or to get on IG with you at a specific time. We’re a conduit/broker in this context. 

Should you be worried at all about the supply of apartments?

No. 

In late 2019, we had 733,881 apartment units in DFW. At the time, 29,238 were under construction. While some of that construction might be currently paused, a percentage also got finished before late February -- so we’re probably around 740,000 or so apartments at this moment. Most of those are 1-2BR, with some 3BRs in the mix. Right there, we can see housing for  close to 2M people just on leases. Now, most of these places run about 90-95% occupancy, and that’s usually a target from their corporate bosses. Let’s take the 95% number. So, broadly, 5% of apartments across all complexes should be available. 740,000 x .05 = 37,000 apartments available, give or take. We’d guess it’s probably closer to 50,000.

But aren’t people moving here in large numbers?

Yes, that is true. 

But unless someone is starting a really high-intensity job ASAP, there probably won’t be a lot of movement into DFW (or any metro) in the next 2-3 months. So don’t worry about those 50,000 available apartments all going to people from the two coasts. They’re probably not being moved at that level due to the health factors herein. And plus -- they wouldn’t fill all those apartments anyway.

Oh, and speaking of moving…

… let’s say your lease notice is up,  and even though life is chaotic, you do want to move. You need to move in 60-90 and you are unsure of the status of coronavirus at that time. What are your options with these complexes?

That’s still being developed -- if you have the luxury of WFH, you can move on a weekday morning or afternoon and see less human beings (social distance). Some complexes we’ve talked to are experimenting with lock boxes as well, so that you can kind of come and go as you please and don’t need to meet a rep at the office. So if you choose to move at 3am for maximum social distance and can find friends to help you then, godspeed.

Move-in options are on our spreadsheet linked at the top too.

Is the market completely destroyed?

We’re not economists, so we can’t say that for sure. There absolutely will be layoffs, yes -- cannot avoid that topic. If you are one of those unlucky few, it will hurt your credit position and ability to buy/rent in the future a little bit, although “the market” tends to work some of that out over time. DFW is a generally “hot” market, for both lease and buy, although we do not know exactly every after-effect of the current situation.

We are generally big fans of being decisive, though, and we want you to understand that you have options. You can keep renting where you’re at. You can move. You can tour virtually. (Heck, we’ve had clients move from upstate NY and they did their entire search via FaceTime videos.) You can move via a lockbox. You can find side hustles and save to buy in 1-2 years, when hopefully all this chaos is in the rearview. You are not lacking in options. But you do need to make some immediate, near-term decisions. That’s also true.

There’s some belief that developers will stop developing multifamily units. That may be true for 90 days or less, but it’s not broadly likely to happen. A lot of the money involved in multifamily development is borrowed, meaning those developers have a financial commitment to get those projects up and running as close to the “all clear” or “flat curve” as possible. DFW is broadly a boom town at present. This might be a bust short-term, but it’s not going to affect long-term development or you having a nice apartment roof over your head in the short-term.

Be strong and be safe. If you need help on these fronts, we’re right here every day.

About the Author

Ted Bauer

Ted Bauer is a writer/editor for White Rock Locators focused on as much cool content about the DFW Metroplex rental scene as he can possibly find week-to-week.