Zillow makes it easier to rent an apartment while social distancing

Tours, applications, lease signings and rent payments can all be done online.

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Finding a new place to live could be a bigger problem than usual at the moment. Due to social distancing orders, many prospective renters are unable to tour apartments, and may be hesitant to meet landlords or real estate agents in person. Zillow hopes its tools can help bring the entire renting process online -- at least during the coronavirus pandemic.

Renters can start by finding a home on one of Zillow’s platforms, including Trulia, HotPads and Zillow itself, and if the landlord or property manager used the Zillow 3D Home iPhone app, they could take a virtual tour of the property. Next, renters can apply online. Zillow says that a flat fee will cover a month’s worth of applications for participating apartments. If approved, all paperwork and payments can be conducted online.

All of these elements have been possible in one way or another for some time, but the fact that Zillow has packaged them together for a centralized experience could make the rental process a bit easier. Of course, whether or not these features are available for a given property is up to the landlord, and if they aren’t particularly tech savvy, renters may have to either move on or consider renting an apartment sight unseen.