Mark Roemer image of an Apartment For Rent sign

How to Shop for An Apartment During the COVID-19 Lockdown

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that we are in some strange times. Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t compare the current situation with that of any other point in history. Some comparisons could be drawn between World War 2 and now, but it would fall apart shortly after having to stay indoors. It can’t even compare to the Great Depression. Again, it breaks down rather quickly after you discuss the jobless rate. I, Mark Roemer, don’t feel we can compare it to much of anything that has ever happened before.

All that being said, we hopefully won’t be living like this for too long. Even with things being shut down, people are still finding a way to move to a new apartment or relocate to a different city. The reason for this is that they are doing anything they can to find work. If you can’t find a job in your town, it might be time to look elsewhere.

Once you have found a new job, possibly in a new city, it might be time for you to move. To accomplish that, you will need to find a place to live. Below, I am going to share some ways that you can secure a place to live while still respecting the stay at home order and social distancing put in place by the government.

Virtual Tours

This is nothing new. There have been virtual tours for nearly a decade. However, many people would rather see the space with their own eyes. This is entirely understandable since a photo or video can alter your reality. Have you ever ordered something off the internet only to have it arrive in a different size than you had previously thought? The same thing can happen to a house or apartment.

There are ways that landlords can combat this. It is called staging furniture. If you happen to be renting a new apartment (i.e., one that no one has ever lived in before), a recently renovated apartment, or any other situation where there currently isn’t a tenant, you can use staging furniture. Some companies specialize in this market. They will go to homes or apartments and stage the house for pictures or videos. Once the digital media is acquired, they take the furniture with them and leave.

How can this help? Well, you can use the furniture as a way to determine size. While not all furniture is the same size, it does have a pretty standard format. Looking at a video or pictures of the apartment in question will allow your mind to force perspective onto the room. That will help you to make a decision better if this apartment is for you.

Non-Contact Lease

Again, we have the technology to make this happen. Several things will need to occur before doing this, though.

The first thing, you will need to put your lease into PDF format. This can be done by scanning your contract into a computer and saving it as a PDF. This format will allow you to send it to a customer in such a way as they cannot alter it except in the place you will enable them. Any place you need them to sign should be made editable.

The second thing that needs to happen is both you and your customer are going to have to get a digital signature. This can be accomplished by sending it to a company that will make a digital copy of your signature. Alternatively, you can use a tablet with an appropriate application to do it yourself. The quality will vary depending on which method you use. Either way, you can then both sign the document, and no one has to touch any paper.


Depending on your area, you may be allowed to show the apartment in person. After each person, you need to make sure you do a deep cleaning so that no one catches something from someone else.

Additionally, you are going to want to hire a company to come in and thoroughly disinfect the apartment before someone moving in. You do not want to be responsible for the tenant getting sick. This can lead to a financial hit that you are unable to recover. Times are tough enough without having to go to court or paying for another person’s medical bills.

Mental Outlook

I get it. Times are strange right now. However, this change, we are all experiencing allows us to have a unique opportunity. One that has rarely ever been afforded us before. For the first time, we have all the time in the world to look for the perfect place to live. So many times, we have been forced to find an apartment and sacrifice certain things about the place. Meaning, the bedroom might not be big enough, there is only one bathroom, and we really would like two, the kitchen is too small, there is no place for the kids to play outside, etc. The list of sacrifices we make in nearly endless. However, there is more time to get it right. Take your time and be as picky as you want to be. If the house is not up to your standards, pass it by.

Be sure you keep an open mind when you are looking for apartments. There are more and more people moving every day. You are bound to find the perfect place for you and your family to live in.


I, Mark Roemer, have been renting apartments in Oakland, CA, for many years. I have never seen a perfect time for us to change the way we hunt for apartments. With any luck, in the future, we will be able to look for apartments across the country. There will have to be some safety measures in place to make sure that people are not getting taken for a ride, but I think it will be worth it. I wish you all the best in your quest to find the perfect apartment. Stay safe and healthy.