Leasing agents are a crucial point of contact for prospective residents, a community's "first impression." But just like car salesmen, they can get clingy on tours, and many consumers instead favor the "soft sell" approach.

At MC Residential, leasing agents stay out of the way by simply drawing a map to the building from the leasing office and handing the prospective tenants the keys.

“Prospects absolutely love being able to do that by themselves,” says Eric Brown, vice president of marketing at MC Residential. “At the end of the day, even the best leasing people get in the way.”

Allowing prospects to tour the unit themselves gives them the freedom to do things on their own time, check out the area, and openly talk about the unit with their friends, significant others, or family. The prospects are free to hang onto the key for as long as they need to show friends the unit or come back with furniture measurements. When they’re done, keys can be returned through a drop box.

For security measures, leasing agents scan prospects’ driver’s licenses to keep track of who has keys to which units. Also, units do not remain open overnight. A maintenance person will lock a dead bolt to the unit when the leasing office closes and unlock it again the next day.

With leasing agents no longer having to take prospects on tours, there’s no need to have more than one agent in the office. Now, MC Residential doesn’t need two agents from 9 to 5: One comes in from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the other comes in from Noon to 8 p.m., keeping the office open for 12 hours a day instead of just eight. Yet, with each agent still only working eight hours each, labor costs have stayed the same.

Allowing prospects to go on their own also allows the leasing agents to perform an unlimited amount of tours each day as opposed to just six or seven personal tours before.

MC Residential has fused this leasing process, dubbed Go Solo, with its centralized leasing program, where tenants can view the company’s available units online by region instead of by building. The regional websites show where MC Residential has properties in relation to local amenities such as restaurants and nightlife.

“Once folks decide what area of town they want to live in, the next thing they want to know about is what’s around [them],” says Brown.

According to Brown, MC Residential’s Tucson region, where Go Solo is currently operating, has seen about a 5 percent to 6 percent increase in occupancy. In October, Go Solo will expand to MC Residential properties in Phoenix, Ariz. and Tulsa, Ok., and then to San Antonio and Austin, Texas in November.