In order to make your apartments as rentable as possible, you need to think like a renter. What do they want in a property? If they’re going to be looking at a dozen complexes over the next couple of weeks, what will make your property stand out from the others?
For starters, know that rent and location rule the day. You can’t move your apartment complex, but you can do a better job of touting what makes the location great. So if you’re close to a metro stop or bus stop or major employer, make sure to mention that in your advertising. As for rent, we don’t need to tell you that pricing your properties competitively will help keep them rented.
Now that we’ve gotten the “big two” out of the way, let’s take a look at other things renters may want. Some of these features may seem small, but often, it’s the little things that help renters pick your property over another one—and encourage them to continue renting from you long-term.
- Quality management. The 2020 NMHC (National Multifamily Housing Council)/Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Report showed that over 30 percent of renters left their apartment community due to dissatisfaction with management. Improving the quality of your management team is budget-friendly because you don’t have to shell out for new amenities. Rather, you can work with your team to improve services and processes.
Our top tip here is to listen to your tenants. Send out surveys regularly, take suggestions to heart, and enact change based on what you’re hearing. And make sure to let tenants know about the changes that you’re making in response to their feedback. Hold regular staff meetings to develop a culture of customer service. If you project a desire to do all you can to keep the tenants happy, this will trickle down to your team.
Watch your online reviews as they will give prospective renters a snapshot of your management. There’s no avoiding a negative review from time to time, but you may be able to “stop the bleeding” if you promptly go online and respond to the critique. Be empathetic and explain what you are doing to deal with the customer complaint.
- Communication. Reach out to your tenants and make a personal connection with them. Even if you can’t get there as soon as they want for a maintenance request, let them know that you’re trying and keep them posted on exactly when you will be there. Host community gatherings and attend. Learn people’s names. Send out regular newsletters and stay active on the complex’s social media page.
To make staying in touch easier, consider automating communication for things like maintenance requests. A good software program can facilitate more frequent communications and eliminate errors and oversights. And make sure the portal you are using is mobile friendly so people can send and receive messages via their smartphones.
- Pet-friendliness. A 2018 study by TD Ameritrade revealed that seven in 10 Millennials own a pet. If you want to cater to this significant block of America’s renters, you need to be prepared to welcome their pets as well.
Sure, you assume extra risks and costs, but a firm pet deposit policy can help here. And you could end up getting more renters according to FIREPAW, Inc (the Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education). FIREPAW’s research showed that pet-friendly apartments rented within 19 days compared to non-pet-friendly apartments, which took 29 days to rent. And the same study showed that renters in pet-friendly units stayed put for an average of 46 months as compared to the average 18-month stay for renters in units prohibiting pets. Pet owners can be very loyal renters.
You can welcome pets with a “pet park” on the premises or even access to pet sitting and pet walking services. You can also do fun features on social media like “cutest pet” contests or Halloween pet parades that allow tenants to dress their fur babies up for prizes.
- Connectivity. In the aforementioned 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Report, residents ranked cell phone reception as the number one amenity. In fact, 91% of renters called reliable cell service a high priority, and 44% of renters said they wouldn’t rent without it. High-speed internet ranked fourth as the most sought-after apartment feature.
With more renters working from home due to the pandemic, connectivity is critical. It’s also important because the majority of renters say they get their entertainment from streaming services rather than cable or satellite. Poor Netflix reception may be enough to drive renters to greener pastures.
- Convenient mail delivery. According to Digital Commerce 360, ecommerce increased by 15% in 2019, and then came the pandemic. Ecommerce increased a whopping 30% in the first half of 2020, as compared to the first half of 2019.
People have found themselves ordering things online that they’ve never considered ordering this way before—groceries, cleaning supplies, tacos from Chipotle. And buying histories show that once we embrace trends like this, it’s hard to stop the forward momentum. In other words, we’ve unlocked a convenience that is likely to continue long after the pandemic is over.
As such, people want their stuff—and they want it fast. What’s the purpose of paying for Amazon Prime and its hallmark 2-day delivery if the apartment mailroom closes before you can retrieve your boxes?
A report by the United States Postal Service on Millennials and the Mail showed that they put a high prize on convenience and immediacy so anything that you can do to get residents their packages fast—and with as little effort on their part as possible—is going to score you brownie points.
More and more mailrooms are enlisting package receiving and delivery software to do the heavy lifting. With the help of a sleek, digital app, mailroom attendants can scan incoming packages and generate an email or text to let residents know that their package has arrived. The email may include simple response buttons so residents can signal their pickup or delivery preferences. It’s a one-and-done process for the mailroom employees and helps move packages out of the mailroom quickly—and with fewer errors and better security. Add on picture proof of delivery for yet another layer of security, and you have the perfect solution for efficient package delivery and happy tenants.
Today’s renters are not your grandparents’ renters, and it’s important to know your audience. These tips can help you cater to what people want most in their apartment experience in 2020. Adding meaningful features and tending to the little things that matter most can help you get more renters—and keep your current renters happier.