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4 Tips and Tricks for Attracting New Residents

Industry Insights

Is your occupancy as favorable as it could be? Keep your properties competitive during peak MIMO season with these 4 suggestions for steering renters in through the door.

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Occupancy is a long-standing measure of success in the Multifamily industry — and for good reason. A high level of occupancy not only means your units are generating revenue instead of sitting deserted, it also can indicate that your marketing is on point, that your amenities are catering to your targets’ desires, and that your customer service is keeping residents happy.

But even if your occupancy is brimming today, the future demand for multifamily housing is bound to rapidly shifting demographics, generational preferences and technological innovations. Being caught off guard can impact your ability to attract and retain renters tomorrow. So whether you’re occupancy rate isn’t quite matching expectations right now, or you are currently experiencing a healthy level of occupancy, you’ll want to take heed of the following suggestions for winning the business of prospective residents and the loyalty of current residents in the high-pressure warmer months.



1. Make your properties magnetic in the market with a human approach



Winning Renters

The eternal mantra of good business is to orient yourself toward customer centricity and exceed expectations at every turn. So let’s make it clear right off the bat: staying competitive requires that your leasing teams are building relationships and rapport with both prospective and current residents. How? By demonstrating to customers that their concerns are your concerns.

Your onsite staff are the face of your company. Driving faster response times to resident requests and scrupulous attention to property details, cleanliness, and curb appeal starts with the people who physically and operationally care for your assets. Keeping your properties spick-and-span — from your the monument sign, to the flowers outside the leasing office, to your model apartments and vacant units, to whether the door gaskets inside the refrigerators are clean “sends a powerful subliminal message to potential and current residents alike that you will take care of them” (source).

So in the rush to stay competitive by offering trending amenities, we must keep in mind — and in heart — that establishing trust, credibility and goodwill between residents and property managers is key to providing value, winning business and increasing revenue. The bells and whistles absolutely help, but beyond the glitz, people want to feel they’re part of a cared-for community. Maintaining a regular inspection cadence with a mobile inspection platform like HappyCo gives you real-time visibility to maintain quality standards remotely from the corporate office. And these tools let you concretely enhance the resident experience as well. For example, since rolling out mobile inspections across 3,000 units, Tarragon Property Services has cut inspection times from 30 to 10 minutes, reduced hotline complaints by 75% and decreased resident move-out disputes by 50%.

A warm welcome to the community is a first step, but forging a personal relationship doesn’t end once a resident moves in. You can help facilitate a sense of neighborliness by hosting resident events, like these 34 creative resident event ideas from Updater, that give residents a chance to socialize and offer you an opportunity to provide community information. Even seemingly minor gestures, like having staff stand at a community’s exit one morning to hand out breakfast bags with granola bars, juice and have-a-nice-day notes can pay for themselves many times over in the form of a constructive, renewal-inspiring relationship with your residents.



2. Know your markets, your renters and your competitors



Multifamily Markets

As far as marketing your properties, nothing beats applying a full awareness of who your target consumers are and what they are seeking. Being cognizant of why your residents choose to rent (and choose to rent with you!) in the first place is the most essential step to reaching potential customers. Survey your residents to find out what they like best about your community and learn why departing residents are leaving. Ask yourself if your marketing is aligned with your market research, and then ask if you’re just selling an apartment versus an enchanting experience that reads authentically and appropriately to each market.

Your competitive research should also factor into your marketing and operational strategy. What are other properties offering in terms of amenities, concessions/discounts, and services? How are they advertising? And what are your key value propositions as you position yourself against them? Your marketing needs to connect with people looking for a home and convey that you can provide a better living experience than anyone else in the same market for the price of your apartments.



3. Give yourself a UX (User Experience) advantage



User Experience

In today’s digital world, your physical property conditions aren’t the only contributor to a good first impression. There’s also “virtual curb appeal” to manage. Taking charge of your online presence, from your website to customer reviews is key to success.

For business websites, a minimal, smooth interface that works well on both computers and mobile devices deliver critical marketing touches and streamline. 62% of applicants interviewed by J Turner searched for their new housing on a desktop, and 20% did so entirely on a smartphone. When your potential residents can immediately understand how properties look, submit applications and ask questions online, the chance of converting a lead into a lease increases exponentially. In addition to listing amenities on your site, property owners should also consider offering interactive virtual tours so that prospects can “kick the tires” even before they come in for a visit. At the very least, eye-catching property photos are a must.

Once new residents are in the door, retain them by streamlining your interactions and making everything from paying rent through your resident portal to picking up packages to maintenance requests easier.



4. Evolve your amenities, perks and (pet) policies

The Resident Experience

Today’s renters want an experience. They want community. The ability to bring their pets is non-negotiable. They insist on social and environmental responsibility. And their habit for busyness means they’re thirsty for any convenience you can offer. To gain an edge, your amenities need to map to the lifestyles of today’s renters. It’s no longer enough to advertise gas stoves and granite countertops. The Spruce advises identifying “which amenities are valued most by renters,” which “depends on their age group and lifestyle. Is it a family-friendly building? Is it in a college market? Is it best for retired, empty-nest renters?”

The Resident Experience

Today’s renters want an experience. They want community. The ability to bring their pets is non-negotiable. They insist on social and environmental responsibility. And their habit for busyness means they’re thirsty for any convenience you can offer. To gain an edge, your amenities need to map to the lifestyles of today’s renters. It’s no longer enough to advertise gas stoves and granite countertops. The Spruce advises identifying “which amenities are valued most by renters,” which “depends on their age group and lifestyle. Is it a family-friendly building? Is it in a college market? Is it best for retired, empty-nest renters?”

Consider how to address the following points of consumer interest with your amenities and services and realize return on investment.

Solve package management: Employing the right package storage and delivery strategy in this age of burgeoning online orders is an urgent task before multifamily operators. Resident expectations for package management have grown alongside the stress felt by property staff. Successfully accepting, sorting and distributing an increasing volume of parcels with speed is a competitive necessity. You can provide additional value to residents and ease the strain on your staff by implementing solutions like onsite electronic lockers, or offsite storage with direct-to-resident delivery service. Survey your residents to find out what makes the most sense for your communities. And keep an eye oriented to the future as food deliveries, laundry concierge services and subscription services continue to gain steam.

Welcome pets: Pet-friendly units represent one area of the rental market where demand far outweighs the supply. Rental properties are infamous for “no pets allowed” policies, but the proportion of renters having pets is estimated by Zillow to be 32%, and a 72% of respondents to a survey by Apartments.com revealed that they own pets. From a whole housing market perspective, 68% of households in the U.S. own a pet. “That means if your current policy forbids pets, you’re leaving out more than two-thirds of possible applicants. Landlords can make their rentals more attractive if they allow animals onto the property” (source).

Update Pet Policies

By adding pet-friendly policies (accompanied by higher deposits and move-out cleaning fees), property managers could tap into a market that is chronically underserved. Be sure to make informed decisions by being aware of the pros and cons of accommodating residents with pets at your properties.

You’ll want to read our blog post on the legal distinctions between pets, service animals, and Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) to keep your property policies in compliance with ADA and the Fair Housing Act.

Nurture community with common spaces: Providing common space amenities can be worth an extra 10% of unit value, according to NAA’s report: Adding Value in the Age of Amenities Wars. Everything from rooftop gardens with seating to couches with big-screen televisions to pizza ovens can help increase the quality of life for your existing residents and attract new residents who are willing to pay for such premium features.

The community aspect of apartment living is a draw to many apartment residents, so examine your market to ensure that your communal areas see high usage and provide value where it matters. To keep your common spaces in sterling condition, like patios, pools and playgrounds, track maintenance and violations on a mobile inspection system like HappyCo.

Common Area Patio with Pizza Oven

“Urban burbs,” commuting and transportation perks: Access to multiple modes of transportation is a significant factor in renters’ living decisions and a valued amenity, with especially millennials going carless. More than anything, renters are seeking a neighborhood feel with groceries, restaurants and more within reach. In 2008, Art Lomenick, Managing Director, Trammell Crow Co., Dallas urged multifamily companies to “start concentrating on how to integrate rental communities into the walkable environment. Help reinvent the suburbs - that’s what will help future renters” (source). The future he envisioned 10 years ago is here.

Bike Sharing

More and more, suburban development is emphasizing environmental consciousness, transit- and pedestrian-friendly streets, a diversity of housing types and other renter-favorite features. Whether your properties are operating in cities or suburbs, you can ride the wave by offering transit subsidies as a move-in benefit, discounted car-sharing as an amenity, secure bike parking, and/or bikeshare passes or memberships for new renters. Such highly sought after transportation perks make your neighborhoods feel more welcoming, foster familiarity with the city or town, encourage exercise, reduce pollution and improve traffic flows.

More and more, suburban development is emphasizing environmental consciousness, transit- and pedestrian-friendly streets, a diversity of housing types and other renter-favorite features. Whether your properties are operating in cities or suburbs, you can ride the wave by offering transit subsidies as a move-in benefit, discounted car-sharing as an amenity, secure bike parking, and/or bikeshare passes or memberships for new renters. Such highly sought after transportation perks make your neighborhoods feel more welcoming, foster familiarity with the city or town, encourage exercise, reduce pollution and improve traffic flows.

Bike Sharing

Residents Moving In

To help you choose amenities and services to prioritize, turn to research by NAA and J Turner that outlines features residents will pay more to have access to. For example, 46% of renters will pay more for fitness classes and 42% for walking trails and tracks (source).

Beyond the perennial must-haves, including fitness centers, secured building access, and high-speed internet, research also shows that renters are willing to pay an extra $32.64 per month in rent to live in a certified green building. To put this in perspective that is more than the $32 per month they are willing to pay for parking according to an NMHC survey. They’ll also pay an extra $26 per month “to live in a building that recycles” (source). So it’s worth taking your sustainability initiative, waste management, energy efficiency and water use seriously when striving to capture more revenue.

Residents Moving In

To help you choose amenities and services to prioritize, turn to research by NAA and J Turner that outlines features residents will pay more to have access to. For example, 46% of renters will pay more for fitness classes and 42% for walking trails and tracks (source).

Beyond the perennial must-haves, including fitness centers, secured building access, and high-speed internet, research also shows that renters are willing to pay an extra $32.64 per month in rent to live in a certified green building. To put this in perspective that is more than the $32 per month they are willing to pay for parking according to an NMHC survey. They’ll also pay an extra $26 per month “to live in a building that recycles” (source). So it’s worth taking your sustainability initiative, waste management, energy efficiency and water use seriously when striving to capture more revenue.

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About the author

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Jennifer Tyson
VP of Marketing

Jennifer Tyson is a seasoned marketing professional with more than 15 years experience at leading Silicon Valley companies and startups. During a decade at Apple, Jennifer launched three generations of Apple Internet services including the blockbuster iCloud 1.0 launch in 2011. iCloud became the fastest growing Internet service of its time acquiring 45 million users within the first 30 days and over 300 million in less than two years. In December 2015, Jennifer joined HappyCo leading marketing. Jennifer holds an MBA from Dominican University of California and a BA from the University of California Santa Cruz.

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