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What is Unit Level Data (& Why You're Losing Money if You're Not Using it)

Posted by Mike Schneider on October 19, 2017

What is Unit Level Data (& Why You're Losing Money if You're Not Using it)Multifamily marketing has always been challenging. Today, more than ever, property management companies and owner/operators must learn to distinguish themselves in a crowded and competitive market.

Prospects conduct more of the leasing journey on their own and have more information at their fingertips than ever before. A recent report from our partner Zillow showed that today renters contact 4.5 properties and only submit applications to 57% of them.  Additionally, nearly a third of renters spend 2 ½ months searching for their new apartment.

With renters spending more time and doing more research on the web, your online presence is critical to drive qualified foot traffic to your properties, and to support the prospect through their decisions process. Yet a fundamental problem with the multifamily industry is it still looks at marketing in the form of the floor plan. The way to separate yourself is to think of the world in the form of the actual units being rented.

Unit level data is anything that's about the specific unit. That could be photos, descriptions (e.g., views, appliances, it faces the morning sun, etc.), virtual tours or just about anything that highlights the specifics about the actual unit to be rented. It’s taking the same approach multifamily professionals have on floor plan level data and bringing that to the unit level.

Today’s renters do more of their research online and less in person. The idea that prospects can see unit level data online, so they can make a more educated decision and use their time to look at units they are truly interested in, enables them to save time and enjoy a better experience. It also makes an operator’s leasing process more efficient as those prospects that would most likely not rent after touring are less likely to even show up, and those who are more likely will feel more of an emotional connection before they even show up.

Utilizing Unit Level Data in Multifamily Marketing

Take photos of the apartments themselves (think of how seatgeeks.com gives you a picture of what you’ll see from your seats). Write unit level descriptions. Start with the units you most quickly want to get rented. Marketers often get overwhelmed when they begin this process, thinking, “Wow! This is too much. I have 1,000 units.” Instead, start with the units that are most difficult to rent, have the longest hold times or simply need to be rented as quickly as possible.

If you’re at the regional level or have a larger onsite staff, start to use a digital asset management platform for storing all of this data. We’ve learned that the problem with unit level data for most operators and properties isn’t that they don’t have it. Instead, the problem lies in how it’s stored. Too often the information is on someone’s iPhone or desktop computer, someone else’s Google Drive and another set of content is on a Dropbox folder in another building. A centralized place to store, curate and access this data is the key to success.

Instead of saying, "Wow, this is overwhelming. I have 10 units," they can start with the ones that most urgently need to be rented and go one at a time. For the folks that are larger that have onsite staff or local or regional people, they should start to create a more uniform system for storing that data.

This is where tools like Nestio are a great advantage. We give you one centralized location to be able to store, index and easily access all digital marketing assets at the unit level. You can create a digital blueprint of your property and enhance the quality and quantity of your unit level data and marketing materials. From there, we provide best-in-class distribution to the channels where the renters that you care about, are looking. In some cities that's brokers/locators and in other cities, it’s an Internet Listing Site and often it’s a combination of multiple channels. Email is a great channel for unit level data that is often overlooked.

This approach allows you to push better content and provide a better experience for your prospects so they're more apt to produce qualified leads, and close units faster. The data shows that this approach reduces days on market.

Different Apartment Units Require Different Marketing Strategies

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