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Posted by Lizete Alves on January 22, 2018

what-todays-prospect-expect.jpgProspects don’t turn to leasing representatives for unit information as they have in the past; they do much of the leasing research process online themselves. Researching historic rental prices, amenities, neighborhoods, unit layout, floor plans, and reviews have helped them whittle down their list to a select few properties. By the time they arrive at your door, they likely already know whether they’re interested in renting the unit or not.

Today, prospects meet with the leasing representative to try and confirm whether their decision to move forward with the property they like is the right decision. In many ways, this makes the multifamily marketer’s job easier, as long as they play by the new rules.

Here’s some 2018 takeaways:

Amazon Has Raised Standards for Everyone

The visually appealing and highly automated experiences of companies like Amazon, Zappos and Seamless have raised the bar for consumer experiences. Renters now look for all their online experiences to match up. The multifamily marketer has had to adjust its marketing strategies to better align with consumers’ evolving needs and expectations.

Renters want the same convenience when it comes to looking at apartments as they get when ordering shoes, food delivery or even a brand new car. Many real estate marketers have risen to the challenge, with apps and software that have revolutionized the rental process. New technologies have replaced offline with online, from video walkthroughs, fast search and compare capabilities, to new ways of slicing and dicing rental data.

To move into the realm of the modern multifamily marketer you need to embrace modern technology. Leveraging technology in the channels that matter will improve your marketing efforts in a way that will show real results. Read how to use a multichannel marketing approach to stay ahead of other multifamily marketers.

Don’t Show Your Prospects a Floor Plan, Show Them Their Next Home

Renters aren’t just looking for their next unit; they’re looking for a home. Renters want to see the details about the apartment and property that make it special, so they can envision themselves living happily there. Floor plans are one-dimensional, cold and impassive. They lack emotion—and getting your prospect to emotionally engage is one of the most successful sales strategies.

Today’s renters want to know more than just room dimensions and layouts. They want to know what the unit and entire property look like before they even consider visiting. As a modern multifamily marketer, it’s your job to provide unit level materials to help them engage emotionally with your marketing.

Think beyond floorplans—add professionally taken photos (with and without furnishings) and virtual tours (not just slideshows of photos) to reveal the personality of the property and the unit. Visuals can breathe life into the quest for a new apartment.

In AppFolio’s 2016 Rental Market Survey, they asked, “Which of the following would cause you to eliminate a property from your search?” and got the following results:

  • Property rent is more than I want to pay (31.5%)
  • Lack of photos or videos of the property (24%)
  • Quality of property’s amenities (18%)
  • Property itself has poor reviews online (13.9%)
  • Property manager has poor reviews online (12.6%)

A whopping 24% would eliminate a property that doesn’t have unit-level data. That’s nearly as much as eliminating a property from the search because it’s too expensive. Read our blog, What is Unit Level Data & Why You're Losing Money if You're Not Using It, for more ways to incorporate unit level data into your multifamily marketing plan.

Maximum Convenience is Now a Minimum

Modern renters want convenience in many forms, including:

    • Communication: Renters want quick and easy methods to communicate with multifamily operators, with email the preferred option (at 62%). As for submitting maintenance requests, renters want online platforms that allow easy reporting of maintenance issues by phone or mobile device, so that apartment-related tasks can be done whenever/wherever.
    • Amenities: All-inclusive utilities, energy-efficient upgrades, security, in-unit laundry, stainless steel appliances, walk-in closets, fitness centers, wireless internet, recycling centers, theatre, pool, and parking continue to be some of the features that prospects want.
  • Online Payments: The modern renter wants the ease that comes with online payments. Going green with online payments benefits the multifamily operator as well, eliminating the hassle of paper checks, reducing late payments or lost checks, and providing a digital “paper trail” for renters and multifamily operators.
  • Online Paperwork: Modern renters do everything else online, so why should the leasing process be different? Make use of renter portal software to allow prospects to fill out all the leasing paperwork online at their convenience.

Customer Service Matters

The multifamily market is highly competitive, and customer experience is the new competitive battlefield. As a multifamily operator, how should you market your residential portfolio so that potential renters don’t leave your listing for one that appeals better to their inner consumer?

The renter has so many options and they’re all right at their fingertips. They no longer have to physically drive and look at the prospective units. They can cover a tremendous amount of real estate inventory online in very little time.

As a result, great customer experience is one of the few things that will set you apart from your competitors.

For the modern renter, demands are high. They want all the bells and whistles, including price, layouts, floor plans, unit-level content, virtual tours, photos and descriptions.

You must provide them with multi-faceted, attractive, relevant content that will help them make the decision to view your property in person. Once they arrive, stellar customer service will set you apart from other multifamily marketers.

However, good customer service shouldn’t stop after the lease is signed. Staying connected and available to residents at all times (not just at renewal time) throughout their time at your property will leave a lasting impression. Renters with a good experience will want to renew leases, and will (hopefully) refer friends.

Don’t Just Meet Your Prospect’s Needs— Exceed Them

For multifamily operators, drawing in high-quality tenants means providing an experience over and above what your prospects expect. Consider implementing these suggestions to better position your multifamily rental property for success, stand out in a crowded market and increase your bottom line.

The Multifamily Marketer's Guide to Digital Marketing Today

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