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Post-Pandemic Lifestyles: Which Processes Are Here to Stay?

Post-Pandemic Lifestyles: Which Processes Are Here to Stay?
The global pandemic drastically altered the way people live their lives virtually overnight. But after everyone got past the immediate shock and exasperation of staying home, society began to adjust.  While many newfound processes have been spurred entirely by necessity and will be considered a temporary adjustment due to the odd dynamic of 2020, others are infused with innovation and have undeniable staying power. Most notably, self-service appears to be here to stay. The consumer world is embracing a remote lifestyle, and that includes the multifamily industry. While the apartment world’s hastened transition to virtual and remote leasing options is well documented, the self-service component is weaving its way into the leasing process in many different ways. A new expectation  A few years ago when smart-home devices and capabilities were being introduced to the industry, they were considered a luxury. Fast-forward to 2020 and smart-home is essentially an expectation among renters. Self-service is fast following suit. Formerly considered something of an exclusive feature, self-serve options—such as self-tours—are increasingly sought after among prospective residents who want to remain socially distant as they search for their next home. While traditional tours are bound to make a post-pandemic comeback in some form, the desire for self-tours and additional self-service features is likely to remain. Morphing role for leasing associates  Leasing has always been thought of as a person-to-person activity, and that won’t change. However, the personal touch might be less about building relationships and more about providing information specific to the renter. Rather than making ......
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Stack Your Tech Strategically and Responsibly

Stack Your Tech Strategically and Responsibly
With the multifamily industry entrenched in the world of social distancing, many operators have been quickly vetting and implementing new technologies to help support their operations. Adopting a tech provider can often be a daunting task, as there are various points of consideration, such as cost, tech support, integration and the identification of performance benchmarks.  Social distancing and a new baseline of operations has also shifted the factors that impact the decision to implement new technology. First and foremost, operators should be aware of these factors when vetting the provider. Seeking systems with an open API model serves as a solid starting point, because they are more easily integrated. Here are some equally important things to look for during the due diligence process:  Check references  Checking references of PropTech providers is an excellent way to evaluate the way they conduct business. In addition to inquiring about their support levels for onsite staff, the quality of their communication during the implementation process and the responsiveness of their team, it’s a great way to see how quickly they are able to pivot. The global pandemic introduced an abundance of variables not witnessed in the industry for quite some time, or maybe ever. The ability of a PropTech provider to pivot quickly and provide solutions to new problems will be crucial to the success of a business. Remote assistance  A customer-service element is more crucial than ever in a social distancing environment. Onboarding a tech provider is never an instant process, and your team a......
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Self-Touring: A Distant Procedure That Must Remain Personal

Self-Touring: A Distant Procedure That Must Remain Personal
Self-touring already had been considered the wave of the future in the apartment world. Then the pandemic arrived and left no doubt.  But while self-guided tours might imply a distant, do-it-yourself atmosphere, they are not as detached as they sound. Self-touring prospects might not want the direct side-by-side assistance of a leasing agent, but they still crave a customized experience created solely for their journey. Often referred to as the snowflake of the multifamily industry for that reason, property management teams have clamored to find the best platform to offer that personalized DIY experience. But therein exists the dichotomy for onsite teams: While every self-tour must be truly unique and catered to the needs of the prospect—all while contemplating property type, local submarket market and renter demographic—the tech behind it should be a one-size-fits-all solution. While various self-tour options are on the market, clunky technology won’t cut it. Any solution that doesn’t integrate with a property management system has the propensity to cause more headaches than convert leases. Without software and hardware compatibility, the prospect experience could end up disjointed rather than customized.  Why is it so important for the backend to be properly integrated? Here are a few self-tour capabilities that can be created: The ability to self-schedule. Prospects who prefer a self-guided tour typically want to schedule it themselves. If they cannot do so through your website, they might choose to move along. Property access. Many communities are gated and have controlled access to amenity spaces. A prospect will not hav......
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The Surprising Applications of Maps in Multifamily

The Surprising Applications of Maps in Multifamily
An increasing number of multifamily organizations are adding interactive maps to their community websites. In almost every case, it’s a prospect-centric decision designed to give apartment shoppers better visibility into their potential future home. While the core functionality is indeed geared to enhance the prospect experience and help them envision their next living space, it is hardly the only application 3D maps have to offer. Community layouts can be fairly intricate, particularly those containing multiple buildings. And oftentimes, it isn’t only the resident who needs to know their way around the property or how to find a particular apartment home quickly.  Here are some of the additional ways maps can have an impact:   A tool for first responders  A local fire department, ambulance or other emergency response team might be familiar with Brook Oaks South Apartments and can easily use GPS to reach the property. But they probably don’t know where Building 13, Apartment C-8 is, and Google Maps generally can’t navigate that precisely.  The vast majority of 911 calls are now made from smartphones, which is a GPS tracking device in itself. But the map location accuracy it provides to dispatch centers – using satellites and cell phone towers – can be off by as much as 500 feet, more than the length of a football field.  Naturally, time is precious in any first-responder situation and seconds could represent the difference between life and death in some cases. Communities with interactive maps, those that display intricacies of the community in a 3D layout......
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Data Visualization as a Revenue Driver

Data Visualization as a Revenue Driver
Accurate property performance data is among the most sought-after commodities in the apartment industry. Few metrics drive solid decision-making than those pertaining to genuine activity at a rental community. But the data itself often leaves something to be desired. It can create further questions and convolution if delivered in spreadsheet fashion with no further context. The data becomes truly powerful when it can be visualized within the context of a property, when an accompanying interactive map of the property augments the perspective of the raw numbers.  At first glance, adding map-based visualizations to a property’s performance data seems like a nice-to-have feature. But this additional dynamic can do more than add texture to the data. It can serve as a revenue driver by providing unique insights property teams would have otherwise missed.  Here are a few of the ways:  Unit premiums  Properties generally operate on logic when pricing different types of homes within a particular community. While the logic method is typically effective, leasing activity sometimes proceeds in a counterintuitive manner. For instance, conventional wisdom would suggest that creek-side homes with tremendous nature views would command a higher premium than units on the other side that overlook the fitness center. But over time, more residents are opting for the latter homes because the creek-side homes experience more background noise and are more echo-prone. While the view is spectacular, it doesn’t overthrow a quiet living experience.  Teams observing leasing activity within the context of a map will quickly notice the spike of lea......
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How Technology Is Reshaping The Leasing Process

How Technology Is Reshaping The Leasing Process
Piece by piece, tech innovations have transformed the art of leasing. It has gone from a highly manual, labor-intensive process to a streamlined, efficient procedure with numerous forward-thinking ways to attract and convert apartment hunters.  Traditional leasing methods were already rapidly evolving prior to 2020, but times of change have accelerated the need for intuitive solutions. Renters have been steadily morphing toward an offsite approach in which they seek to gather as much information about an apartment community as they can before visiting in person. The social distancing measures brought on by the pandemic will persist in some form for the foreseeable future, which exacerbates that trend and underscores the need to effectively reach renters from afar. Developed effectively, tech-based leasing solutions should be mutually beneficial for prospects and the apartment operator. The prospect can gain quicker visibility into a property and have their questions answered more rapidly, while operators can expend less energy in reaching prospects and avoid tedious manual tracking and follow-up measures. Here are a few of the ways that leasing-centric tech tools such as interactive maps, data visualization, virtual tours, remote leasing, automation and integration can further impact the leasing process:  Augmented Service Levels Concepts such as self-guided touring, virtual tours and map visualization should not translate to a lack of customer service. These technologies exist to complement the traditional tour experience and make for an interactive leasing experience. Onsite teams should not utilize this type of tech to distance themselves from prospects, but as a way......
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Technology that Increases Collaboration and Efficiency—And it's not an Organization Tool

Technology that Increases Collaboration and Efficiency—And it's not an Organization Tool
Multifamily organizations often clamor for ways to expedite processes. Finding ways to increase efficiencies, particularly with the abundance of available tech tools, has become a primary objective. Yet for most companies, that pursuit ends with a communication tool such as Basecamp or Slack. While having a comprehensive list of projects and rapid-chat capabilities certainly helps, it doesn’t push the boundaries of how technology can genuinely make a difference.  That’s where data visualization comes in. A spreadsheet contains an abundance of information, but it’s without context. It might contain every possible detail about an apartment’s location, type of finish, proximity to the dog park and the views it offers. But if you cannot see it, you can only envision it based upon a written description. When onsite teams can observe those details on an interactive map—and pass it along to prospects—that’s when it truly transforms from an organizational tool to a business intelligence tool.  Here are a few examples of how visualization can provide key insights that cannot be found in text-based information:  Assessing value of various types of homes  During lease-up, apartment operators tend to begin with a straight-up approach. Most floor plans are priced the same, with the exception of those with well-apparent benefits, such as larger closets or balconies with desirable views. But as the leasing process unfolds over several months and years, microtrends begin to emerge. Certain homes might be more attractive for subtle reasons, such as proximity to a parking space, distance from the elevator, a quieter location or m......
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The Primary Benefits of Data Visualization

The Primary Benefits of Data Visualization
Imagine listening to a game on the radio or reading about it in the newspaper as opposed to seeing it on TV or in person. For most of its existence, the apartment industry has been in the radio/newspaper stage when it comes to engaging prospects. Apartment teams could tell prospects about their community or show them still photos of it, but very infrequently took additional steps toward data visualization. While that transformation started last decade, visualization tools will become a must for prospects—and for multifamily organizations—in the 2020s. As the new decade takes hold, data visualization will serve as the impetus for providing a next-level experience for prospects, onsite teams and organizations as a whole.  On the prospect side, visualization platforms allow prospects to view property data in the form of a map. By featuring detailed, multidimensional maps on community websites that display precise unit and amenity location details, communities increase the number of prospects who can interactively view apartment communities from afar. Providing this intuitive avenue to reach prospects genuinely makes a difference, as research indicates conversions are two to three times better when prospects can see and understand where an apartment is located.  On the operations side, implementing data visualization tools helps foster better communication with onsite team members, streamlines community-related processes and increases interdepartmental efficiencies. Here is a deeper look at the primary benefits provided by data visualization:  A transparent prospect experience Location transparency enables prospects to be completely comfortable leasing from home. They have been able to sel......
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Visualization Reinvigorates the Prospect Experience

Renters continue to become increasingly astute. The days of visiting an apartment community without having fully vetted it online are essentially over.  That’s why the multifamily industry has made a concentrated push to include as much information as possible on community websites and other listings, so prospective residents can see amenities, location details and the types of homes available in the community. But now prospects want more. They want apartment information faster, tailored to their specific needs and don’t have time for unnecessary details. So how can leasing teams deliver?   The answer is simple—visualization.  As prospects search through comprehensive property information, they seldom have the opportunity to visualize their desired unit by location. But technology has made it possible to eradicate that barrier and enable renters to visually search for available homes within a property.  In the pursuit to accumulate as much knowledge as possible before ever visiting a property, a visualization-enabled community will often jump to the top of a prospect’s list since they’ve already pictured themselves in that space.  Onsite teams can experience the positive benefits of visualization, as well. Prospects equipped with the information they amassed on their own will focus on any additional details pertinent to their specific living situation when they first speak to a leasing agent. Supplied with this information, leasing agents are readily prepared to ask questions most pertinent to the individual renter and offer the information that matters to them.  Childfree renters don’t particularly want to know about the playground, and pet-free residents won’t neces......
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Using Data to Create a Personalized Leasing Experience

It can be argued that the primary focus for multifamily organizations over the past five years has been to find ways to streamline the leasing process. It has proven to be a valuable pursuit, but that objective in itself leaves something on the table.  Modernized leasing processes provide immeasurable benefits for leasing teams by automating laborious procedures, but these processes don’t truly move the needle unless they allow the capability to customize for each prospect. Fortunately, the same technology that can simplify the leasing process can also be utilized to enhance the prospect experience.  In an instant-gratification consumer landscape, prospects will quickly move along if the application process—and leasing process, in general—becomes too painstaking. Here is a look at some of the ways the industry can apply technology to help individualize the prospect journey.  Digitally remember them  The need to fill out multiple forms largely consisting of the same information should be a thing of the past. Bidirectional integration technology is available that can digitally remember the prospect, allowing much of the information from the original lead form or leasing application to be auto populated into other channels. A prospect should not have to fill out multiple lead forms to get information from a community and then re-register from scratch for a self-tour. If a prospect is seeking a quick transition to a new home—and most likely they are—surrounding them with too much red tape might be a deal breaker.  Use data to drive the customer experience Multifamily organizations have data but often......
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