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Automation: The Future of Apartment Leasing

Automation: The Future of Apartment Leasing
Automation has become a hot topic within multifamily. As its functionality has proven to be an asset to modern leasing strategies, its use is only going to ramp up. After all, automation technology simplifies and maximizes the leasing process for both customers and onsite teams. It has not only enhanced, but future-proofed apartment leasing and is now a key integration within CRMs. As more and more consumers have been making big-ticket purchases online, like new cars and homes, virtual content and automated communication with customers has helped apartment operators streamline the entire leasing process from the very first touchpoint. This has also made a customer’s decision to sign a lease easier than ever before. In the age of virtual and self-service leasing, operators have been trying to utilize multiple tools and technologies to efficiently convert an influx in online leads to leases. Automation coupled with CRMs has been one of the most influential tech combinations when it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining new residents. Using CRMs with an integrated automation solution allows onsite teams to leverage valuable customer information and preferences to develop specific, personalized follow ups. Automating time-consuming tasks, like initial requests for information on pricing, availability and tour scheduling, engages customers earlier in the leasing process, alleviates onsite burden and helps convert more leads to leases.  Leasing teams can get the most out of a CRM by operationalizing it with automation. Automation performs tasks that provide necessary information for customers and responds to their requests for more information. I......
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The Anatomy of the 2022 Leasing Pro

  What I look for in top leasing talent.   Most blog posts about the characteristics of the effective leasing professional would start with words like positive attitude, goal oriented, relationship driven, and committed to service. You would add qualities like professional in image and self-motivated; someone who loves people. The usual stuff we have heard forever!   These are all admiral traits and ones we would love to see in all the onsite team. Right? Even the manager! (kidding) Yet as a long-time marketing consultant and contract leasing provider, I can tell you those qualities are NOT the most important. Having supervised and driven hundreds of apartment lease ups, here are the characteristics I look for in my onsite sales pros. Proven Performer - The top leasing people are performers in whatever they have done in the past. I love hiring great salespeople from other industries who have that God-given gift of connecting and persuading. And I’ll take top apartment industry leasers by offering better commissions, incentives, flexibility, and tons of recognition. Appreciation and public acknowledgement are key motivators to top sales people. Hungry & Money Oriented - I look for the person that is eager to perform even if for personal gain. I want someone who is always motivated to get the next lease and is willing to work harder and longer to get that reward. My leasing professionals often work late or meet prospects early to get an opportunity to make a sale. They hustle to make the next deal. Good Lookin’ Individual with Strong, Pleasing Voice - People like to buy from attractive people. Sorry, but tha......
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Maximizing Your CRM

Maximizing Your CRM
It seems that technology is evolving minute by minute, and the multifamily industry has a front-row seat to these ever-changing advancements.  This rapid acceleration of technology has brought about a wealth of innovative new tools and solutions – from resident referral platforms and text message marketing to AI and automation – that operators are utilizing to improve the customer experience. With apartment leasing and living becoming more tech-driven and digital-centric than ever before, operators must stay on the cutting edge of technology to find new ways of enhancing, optimizing and automating their leasing strategies.  Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs) have become a key foundational element to successful leasing strategies and customer service within the industry’s new tech-focused environment. While CRMs can certainly help convert leads, they are really designed to capture data and only do so much when it comes to leasing and renewals. CRMs are not built to automate and optimize the lead-to-lease conversion process. However, the latest wave of multifamily technologies is maximizing the CRM by leveraging its data to convert leads to leases through automated lead development with an unmatched level of personalization. Too frequently, prospects have to reach out to leasing agents multiple times to get a response, and prospects will often contact five to seven different communities and hear back from only one or two. This generally means the first property to respond will land the lease, and the others left money on the table.  Adding a lease conversion automation tool to an existing CRM helps manag......
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2022 Best Practices in Leasing Apartments

We Have Been Spoiled in 2021 - Better Get Ready to Rumble! With over 400,000 new apartments projected nationwide in 2022, it looks like there will be some competition in most major markets.  Add a possible uptick in COVID (thanks to Mr. Omicron), and I predict a very competitive leasing environment this year.  Here are some MUST DO’S to keep your leasing efforts ahead of the guys next door! Answer the phone - DANG!  Why can’t we answer the phone at least some of the time?  Is our call center really better than the onsite team?  Possible, but hopefully not.  Look, when the prospect calls and you answer, YOU are the expert.  And you are talking to someone whose mindset is apartment hunting.  When you call back an hour (or day) later, now you are an interruption or a phone solicitor.  Gotta get those phone leads while they are hot! Greet prospects with FEP - Make every internet prospect, caller, and visitor know that you are exceptionally glad to see them.  Be FEP - Friendly • Enthusiastic • Professional.  Friendliness is one of the best attributes of the GREAT leasers. Show later in the day - You closing at 5 pm?  Really? Guess what, that is the time your prospect gets off work, too.  Make it easy and stay open till 6 at the earliest and add a few late days till 8 pm.  (Oh, it is dangerous to show after dark!  Really?  Got any proof?  I contend it is actually safer to show......
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The Importance of Gratitude

The Importance of Gratitude
Those of you who know me well know that I’m a fan of Daniel Ariely. He’s a behavioral economist and author of the seminal book, Predictably Irrational. If you haven’t read that book, get it now! I subscribe to his weekly email that sends me his Wall Street Journal column. It’s like a “Dear Abby” for decision makers and always entertaining (and usually informative). This past week had a question from someone who had recently been promoted to a position where she would now manage people who were formerly peers. She was worried that it would change her relationship with those people. This really resonated with me as this scenario frequently happens in our industry. My own experience is that it absolutely does change the relationship and we need to accept that. Dr. Ariely added some very useful advice based on behavioral studies that I think all of us can use. Specifically, he recommended to make sure that this person continues to express gratitude towards her colleagues. He noted: Sadly, research has shown that when people get more power, they tend to express less gratitude, even though more power might come with more to be grateful for, such as a higher salary. One study looked at the acknowledgement sections of academic papers and found that authors with high-ranking titles expressed less thanks than their junior counterparts did. A study of Wikipedia editors found the same effect: senior editors made fewer thankful comments than junior ones. We can’t rule out the possibility that more powerful authors and editors ex......
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Keeping Your Communication Fair Housing Compliant

Keeping Your Communication Fair Housing Compliant
Answering questions and communicating with prospects and residents is part of the job. But what we say or write can either be fair housing compliant or leave us open to a fair housing complaint.   Communication Comes in Different Forms Today, communication comes in so many different shapes and sizes. Beyond in-person or telephone calls, we now field emails, social media messages, and website messenger services or chatbots.   Regardless of the forms of communication your company uses, you need to ensure that all staff have adequate fair housing training when replying to questions. How an employee answers can cause the prospect to have unrealistic expectations of your community, or worse yet, any contradictions in information may be assumed to be a result of housing discrimination. Common Questions Received in a Leasing Office The list of questions below by no means covers all of the questions you will face. However, it does give you an idea of how a query can quickly turn into a fair housing compliance issue. How would you answer the following questions? Do you have any three-bedroom apartments? What are your screening criteria? What kind of people live in your community? Are there a lot of kids in your community? My friend from church lives here. Are you a Christian community? I have an emotional support animal. Do you have a no pets policy? Is your community safe? Let’s review a few different scenarios. Apartment Availability One of the most common issues occurs when a prospect calls a......
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Custom 3D Modeling: When To Know If It Is Right For Your Property (Free Estimate Tool)

We often times get asked how much does it cost to add virtual tours, 3D floor plans, or photo-realistic renderings to our property's portfolio. To help with this question we've made a tool. When it comes to 3D modeling there are typically two types of vendors: Custom 3D Modeling/Rendering Firms & Out-Of-The-Box Solutions (like floorplanner.com or 3dplans.com). While the Out-Of-The-Box solutions are often times cheaper, you dont always have the ability to accurately represent your space. These solutions are often limited in terms of finishes, selections, materials, furnishings, etc. Custom 3D modeling on the other hand allows you to control every square inch of your unit or spaces design, ultimately better representing what they will look like when construction is complete. Here are three ways to tell if custom 3D modeling is right for your team. Your Property Is Still Being Built/Under Construction We have found that this is the best time to add custom 3D Modeling assets to your portfolio. Why? Because it is quite literally impossible to showcase your spaces any other way. Custom 3D modeling gives you the ability to the match finishes, furnishings, materials, fixtures, and more that your team has decided to use months before construction has been completed. Once these assets are created you are free to add them to ILS, like apartmets.com, Zillow, and more to start building out your pre-leasing lists. Renovations & Additions Much like the point above, it is extremely hard to show something that is being built or is not yet......
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Fair Housing and the Supreme Court Ruling for the LGBTQ+Community

Fair Housing and the Supreme Court Ruling for the LGBTQ+Community
In line with the Supreme Court’s decision regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, President Biden signed an executive order earlier this year mandating that all federal agencies review the ruling and make needed adjustments. So what can property management companies expect? Should we wait on updated guidelines from HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) or should we make changes now to avoid any appearance of housing discrimination against LGBTQ+ prospects?   A Quick Legal Recap President Biden signed an Executive Order on January 25, 2021, requiring protections of LGBTQ+ people in housing, health care, and education. The Executive Order cites the recent Supreme Court decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, that held that the prohibition against sex discrimination in the Equal Employment Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Executive Order requires the applicable federal agencies, including HUD, to promulgate actions consistent with Bostock and the various civil rights laws. This Executive Order will result in new HUD regulations explaining the protections of LGBTQ+ persons under the Fair Housing Act.     A New Protected Category? There is always confusion with any change. With this new ruling questions have been raised as to whether or not this ruling meant a new protected category. To clarify, we do not have a new protected category, rather we now have an expanded protected category of sex. Under this expansion, it is illegal to discriminate against anyone based on their sexual orientation or the gender they are p......
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Your Website is No Longer Your Most Strategic Marketing Asset.

Welcome to The Local Search Economy.  Google My Business (GMB) is upstaging your community website. This spells trouble for a few reasons:  You’ve invested (and continue to invest) time and money in your website. Users form first impressions based on your GMB profile, then decide whether to visit your website. You depend on your website to generate leads and leases.  So, what’s going on?  Things change rapidly in a digital-first world. Google introduced GMB in 2014 and since then has steadily evolved the platform and its localized search algorithm. GMB is now a critical part of local search for any business with a physical location and an ideal solution for apartment marketers.  Consider the following six points: GMB is Free. Setting up a GMB profile for a physical location is free and helps ensure your communities can be found on Google search and Google maps while prospects are actively searching.  The Rise of Zero-Click. 65% of Google searches end without a click to another website, with users' queries resolving directly from the search results page. Prospects can call, get directions, view your offers and other info, right from your GMB profile. Catch prospects where they are and provide them with what they need to choose your community.   Google is (Still) Eating The World. Google dominates the global search engine market share, handling more than 92% of all search queries globally. And Google's local search algorithm favors signals from GMB profiles that are complete and consistently updated. Optimizing your GMB profile is you......
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Upgrading Amenities for a Modern Apartment Experience

Upgrading Amenities for a Modern Apartment Experience
Leasing has become more competitive than ever, and apartment operators have been rethinking the types of amenities they’re offering. Residents, like operators, have new apartment needs. With a greater number of residents working from home, there is increasing demand for high-speed internet and community-wide WiFi. High-speed internet and community WiFi is very important to residents and it powers other highly desired amenities, like co-working spaces and interactive fitness programs. Ubiquitous WiFi provides seamless connectivity throughout the entire apartment community, from common spaces to inside individual homes. Residents have constant access and reliable coverage and the service eliminates “dead zones” in certain areas of the community. Community-wide WiFi has become an essential part of enhancing the resident experience. Here are three considerations as to why operators need to make this a priority amenity:   WiFi for WorkCommunity-wide WiFi and faster internet service have become a necessity for modern renters, especially if they work from home. Many companies are continuing to support remote work or at least implement a hybrid work schedule. There is also a growing gig economy and increasing number of U.S. workers shifting to independent contract work. These residents will typically work from home or in a business center. Operators have started to switch gears to cater to these residents by offering more co-working space or offering two-bedroom apartments as one-bedrooms with an office.  High-speed internet and WiFi mean a lot to residents and typically factor into their search for an apartment home. A 2020 survey by the National Multifamily Housing Counc......
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