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Distinguishing between survey data and behavioral data can be tricky

You’ve had a friend who insists he is going to quit his job the next time his boss reprimands him. Three years later, the boss still gets on him, but he still works there.

Or the girl who maintains that her boyfriend will be out the door the next time he stays out too late with his friends. The boyfriend continues to do so, but they’re still happily together.

What people say they’ll do and what they actually do are often worlds apart. Prospective renters are no different. That’s why survey data should be viewed differently when compared to behavioral data. Survey data is what prospective renters say they’ll do, whereas behavioral data is what they actually do.

This is not to say that survey data should be taken with a grain of salt or lacks value, but behavioral data is the nugget that is truly vital to understanding prospective renters. For instance, some might indicate that they are seeking an apartment in the $1,000 range, but will actually pay $1,500 when it comes down to it. The opposite is often the case as well, where some will indicate a price much more than they can afford. 

We have made the effort to garner both types of data from our network of sites in our quest to understand prospective renters better than anyone else in the industry. The idea is to be able to distinguish the sets, viewing the survey data as something of a “want” list and behavioral data as a “need” list.

Along those lines, we looked at renters who actually filled out a guest card to schedule a tour at a community to determine what renter’s really want from an apartment home. Of those who became a lead, we found that the most wanted amenities varied vastly by locale. Keeping in mind items such as a fitness center, laundry room, emergency maintenance, pet amenities and public transportation were craved nearly across the board, we examined the data from four major cities.

Most important to prospective renters in Atlanta were a swimming pool, balcony and air conditioning, which makes sense considering the city’s hot and humid summers. In Chicago, prospective renters wanted air conditioning, but also preferred apartments that are cable ready and have some utilities included in the rent.

Los Angeles prospective renters were keen on gated communities to go with high-speed Internet access and cable. New York most diverted from the others, with renters seeking a full-service concierge, a dishwasher and oversized closets.

The average rent prospects were willing to pay also varied widely by locale, beginning with $1,500 a month in Atlanta, $1,675 in Chicago, $2,625 in LA and $4,125 in New York. In a testament to the demand of each market, the square footage sought by renters worked in inverse order, starting with 700 in New York to 825 in Atlanta.

 

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When working with people, actions always speak louder than words.

  Mindy Sharp

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