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Brent Williams' Apartment Blog

Thoughts, comments, and ideas about the overall multifamily industry, as well as a property-specific focus on resident retention and apartment marketing.

Matching Resident Life Transitions

Is your company providing a retention plan that incorporates your residents' life transitions? It occurred to me tonight that we are trying to retain residents into apartments that don't "fit" them anymore. On a very basic level, consider that most people have incomes that trend up over their lifetime. If we try to retain them in the same apartment, their experience is not trending with them. Although their income goes up, the relative value of their apartment (older carpet, longer period since last painting, etc) goes down. Therefore, we are not providing solutions that evolve as their life does.

Let's flip through an "average" life cycle for a person:

- Leave the parent's house and either go to school or get job, likely with a roommate.
- Get first "real" job that allows them to live alone
- A few raises without dependants results in acquisition of new furniture, requiring bigger, and nicer, one-bedroom apartment
- Gets a significant other and they move in together. They get a two bedroom so they can spread out, although tight funds may require a lower class of property.
- Starts a family and needs a nursery, which sometimes requires a 3rd room
- 2nd child definitely requires another bedroom, and often a move into a house with a yard for the children.
- 50% get a divorce at some point, with one or both parties likely moving back into apartments.
- Retirement brings a desire for "simpler" living without home repairs, which brings an older generation back into the fold.

Have you ever witnessed a company that strategizes on how to grow with their residents and learn how to provide different solutions as they get older and their lives change? For example, what about a plan that provides a free move for an upgrade from a one-bedroom to two-bedroom apartment? Of course it would have to keep within the confines of Fair Housing laws, but imagine a property management company that strived to create a life plan with their residents to constantly provide an evolving service that matched the residents' evolving needs!

(By the way, I understand that most communities have a mix of bedroom floorplans. However, just because they have the asset, does not mean they are actively pursuing their existing residents in this manner.)

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