Enter your email address for weekly access to top multifamily blogs!

Employee Engagement

The latest multifamily research and data regarding the impact of employee engagement on resident retention, online reputation, and revenue growth.

Resident Retention: Alert! Alert! That Deposit Won't Cover Your Turn Costs!

Touch up paint for the entry? The deposit will cover it. Tub needs new caulking? The deposit will cover it. The carpet is 7 years old and it's looking terrible from all that daily wear and tear. It's going to need to be replaced... the deposit... Hmm. The unit is sitting empty for 10 days, 20 days, 30 days. The deposit?

It has not been that long ago that conventional wisdom said that turnover was not a bad thing. In fact, it was a good thing because more often than not, the unit could be re-rented for a higher monthly rate.  It's time to take a closer look at that "old wives' tale" and examine the facts, and not just because the economy has been challenging. It's time to take a closer look because often, I believe, our industry may not be looking at the whole picture when it comes to true turnover costs.

When evaluating an individual property’s true turnover costs, one must have a clear picture of the impact each resident’s move-out decision has on the property’s financial well-being. So, how do you calculate turnover costs?

Average market rent

Average vacancy loss days

Average wages for the leasing team to re-rent the unit

Average wages for the maintenance team to turn the unit and make move-in ready

Advertising and marketing costs

Referral or locator fees


Leasing commission

Repair and replacement costs to make the unit move-in ready


Here's what it looks like on the national average:

When you stop to evaluate all of your costs associated with a resident choosing to move, it quickly becomes apparent that the deposit can not possibly cover those costs. Nor should they. The deposit is to protect against damage to the unit, not to soften the blow for our own turnover costs that may have been avoided had we been a little more focused on service delivery and creating value for the resident on a day-to-day basis.

I encourage you to do the math and be able to tell your staff what each turnover costs the property on average. Because based on the data in the table above, even if you were able to re-rent the vacant unit for $25 more per month, it would take 172 months (14 years!) to recoup those initial losses. The solution is not to charge a higher deposit. The answer lies in your ability to meet the needs of your existing residents and reduce your overall turnover.

Jen Piccotti is the VP Consulting Services for SatisFacts Research, whose focus is on resident surveys and taking the guesswork out of retention. www.SatisFacts.com

Rate this blog entry:
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Keep your residents. Keep your residents. Keep your residents. Can this not be emphasized enough! Thanks for the post Jen. Customer service should be the marketing tool of 2010. It takes repetitive training and education to enhance customer service skills.

  Jonathan Saar
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

The great thing about this post is that these facts are relevant despite a recessed economy. Even if we were living back in the leasing glory days of '05, the overall costs of turnovers would STILL be more than the tenant's deposit. Definitely something to keep in the minds of our leasing teams and residence managers. Thanks for the post, Jen.

  Trevor Henson
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

@Jonathan - Amen! Customer service IS indeed the best marketing tool a team can have.

@Trevor - Yes, Yes Yes! Whether in fast times or slow, turnover costs are bad for business and they eat into our net operating income. Thanks for your comment!

  Jen Piccotti

Comment Below

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
So the other day I’m doing a little bit of shopping at Wal-Mart trying to figure out how I can save money and live better, when I realize I have no idea where I am. I mean, I knew I was somewhere between desk chairs and cat food, but since I was looking for cotton balls—for a project—I wasn’t sure if I should turn left at the beanbags, or right. I decided to ask Barry for help; he looked nice enough.  Me: Hi, Barry. Do you have cotton balls? Barry: Uh… Me: The...
I came across a blog post1 the other day that discussed the cost a company incurs because of poor customer service.  One of the surprising statistics that stuck out to me was that 97% of customers don't complain or vent their frustrations, even when they are unhappy with a product or service. I should clarify that they are certainly venting to their friends, families, work associates and the pizza deliveryman about how horrendous this product or that service is... But they're not ...
My daughter and I love Chick fil-A and end up going there a couple of times a month as a treat for the both of us. Now, no matter what time I go there, it always seems busy! This has been true in restaurants that I’ve gone to in both California and Colorado. In fact, when I managed a community in Colorado we knew that if we didn’t get to our local Chick Fil-A by 11:15 am,  we were going to be stuck in a long line.    Besides the food, I love the level of service that they provid...