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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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Gyms Deemed Safe with Sanitizing Protocol

Gyms Deemed Safe with Sanitizing Protocol
Pandemic or no pandemic, sanitization is always in style. Property managers stretching their maintenance team thin trying to keep up with the recent increase of cleaning demand can be stressful to everyone, and if the standards can’t be met, residents ultimately suffer.   In this post, I'll share the latest news in sanitizing and disinfecting to prevent COVID-19, how it may affect your property, and provide tips for what to do next. Safe & Sanitized The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and MXM, a technology company specializing in member tracking within the fitness industry, found that fitness facilities are safe and are not contributing to the spread of COVID-19. They analyzed member check-in data across 2,873 gyms, sports clubs and boutique fitness centers from May to August 2020. “The check-in data proves that health clubs – when following strict cleaning and safety protocols – are safe,” said Brent Darden, IHRSA interim president and CEO.    Overall, the data they gathered proved two major points:  1.) Properly sanitized gyms are safe for employees and members and  2.) Gyms are not linked to spikes or spreading of COVID-19. Our Survey Results Gathering feedback from residents is important to understand their wants, needs, and priorities. In our most recent survey, we asked more than 1,000 residents about their interest in group fitness activities. 98% of residents at two properties surveyed said they would take a class if, and only if, protocols and CDC guidelines were in place. With the help of an online am......
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Importance of Maintaining Your Marketing Budget Despite Economic Disruptions

In times of economic crises, one of the first budgets for multifamily businesses to be scaled back — or completely eliminated — is usually marketing. This is especially true if any of your marketing pursuits are outsourced.    It can feel scary, if not wasteful and frivolous, to be spending the property’s or investors’ money on marketing when the economy is plunging.    I’m here to tell you that while yes, it can be scary, it’s not wasteful or frivolous. In reality, it’s a smart business move to continue your marketing budget, if not buff it up.   Why?    For starters, you can use that gut reaction businesses have to economic disruptions to your advantage. Most properties will reduce their marketing budget, and you can take advantage of their absence in front of your target audience’s eyes (or screens).   Second, even during an economic upheaval, people still have to live somewhere. Currently, there are 43 million renters in the United States and that number won’t suddenly change.    Think it makes sense to cut your marketing budget because no one is moving apartments right now? Here are some statistics from this year’s pandemic and consequent economic downturn to reference:  56% of renters still plan to move during this time Over half do not plan to delay moving 51% say that the pandemic has not altered their apartment selection process An economic disruption is your chance to snag the renters whose moving plans have not changed even though the marketing plans of your top c......
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More Residents 'Seeing Right Through' a Community's Lack of Transparency During the Renting Process

More Residents 'Seeing Right Through' a Community's Lack of Transparency During the Renting Process
Grumblings among resident prospects about transparency within the leasing process continue to pick up volume – both in number and sound. It’s an issue the apartment industry is aware of and is working to address. Operators are finding that greater transparency – especially in regard to cost – can lead to a greater number of signed leases and higher resident satisfaction – something that also will show up in online reviews and reputation management. Surveys and studies continue to show "authenticity" to be among the most desirable features for consumer activity, especially among younger people. Virginia Love is a long-time property management professional who now works for Entrata, a provider of property management software. “We are hearing from clients that they want to include more transparency in the leasing process, from top of the funnel down,” she says. “Our clients are interested in making sure there are no ‘hidden fees’ or processes for the renter, so prospects aren't feeling like bait-and-switch victims once they start the application process. This also eliminates uncomfortable conversations with leasing team members who really haven't had the opportunity to first build relationships with prospects. It also reduces the emails and calls between the property and the prospect about what is required to apply and questions about fees, utilities, etc. “When you think about the popularity of self-guided tours – where the renter prospect does not meet first, in-person, with the leasing agent – the first true ‘visit’ to the community is the property website and ratings and reviews.” Based on an informa......
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Multifamily Marketing in a Pandemic

Those who quickly adapt tend to thrive. This skill has become essential to many businesses since the pandemic began spreading in March.  A positive consequence of the pandemic is prospects are following suit with widespread use of digital tools, online commerce, and virtual engagement.    I recently played host to another lunch and learn which explored the challenges multifamily properties faced while trying to market to shifting consumer behavior during the pandemic. Guests Liv Gabrielsen, Director of Marketing for Bainbridge, and Scott Papenfus, Director of Strategic Partnerships for LCP360, chatted about the creative ways they’ve adapted efforts and the true impact the pandemic has had on multifamily marketing efforts.     Shifting Marketing Efforts  When asked about general big shifts  as a result of the pandemic, Liv mentioned  what most businesses have experienced, consumers embracing the digital experience.    “For multifamily, what it did is forced our industry to embrace all things digital as we saw stay-at-home orders. The COVID pandemic made us shift what we're doing to ensure we can meet consumer demands in a 100% digital environment.”   She added that the industry knew they would need to support  consumers' digital needs  eventually. The pandemic accelerated that  process.    “We've known this for years; it's been moving in this direction,” Liv says. “For me, it was still a little bit of a shock of sorts — how fast we had to lean into some of the things or behaviors we were already thinking about, then suddenly over the course of a couple o......
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New Leases vs. Current Resident Satisfaction: Where Should You Devote More Time?

As property managers and multifamily marketers, our daily tasks have always blown past our original job descriptions. In truth, we hold more than one title — we are each a jack of all trades and that fact has never been more evident than in this COVID-19 world. There’s just not enough time to do it all. More specifically, we are juggling too many projects to have any “free” or “extra” time. That means we need to maximize our time.   You want to attract new renters and you want to keep your current ones happy — but with only so many hours in the day — where should you devote more time?  Let’s discuss:  Reasons to Focus on New Leases Besides being a new property, here are the top reasons we find our multifamily clients focus on winning new leases: More units available than current residents — the ratio between these two is important data to keep track of as you re-evaluate your strategy every quarter. Money has been invested into unit upgrades or new amenities.  There has been a change in rental price.  New demographic to target — as time goes by, the type of people you want to rent to changes; for example, many properties are slowly attracting more Gen Z than Millennials as they become the dominant renter demographic.  Reasons to Focus on Resident Satisfaction Here is when we see that our multifamily clients need to focus more on resident satistication: Relatively new property — being that the property is new, it has yet to e......
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The Power of Self-Guided Tours and the Importance of Letting Prospects "Trade in Their Own Currency"

The Power of Self-Guided Tours and the Importance of Letting Prospects "Trade in Their Own Currency"
Self-guided tours were inching their way towards the multifamily mainstream before the coronavirus hit.  Now, with the need for social distancing still here, they're much more common across the apartment industry. And when you see the impact they have on leasing, I think you'll realize this is a solution that is here to stay.  Consider the case of an apartment operator that implemented SGTs early in Q2 of this year. During that quarter – granted, this is only three months of data – the management company experienced some pretty staggering results:  Prospects who completed a self-guided tour at any point in the leasing process had a 54% higher conversion rate compared to those who only took an agent-led tour. One out of every four prospects who used an SGT leased.  67% of prospects who leased after self-touring completed an SGT as their first tour. 33% of prospects who leased after self-touring completed an SGT as a subsequent tour.  The average prospect completed 1.5 tours.  The Big Picture Clearly, SGTs can have a tremendously beneficial impact on a community's leasing efforts. But while some prospects prefer to self-tour, some still want to go the traditional, agent-led route. Prospects need to be able to "trade in their own currency," by which I mean an operator has to enable a lead to interact with a community in the way the prospect wants to.  Think Baskin-Robbins: they have 31 flavors because different people want different stuff! Another company to consider is Zappos – anyone who’s ever do......
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6 Amenities That Will Attract New Renters During COVID-19

If you had told me in January that just a couple of months later I'd be constantly refreshing my Amazon account to see if there were any kettlebells available, I would have said, "What's a kettlebell?" But also, "Why? You have a gym membership!"

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Effective Marketing: 4 Ways to Improve Your Rental Advertising

Effective Marketing: 4 Ways to Improve Your Rental Advertising
Believe it or not, the first ever paid advertisement in the US was for an estate in Long Island that was posted in the Boston News Letter way back in 1704. Keep that in the memory bank for office trivia night. Now I’m sure you’re aware, but marketing strategies have changed quite a bit since that first American ad. Landlords now rely on online listings, social media ads, and even virtual property tours. Very modern right? However, even since the 1700’s, the goal of any rental listing hasn’t changed. It has always been to say “My properties are awesome! Come check them out.” Here are a few effective marketing tips to make your properties catch the eyes of prospective tenants and fill some vacant units in this competitive market. #1 – Know Your Target Audience By far the most important aspect of effective marketing for any business is knowing your target audience. We will come back to this step throughout this post because it’s so vital. Before you start any advertisement at all, ask yourself: “Who is my ideal tenant?” After you decide who that is, then there’s a few more questions to dive deeper and get you on the right track. What kind of events does my ideal tenant attend? Where do they visit? And what features do I offer that will attract them? There is no better resource then your current A+ tenants. Talk to them and find out those answers so you can go from identifying the right tenant, to knowing the right ten......
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Multifamily Budgeting Tips During a Pandemic

    It’s that time of year again, budget season. In a normal year, budgeting comes with it’s own set of challenges, in a year with a global pandemic, it can seem nearly impossible.    I had the opportunity to sit down with 3 multifamily friends to chat how they were weathering the budget season in the middle of a pandemic.  Marcella Eppsteiner, Vice President of Marketing for Mission Rock Residential, Kim Boland, Director of Digital Marketing for Morgan Properties, and Savannah Wheeler, Vice President of Finance, Treasury and IT for Mission Rock Residential discussed next years budgeting strategy and how to adjust to an unpredictable world moving forward.    Embracing Nimbleness and Agility  Pivoting in the time of COVID requires nimble responses and openness to change. ”During a week in March where everything stopped, we realized 2020 was going to be an outlier,” Marcella says.    Mission Rock Residential, which typically does extensive performance evaluations for each of their communities when planning budgets, won’t just be comparing year over year, but several years to get a better idea of how far off they are from the norm due to the pandemic. Marcella shares that this year’s data alongside the five previous years should be a key factor for budgeting, along with prioritizing requests.   “Traditionally, we would share feedback and input for the strategy. This year, the real difference is seeing the granular data points that are strategy-determining factors for each department,” Marcella  says.   This year’s global economic upheaval propelled......
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