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The Tide is Turning on Accepting Felons

Over the past few years, there has been a swing in the perception of felons as renters. Part of that change has been due to Fair Housing concerns of disparate impact, and now we are seeing real-time changes to company screening criteria. We recently released our 2018 Resident Credit Screening Research Report (free download), and one of the questions asked whether the responder accepted felons at their communities. The “yes” answer changed little, from 6% to 8%, but the “Yes, but only after a certain number of years” answer saw a dramatic change over the past two years, from 39% in 2016 to 57% in 2018. Clearly, our industry is becoming more comfortable with the idea of accepting felons, as long as the felony occurred a certain distance in the past. We also asked, “Do you differentiate between violent, non-violent, and sex offenses in the screening process?” In this case, we saw a clear trend towards reviewing the offense on a case by case basis rather than painting all felonies with the same brush. There appears to be an attempt to identify non-violent offenders and offer more lenience relative to a violent offender. It will be interesting to see how companies assess these changes after they obtain more data about past felons who now live at their communities. Update:  After publishing this blog, Anne Sadovsky sent me a message with several relevant notes.  She said it would be ok to share here: Companies should be using third party for running applications.These companies a......
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Is Raising Rents Really The Most Profitable Option In The Short Term?

Years ago, when I was just entering the industry and trying to understand pricing dynamics, at first I couldn't understand why strong communities ever struggled for prospects.  It seemed that a really good community would be awash in prospects because, frankly, there are plenty of really bad communities out there they are competing with.  But I quickly realized that as that strong community's occupancy went up, so did its pricing, which reduced demand.  The decision to raise rents seemed completely logical to me at the time - a great community should be able to charge more, and it would be foolish to leave money on the table by not charging more.  But what that did was put the community in a constant marketing push.  As occupancy went up, rents went up, and the pool of prospects who would/could pay that level of rent went down.  So we always had to push marketing to find those prospects who would fit that new requirement. After thinking on the issue for years, however, I am unconvinced this solution is necessarily ideal or most profitable.  See, the accepted path for the community has always been higher occupancy leads to charging higher rents.  But there is another factor that can be employed when you have high demand:  Increased selection criteria.  In a simplistic way, if a ton of people want to live at your community, you can "cherry pick" the absolute best prospects, who have the best traits.  For example, do they refer their friends?  Do......
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