The National Multifamily Housing Council recently asked 221,000 renters nationwide to rank the factors that led them to sign a lease at the apartment communities where they currently live.
The survey results concluded that these are the top eight things renters look for in an apartment:
- Rental rate
- Property appearance
- Customer/staff interaction
- Available lease terms
- Layout of floorplans
- Reputation of management company
1. Rental rate
There are two things every prospective resident knows before they begin searching for an apartment: how many bedrooms they need, and how much they can afford in monthly rent. That's why it shouldn't come as a surprise that “rental rate” was the top factor people consider before signing a lease. As such, you must be smart with both how you determine and market your rent prices so that your apartments meet this essential need. Using revenue management software to set accurate rent prices is better than doing so manually, and showing that updated pricing on your website is vital. (Don't forget to keep your on-site staff in the loop of every rent change, too.) Check out our blog post, which provides some helpful tips for showing rent prices on your apartment website.
2. Property appearance
Before going any further, it's important to acknowledge that this doesn't mean a state-of-the-art, luxury apartment complex will always win out over the average community. No, this means that every apartment community—regardless of property class—must maintain a clean and attractive appearance for its specific target audience because those individuals weigh it heavily in their selection process. Displaying professionally-produced media content online helps separate a community's appearance from its peers and, more importantly, those photos and videos must match what a prospective resident sees when they visit that community in person.
The fact that finishings and features placed this highly on the list is indicative of two things. First, the things inside of units like paint color, flooring, countertops, storage, cabinets, lighting, kitchen appliances, fans, and even thermostats do matter. If you haven't upgraded or put too much thought into any of these features recently, understand that renters pay attention to those things and that there is value in making sure they're attractive and well maintained. Second, it's worthwhile to prioritize the various finishings and features in your general marketing message as well.
4. Customer/staff interaction
It goes without saying that your on-site staff must offer exceptional service in every interaction with a prospective resident. But the takeaway here is the importance of the overall customer experience from the moment someone begins their apartment search to the day they move in. This largely focuses on your apartment's marketing plan. Are prospective residents able to easily discover your apartments and engage with your website online? Are they able to get all of the information they're looking for? Those questions are key in assessing the overall customer experience.
5. Available lease terms
Prospective residents clearly want some flexibility when it comes to the term length of their lease. This is especially true in a post-pandemic era where more individuals are able to relocate to a different desired location while working remotely. One thing you can do to meet this demand is to be transparent about your lease terms, specifically on your website. You can give prospective residents the option to choose among the various lease terms you offer and see changes in rental rates for each.
6. Layout of floorplans
While this points specifically to overhead diagrams of floorplans, the gist here should be the general need for floorplan content on your website. Prospective residents have long shown a desire to see not only a diagram of the floorplan, but also what it actually looks like on the inside. You can provide this with pages dedicated to each floorplan on your website that feature high-quality photos and walkthrough video tours. You want to make it easy for visitors to select and learn more about the floorplan that best fits their needs. (Remember, they already know the bedroom count they need before they even begin their search.)
7. Reputation of management company
Though it's not specifically mentioned on this list, trust is absolutely a factor for someone making the decision to rent an apartment. It's a choice that carries with it significant life and financial implications, so prospective residents want to feel 100% comfortable before signing their lease. And, as this survey concludes, one of the things they'll research when they're down to their final few apartment communities is the reputation of the companies that manage those properties. Why? They want to make sure that the community they choose is well run. That's why property management companies should have their own website so that they can establish that reputable authority.
Of all the rankings on this list, this result is perhaps the most surprising. After all, amenities get a lot of focus because they can be a differentiator that gets prospective residents to select one apartment community over another. While amenities like a pool or workout room clearly matter—and should obviously be heavily featured in your marketing plan—just know that they're not going to be the sole reason why someone selected your apartment community. The other factors listed above need to be weighed just as heavily as amenities typically are.
Knowing what renters look for when searching for an apartment community is valuable knowledge. For multifamily operators, this list prioritizes the importance of setting accurate rental rates, property design, maintenance, and reputation. Other factors featured in these rankings are influential in helping apartment marketers determine what to feature on their community websites.
Click this link to download the full results from NMHC's Renter Preferences Survey.