March 12, 2015
How Renters Choose Properties
As tenants hand in their end-of-lease notice and start looking for a new place to call home, rental season is now kicking into high gear. As most leases are for a one-year term, renters understand they need to choose well.
Internet listing services (ILS) and online reviews are often the first go-to search tool. These reviews have a significant impact on rental housing decisions, as they allow prospective tenants to get a sense of whether or not the apartment is a good place to live.
In fact, a recent survey polled almost 30,000 renters and discovered that 70% of them researched online reviews and ratings before selecting their future home.
Reputation Management Begins With YOU
Review sites like Yelp and many others have a profound impact on prospective tenants’ leasing decisions. With so much riding on what others say about your property, property managers and owners must take reputation management into their own hands. Here are some ways that you can influence a renter’s decision.
Build Better Tenant Relations – Reviews and recommendations are key marketing “must-haves.” Tenants are more likely to post a positive review when they are happy with their apartment (and by extension, their landlord or property management company). This starts with better communication and response time. A tenant portal ensures that issues, problems, and requests are tracked and resolved as soon as possible.
Showcase Your Community – Remember that survey? Another significant factor influencing rental decisions –after location, price and in-person visits– was the community website. Use your community website to blog about community events, the area and its attractions (great restaurants, recreational activities, etc.). Not only are you engaging and building a relationship with your residents, you are also showcasing your property and your location to prospective tenants.
Ask for Reviews – Want to build a positive online presence? Ask your tenants for reviews. Good times to solicit reviews include after a successful and prompt maintenance request and upon lease renewal. Smart management companies leverage the communication component of the tenant portal to include this request as part of the lease renewal process or maintenance follow-up.
Respond to Negative Reviews – While you can’t please everyone, reputation monitoring and response is another key component in influencing potential renters. Too many property management companies tend to ignore negative reviews – yet they present an opportunity to show your professionalism. For negative reviews, a best-practices approach to responding includes acknowledging the reviewer’s complaint; apologizing for any inconvenience; and, then demonstrating how you have resolved it. Be sure to accentuate the positive – those prospective tenants are reading! If you haven’t already, be sure to claim your account on Yelp and other review sites so you can keep on top of all reviews.
Smart, Efficient Marketing – We know that people turn to the Internet to research properties, so leverage your blog and social media channels to really promote your rental. You can upload photos and videos, use excerpts from any “praise letters” and list availabilities. Be sure to incorporate keywords relating to the location and types of rentals offered.
If you’re looking to influence renters’ decision, a tenant portal and community website can be invaluable tools. The best part, is with new web-based platforms (Software as a Service/SaaS), property management companies no longer have to invest heavily in IT – simply take advantage of SaaS’s plug and play ability.