Where will your property be in a year?
As 2016 draws to a close, the minds of multifamily execs are already set on 2017 and beyond. Whether this year was a bust or boom for individual companies, it’s important to note that multifamily as a whole is predicted to experience stable market growth through the upcoming year.
So how do you seize the opportunity for growth? Simple: you make sure you’re prepared to meet renters’ needs. It’s impossible to stay on top of every trend, but if you know what features are becoming increasingly popular among tenants, you’ll continue to stay competitive.
In order to turn your vacancies into occupancies, here are five trends you should embrace in 2017:
1. Convenience via tech
Technology has become an integral part of the leasing experience. Whether it’s viewing a Craigslist post about a vacancy or taking a virtual tour on your website, people turn to the Internet for their renting needs. And as more apartment communities add user-friendly technology into their suite of benefits, tenants will expect you to have a robust online presence in 2017.
If you’re not exactly sure where to start, try offering Resident Passport to your renters. The passport is an online dashboard that streamlines the process of renting. Residents can pay rent, make a maintenance request, and even renew their lease. They don’t have to worry about remembering contact emails for the front office, lease information or important renewal dates—it’s all saved in one place.
2. Community events
Over the past few years, common spaces have become more in demand. However, these aren’t like the common areas of yesteryear. Today’s renters want something more akin to the kinds of communal spaces typical seen in the world of student housing. Instead of a club house residents can rent out for a birthday party or other private event, residents now want an inviting lobby, or an outdoor green area, or a business center where they can gather and network with other residents in the building.
If you aren’t able to provide these kinds of amenities, you can still tap into their desire to connect by hosting more community events. Movie screenings, game nights, and even social media contests are a great way to let tenants socialize.
And this all works to a property manager’s advantage as well. The best way to make sure renters renew their lease is to instill a sense of community. Residents are connected to their apartment, but they’re more likely to stay if they feel connected to their neighbors as well.
3. Access to urban areas
The common wisdom about Millennials is they prefer experiences over large living spaces. Whether or not this is actually true, trends seem to suggest that young adults want to experience their neighborhoods. Being walking distance to great restaurants, sports venues, bars and other activities certainly helps your appeal.
But even if your property is located on the outskirts of an urban center, you can still give your younger tenants the city experience they crave.
If you have the ability to make concessions on your leasing terms, consider offering a public transportation credit, a bike rental system, or facilitate a ride-sharing program among tenants. Make it as easy as possible for residents to get to the nearest bus stop or light rail station, so they can commute.
4. Subletting via Airbnb
Airbnb (and other homesharing companies like it) continues to grow. Reportedly, it’s valued at $30 billion, and it’s 2.3 million room inventory makes it bigger than the largest hotel chains—Hilton, Marriott, and InterContinental—combined.
Airbnb is controversial in the multifamily industry for a variety of reasons. And at the end of the day, every company must decide if it’s comfortable with the idea of subletting (provided it’s even legal in your area). However, it’s a decision made easier by Airbnb’s new Friendly Buildings Program, which gives the property management companies a pre-determined percentage of each rental.
Clearly more and more residents are open to sharing their apartments with others. Allowing them to make a little money on the side may be the one perk that edges out your competition, and turns a lead into a lease.
5. Creative amenities
Offering renters amenities isn’t a new trend, but the basic perks no longer cut it.
Benefits like parking are now viewed as the bare minimum. But that doesn’t mean you need to add an Olympic-sized pool and ground-floor retail shops to stand out. Instead, get creative with your benefits.
Located in an area with heavy foot traffic? Offer secure bike storage. Have ample space in your lobby or on the grounds? Yoga or wellness classes may appeal to your renters. A concierge, pet grooming, and free WiFi can also go a long way to increasing leases in 2017.