Campbell, Calif. – Today, apartment industry software provider On-Site.com announced that it has partnered with student housing giant EdR to introduce online leasing to its 67 communities, comprising 37,000 leasable beds, by the end of summer 2013. On-Site’s online leasing solution allows EdR’s student renters to shop apartments, apply, qualify and e-sign a lease in one continuous, online checkout process, optimized to run on the smart phones and tablets favored by college-age millennial renters.
Christine Richards, EdR senior vice president and chief operations officer, led the move to online leasing, stressing a need for greater usability and convenience in the renting process.
“EdR is putting a priority on leasing technology since we need to be able to interact with students in the same manner they are accustomed to in every other facet of their lives,” said Richards. “Students today register for classes online, buy their books online, and now they can lease online in an easy checkout process that puts an end to all the paper pushing.”
“It’s a perfect match,” said Lynn Musil, vice president of sales at On-Site. “EdR and On-Site share a mutual interest in creating the best leasing tools for property managers and their renters, and with this partnership, we’ve been able to do just that.”
Before teaming up with On-Site, EdR had its fair share of challenges.
Unlike conventional housing providers, EdR leases by the bed and students apply to floorplan styles as opposed to specific units. This process allows EdR the flexibility to match roommates as the start of classes approaches.
Typical off the shelf leasing tools aren’t designed to handle the unique requirements posed by student housing.
“There were a lot of broken promises,” said Richards. “After two years of little progress with other software providers, it was time to try something new.”
Once EdR and On-Site started working together, the results were dramatic.
“On-Site did in two months what our previous vendors couldn’t do in two years,” said Richards.
“It was a collaborative process—we met with On-Site a number of times to define the challenges we were facing and as they began development they were very open to our feedback. On-Site was really able to hone in on what we were after,” she said.
EdR needed a solution that allowed student renters to apply to a floorplan, pick lease terms and payment options based on the start and end dates for the school semester or quarter, qualify separately from their guarantors, immediately execute the lease via electronic signature—and then invite the guarantor to sign electronically as well.
“EdR is putting a priority on leasing technology since we need to be able to interact with students in the same manner they are accustomed to in every other facet of their lives. Students today register for classes online, buy their books online, and now they can lease online in an easy checkout process that puts an end to all the paper pushing.”
Christine Richards, EdR
“On-Site’s solutions are designed with flexibility and modularity in mind so our software developers were able to quickly connect together several technologies to meet EdR’s needs,” said Scott Jones, On‑Site’s chief technology officer. “We began by customizing the way students choose their lease terms—it’s done quite differently in student housing. The students rent according to the school term, like fall semester or quarter, which of course depends on the school.”
According to Jones On-Site also modified the online application to connect directly into the e-sign process so students can sign the lease once they meet the community’s rental criteria and without the assistance of the leasing agent.
“The student signs the lease, and then they can invite a guarantor to qualify separately according to a different set of rental criteria and complete the guarantor agreement,” said Jones.
“Once we have the students’ attention, we want them to sign the lease immediately,” said Scott Casey, EdR senior vice president and chief technology officer. “Getting their attention again can be difficult so it’s important that we remove the bottlenecks from the leasing process and let the students complete the entire leasing transaction in one session.”
“Today’s students are the renters of tomorrow. After graduating, they will expect the kind of technological convenience they received as a student. So in that sense EdR is really setting a standard of service that will become the norm, not just for student housing, but for all housing providers.”
Scott Jones, On-Site
To reduce application attrition, On-Site builds its online applications with responsive design, as opposed to separate websites or apps for desktops, mobile devices or tablets.
“Regardless of how students access the online application, responsive design ensures that students get a content-rich, personalized experience that reshapes itself to fit their device. That way students don’t get bogged down on a full website that takes too long to load on their phones or a mobile-specific website that doesn’t include the content they’re looking for,” said Jones.
After move-in, EdR is able to manage back-office leasing operations using On-Site’s integration with strategic partner and property management software provider, AMSI.
EdR is no stranger to innovation. Since introducing the concept of privatized student housing with its first development in 1964, EdR went on to introduce the student housing industry to individual leases, full-service housing and co-ed living. Now, EdR leads the way once again with self-service online leasing that allows renters to go from listing to lease in one seamless process with minimal assistance from leasing staff.
“Today’s students are the renters of tomorrow,” stressed Jones. “After graduating, they will expect the kind of technological convenience they received as a student. So in that sense EdR is really setting a standard of service that will become the norm, not just for student housing, but for all housing providers.”
Founded in 1999 with technology and service 100% based in the U.S., On-Site is bringing the apartment industry up-to-speed with what today’s consumer expects from the renting experience: modern technology and a focus on usability. Our online listing-to-lease platform covers everything from marketing your communities and qualifying renters to generating and e-signing lease contracts with online document storage. The result is a simplified leasing process that leads to greater customer satisfaction and translates directly to the positive side of the balance sheet. For more information about On‑Site’s leasing solutions, visit www.on-site.com or contact one of our online leasing experts at (855) 667-6500.
EdR (NYSE:EDR) is one of America's largest owners, developers and managers of collegiate housing. EdR is a self-administered and self-managed real estate investment trust that owns or manages 67 communities in 24 states with more than 37,000 beds. For more information please visit the company's website at www.edrtrust.com.