Homeownership is part of the American Dream, but over generations, homeownership has gone down. This is great news for multifamily communities because it means that there is high demand but it also means that there will be higher expectations.
Using data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and their own survey results, Apartment List released a homeownership report that shows how low homeownership rates are with millennials when compared to other generations. This report also showed that 18% of millennials say they are going to rent for their entire lives, a number that has only increased in the last few years. So, what should multifamily communities do now that many renters will have lived in a lot of different multifamily properties?
For starters, you need to take a look at your amenities, both in-unit and in the community. If you have a property that’s pretty outdated, it’s time to start thinking about when you’ll be able to bring it up to date. PERQ’s solutions, while helping leasing teams save time and increase lead conversion, also collect data on the prospect’s journey on multifamily websites. With this data, we have found that the top 3 most important features to renters are in-unit laundry, walk-in closets, and modern appliances. If you don’t have any of these currently, it’s time to plan how to add them to your units.
As for the community, many renters are either working or learning from home these days. Adding private office spaces that you can rent out or adding large tables in a common room like your clubhouse is a great way to attract these renters. The private rooms will be great for the person who is permanently remote, but offering a communal space where the occasional, once or twice a week work/learn from home renters can have a space to go to too.
Millennial homeownership is low due to a lot of reasons listed in the Apartment List report, but they still want that dream of owning a house, but not for the reason you think. 33% of millennials want to buy a home because of their dogs. Dogs outranked marriage and kids in the reasons for homeownership.
Let’s be real for a second, multifamily communities aren’t always the most pet-friendly. From high pet rents to restrictions to not enough green spaces, it’s not ideal for today’s renters. Our data shows that 1 in 3 renters have a pet, a number that only increases each year. That means you have to make sure your property is also a good home for furry residents.
Jamin Harkness, EVP at The Management Group, has made a lot of effort in recent years to make his properties more pet friendly by eliminating pet rent and breed restrictions. He made up any lost revenue from pet rent through higher turnover rates. 80% of his renters who owned pets renewed their leases. From making sure that there are enough well-lit grass areas around your building to dog waste trash cans with bags provided, making your apartments more attractive to pet owners can’t be overlooked. Speaking from personal experience as a current pet owner who rents, not enough grass around the property is enough to write a negative review to warn other renters to look elsewhere.
It’s time to update your property to meet the needs of today’s renters because if you haven’t, your competitors definitely have. These renters have been through it all and they will go elsewhere if your property doesn’t hold up. Whether it’s thinking about renovating or adding more amenities, there is some work that you can do today to help meet the needs of tomorrow’s renter.
We know that the majority of prospects start their apartment search journey on an ILS (Internet Listing Service) such as Apartments.com or Zillow. It can be really hard to make your ILS listing all that much different from the others on there. You can have high quality photos and a really informative description, but that’s kind of it.
From an ILS, the next step prospects take is to go to the apartment website. This is one of the only few opportunities you have to show what is different and unique about your multifamily property. Daniel Paulino, Vice President of Digital Marketing at Bozzuto, says that the website is your chance to tell the prospects the story of who you are.
“Consumers have an obsession these days with floor plans,” Paulino says from his experience with his own property management group’s websites. He saw that websites with the best floor plan experience capture the prospects attention and they stay longer than the websites that didn’t. It doesn’t mean that you have to get a 3D floor plan of each unit, but showing how many available units per floor, having high quality images and detailed information about each floor plan is crucial.
When you’ve got the prospect on your site, it’s important to keep them on there as long as possible and to be effectively gathering data on what floor plan they are looking at, pricing, move-in timeline, etc. When it comes to what tools you invest in your tech stack to help keep the prospect on your site and to gather data, Paulino says, “Bottom line, there’s two main driving points that are extremely important; what does the prospect need, what is important to them, and what is your business actually trying to address this in the prospects journey.”
When it comes to figuring out what tools in your tech stack that live on your website are worth keeping and which ones need to be cut, Paulino emphasized the importance of A/B testing. A/B testing is when there are two versions of your page with two different variants. While this test runs, online users will see one or the other at random and continue on the page as normal. It’s the clearest way to show what the tool is actually doing when it comes to driving traffic to certain buttons, converting leads to tours, and what journey the prospect ends up taking on your site.
Paulino also points out that you can’t just test one metric to see if a tool has value. Leads to lease conversion is an important metric and should always be looked at since that is the bottom line of what your efforts are trying to do. That doesn’t mean you should ignore other metrics like keyword rankings, cost per lead, bounce rate, etc.
There are lots of tools out there to help boost our apartment website performance, but not all of them are worth it. The tools you invest in need to help the leasing team work more efficiently by collecting better data and make your apartment website stand out from competitors. It can be hard to tell if a tool will help you, but with Paulino’s advice you can know whether or not your investment was worth it.
Digital marketing is and always will be evolving with the latest tech and innovative tools. No business in today’s world can survive long term without an active digital marketing plan. What does that look like for property management companies and multifamily communities?
Daniel Paulino, VP of Digital Marketing at Bozzuto, sat down with Muhammad Yasin, our EVP of Marketing, to take a deep dive into the world of digital marketing for mutlifamiy communities. From how to invest your digital dollars wisely, to how to help integrate tools that help the onsite teams, there’s a lot digital marketing can do for multifamily properties.
During this Sofa Seminar, they chatted through a wide range of topics including:
- The Prospect’s Journey
- Apartment Websites
- Investing in your Tech Stack
- Using Metrics to Measure Value
When it came to advice on how to look at your digital marketing efforts, Paulino said, “Bottom line there’s two main driving points that are extremely important; what does the prospect need and how is your business addressing that.”
Stand Out from the Crowd
Paulino noted how many prospects begin their journey on an ILS before getting to your property’s website. This means that they know a lot about pricing and amenities but they don’t know your property’s story. Your website should showcase who you are and what makes you different from other properties.
“Consumers have an obsession these days with floor plans,” Paulino continued to say. Your website needs to have high quality and informative floor plans. Whether they are 2D or 3D, interactive floorplans keep prospects interested and according to Paulino, he’s seen an increase in time spent on property websites that have quality floor plans.
He also made sure to emphasize that when you look at your tech stack and each individual tool, you can’t just look at one metric. Look at the prospect’s journey, what tools they interacted with and the data that was collected from them. While you need to look at multiple metrics, the most important data point Paulino wants multifamily communities to look at is the lead to lease conversion rate.
The chat between these two brilliant digital marketers is one to look back on for advice when you’re in a marketing rut and to make your properties stand out from the rest of the crowd.
TikTok in Multifamily
Ways to Make your Apartment Website Stand Out
Connect with the Hosts:
What is life without search engines? Being able to instantly look up apartment communities with availability in the area you are looking to move has changed the way we market towards prospective renters. 68% of everything that happens online begins with a query in a search engine. Google alone has over 5 billion searches made every day.
There are two kinds of searches to know when you begin to think about how you want to target prospects through search engine marketing, organic searches and paid searches. Organic searches are when a prospect enters their search and naturally finds your website and clicks on it. Paid search is when a prospect clicks on a paid ad (Pay-per-Click or PPC) within the search results page. Paid searches mean that your business has paid the search engine to rank your website up in the top search results or it can mean that prospects clicked through one of your ads.
Ads vs SEO
Paid searches will take a lot less effort and creativity when it comes to getting your website ranked higher up on the search results page but it doesn’t guarantee clicks. While 75% of online consumers that PPC makes it easier for them to find what they are looking for, 53% of all website traffic is done through organic searches.
What can you do to rank higher up in organic searches so you don’t have to pay for an ad? This is where search engine optimization, or SEO, comes into play. SEO is critical for any digital marketing plan in today’s world. No one goes to the second page of search results so it’s important to get your multifamily website ranked higher up.
First identify the keywords or phrases that your prospects are looking up to find their next apartment. Once you’ve understood what your prospects are looking up, you can start to optimize your apartment website for SEO purposes. Add keyword-rich copy to your landing page and on other pages of your website, but be careful. Using too many keywords in your copy can in the end be penalized by search engines.
Best of Both Worlds
If you really want to get your apartment website in front of online prospects, combining SEO and PPC is your best bet. By using the keywords in your PPC ads on top of optimizing your website with SEO, you are guaranteed to see an increase in website traffic. An increase in website traffic means the possibility of more qualified leads that eventually will go to tour and sign a lease.
SEO and PPC can work together in harmony to get you the most out of your digital marketing efforts. Search engine marketing is a critical component of multifamily marketing as it will help your community engage with prospects and leads online and move them down the sales funnel. Whether you want to boost your website traffic through paid searches, organic searches or both, SEO and PPC offer a foolproof method to increase website traffic and your online presence.
Generation Z, Zoomers, or just Gen Z aren’t just teenagers on TikTok. The oldest of Gen Z are in their early to mid 20’s. They are at the age where they are renting on their own — whether it’s in their college town or in the city they move to for their first jobs. What do we know about this generation and how can your multifamily community attract them to your property?
Generation Z accounts for people born between 1996 – 2012. A main difference between Gen Z and Millennials, some of which are over 40 now, is that they grew up with the internet and the digital world. They are more tech savvy and have an easier time with learning new technologies because they have been since they were born.
With the oldest of this generation turning 25 this year, it’s important for multifamily property teams to reevaluate their amenities and offers to cater to the needs of this new generation of prospective renters.
They are the digital generation, that means your community needs to be up to date on all things digital and social. There’s no denying the power of social media as a digital marketing tool. Gen Z is knows social media better than any other generation, they literally grew up with it and spend most of their free time on it. This means that advertising and sponsoring posts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc will be an effective marketing strategy to attract the young adults of today.
This means amping up your content and posting frequently. Having a bad or just not good social media presence is a major turn off for this generation and can impact their decision making. Some content ideas include:
- Pet of the month
- Recap of resident events
- Get to know an onsite team member
- Day in the life at your community
A social presence is a must for any business today and especially for apartment communities. There’s millions of apartment related posts/content on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest. This generation loves moving vlogs, apartment tours, decor ideas, etc. Putting your property among these videos and posts will boost your online reputation and attract more young adult renters to your community.
Once you’ve gotten their interest online and get them to your website, the actual unit and amenities you offer are what’s really going to sell it to them. Being born into a world where everything is online, this generation of renters are looking for high-speed internet and will run if they see reviews citing internet issues at your property. Investing in the internet your community has ensures resident satisfaction and places your property ahead of the competition for prospects.
Spacious kitchens and modern appliances are important to Gen Z renters. If you have an older property, it might be time to renovate older units and bring them up to speed. A lot of young renters have pets or plan to adopt a pet whether it’s for emotional support or companionship. A pet-friendly community is very important to have. Ways to be more pet friendly include:
- No Pet Rent
- No Breed/Weight Restrictions
- Events and Amenities centered around pets
If you are worried that the above suggestions are bad for the bottom line, Jamin Harkness, EVP at The Management Group, has gone into detail about how these pet policies are actually great for creating more resident satisfaction and how he’s seen an increase in revenue because of them.
It’s time to start thinking about Gen Z as young adults who are looking to rent because the oldest of them are doing exactly that. They grew up in a world that is fast paced and more digital than ever. These tips will help you reel in these prospective renters and keep them satisfied.
Package handling for multifamily and apartment communities isn’t new yet all of the solutions that we have seem to cause unforeseen problems. In the second quarter of 2020, UPS delivered over 21 million packages. That’s only one quarter and one mail carrier.
With more people working/learning from home, online shopping and online deliveries have gone up. Is your package handling solution equipped to handle the growing number of deliveries? Many property managers came up with a few solutions to handle this last year. Let’s take a look at 5 solutions and see which ones worked and which ones need to be left behind.
Some multifamily communities allotted part of their budget and schedule to have one full-time employee who handles the packages. Since space was limited last year and the number of people who could be in the office was typically only one or two, assigning one person to handle packages as their sole duty that day was seen as a possible solution.
How did it hold up? This allowed many on-site teams to keep up with the increased package volume but it didn’t solve the issue of space and where to put packages. This employee would also only work business hours or leasing office hours which means that package pick up is restricted to a 9 – 5. That makes it difficult for residents to pick up packages during the work week and if the office closes for the weekend or has limited Saturday hours, residents would have to plan when to go get their packages.
Instead of the on-site team handling packages, some communities decided to opt for doorstep delivery. This seems convenient and cuts out the on-site team as the middle man of package delivery. There are lots of mixed feelings about this. For starters, unless a resident designates a delivery time to ensure they are home, it leaves their packages out in the open. This leads to damages and possibly theft.
Another solution to solve the storage issue was creating a designated package room. Some properties have their package room only accessible through a key fob or code while others have it in the leasing office and only accessible to on-site teams.
This is a better solution in the sense that residents feel like their packages are kept in a private, locked room that only select people have access to. But a room isn’t infinite. The average number of packages in the summer of 2020 exceeded that of the 2019 holiday rush for multifamily communities which has lead to overflow and some packages being left outside of this room. This again opens up the possibility of damage and theft again.
The last solution that is currently in practice is installing package lockers. Similar to package rooms, package lockers are only accessible to select people. If a resident has a package stored in the locker only they can access it. This sounds like the best solution when it comes to resident satisfaction.
That isn’t the case though. Just like the package rooms, package lockers have limited space which means there will be overflow and the possibility of damage and theft is still there. A lot of multifamily communities are starting to look at third party package management solutions, like an Amazon Hub.
A third-party package management system takes the burden off of the on-site team and puts all the responsibility onto the third party. They notify residents of package deliveries through text or email and residents can go to their system and receive their packages.
While this takes the burden off of the on-site team, it still has the same problems as package lockers and rooms when it comes to overflow. Many on-site teams have also had a hard time with third-party package delivery drivers and the actual way they handle packages.
Package management and handling is tricky. Every solution has its pros but they also have a lot of cons. Finding what works best for your team and residents will be a lot of trial and error. One of the best things you can do is communicate with your residents about the cons of the solution you choose. If it’s restricted office hours, let them know that and maybe work to have some time after 5 that they could come pick up packages. If you have a locker or room solution, let residents know that with higher volumes, packages will be left outside of this room and the lockers.
The reality of package handling is that there is no one solution that has no negatives. The best way to work around it is to have clear communication with your residents. Keeping them in the loop will build trust and keep residents satisfied.