With over 70% of apartment shoppers researching apartments online, it’s important that an apartment property’s website be able to give potential renters all of the information they want to know about your community and guide them through the apartment shopping process.
There are several key factors that potential renters take into consideration when deciding whether or not to lease an apartment. A recent survey administered by national apartment management firm, Village Green, found that the top three criteria potential renters use to evaluate a property are:
- Rent price- 85%
- Location – 81%
- Community environment- 49%
The first two are rather obvious: the monthly rent price must be within budget and the apartment should be close to work, family, or whatever the potential renter deems important. Community environment is a factor that often gets overlooked, but it’s actually extremely important to potential renters. People want to know if the apartment community and surrounding area will have what is needed to fulfill their interests and hobbies.
“Rent was obviously super important,” says Lilly Iffert, a new renter at the Providence of Old Meridian, a Buckingham property in Carmel, Indiana. “We had a strict rent budget that we didn’t want to exceed, so we’d check the floorplan prices online before ever scheduling a tour.” Joining Lilly in her search was Elizabeth Weinewuth.
Not long into their apartment search, however, Iffert and Weinewuth quickly realized that there were several other expenses that must be factored into their monthly payments. “This is our first apartment,” explained Weinewuth, “so we learned really fast that there are a lot more things to consider than you would think. The other monthly costs you’re going to have in the apartment like utilities, cable, trash – these are all things you’re going to be paying monthly in addition to the rent.”
“[Those other costs] started to be the first thing we’d ask leasing agents about on a tour,” continued Iffert, “we wanted to make sure that the total price we’d be paying monthly wasn’t going to be over our budget.”
Iffert and Weinewuth are not alone in this question. Determining what the monthly expenses will be, in addition to the rent payment, is likely just as important as the actual rent price. This is a question that leasing agents are asked on nearly every tour or initial phone call.
Because of this, one of PERQ’s new tools in their online guided shopping platform is a Personal Expense Calculator that allows residents to calculate their estimated monthly costs for a specific community. This tool pulls in a community’s estimated costs for expenses like: utilities and trash, along with estimated costs for optional amenities like Cable and WiFi, storage, pets, etc. The more a property management website can act like a leasing agent and answer consumers’ questions, the more engaged and interested a potential renter will become.
Another new tool in PERQ’s online guided shopping platform designed to answer prospective renter’s questions, is the Community Fit assessment. With this feature, a consumer answers questions about their interests as well as the places they desire to have near their community. The tool even pulls data from Yelp to show activities and places near the community that are relevant to the potential renter’s interests.
We showed our recent renters these new tools for property websites, and asked if they would have been helpful during their recent apartment hunt.
“The personal expense calculator is awesome!” says Iffert. “That would’ve saved us a lot of time and effort we spent asking [leasing agents] all of the possible expenses and calculating our potential monthly expenses on our own.”
Weinewuth has quite a bit to say about these tools as well! “I like how it shows the costs of optional amenities too. It lets you see what the property has to offer and how much you’ll have to pay for the extra stuff. That would’ve been huge since all properties have different amenities and different costs.”
Both Weinewuth and Iffert loved the Community Fit feature as well, and agreed that it would have been extremely helpful with their search.
“Moving from Illinois to Indiana, I knew close to nothing about Carmel prior to moving,” says Weinewuth. “I obviously wanted to find a property that was close to work, but there was more that factored into our location search than just that. When we narrowed it down to a few properties we liked, I used the addresses to search what was nearby each property. It would’ve been awesome to have something like that directly on the [property] website.”
These new features provide significant benefits to both the property and prospective residents They create a better, more meaningful engagement between the two. Today’s world is dominated primarily by online shopping, so it’s essential that property management companies have websites that stand out and can create a guided online experience for consumers.