how renters search for apartment

How Renters Search for Their Next Apartment

7 min read
Kristy Esch Administrator

Even prior to the pandemic, renters were practicing social distancing when searching for their next apartment — only coming to visit the property in person for a tour (if at all) once they gathered as much information as possible on their own online.  

 

Follow how renters search for the perfect place to live to gain valuable insights. Learn how they find your website, track every time they return to continue research, and see which engagements drive them to sign a lease. 

 

Below, we follow the real leasing journeys of three rental prospects on three different property websites. The data, collected by PERQ, identifies each lead who engages with a property website and assigns them a lead number to track their activity across digital platforms, devices and multiple visits. 

 

“Today’s renter has certainly changed. They expect a different process in renting,” says Marcella Eppsteiner, V.P. of Marketing at Mission Rock Residential. “People are window shopping online, and they are doing this for apartments. They are doing their research.”

 

How Renters Search: Tigard, Oregon, Example

 

Lead 10976

Smartphone Organic Search

 

Prospect uses a mobile phone to do an organic Google search for available apartments in the area. The consumer selects a multifamily property from the search results, arriving on the property homepage.

 

New Customer Assesses Apartments & Neighborhood

 

Completing the “New Customer Welcome” box for a chance to win a free year of rent at the multifamily property, the prospective renter fills in contact information and divulges details like projected move-in date and best time of day to reach them. 

 

They view the online photo gallery, floor plans, amenities, and take a 360-degree virtual tour of the property. The prospect also clicks the “Explore the Area” assessment, answering quick questions about favorite pastimes and their current stage of life, and gets a list of relevant businesses and community offerings located nearby (20+ restaurants within 5 miles!), along with Yelp reviews for those neighborhood establishments.  

 

During that first visit, Lead 10976 spends just over 28 minutes on the property website, views 9 pages and engages with 2 interactive experiences.

 

Repeat Visits to Online Application, Floor Plans

 

Prospect returns to the same property website 4 out of the next 5 days. On the third day, the lead launches the “Apply Now” feature on the site and spends 7 minutes reviewing the online lease application.

 

They return later that night and spend another 79 minutes on the online leasing section, then view the Floor Plans and Available Units pages on the apartment website. From there, the prospective renter sporadically returns to the website over the next month, browsing various floor plans each time.

 

Moves Into Apartment After 33 Days

 

Just over one month after their initial visit to the apartment website, the consumer moves into a unit at the property with a $2,470 monthly rent. Later that same day, the renter visits the website once again to browse resident services. 

 

Overall, Lead 10976 engaged with 3 website experiences across 31 days and spent more than 3 hours browsing the apartment website before deciding to become a resident there. 

 

How Renters Search: Washington, D.C., Example

 

Lead 4792

Organic Google Search

 

Prospect uses a computer to search Google for available apartments in the area and selects the link to an apartment community in Washington, D.C., from the search results. Arrives on the main page of the property website and completes the “New Customer Welcome” engagement to get a personalized online experience.

 

Takes Several Assessments on Property Website 

 

The consumer tagged as Lead 4792 views the Amenities page before going through the “Floor Plan” assessment, then directly into the “Explore the Area” assessment. They pick their top 3 hobbies or interests from a list of 8 different types of leisure activities, and answer other personal preference questions to learn about what’s available in the surrounding neighborhood.

 

Researches Site, Virtually Requests a Tour

 

After browsing several pages, including Floor Plans, Amenities, Our Story, and Gallery, the prospective renter launches the “Schedule a Tour” tool. 

 

They then exit the website, after spending nearly 48 minutes gathering information and narrowing down the apartment unit they want to lease.

 

Digital Ad Drives Quality Re-Engagement

 

The next day, Lead 4792 clicks on a Google Paid Display ad retargeting leads and revisits the property website to view floor plans again.

 

Prospect then fills out their Personal Shopping Profile information, including email and phone number, to prompt a personalized experience on the website. 

 

For their final engagement, the consumer selects the “Apply Now” option in the website hub of interactive tools, which takes them to the online leasing application.

 

Lead Moves Less Than One Month Later

 

Prospect moves to the apartment community less than one month after their first visit to the property’s website, signing a lease for a unit priced at $2,399 per month.

 

The renter spent just over an hour total on the property website, visiting 2 times and completing 4 experiences, before committing to that property as their new home. 

 

How Renters Search: Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Example

 

Lead 14027

Organic Search Leads to Pricing Floor Plans

 

Prospect lands on the property website after doing an organic Google search. The consumer first views Floor Plan Pricing for the multifamily community.

 

Schedules a Property Tour

 

After dismissing multiple website prompts offering assistance, the online shopper completes the “Schedule a Tour” experience to set a property tour date and time with the on-site leasing team.

 

Special Offer Experience

 

The prospective renter browses the Gallery page of property photos highlighting amenities and prime features offered at the multifamily community, such as the saltwater pool with mountain views, an on-site dog park and dog-washing station, and the luxurious finishes inside the apartments. 

 

Lead 14027 then reviews the available Floor Plans, before selecting the “Special Offer” experience within the website’s hub of interactive tools. 

 

They type in their current zip code, select which feature ranks most important in a new apartment (Space, Pricing, Amenities or Location), pick the best time of day for the property to reach them, and give their projected rental timeline, along with all of their contact information, in exchange for personalized Move-In Ready Specials.

 

Prospect leaves the site after browsing for 7 minutes 17 seconds and viewing 9 pages. 

 

Repeat Visits Over 2 Weeks

 

The online rental prospect returns to the apartment website the next two days, and once again a few days later. Those 3 visits total about 10 minutes of time spent on the website. 

 

They return less than a week later and look at 8 pages on the property website.

 

Moves In 28 Days After Initial Website Visit

 

Lead 14027 signs a lease and moves into an apartment unit at the community 28 days after first arriving on the property’s homepage through a Google search.

 

Through the interactive experiences, the leasing specialist learned this particular prospect wanted to move to a new apartment community within a month and which floor plans they liked. 

 

Prospect selected the “Special Offer” incentives for 3 floor plans, and saved a corner apartment layout to their “My Favorite Floor Plans” accessible within the website hub every time they returned to do additional research. 

 

Overall, the renter completed 3 AI experiences spread out over 7 sessions, and browsed the website for just over 20 minutes total.

 

Take time to review how renters search for an apartment on your website to make improvements and tie back visitors to tours and leases. Good luck!

Additional Multifamily Resources