Embracing a Technology-Focused Apartment Building Marketing Strategy

Apartment Building Marketing Strategy

Mobile technology is becoming more in demand in multifamily housing, according to some of the latest survey data. And websites need to get right to the point or prospective renters will move on to the next community.

Property managers should pay attention when creating their apartment marketing strategy, or they’ll miss the boat when it comes to attracting and retaining renters.

Finding apartments online continues to grow

Also, more prospects are searching online to find apartments instead of driving by, and online leasing and renewals are gaining in popularity. Renters are expecting to leverage online community portals, too.

The number of apartment hunters who visit a community website before scheduling an appointment is up to 85 percent, 4 percent higher than last year. Renting online and renewals each earned higher rankings than in 2019.

Engaging apartment website content is a differentiator

Lively, engaging and immersive website content sets apartment companies in competitive markets When prospects visit an apartment website, they want to experience and capture the feel of the community inside and out before deciding on a visit.

Apartment marketing is most successful when it tells a story through photos, video content, 3D imagery and storybooks.

Property management companies need to think about the lifestyle they want to sell. It’s thinking about how to ensure you have good visuals of what the day-to-day life in that community would look like. In addition to that, it’s using the content you create to be able to really drive lead conversions.”

Consider that lifestyle when creating your marketing strategy. Is the community pet-friendly? What amenities are available? Use these areas and more to develop your content.

Web presence is likely leading to more renting without visiting

Effective websites are likely a reason why renting without visiting in person is more common. Eight years ago, only 4 percent of respondents said they signed a lease sight unseen. Today, that’s up to 14.4 percent.

Properties that want to generate more sight-unseen leasing should provide as much information as possible on the website.

It has to have everything they want to know. If you can make it a one-stop shop, you’re going to get people excited about renting.

But don’t overdo it. Online renters want a quick, simple experience. If prospects have to jump through too many hoops, if there are too many steps, screen after screen, they are going to click out. Think about how your websites are laid out. Simple and quick.

A big driver of website engagement is through call-outs when apartments are limited in number. Noting a floor plan is in limited supply is a winning strategy.

That is a huge trigger for people mostly because they are starting to see it more and more in other aspects of purchasing. But she warned be aware of fair housing laws when advertising limited availability.

Apartment leasing software can transform the leasing experience for your staff and prospects. Property management companies can take prospects from search to eSignature with RealPage Online Leasing, which streamlines and simplifies the experience of leasing apartments, saves your staff time processing paperwork, and frees up more time for customer service.

Community portals are extremely important for attracting and retaining renters

Also, residents rated portals as extremely important, a higher ranking than four years ago when they were only considered important. This can be a major attraction for renters, as ninety-eight percent said they would use a portal if it were offered by the community. It’s also a powerful way to engage renters, increasing their likelihood of staying in your properties.

It is extremely important for a community to have a portal. If anyone is thinking about it, you should spend the money. It’s about education and engagement, showing them how easy it is to set up an account, how easy it is to pay rent online.

It also makes it easy for property managers to automate communications, maximize retention and optimize operations.

7 Ways Renters Can Show Proof of Income Beyond the Standard Pay Stub

7 Ways Renters Can Show Proof of Income

Do you make enough money to rent this place? It’s a question any landlord will ask you, and it’s one of the things you must prove before being able to sign a lease on an apartment or house.

Landlords want to be sure that you have the financial means to consistently pay your rent on time and in full. So all applicants need to show proof of income – the amount of money they earn or receive from other sources.

While a standard pay stub is perhaps the most common method used to verify income, it’s not the only way. Here are options for showing proof:

1.For most landlords, an employment verification letter is a viable option to prove how much money you make.

Even if you have pay stubs, an employment verification letter can help verify income that isn’t reflected on those stubs, like tips received by service industry workers.

  1. Signed offer letter

If you’ve been offered a new job, providing documentation of your new employment can also serve as proof of income.

  1. W-2s, 1099s, and tax returns

In lieu of showing your pay stubs, a W-2 Wage and Tax Statement can also be used to verify income. Some people—like freelancers, contract workers, and entrepreneurs—receive a 1099-MISC form. A 1099 is also issued for interest and dividends, and government payments. These documents, with or without your tax returns, can be sufficient to prove income, depending on the landlord.

  1. Official statement/letter from a CPA or trust manager

A lot of people who are freelancers and receive paychecks from many sources If the tenant is self-employed, then a common method is to provide a CPA letter stating their business income last year and projected income this year.”

  1. Bank statements

When renters don’t have pay stubs, if they make consistent deposits over time, we can print off the bank statements to show they are making money to pay for the apartment

  1. College financial aid documents

College students who receive financial aid to pay for their living costs can use this information to confirm their financial history.

  1. Guarantor

It’s also possible to get the help of a guarantor to bolster your annual income. A guarantor essentially promises to pay your lease if, for any reason, you are unable to. A guarantor can be a relative or close friend, but must make a certain amount of money per year.

Landlords will typically require a guarantor to make at least 40 times the monthly rent, although Chadwick says some landlords require 80 times the monthly amount.

10 Things to Include in an Apartment Lease

10 Things to Include in an Apartment Lease

Developing a lease isn’t an easy task. It requires a lot of your time and energy, and even then, it’s possible you’ve forgotten some pivotal information. For that reason, it’s all the more important that you understand what details absolutely need to be outlined in your lease.

When it comes to renters, consider the fact that many are renting for the first time, and every detail truly needs to be spelled out for them. When you look at your lease that way, it’s imperative that you include all vital information. In order to help you get started when it comes to the more important details, here are ten things to include/outline in a lease.

  1. All Relevant Dates

Any time you draft a lease, it’s important to outline the relevant dates, all of them. This includes the move-in date(s), the move-out date(s), the length of time the lease is for and even the dates when you can resign your lease are (as well as the deadline). Also, though this is typically an item due at signing, you should always mention when the security deposit is due as well as how long it takes to process these payments to avoid any late fees etc.

Essentially, any information as far as dates that are pertinent to your renters go, they should be clearly outlined in a lease to avoid any confusion on their end as well as to have written proof that the renters were notified well in advance regarding all dates pertinent to the lease.

If there are any additional dates of note (i.e. dates when first month and last month of rent are due) make sure you clearly indicate those in your lease as well. Basically, if there’s a date they need to know about, those are items that you need to clearly outline in a lease.

  1. Subletting Information

Subletting an apartment is stressful for college students, but oftentimes extremely necessary. Most leases run from fall to fall, but students attend school from fall to summer in most circumstances. For this reason, they are left with the options to pay their lease and stay on campus, to pay their lease while returning home for the summer, or to sublet their apartment while they stay home for the summer.

Again, many students are renting for the first time, so it stands to reason they would also be subletting for the first time. Therefore, something essential to outline in a lease is any subletting information relevant to your renters. This includes, but is not limited to, who is liable for what, how those payments work, whether or not subletting is done through the main office or on their own, and if subletting is even an option available to them. (If your office doesn’t allow subletting, you may also want to include relevant information related to summer rent – i.e. what a student is supposed to do if they are returning home for the summer but still paying rent. Is there any upkeep that needs to be done in the apartment? If so, make sure they are aware of this information well in advance, otherwise, their plans may not work out with how your lease is outlined.)

For some, subletting rules are a deterrent from signing a lease; while you may lose out on the rent from that individual, it’s better than taking advantage of them by leaving out pertinent information that could have been outlined in a lease. So, make sure that all rules related to subletting are clearly stated to avoid any confusion and harm to your renters.

  1. Emergency Details

Nobody likes to think about it, but there are instances of emergencies. This could be, but isn’t limited to, fire, break-in, gas leaks, campus shooters, etc. There are so many variables here, but being prepared for any one of them is a good first step, whether or not an emergency actually presents itself.

If there are any details that a renter would need to know, such as a location to take shelter during a tornado siren or a protocol to follow if there is a break-in, make sure you outline this in your lease. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that anything will happen, but, as they say, better safe than sorry when it comes to the safety of you and your renters.

Also important is to include a number to call in case of emergency (i.e. gas leaks) and when it’s important to notify authorities. While it’s always a safe bet to alert the police or fire department, outlining this information can prevent unnecessary calls when there is an easier series of steps for your renters to take. Many renters are unfamiliar with such circumstances so, again, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Maintenance Details

It’s very likely your renters will need to reach out to maintenance at least once during their lease. For others, the outreach to maintenance may be more common. When you develop your lease, maintenance schedules and contact information are very important to outline in a lease. Whether you’re simply including the contact information for your maintenance people, the emergency contact information or a basic timeframe of expected response for maintenance requests, this is all relevant information that your renters should be equipped with from the start.

I recommend speaking with the maintenance department, determining the best course of action for working together and outlining those details in the lease. This provides students with a general idea of what to expect when something breaks or goes wrong in an apartment.

As a side note, you should also outline in your lease what move-in day looks like from a maintenance perspective. Typically, they are provided with a checklist and required to document any aspects of the apartment that aren’t working, so let them know what this looks like and what to document to avoid charges later on. It should also be mentioned that maintenance is typically busy this day, so requests are handled on a first come first serve basis (or in another manner if applicable.)

  1. Cleaning Specifications

Typically, before an individual move into their new apartment, there is a certain amount of cleaning that needs to be done. For many landlords, this work is outsourced and charged in the last month’s rent of the previous owners. However, in many cases, there are additional costs that aren’t specified in the lease and come as a surprise when they are deducted from the security deposit. Getting ahead of this confusion and clearly letting your renters know what costs for cleaning entail is in your best interest.

Repeat customers are big for business, so negatively impacting your current renters doesn’t make sense. For this reason, let them know what costs to expect when you outline in a lease what these costs would be.

Let them know the charges for paint, for additional cleaning, for damages etc. You don’t need to provide specifics on every item, but essentially give them an outline of what to expect should there be any damage to the apartment.

  1. Rent Details

Rent details are obviously essential to outline in a lease. This comes down to what your student is going to be paying monthly to live in their apartment. This also includes any additional costs they may not have considered in apartment hunting.

For example, if they plan to pay by credit card, is there an associated fee? Can they pay by check? Do they have to drop the check off at the leasing office every month, or can they mail it in? Can they pay cash? What happens when their rent is late? Is there a late fee? Is there a grace period? Does the fee increase after a certain number of days?

There are countless details to include here, and it’s all information that they will need to know, guaranteed. Think of all the questions you’ve gotten as a landlord and include their answers in your lease, as this is the best way to ensure you’ve included all the information they need.

  1. Additional Rules

Let’s be honest, there are always rules. Some are unspoken, but additional rules are something to definitely outline in a lease.

For instance, do you allow pets? If not, what happens when a family member visits with a pet? Are there any areas students aren’t allowed in an apartment complex? What are the repercussions? Is there a rule for having guests? Is there a length of time before they need to leave?

These are all rules that may not necessarily be understood without being clearly written out, so I recommend clearly defining them in your lease to avoid any questions when it comes time for reprimanding your renters.

  1. Additional Fees

Stating additional fees in your lease is imperative. Is there a charge for owning a pet? Is it a per-pet charge? Is there a laundry charge? What about charges for parking?

Any additional fees are imperative to outline in a lease. Basically, if there is an extra charge for something, you definitely need to state that in your lease. Additional costs should never be hidden – always state everything upfront, very clearly to avoid any problems when it comes to payment later on.

The more upfront you can be with your renters, the more likely they are to return or recommend your complex to another student. So, in other words, it’s in your best interest.

  1. On-Site Resources

Most apartment complexes have a variety of on-site resources that are available to their renters, but many renters aren’t aware of these resources. For this reason, it’s a good idea to mention the available resources to your renters and include them when you outline your lease.

For instance, if you have a fitness or recreation center, that’s something to outline in a lease. You should also include any laundry facilities, parking garages, cafeterias etc. that you have available to your renters.

Many students look for these on-site resources, and they are often large perks to signing a lease, so including these details is a great idea to show all available options to your student so they feel they are getting the most out of their lease.

  1. Office Availability

Last, but definitely not least, it’s important to provide your renters with your office availability. This might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about drafting a lease, but it’s definitely information you should outline in a lease.

Like it or not, there are going to be a large number of times in which your renters need to get a hold of you. Sometimes, it’s related to quick questions that can be answered on the phone, and other times, they need to come into the office to speak with one of your leasing agents about changes to their lease etc. No matter the circumstances, you should always list your office availability in a lease.

This includes your contact number (both the main office and individual contact information), perhaps a link to the website for an FAQ section, your office hours and any other emergency contact information not previously listed in your lease. It’s important that your renters always have someone they can contact, so the more information you provide in your lease to that end, the better off you are and the more comfortable they (and their parents) will feel.

While this is by no means the entirety of the information required in a lease, this is a good starting point as far as items to outline in a lease go.

Again, there will be plenty of information pertinent to your complex alone, and other information that you may need to leave out, but make sure you develop some form of outline to begin with to ensure you’re not missing any relevant information.

When it comes to including information to outline in a lease, more is always better, as you would much rather provide them with too much information than not enough. So, don’t be afraid of being wordy, it’s not going to do you any harm!

Use these items to outline in a lease in order to develop yours and good luck drafting your lease!

 

Property Management 101 The One Thing All Landlords Should Do

Management of Apartment Building Investments

Property managers and landlords often go above and beyond, taking care of tenants when unforeseen circumstances occur or needs must be met despite short timelines or budgets. Still, it is important for property managers to take in new ideas within their industry — including the increasing influence of social media and online review sites — as well as continuing the meet the everyday wants and needs of their tenants.

Maintaining and managing properties is often a challenging role. Landlords or managers may sometimes overlook a good practice, or plan to circle back to it later on, but never do so.

Make Regular Checks on Your Rentals

One of the biggest mistakes I see with rentals is not checking on them. We do quarterly checks on the properties. At the same time, we are doing the check, we change furnace filters, check batteries in the smoke detectors and CO alarms, and make sure there are no issues with plumbing leaks.

Screen Your Tenants Carefully

Landlords will spend thousands to repaint, recarpet and remodel — but sometimes they will not take the time to realize who they are renting to. Don’t skip the basics when evaluating a renter: rental application, past references and income/ability to pay, as well as credit and criminal backgrounds checks. Taking the time to screen renters will prove to be the best ROI in real estate investing.

Establish Open and Honest Communication

Property managers must communicate with their tenants to ensure a sense of community, maintain proper operations and keep tenants informed. Also, the building owner deserves to know the good, the bad and the ugly on a real-time basis in order to make business decisions. By expressing candor and providing honest feedback, property managers can ensure that all lines of communication are open

Ask Current Tenants for Referrals

Ask current tenants to help you find new tenants. Current tenants are likely to know potential new tenants. Tenants are likely to only recommend other people they’d like to be neighbors with, and you can build goodwill by offering tenants a referral credit for bringing in a new tenant

Keep Up with Maintenance, Including Cosmetic

Do preventative maintenance. The more a property is allowed to deteriorate, and the longer problems go unaddressed, the more it will cost in the long run to fix. If items are cosmetic and impact first impressions, not correcting can also increase vacancy cost and lower the rent you can get for the property.

Collect Demographic Data

If landlords and managers are not creating tenant profiles, they should be. Being able to tailor your operations and buildings to specific demographics will help with retention and new leases.

Keep in Touch with Your Tenants

Everyone wants attention, and that especially includes your tenants. You need to check in with them to see how everything is going and get any input on the property. Knowing that you care about them will have a huge impact. Surprise them with a lunch event or invite them to a fun event you are hosting (like a sporting event, concert or a few hours at a movie with their family).

Establish Benchmarks

Property owners should identify the true competitive set of their building and benchmark their operations to this set. Data is the key, and revenue and expenses must both be tracked. In this way owners can frame the operational performance of their properties as market conditions change and make decisions with hiring, firing or repositioning management teams.

Offer Reliable Service Across Properties

Based on my experience, the landlords that are most successful are the ones that operate the same way across each of their assets, therefore creating little confusion and expeditious service. The buildings are regularly maintained and cleaned, giving their tenants few reasons to have any concerns about where they house their business.

Treat Tenants with Respect

Landlords should always treat their tenants with respect, honesty and integrity. A bit of kindness goes a long way. When a tenant can feel that respect, our experience has been they treat the property with a higher level of ownership, taking better care of it and consistently paying rent on time.

Attract Renters with Quality Photographs

Landlords and property managers need to amp up their marketing efforts by using professional photography, which is more important than ever in the Instagram age, where people quickly judge listings on a purely visual basis. Great quality photographs are more likely to build renter interest quickly than using dark, unattractive and/or outdated photographs.

Solicit Positive Online Reviews

The biggest differentiator in success today is increasingly becoming online reviews. It is vital that everyone, from prospective tenant applicants to exiting renters, receive amazing service. Say what you do, and do what you say. Look for ways to go above and beyond those expectations. Then be extremely proactive about soliciting positive online reviews from every contact.

Stay on Top of Your Online Presence

Our most successful landlords and property managers stay on top of their online presence to manage their vacancy rate to below 1%. They make sure availability and pricing is up to date on their website and on the platforms, they syndicate to, while keeping track of and adjusting to changing rental trends and utilizing social media platforms to deliver their marketing to their target audience.

Top 5 Landlord Tips Winston Rowe and Associates

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Landlords come from all walks of life, and they can be pros or reluctant landlords who couldn’t sell their home. Whether you’re considering rental property investment, can’t sell and need to rent out your home and move, or you’re already a landlord, these five tips can help you sleep at night and keep a smile on your face on your way to the bank.

#1: The Right Rent

Take the time to study your area’s market rents and property types. Compare apples to apples, not apartments to single family homes. Call and ask about rents and features. Check the rental ads for promotions like free rent. A lot of this type of marketing may signal high vacancy rates. Be objective about your property’s features and location, and set a competitive rent rate. Being just 5% over market rates may still get you a tenant, but if it causes too much turnover you’ll lose that and more in lost rent between tenants.

#2: Be Legal

We don’t live in a simple world anymore, and landlord-tenant laws can be pretty complicated in many states. Even if you must get some legal advice from a real estate attorney, be sure that you’re using legal application and lease forms. They should be legal, but there will be room to draft them to favor your interests and protect your investment.

Misunderstandings cause a great deal of landlord-tenant stress, and using clearly worded and comprehensive leases can go a long way toward eliminating problems. When rent is due, what constitutes poor tenant behavior, and explaining the difference between “wear and tear” and damages are all important for a good relationship. It’s every bit as important for you to abide by the rules as it is for the tenant. If you legally must give notice before entry into the unit, do it the right way and with the right timing. When you don’t follow the lease, tenants don’t feel obligated to do so either.

#3: Screen, Screen … and Interview

Once that lease is signed, if you let the wrong tenant into your property it can be an expensive and painful process to get them out. You want to check their credit history, rental history, job and landlord references, and even do a criminal background check in most cases. Letting a previously convicted drug dealer into your property can create some major problems for you if they lapse into old habits. There are services that pull together these background and reference tasks, and you can find them online with a search, or there may be local companies.

Think back to the previous tip and be legal. Don’t ask for information you aren’t legally allowed to gather, or don’t ask questions that cross the line when it comes to anti-discrimination laws. This is another area where you may want some legal advice and a script for your interviews so you stay on the right side of the law. That said, if your gut is telling you that there’s something not quite right about a prospective tenant, especially in the interview, then you should reject them for any legal reason.

#4: Maintain for Comfort and Safety

The best way to avoid late night “no heat” calls is to have regular maintenance performed on heating and cooling systems. Maintain all of the equipment in your rental and you’ll have a happier tenant and fewer emergency repair visits. For safety, do regular checks of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, even changing the batteries at your expense. On a side note, this is a great way to get access every three to four months to inspect for damage or problems when you’re doing a courtesy safety battery change.

#5: Make it a Home

Be nice to your tenants. Send them surveys or call them now and then to see if they’re happy or experiencing even minor problems. Be proactive and address their concerns. Whenever you can add a feature or amenity at reasonable cost, do that. When the end of their lease rolls around, you have two possible situations:

1. They give notice and move on to another rental, or
2. They make a rent concession necessary to keep them, or
3. They’re happy, and want to stay, even if you must do a minor rent increase.

The first two cost you money in lost rent and possibly rehab between tenants. The last one takes almost none of your time and keeps the cash flowing.

There are a lot of details involved in these five tips, but keeping them top-of-mind in all of your landlord activities will keep you in a better mood and add to your bank balance.

Tip’s For Dealing With Delinquent Tenants By Winston Rowe & Associates

Tip’s For Dealing With Delinquent Tenants By Winston Rowe & Associates

If it happens to you, time is of the essence, and it’s important to have a well-conceived plan already laid out.

Prevention

Adopt policies that make it easy to pay rent on time, and difficult to pay late. For example, accepting electronic payments, credit cards, or direct deposit make it easy to pay on time.

Stress the importance of on-time rent payments at leasing.

Send out an invoice with return envelope enclosed.

Make sure the rent due date is realistic (i.e. it coincides with when they receive their paychecks).

Diplomat or Enabler

Evictions are expensive and time-consuming. So is finding a new tenant. From this perspective, it is tempting to try to work something out with your delinquent tenant. Occasionally you’ll have a tenant who has genuinely experienced a temporary financial hardship, one that is resolvable, and it can be in your best interest to help them through their rough patch.

But here’s the hard reality: The majority of late paying tenants will do it again. Not paying rent is a big deal, and it’s in your best interest to make the tenant understand that.

Accepting payments late with no consequences, or accepting partial payments not only encourage late payers, but it can compromise your rights to re-take the property. The longer you allow a late payer to string it out, the more you risk becoming an enabler.

Be Prepared for Battle

Even though it may be in your best interest to help ethical tenants through a rough patch, experience dictates that if your tenant launches a habit of late pays, it will get worse with time. There is always the chance that your tenant is stringing you along intentionally, trying to live rent-free while they save money or search for another place to live. You need to know what your legal options are and be ready to take action.

Collect Your Due

Once a tenant account goes seriously delinquent, your likelihood of successfully collecting the debt drops precipitously. Therefore, it is crucial to aggressively pursue the debt with all means at your disposal. This includes submitting the debt to a collection agency and employing all legal means of collection.

When speed and experience are important and crucial to your apartment balding investing success, a principal at Winston Rowe & Associates is always available to speak with prospective clients. They can be contacted at 248-246-2243 or email them at processing@winstonrowe.com

Whether it’s an initial apartment building purchase or a refinance they have the solution for you. Winston Rowe & Associates offers expert friendly service combined with years of experience and will work with clients to find the best solution that fits your needs.

If you would like to learn more about apartment building financing options from Winston Rowe & Associates you can check them out online at http://www.winstonrowe.com