Investigating search-to-lease timeframes

Length of time from search to lease

According to a RentPath survey of individuals who recently signed a lease, renters fall into three broad categories when it comes to how long they take from the start of their apartment search to their final decision.

Looking at search-to-lease timeframes

  • Last-minute leasers – Those who make a decision in less than one month. (30%)
  • Thoughtful searchers – The largest category – those who make a decision within the first three months of their search. (50%)
  • Long-term planners – Those who a make a decision anywhere from three months to more than six months after starting their search. (20%)

It is important to note that the survey results show little variation across age groups, with a relatively equal number of respondents across generations (Millennials, Generation Xers and Baby Boomers) in each of the three categories. Any marketing strategy targeting these categories must have a broad appeal.

Last-minute leasers

This group of prospects can help you fill vacancies on a rotating basis. There are many reasons why last-minute leasers need to find a new home in a short period. Your property can take steps to accommodate their wishes while benefitting from their need for immediacy.

To best capture the last-minute leasers, promote your leasing specials and ensure they are kept current at all times. It is also critical that your online listings show accurate availability information to reach these prospects. You can identify a last-minute leaser who comes in for a tour based on their answers to your intake survey in terms of timeframe. Acknowledge their need to finalize the process quickly (without pressure) and work with them to meet their requirements. You may walk away from that meeting with a signed lease.

Thoughtful searchers

These prospects take an average of one to three months to sign a lease. Thoughtful searchers have the time to take a tour before finalizing their decision, so keep them in mind when developing your on-site, in-person experience.

When a thoughtful searcher visits your property, be sure to collect detailed contact information (and permission to use it) so that you can follow up with them. A triple-touch approach will work well with these prospects: Contact them via three different channels (such as email, phone and text) to keep them engaged over the short timeframe in which they will make their choice.

Long-term planners

Long-term planners will take anywhere from three to six months or more to sign a lease. (Those taking more than six months represent the smallest—but still valuable—segment of all renters, at 5%.) These renters can help you create a longer-term forecast of your property based on your lease cycles.

Cultivate the leads from long-term planners with a steady multi-touch approach beginning after they have submitted an initial inquiry or visited for a tour. Schedule follow-up calls, emails or texts over time so that your property remains top of mind.

While you should always update your online listings on a consistent basis to showcase any new upgrades or changes you have made to your units, this strategy is of particular importance to the long-term planner. This category of prospects will likely look at your property listings several times over the course of their search, giving you multiple chances to make an impression.

By understanding each of the three categories, you can adjust your marketing strategy to direct the leads in your pipeline appropriately. Whether the next person through your door is ready to move in or needs a few months to make a decision, you’ll have the tools available to identify their category and close the deal.

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