For many renters, the process of finding a new home is both objective and subjective. At one end of the search spectrum, they have inflexible parameters like a specific location, the number of bedrooms, or a maximum monthly rent they’re willing to pay. At other the end, they might prefer a particular architectural aesthetic or certain amenities, like state-of-the-art appliances or a brand-new fitness center.
With the number of U.S. households renting among the largest in the last 50 years, it’s a competitive market for rental properties seeking to attract new residents. But a generic message about your community or a bare-bones listing likely won’t cut it. Instead, marketing your community in terms of what’s most important to renters could give you that strategic edge against the competition.
The search can be daunting for many people. Not only is moving expensive in terms of time and money but often there are other factors a renter has to consider, like making sure that that the commute from the new home to work is reasonable. Still, 46 percent of renters described searching for a new home as exciting, according to a 2017 renter’s journey survey conducted by RentPath1.
Of course, feeling anxious or worried are emotions that tend to surface during the search for a new home, too. In the same 2017 survey, 35 percent of renters said that they felt overwhelmed, and 50 percent were concerned that they wouldn’t find anything suitable in their price range.
Simple tweaks to your online listings–whether it’s regularly updating unit availability or ensuring that floor plans feature room measurements–could go a long way in reassuring prospective new residents that they’re making the right choice.
Each search is unique, but it’s highly likely that any given renter has two criteria a new home should satisfy: location and housing type. In a 2018 general renter survey conducted by RentPath, these were the two points on which renters were least likely to compromise2.
But with other features and amenities, what might be overlooked by one prospect could be the ideal draw for another. In the same 2018 survey, 74 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that their rental home should be a reflection of their personal style.
That’s where an updated photo gallery comes into play. The 2017 renter’s journey survey found that 94 percent of renters look at all photos associated with a listing.
For example, if you’ve recently upgraded units with top-of-the-line kitchen appliances, additional photos in your online listings could be what attracts a renter who’s also a passionate home cook. The more visually complete the story of your community, the better the chances are that a prospect can more fully imagine themselves as a resident.
For many renters, searching for a new home isn’t a casual process. It’s a significant financial decision that affects another valuable asset: time. Moving to a new home often involves a lot of hard work (packing up belongings and loading up the moving truck) and follow-through (transferring over utilities and ensuring other accounts reflect the new address). Sometimes, though, even renters who may have conducted the most thorough search might feel that they overlooked something that could have influenced them to make a different decision.
According to the 2017 survey, respondents who had recently signed a lease for a new home said they wished they’d toured more properties (31 percent), knew more about their neighbors or had a better idea of who managed their property (27 percent). For prospects who are still browsing, consider asking their permission to include them on the distribution list for your community’s email newsletter, through which they can learn more about your on-site team as well as resident-appreciation events or holiday celebrations. And for those prospects closer to moving, offering after-hours or extended tours could help reassure them that they’ve had time to thoroughly inspect and explore their new home.
Ultimately, when you market your community, you’re telling its story. Each touchpoint that you have with a prospective new resident– from the initial phone call to the walk-through– is an opportunity for you to present another part of it. And the more information you can share with prospects, the better they’re able to envision themselves calling your community home.
1RentPath and EggStrategy completed an online survey of 2,000 renters during 2017.
2RentPath surveyed 1,044 renters in October 2018.