When it comes to finding an apartment, where do consumers look for information and who do they trust for advice?
Binary Fountain’s 2019 Renter Insight and Digital Engagement Survey asked more than 1,100 current and prospective renters to give us their perspectives on a variety of important topics, such as online reviews and listings, referrals, pain points and must-haves for a new apartment.
In our latest webinar, Binary Fountain’s Executive Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development Andrew Rainey was joined by Jennifer Nee, Senior Brand Manager for Mill Creek Residential Trust to go over the results of this survey and pull out insights for property managers learn about the resident journey.
If you weren’t able to join, you can download a video of the presentation here. Here are a few key takeaways from the webinar:
The most influential online resources that renters turn to are search engines and review platforms—these dictate what first impression prospective residents will have of your properties
The survey found that 96% of apartment seekers considered online reviews and ratings when searching for rentals and 85% consulted online reviews even if they initially received a referral from family or friends.
“The second thing that stood out to me was how the data showed that residents trust the word of mouth of strangers way more than that of their friends or family,” said Jennifer Nee. “Again, it’s just reinforcing that people turn to reviews as a type of validation of the service or product they can expect to receive.”
Positive online ratings and reviews are not just a nice-to-have for today’s multifamily properties–they are essential for maintaining a healthy resident acquisition pipeline
Another telling statistic was that nearly two-thirds of respondents said they would pay more to rent at a place with great ratings.
“This was the first time I saw some type of concrete monetary connection between spend and reviews,” added Jennifer. “Not only will renters likely rent at a community with a better reputation, but now they will pay more to live there. This is something we added to our online reputation trainings and notes to make community associates aware that online reputation can now be an additional rent generator.”
The most frequent pain point for our survey respondents, “finding accurate information online about the property,” is also one of the easiest issues to fix
31% of survey respondents said “finding accurate information online” was the biggest pain point of the apartment search, while 18% said “waiting for follow up from leasing agents” was their top concern. Either way, these issues can often be overlooked by property managers but are easy fixes to help improve business.
“[Mill Creek Residential Trust] certainly understands that today’s renter is looking for information at all hours, not just when the leasing office is open,” noted Jennifer, “and that’s why it is important to make sure all information is everywhere, consistent and accurate. We push out real-time information on pricing and availability to the major ILS sites and most information and photos are pushed out as well from our property management software. We are constantly auditing our online presence to make sure all information is up to date and presented as accurately as possible.”
“We also understand the importance of getting back to customers quickly and in the manner in which they want to be communicated to as well as trying to make it as easy as possible to schedule tours, which is why we have done extensive research and testing on initiatives like texting and chatbots to make sure we can provide information quickly–even when the office is closed, and we’re looking into self-guided tours to allow customers to tour a community on their terms, the way they want to.”
Interested in seeing more stats from our survey? Download the handy infographic here.
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