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AIM 2021 Session Recap: Autonomous Leasing in 2022

Meeting Renter Demands for an Autonomous Leasing Experience

Round-the-clock leasing is the new reality in multifamily, thanks to technological advances and evolving renter demands, and a significant percentage of renters now prefer a contactless leasing experience. 

In the 2021 AIM session, Autonomous Leasing in 2022, panelists discussed the available technology and benefits to meeting this latest renter expectation.

“Who would have imagined two years ago that we would be talking about autonomous leasing and have it not be in future-speak,” said Brock MacLean, executive vice president and chief revenue officer at LeaseHawk. “Not only are we looking at autonomous leasing, but autonomous everything.”

The health and labor concerns introduced during the pandemic necessitated automated processes to a large extent. As those issues have lingered well into their second year, operators have deployed a number of artificial intelligence (AI) and technology solutions to maintain service and onsite operations. A significant percentage of renters found that they actually prefer a more autonomous leasing experience. 

“Our customers want to interact with us in different ways, and we have the ability to interact with them in a multitude of ways,” said Kitty Callaghan, vice president of marketing for The Wasatch Group. “I think it’s great that we have taken that to heart. Our offices are always open, we offer open-door leasing, but autonomous leasing is really about letting me do it how I want. One size does not fit all.”

Operators had to largely discard their preconceived ideas about what the leasing experience should entail, abandon the in-person requirement and find new ways to deliver information to prospective residents. 

“All of our properties had a need to pivot on a dime and find a way to keep leasing,” said Laurel Zacher, vice president of marketing and talent development at Security Properties Residential. “In about 72 hours, we were in back-to-back meetings with all of our teams, figuring out what tools we had available, how we were going to train everybody to do it and how we were going to deploy it.”

Operators quickly found that top leasing questions like price and availability, rental qualifications and pet policies can all be fielded through automation. 

Property teams also discovered that using Chatbots to field initial prospect questions and schedule appointments could substantially reduce the amount of phone time spent by associates, provide unprecedented after-hours service and reduce the lead-to-lease window. 

“When general information is easily accessed, our onsite resources can be redirected to higher valued activities,” Callaghan said. “If we can reduce our time spent on those less critical tasks, we can do more.”

  • Laurel Zacher, VP of Marketing & Talent Development at Security Properties Residential
  • Kitty Callaghan, VP of Marketing at Wasatch Property Management
  • Brock MacLean, EVP and CRO at LeaseHawk

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