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AIM 2022 Session Recap: Renter Demand vs. Executive Investment

Industry panel points to preferences, although decisions don’t always align with the customer.

Quantitative data and insights shed light on how renters plan to live in a post-pandemic world.

Information provided by Sarah Yaussi Pienik, Vice President, Business Strategy at National Multifamily Housing Council; Dom Beveridge, Principal at 20for20; and Tim Hermeling, Executive Vice President of Marketing at Cortland during “Renter Demands vs. Executive Investment” examined the most desired home features and community amenities, what renters want in their leasing terms, connectivity needs, and touring.

The Grace Hill/NMHC renter preference survey showed that 43 percent of respondents said they would lease an apartment sight-unseen. Added Beveridge, “Yet, operators aren’t spending as much time on this as they should. And, the C-suite is frustrated that technology isn’t moving fast enough to make this happen.”

The self-guided tour model is evolving: “We’re nowhere near where we’re going to end up on this process,” Beveridge said.

He said B and C property prospects lean more to in-person tours and self-guided tours are predominantly requested for A communities.

There were surprises. Or maybe not. Sound-proof walls rank No. 3 on residents’ list of “must-haves” – even higher than a dishwasher. The “work-from-home” factor adds to this desire.

The self-guided tour model is evolving: “We’re nowhere near where we’re going to end up on this process,” Beveridge said. He said B and C property prospects lean more to in-person tours and self-guided tours are predominantly requested for A communities.

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Here are more strong comments from the session:

  • One-third of respondents said they are “gaming” daily; that can put stress on a community’s Wi-Fi connections.
  • Beveridge said that he is seeing more and more tech investment decisions being made by asset managers and not the tech or onsite team.
  • Centralization is big. “If you can virtualize tasks, it can make sense,” he said.
  • AI-powered leasing is experiencing a high adoption rate. “It’s the biggest story of 2021,” Beveridge said. “And we’re not talking about just bots. It’s technology that has machine learning that applies from the call through the full prospect journey.”
  • With centralized leasing, Hermeling and Beveridge pointed out that “if a leasing agent is really good at what they do, and all of the apartment homes are leased, then what is he or she to do?” With centralized leasing, they can lease more at other communities in the portfolio.
  • Financial decisions aren’t customer-based
  • Technology can only contribute so much – it’s the content and messaging that sells the apartment home
  • Leadership teams should “stop thinking about automating existing tasks – think about what the prospects want.”
  • Operators are more looking at smart home features as choosing appliances rather than having a tech-driven lifestyle experience, Beveridge said.

AIM 2022 - Renter Demands vs Executive Investment-high

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