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5 Precautionary Steps to Help Future-Proof Your Property By Making It Stand Out in a Downturn

January 29, 2020

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A hard truth we’re all beginning to face is that an economic recession may be sweeping our country as early as this year, specifically impacting the lease rates of multifamily properties.

Is your multifamily business fully prepared for a possible downturn? And even more importantly, is your property in a place where it stands out online in comparison to your competition?

Our industry is dominated by social media and online apartment ratings and reviews, specifically when it comes to renter decisions. We have also reached a point where apartment managers and owners have realized the importance of a digital presence and acted accordingly.

Every time you perform an online rental search, the results are flooded and overpopulated with content from multifamily properties, all competing for the attention of renters. We imagine this to be very similar to when a famous artist finally steps off the stage, and the entire crowd clammers forward to get a peek — only a few being oh so lucky.

Unfortunately, simply posting on social media and having a website is no longer enough to give your property a competitive edge over the other multifamily communities populating the internet. And with a possible recession heading our way, ensuring your property catches the eyes of prospective renters and appears high in local searches is critical to your property staying successful even in a downturn.

Below we’ve listed five precautionary steps we recommend property managers and owners take to drive new leads and win residents:

 

1. Respond to all Apartment Ratings and Take Action on Feedback

The influence of apartment ratings and reviews on renter decisions is definitely not new knowledge for property professionals, but are you responding to and actively finding value in each one of those reviews?

87.6% of renters say that apartment ratings and reviews are one of the most important factors when deciding where to rent. This means that it is highly important for the professional voice of your multifamily apartment to be there alongside the voices of renters who have left reviews — responding to and addressing any thoughts, concerns, or negative comments shared in reviews.

In a reputation management study conducted by Entrata, 94% of renters referenced online ratings in their apartment search. Further, 68% read up to ten reviews and 14% read more than 15 reviews before moving forward in the renter decision cycle.

These statistics signify that not only do renters spend time looking at reviews, but they read through quite a few. It is important for properties to respond to all reviews. We cannot predict which specific review a prospective renter will read. To cover all of your bases, it is important to invest the time for your property management team to dive in and craft responses.

When it comes to the frustrating but unavoidable negative complaints renters leave in reviews, we like to follow the “show and tell” philosophy — show renters that you care and tell them how you are resolving the problem.

In an economic downturn, renters will be searching for a property whose value justifies the cost. They will initially find this online. The combination of responding to reviews and showing that you are taking action to improve the resident experience can be worth a lot of new leases.

 

2. Share High-Quality Property Images to Increase Apartment Tours

Whether a prospective renter is visiting your website or one of your social media pages, the images you use will be the main deciding factor if they move forward and visit your property in person.

Have you checked out other apartment websites recently?

It’s surprising how many quality properties aren’t using high-res photos on their website.

Properties are doing themselves a disservice when they don’t use high-quality photos. For a renter, bad photos are a sign that either the property management only cares about a quick turnaround or something “dodgy” is going on behind the scenes.

Either way, this will 10 out of 10 times deter a renter from staying on your property’s website a moment longer, much less schedule a tour.

Here’s a great rule to follow: the first photo a renter sees should capture their emotions and allow them to envision a future in that space.

Then, make sure every photo you use achieves that.

If a photo is fuzzy or dark, it will create an emotion of uncertainty rather than excitement within the renter and they will move on to the next listing.

Being that so many properties are still behind on this trend, uploading only high-quality images to your online presence will give your property some competitive advantage.

Additionally, when you name the image file correctly, the images on your website can help your local search and improve SEO.

 

3. Add an Automatic Apartment Ratings Platform to Your Online Reputation Management Strategy

Automatic ratings are a new type of ratings that not many multifamily properties have as a part of their online presence — making it an incredible way for your property to stand out from the crowd.

Most properties have ratings on platforms like Google and Yelp, but automatic apartment ratings are the next big thing that can help take your online reputation management strategy to the next level and increase the number of online ratings your property receives.

The more online apartment ratings your property has, the more recognition it will receive in apartment searches and the more weight it will carry with prospective renters. Ratings help establish credibility, and in the renter’s mind, more fair ratings equals amore trustworthy property.

In an economic downturn, this can make a world of a difference in your lease rates. With a recession occurring, renters will be more careful and particular about where they choose to rent and automatic ratings can help push your multifamily property to the forefront of their purchasing decisions.

 

4. Produce More Quality Website Content Than Your Competitors

More than 80% of rental prospects begin their apartment search online, and both the quantity and quality content will not only help your multifamily property rank higher in local searches but also attract prospective renters to your website and keep them there.

It’s likely that your competition has an FAQ page, Facebook, and maybe a few blogs — luckily, it’s easy to do more.

As a property that wishes to stand out and stay successful during a downturn, you can have an active Facebook page, Instagram account, and Twitter along with a thorough FAQ page, additional website pages, and extensive blogs that provide relevant content residents will find helpful.

You want to “wow” renters with your knowledge of their demographic and apartment needs. You want to anticipate what a future renter is looking for. If they visit your website and think, “It’s like they read my mind! How did they know exactly what I wanted?” then that’s a good thing.

All of this content will provide value for prospective residents as well as improve your local SEO, specifically helping you rank higher in searches.

 

5. Highlight In-Demand Apartment Amenities That Differentiate Your Property on Your Website and Social Media

Have you conducted research into what apartment amenities and features are in most demand with current renter demographics — especially with Millenials and Gen Z’s, considering they are the groups currently dominating the renter market?

Here is a list of a few features you most likely know are important but aren’t fully highlighting:

  • High-Speed WiFi
  • Your central location
  • Pet-friendly spaces (dog park, washing stations, etc.)
  • Additions that make renters lives easier
  • Green features
  • Community engagement events
  • Community garden
  • Keyless door locks
  • Coworking spaces
  • Fitness beyond a gym

Properties know that WiFi is a necessity for renters now, but not many are understanding just how important high-speed WiFi is. If this is an amenity your property offers, make sure it is immediately clear on your website — you will be speaking your audience’s language.

Another aspect to consider is that the regional location of your real estate property might affect the importance of some amenities versus others. For example, if your property is located in a major city such as New York, features like green spaces and pet amenities will be of high-demand for renters and highlighting those on your website will help you gain new leads.

Put your property front and center in renter’s minds by truly showing them that you offer what they value most.

Standing Out Means Increased Lease Rates for Your Real Estate Property in an Economic Downturn

The name of the game for staying successful even during an economic downturn is being as proactive as possible. By investing in these five steps, property managers and property owners can enhance their ORM strategy, expand their online presence and stand out in a downturn.

For more helpful information on preparing for a possible economic recession, check out our blog on why an enhanced online reputation management strategy can help you stay leased up for years to come.