Multifamily industry, I love you.
I love each and every one of you, from the visionary developers to the financial engineers to all the savvy and compassionate operators out there. I love you and always will.
But we need to talk. I don’t think this is working out. I need some space. I feel like I just don’t know you anymore.
When I sold my house earlier this year, I was kind of excited to get an inside glimpse of you. I wanted to see you from a different perspective, as the end user, the customer, the tenant.
I thought, “I’m part of Renter Nation now. I’m one of those young professionals we write so much about, the kind every owner tries to woo.” I wanted to be wooed by you.
I figured the timing was great: I was hitting the rental pool just when you were hoping to win the hearts and minds of a huge new generation of renters.
And at first, it felt pretty good. No maintenance to worry about. No homeowners insurance or property tax. No money pit weighing me down in one place. It was so flexible and accommodating. It was a rush. I felt free and clear.
And then, you blew it. Not that you could help it, of course. You blew it just by being so good at what you do, maybe too good for your own good.
When I needed to go month-to-month after my lease ran out, when I asked you for just one more month, you told me you had to raise my rent. I expected as much—Multifamily Executive has long extolled the virtues of revenue management software, and of dynamic pricing for short-term leases.
I was prepared. I thought I knew you.
Yet, when you told me you had to raise my rent 50 percent, from $2,400 to $3,600, well, you lost me. You lost a potential customer for life. You made me start thinking about buying again, and that night, I even checked some local for-sale listings.
I know I’m not the first or last renter to be treated that way. But is this really how you want to behave, just as the homeownership rate starts to creep back up again?
Do you really want to grab us all by our ankles, hoist us upside down, and start shaking us for whatever’s left in our pockets? Do you really want to push us into single-family homes?
Is this how all the big public REITs behave?
Oh, it is? Well, OK then.
I can’t say I blame you. I guess I’d do the same if I were in your situation. I mean, last year’s MFE Conference theme was “Seize the Day,” and you’re seizing it, all right.
In fact, I kind of admire the way you did it. The agent in the leasing office was very apologetic and explained that it was a disincentive. That I could only give 30 days’ notice, not the usual 60, by going month-to-month. We even talked for a few minutes about the virtues of revenue management software and how it needs a human reality check.
Still, there was nothing she could do. It was all very humane and mature. And I can’t begrudge your ability to maximize rents; I mean, you’re a business, after all, that’s why you exist.
It’s great money, and you’re brilliant at making more and more of it. God bless you, it sure is great money.
But is it good business?