Scottsdale, Ariz.-based VaultWare Online Apartment Marketing & Leasing has teamed up with Santa Monica, Calif.-based ILS to launch Market Comps, an automated, dashboard-enabled comp reporting system for on-site apartment professionals to track competitive rents in their submarket. VaultWare marketing director Kevan Humphrey gave Multifamily Executive a test-drive of the system, and shared his thoughts on how the service compares to revenue optimization systems and how it can help to further maximize leasing office productivity and efficiency.

MFE: So how does the auto comp system work?

Humphrey: For the VaultWare Reservation System or customer, the Market Comps shows a dashboard view of your current rent versus an aggregate rent of all other VaultWare and clients within a selected distance from the property. Users can customize that aggregate view by selecting which of the properties they want to comp based on the name, the location, and specific unit and floorplan features, such as whether a property has studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, or three-bedroom units.

MFE: How accurate is the data?

Humphrey: That’s a good question. All of the rent data here is provided directly from and VaultWare clients, so typically that data is being reported out of a property management system. Auto comp updates rent changes in weekly increments, and the user can see how old the data is, basically whether rents are changing, whether new rents are being reported, or whether the rent has remained unchanged for some time. But since the data is coming directly from the clients, it eliminates the guesswork involved in phone comps. Whether you comp by impersonating a renter or simply calling a competing company to ask for the comp, you never know if you are getting the real asking rent.

MFE: How does the system respond to revenue management?

Humphrey: Well, you can basically see which of your comps are using revenue optimization software because you’ll see the variations and volatility in the rents, whereas non-RO users tend to remain fairly flat. In it’s own way, auto comp is almost a very basic revenue optimization system. [Although it is not computing off of a demand algorithm], it enables users to respond quickly to rent changes and unit demand among their comps in the marketplace. [VaultWare CEO] Mike Mueller has even talked about the system as a “poor man’s” revenue management option.

MFE: Wow, so you could use the system to monitor comps and determine if a market is revenue-management friendly?

Humphrey: Ha, I don’t know that it goes that far. Certainly you can make a well-educated guess about which comps are using RO systems just by looking at how the data trends, but we wouldn’t say this is a tool that was designed to determine the suitability for using revenue optimization in any given market. The intent here is to provide a streamlined and efficient way for on-site professionals to conduct market comps and alleviate them of the hours-long task of calling comps and pulling together reports.

MFE: That certainly seems to be the name of the game in technology right now.

Humphrey: That’s right. Anything that can help leasing staffs focus on converting prospects is a real plus.