green space, outdoors, gardens
Courtesy LMC In marketing its lush new property Atlas in Issaquah, Wash., LMC touts on the development's website that prospective renters who choose the Seattle-area community can "experience the outdoors at your door."

The playbook has changed.

In the past, renting was viewed as the bridge to homeownership, a steppingstone to the ultimate goal. It was transactional in nature, not unlike paying any other monthly bill. But the American dream has changed for a large segment of the population, and homeownership is not the end goal for a lot of people.

This has transformed the rental experience into more of an emotional one than a transactional one. Modern-day renters want their living space to feel as much like home as homeowners do. A hefty 87% indicated that in a recent study by media company RentPath, in fact. Another 73% said their rental home “might not be perfect, but it’s [theirs].”

To adjust accordingly, apartment operators have had to reconfigure their marketing strategies to instill more of an emotional component. LMC is no different from other developers; we’ve been proactive in tapping into that emotion among our prospects.

open floor plan, kitchen island, sunny space apartment windows
Courtesy LMC An apartment interior at Atlas, whose varied plans emphasize kitchens that open to living and dining spaces.

Strong Branding
We try to create a voice that’s approachable and friendly rather than corporate and stuffy, because we understand that many of our renters are renting by choice now, rather than by necessity. For starters, we’ve rebranded from “Lennar Multifamily Communities” to the simpler “LMC.” The former, 11-syllable mouthful hardly rolled off the tongue. “LMC” is a lot cleaner.

Beyond our name change, we’ve crafted our voice in a way that doesn’t just check off amenities and apartment features when we’re introducing prospects to our communities. Rather, we tell them how they’ll be experiencing those features and the benefits of having those amenities at their community.

Building an emotional connection starts with the blueprint—yes, the construction blueprint. We want to build spaces where residents can be comfortable, a place they can hang out with their friends—regardless of whether the friends live at the community—and a place they can really settle in and make their home for a while. In some cases, we want to build apartments that are smaller than usual so that renters can afford to live in the city they want to experience.

Choice Versus Necessity
Part of being able to reach renters on an emotional level is understanding why they’re choosing to rent. Many might be open to making multiple moves as part of an experiential process, while others might be at the point in their life where they’ll move across the country in hopes of landing a much better job in the next year.

They’re just not willing to commit to a house. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want their living space to feel like home, have all the conveniences of a house, have their friends nearby, and be surrounded by all the elements of the city they’re looking for. That might be because they’ve owned a home in the past or are going to stay at the apartment indefinitely. According to the RentPath study, more than 52% of recent renters have owned a home, and more than 50% move every three years or less. That’s why, at LMC, we want to convey to residents that we’re building a home where they’ll feel they can live their lives as if they committed to buying a house.

mixed-use, West Seattle, recreation, amenities
Courtesy LMC The Whittaker in West Seattle connects with renters emotionally with its very first impression: its name. The luxury property honors native West Seattleite Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mount Everest.

Treat Staff Like Customers
For this strategy to be effective, the entire team has to be a reflection of the culture. It boils down to training, but it also has something to do with how you treat your associates.

Just as with our residents, we don’t nurture our associates on a transactional basis. We want the work environment to feel fun, like they’re on a high-performing team, and cohesive, so that they can present that same culture to residents.

In our new-employee orientation, we walk through the language of how to talk about apartment features in a way that is benefit-selling and not just laundry-listing. We want to make sure we’re treating prospects so as to encourage them to rent with us because they want to, not because they have to.

We want to build relationships with people, and we want our team to understand that our residents aren’t here just as a one-time sale. Rather, it’s a relationship we want to keep going as long as our residents stay with us. That might be a year, or it might be 10 years. Regardless of the time frame, we want to make sure our residents are happy in our communities as well as comfortable approaching our team.

We want to make a true emotional connection.