Dan Haefner knows the majority of the renters living in CFLane communities don’t have the same desires as he had when he was a young renter.
Haefner, president and COO of Atlanta-based CFLane, says renters today have a different attitude when it comes to moving out of apartment living to buy a home.
“We were brought up where the thing to do was have a little house with a white picket fence, two cars and two kids,” he says. “The subsequent generations have become more mobile. The attitude of renters has gone through a change and transformation. [They’re] not experiencing this mass desire to have a home.”
Of course, some renters still have that desire to own and home and a leasing office can’t change that, Shailene Casio-Smith says. However, sometimes a renter can be convinced to put the purchase on pause if the rental office can make a better case to renew an apartment lease, says Casio-Smith, vice president of business development of FirstService Residential Realty (FSRR).
While FSRR retains about 60 percent of their residents, some of their communities are operating in markets where the cost of buying a home is either on par or cheaper than renting. Casio-Smith says they’ve had some resident loss in Texas and Las Vegas markets to people buying homes.
“Typically your Class A properties in more of a suburban areas where the rents are high enough to where they can almost afford a mortgage is where we are seeing a shift to homeownership,” she says.
The Austin, Texas-based management team asks a resident why he or she is planning on moving out and if they indicate it’s because of the plan to buy a home, the leasing agent is responsible for trying to educate them about the advantages of staying in an apartment.
One of the arguments to be made is that a resident has more flexibility to move if a job causes them to relocate or they get married.
“That’s the biggest convenience—is your ability to stay mobile and the fact that you don’t have to worry about maintenance,” Casio-Smith says.
Mobility is also one of the points to be made in the rent versus own argument, Kristin Stanton says.
Stanton, senior vice president of operations at Greensboro, N.C.-based Bell Partners, says her company offers renters the option to transfer within the company’s portfolio if life throws the resident a curveball and they have to endure a long-distance move.
“They could move to another Bell community and not have to pay termination fees,” she says. “A lot of people don’t realize the depth and breadth that we have across the country.”
Tom Manzo, president of the residential group at Los Angeles–based JRK Property Holdings, says amenities are some of the strongest selling points for multifamily housing compared to both owning a home or renting a single-family place.
"We should make sure to remind renters that it's a resort lifestyle," he says. "I think that's what entices people or attracts them to what we can offer versus what a single-family home can offer. I think that helps us—the hassle free living, resort style amenities."
Having a savvy and informed leasing professional is one of the most effective tools in convincing someone to put off buying a home for another year or so, according to Stanton.
“We work to make sure we’re educating our teams to then educate the residents,” she says.
Patty Holt, vice president of property management, says McLean, Va.-based Jefferson Apartment Group has a stellar team leading the company's resident education initiative.
While training is the key to exceptional customer service, it all starts with hiring the right person. “You can train certain skills but you can’t train attitude,” Holt says..
One of the company’s six core values includes “preparing for the future today”. Focusing on retention is where this value can shine.
“We have got to remember the renewal process starts the day the resident moves in,” Stanton says.
Lindsay Machak is an Associate Editor for Multifamily Executive. Connect with her on Twitter @LMachak.