Olivier Le Moal/stock.adobe.com
Olivier Le Moal/stock.adobe.com

Occupancy rates may sometimes dictate the real estate ecosystem, but property management teams don’t have to let them dictate the success of their business.

When occupancy rates are up, there’s more need for new development, and, often, rent prices go up. Right now, we’re facing the opposite in many regions. Occupancy rates are falling, and that means one thing: It’s truly a renter’s market, and it’s full of vacancies.

This renter’s market presents property managers with a big opportunity not only to meet consumer expectations, but also to show real value to your property owners by enabling them to maintain revenue amid these conditions.

Property managers in markets where supply has already surpassed demand need to re-evaluate their management tactics to ensure their approach helps attract renters and prevent tenant turnover. The strategy must focus on providing a better product and experience to prospective and current residents than the competition does. Even in markets where supply hasn’t exceeded demand, implementing methods that pull in renters is important, because multifamily companies that get ahead of market shifts can safeguard against future disruptions.

The Right Amenities Are Critical
In a renter’s market, if property management teams can’t give residents what they want in an apartment building, including ease of living, those renters will just as easily find another building that can. This is true of both prospective and current tenants alike, which is why offering modern amenities is so critical to maintaining occupancy.

Communal space: There are many affordable additions to any building that property managers can bring to their clients, and ROI will likely outweigh the initial cost in such a competitive market as today’s. Renters, especially in the millennial and Gen Z generations, love having communal and wellness space within a building, especially as apartments become smaller and space gets tighter.

Task-specific facilities: Adding a functional gym or weight room, a business center where people can find a quiet place to work, or an entertainment center where the building community can come together to socialize and relax can all be relatively lightweight upgrades that make the building a whole lot more appealing.

Business and leisure equipment: A large television, computers, printers, a treadmill—if space allows, property management teams can make rooms housing these items a reality with some reasonable investments. Perhaps equally important, those property management teams that bring such ideas to building owners can position themselves as a true partner—one that’s solving their client’s problems in a creative and thoughtful way.

Smart-home tech: Other key amenities include those under the connected-device umbrella. According to a recent survey, millennials are willing to pay more for units that have connected and automated devices. Install smart-home features such as connected lighting systems and smart appliances to give your building a modern edge.

Fill Vacancies Automatically
A huge part of filling vacancies comes down to efficient and engaging marketing. A marketing strategy that meets these two criteria contains several key, technology-based components.

Automated vacancy syndication: Instead of spending hours manually setting up vacancy listings on a variety of different websites, property managers can use automated vacancy syndication postings, which take all the work out of what can otherwise be an onerous task.

Branding: Make sure your buildings are well-branded and top-of-mind in the market. One key way to do this is to showcase your property’s modern amenities in very visual ads on Facebook and other digital channels. In your vacancy listings, use language that describes how you make tenants’ living experiences easier, with amenities such as mobile or voice payments, on-the-spot background checks, and even maintenance chatbots. It’s important that the development and the experience the resident has living there are truly apparent to prospective renters.

Streamlined applications: Give prospective renters a positive first experience with your property by streamlining the application process with simple, online options. That ease gives prospects all the more reason to submit an application form.

Virtual reality tours: If prospects can’t visit your property in person, provide them with a virtual reality tour of the units to stir interest in the property. People who’ve seen a community are always more likely to sign a lease than those who haven’t toured the site, whether in person or online.

Customized leasing: Speed up the move-in date by offering new residents faster online lease options that also allow you both to customize the lease agreement and give the applicant the ability to e-sign the lease on a mobile device.

Ultimately, every property manager must be prepared to navigate a renter’s market and combat low occupancy. Strategizing and planning new techniques to attract renters, while finding new ways to add value to the living experiences of current tenants, are sure-fire ways to come out on top and retain and grow your client’s property portfolio.