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As we approach the end of 2018, many wonder what the future holds for the world of apartments and property management. As the industry navigates the rising cost of talent retention, ever-changing shifts in technology, and some surprising amenity preferences, let’s take a moment to explore the emerging trends that will shape the multifamily market in 2019.

Here are five property management trends to watch next year:

Retention Will Reign Supreme
The biggest operational challenge in 2019 will be finding and retaining consistent on-site talent. According to recent reports from Freddie Mac, average rent growth is projected to moderate in 2019 and property managers will need to find creative ways to maximize operational performance, both in driving revenue and controlling expenses.

We’ll Be Meeting Customers Where They Are
Customer service in the digital space will continue to evolve next year. Communities are finding new ways to engage with residents on their preferred medium¬—mobile devices. In 2019, residents will continue to expect their concerns to be addressed through social media.

Property managers can take a page from the hospitality industry, as we’ve seen hotels increasingly turn to text messaging as a powerful tool to report issues with service, collect guest feedback, and increase positive reviews. However, the biggest challenge in on-boarding new technology rests in carefully selecting initiatives that move the needle without stretching on-site teams. Effectively supporting and training all employees in technological upgrades will be critical in ensuring both team retention and quality customer service.

The biggest operational challenge in 2019 will be finding and retaining consistent on-site talent.

The Sun Belt Will Become a True Melting Pot
According to Hoyt Advisory research, by 2024, immigration to the U.S. will surpass internal population growth for the first time. Immigrant families are more likely to rent than native-born Americans; this is especially true in the Sun Belt, where we’ve seen large cohorts of Asian, Latino, and Indian populations gravitating toward multifamily rentals. Within these particular demographics, word of mouth is the most important marketing source, so superior customer service and multi-/bilingual associates are 2019 must-haves for catering to the diverse and growing customer base.

We’ll See Some Surprising Over- and Undersupplied Amenities
Hands down, the most oversupplied amenity is a rarely used tennis court. They’re expensive to maintain and take up a huge amount of space that could be repurposed to fit more inclusive fixtures, such as a community garden or outdoor entertainment center.

As for undersupplied amenities, next year, property managers will have their sights set on addressing the needs of the growing “work-from-home” resident and how to scale package management. Accordingly, we’ll continue to see the rise of package-management systems that assist on-site teams and provide resident convenience, as well as functional workspaces that incorporate high-speed internet, printing capabilities, and modern meeting spaces.

Renters Will Still Appreciate—and Want—the Basics
Apartment services are not one-size-fits-all. For example, apartment concierge services and apps perform well on particular asset types in certain markets but aren’t universally requested by prospects and can be expensive and underused. At Fogelman, we believe renters still crave the tried-and-true essentials of comfortable living: solid customer service and friendly staff; a clean property residents can be proud of; responsive, efficient maintenance teams; and modern conveniences such as online payment.

All in all, the new year will present ever more opportunities for property managers to up their game and stand out from the competition!