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The most recent Biennial Online Renter Study by SatisFacts Research, which measures resident sentiment, has revealed that 82% of renters want more information on mandatory fees beyond the advertised rent. Residents noted pet fees and deposits; application fees; rents and specials; and current availability of apartments as top priorities when searching online.

Information about the apartments, facilities and location, and ease of communication with community staff ranked highly in addition to floor plans/design and photos of the apartments and community. Most surveyed residents (63.7%) said that online reviews for their current community were a contributing factor in their leasing decision.

SatisFacts has found in its 12 years of conducting the study that "renters view online reviews as more objective and unbiased compared to information provided by the community itself." For more than five years, online reviews have been the preferred source compared with community websites, the study notes.

Seventy percent of respondents also noted intentionally reading negative reviews and evaluating how communities responded to gauge customer service. In terms of ratings, residents indicated that communities needed a minimum of 3.82 out of 5 stars to be considered in their search. As the first year to include the rating question, a score near 3.82 suggests a preferred mix of positive and constructive feedback, SatisFacts notes.

In 2023, 64% of renters were unwilling to trust a review site that solely features positive reviews compared with 58% in 2021, noting a desire from 47% of residents for more open and transparent online reviews from management companies.

Rising quickly as a source, social media was cited by nearly 25% of renters as a place for their online search—the highest percentage in the study’s history. According to SatisFacts, social media has been the sole source to display consistent biennial growth since 2011.

"The education team at ApartmentRatings and SatisFacts has an impressive track record of predicting future trends by leveraging data-driven insights. Turning feedback into actionable takeaways while helping our client partners stay in step with renters is what we’re all about,” says Lia Nichole Smith, senior vice president of education and performance.

Adding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) questions to this year’s survey, SatisFacts has found that 82.5% of respondents who are familiar with ESG practices for businesses agree that it can enhance the value and desirability of an apartment community. Additionally, 77.5% of renters who are familiar with the concept said they would more likely choose an apartment from a property management company that actively incorporates ESG practices, with 86% of the group being Gen Z and 81% being millennials.

This finding is in line with SatisFacts’ predictions for 2025, which include that renters will be conscientious consumers and truth-seekers. The study also predicts that renters will be technology-fluent, will demand personalized customer care, will thrive in environments that are familiar, and will seek out a community that they can identify with.