In the highly competitive world of multifamily real estate, owners, managers, and leasing teams need to do everything they can to stand out. There have been countless articles produced about oversupply, increased competition, and a highly competitive renter market. Add on top of that the increasing complexity of reaching and garnering the interest of today’s renters, and it’s really a pretty daunting task when looking to stand out, to be different, to be special in the eyes of your prospective residents. So what can you do besides spend more money and try to be flashy and showy with the latest and greatest amenities or fancy shiny objects? Honestly, the best way to do that is through honesty and transparency at every step in the process.
Why will being honest, real, and transparent stand out so much? Because real estate has lacked true transparency online for so long. To this day, listing sites are still predominantly driven by still photos showing only what the photographer / listing agent decides to show and written descriptions touting dimensions and features. On top of that, the prevailing mentality amongst a majority of real estate professionals and multifamily leasing agents alike, is that the person needs to experience it in person in order to truly experience it and make up their mind. While true for some people, that could not be more antiquated in today’s day and age.
That is particularly true when it comes to the Millennial and Gen Z renter audiences. There is an innate desire for a combination of highly personalized, high-touch service and transparency / empowerment from the brands they interact with. By being real and not hiding things through the leasing process, properties can instantly stand out to this burgeoning group of renters and begin to build that trust and loyalty from the very first interaction.
You may be rolling your eyes by now and saying “you are already transparent with your listings and photos, and don’t hide anything”. Keep reading on and we’ll see just how transparent you’re really being throughout your leasing process. Below we have listed five ways that multifamily companies and professionals can begin to be more transparent in the way they market and lease. Follow these and you may find it leading you directly to more success and brand loyalty with future and current residents.
Transparency needs to start with the very first interaction a prospective resident will have with your community and your brand. The very essence of your company’s or community’s marketing needs to be real and transparent. If you portray something to be one way and it turns out to not be that way at the property, nobody is happy at that point. And renters today have gotten pretty keen on sniffing that out. So, be real, show the real thing, tell the real story. Don’t try to hide small closets or parking lot views. Instead, show how residents are making the space work or enjoying the other high points of the community. The same goes for the surrounding neighborhood. Tout it, don’t hide it. People will see it at some point anyways. People are ultimately going to choose where they live based on what works best for them and their particular needs / desires — and that will be different for every single person.
Shameless video plug: Using video to showcase the property and surrounding areas can be a perfect way to let transparency shine through with the added benefit of showing the personality of the onsite team, current residents, and the neighborhood itself. Here’s a great example of how you can showcase the surround neighborhood in a fun, transparent way using video.
Leasing plain and simple cannot be done the same way it’s always been done. Particularly the touring part of the process. Expecting every single prospect to walk through the doors of your leasing office is not only highly unlikely anymore, but will likely lead to your leases taking significantly longer to sign than they actually need to. As we mentioned above, each prospective resident is an individual and is going to care about different things. One may care more about views; another would prefer a little extra privacy from their neighbors, etc. So, treat them as an individual, avoid any ‘fluff’ throughout the process, don’t oversell, and just cut straight to the chase. Real estate can be end up being pretty black and white / cut and dry for a lot of people if you simply show them exactly what they want to see…the real thing.
Shameless video plug: Forget full production crews, fancy b-roll, and hired actors. There’s no need to get so extravagant with video when it comes to showcasing a unit to someone. Simple videos like this one or even hosting a live video tour for a prospect will instill trust and transparency into the process in a way that no fancy, gimmicky, staged tour will ever do.
Transparent Move-In Processes
The move-in process at many multifamily continues to be one part of the process that for some reason is shrouded in mystery, stress, and frustration for residents. The pass off and communication with a resident from signed lease to move-in sometimes can break down. And it breaks down right at a key juncture of making sure that resident becomes a fan of the property and things go smoothly thereafter. Renewal with every single resident starts before they ever even move in at your community. Providing upfront, transparent communication and information about the move-in process and making that resident feel valued and welcomed throughout will set you and your team up for so much more success from the very beginning of that resident’s lifecycle with you.
Shameless video plug: Here video can really shine. Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text. So, shoot a video, or multiple videos, like this one, walking residents through the move-in process, answering questions about their unit, communicating rules or expectations at the community, and anything else they may need to know. It’s a much more engaging (aka transparent) way to share the information, and they are much more likely to enjoy and remember it.
Transparency During Construction and Renovations
Renovations at a community while residents are still living there is hardly ever pleasant. While the end result will often make life better for current and future residents, the process can seem long, loud, and arduous for those involved. New construction of multifamily communities can sometimes be no better. Construction delays, pushbacks, and missed deadlines are the bane of existence for leasing teams during pre-leasing and major frustrations for residents awaiting delivery of units. Whether new construction or renovation, one thing can smooth out both experiences in one fell swoop: transparent communication. If you have fun construction updates, share them! If you have bad construction updates, share them! Staying ahead of communication and over communicating with prospective or existing residents will foster transparency throughout the process and build trust with them through it.
Record, post, and send construction update videos to engage with the lead list for new properties, or, for renovations of an existing property, use these videos to keep residents updated for renovations. And letting residents in on the action is an added bonus.
Shameless video plug: As one Realync user put it, “we live in an HGTV world right now, people understand construction.” Use video to provide key updates and let people know the status of things. Did the new cabinets just get installed and do they look amazing? Share that with your lead list and get them bought in on the space in the process. Things don’t need to be shiny or perfect to get people excited about them. Take this video for example — this got an incredible response from their lead list when showcasing the progress of their future amenities!
Transparent Community Engagement
There are countless things property managers need to communicate with their residents and community about, and those communications can be sent in a wide variety of ways. Some means of communication clearly better than others though. Are you still posting flyers or putting notes under doors? Are you sending what seems like generic or templatized email communications to residents regarding critical or sensitive topics? When do things typically get done or responded to the fastest? When you’re talking face to face with someone. It’s real and raw, and body language is clear and transparent. It’s the best means of communication out there, but obviously not possible for all situations.
Shameless video plug: Video gets more clicks and views, and is a preferred means of communication by today’s generations. Emails with a video in them receive 96% more clicks than emails without. Using video to communicate with your residents can provide a real, transparent way of reinforcing community policies or communicating key information to residents, or a fun way of sending an invite to a community event. This is an incredible example of how one community decided to get creative about how they reinforce their pet waste policy instead of simply sending another mass email or sliding notes under doors yet again. The response? Incredible!
One of the best ways to show true transparency throughout every stage of the multifamily process and resident lifecycle is through video. Whether it’s a live video or a pre-recorded one, video can be one of the best ways to create real connections and instill real trust and transparency into the process.
Until next time…keep it real!