Embracing Technology: How Online Rent Payments Can Improve Renter Satisfaction and Help Grow Your Business

Last modified on March 21st, 2022
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Over four years ago, the National Apartment Association described the future of rental housing as “a paperless office – and an entirely paper-free community.” And that future has been accelerated due to the pandemic and remote work. One could also say that the swift adoption of  technology within the rental housing/property management industry has shifted  prospective and current residents’ expectations. Now they don’t just “want” technology, they need it. 

As a property manager, you’re always looking for ways to streamline processes and provide a great resident experience, all while managing day-to-day tasks. Society is embracing digital technologies more and more, and it’s important that such capabilities transfer over to your properties. What was once a long, drawn out leasing process reliant on in-person interactions, now happens virtually with prospective residents completing everything online — from communicating with agents, to touring units, and submitting applications. But why should it stop there? 

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows that 43% of consumers prefer to pay their bills online versus traditional methods such as check or cash. With such ease and convenience, why not say yes to online rent payments for your business and renters? 

Understanding Renter Expectations

As younger, tech-savvy consumers continue to enter the rental market, they are expecting technology to keep up with them, and in some instances, that means convenient ways for them to pay using their mobile devices. According to the 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Report, 61% of residents say it is important to be able to pay rent/dues with a mobile device. Results from The 2020 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice also indicate that consumers paid more than half of their bills using debit, credit, or prepaid cards, with 6 in 10 bills being paid automatically or online. In the 2022 U.S. Resident Motivations report, respondents noted that having their property manager offer flexible payment plans was 27% more important now than it was before the pandemic. 

Residents need flexibility and peace of mind when it comes to paying rent. Using software like AppFolio Property Manager allows renters to easily pay their rent through their online tenant portal — from anywhere, on any device. With a variety of convenient online payment options —  eCheck, credit or debit cards, and electronic cash payments — payments are made quickly and securely, using bank-grade security to make sure their data is protected when processing transactions. Ultimately, offering flexible online rent payment options leads to a better overall experience for residents and your teams.

Property management companies like Northwest Commercial Real Estate Investments, LLC in Seattle, WA, were able to surpass their goal of at least 85% online rent payment adoption rate to 93%, a major improvement of an initial 50%. Managing Director Lisa Kenedy found success in educating their residents to use this preferred method: “We had to remind renters that our processes moved online and that it was for the best. For some residents, we even offered to help them set up their online portals so that they felt more secure; they recognized that it was legitimate and convenient,” she says. 

Reasons to Say Yes to Online Rent Payments 

You’ll save an abundance of time with automation, which will free your team to focus on providing higher levels of service to your customers. Allowing residents to pay their rent online not only makes it more convenient for them, it also saves your team time, because they’ll no longer have to manually collect checks, enter data, and reconcile. 

Everyone benefits from the use of online payments — whether it’s receiving or sending payments. When you provide flexible and convenient ways for your residents to pay, it’s more likely they will adopt online payments faster, giving you a better chance of receiving payments on-time. But online payments don’t just benefit your residents, your teams reap the rewards, too.

By adopting online payment capabilities, Robb Fleischer of AMSEI Real Estate Services is able to have a complete and accurate record of their accounts through statements, balance sheets, and rent rolls. With less time worrying about audits, they have been able to expand their portfolio dramatically. 

“AppFolio has made expansion very easy for us. Our portfolio used to be strictly a San Francisco market, but has now spread to a larger portion of the bay area, San Diego, and New York,” he says. “They’ve also made expanding our offices just as easy, since all that is needed is an internet connection to access the platform.” 

Accounting at Your Fingertips 

Run your business with confidence by paying your bills and owners securely and accurately with AppFolio. With all your payments on one platform, you and your team can utilize automated workflows to maintain the right level of controls for your business. Here are a few ways that AppFolio Property Manager makes online payments a great solution for everyone:   

Automation all in one place: Put away the filing cabinet and paper receipts. Everything you need to do is all online, giving you easy visibility into your accounts. 

Reduction of risk and extra security: Give your customers peace of mind when sending and receiving payments with a platform that’s secure.  

A seamless experience for everyone: Everyone’s happier when things go smoothly. With an online platform, it’s convenient to communicate and transfer money no matter where you are! 

Once you’re on AppFolio’s platform, setting up online payments is quick and easy. Additionally, we provide you with the tools and resources to educate your staff and residents about the benefits and best practices. 

 To learn more about how AppFolio can streamline your accounting operations and provide a better resident experience, take a look at this article.

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