Last modified on January 31st, 2020
By Brittany Benz
As the construction (or renovation) phase of your multifamily community comes to a close, you will most likely face a range of challenges on the way to full occupancy. From increasing awareness to filling vacancies, there are many obstacles property managers face when they open a new rental property.
It’s important to prepare for leasing-up before the inspectors issue a certificate of occupancy and residents start moving in. By recognizing and proactively addressing common challenges, you’ll be in the best position to lease-up your new property and see steady, positive returns more quickly.
Want to maximize your lease-up strategy? Here are five common challenges property management teams face, and some ways you can overcome them:
#1 The Challenge: Lack of Awareness
When a property is new to the market local residents and external leasing agents aren’t familiar with it yet.
The Solution: Build a Brand
The best way to increase awareness is to build an online presence. This means getting your website, social media profiles, and digital marketing campaigns up and running.
Future residents expect to be able to easily research everything about your property and community online. In fact, the majority of prospective renters look online first when it comes to making a decision about where they want to live. According to the NMHC / Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Report, 45% of renters visited communities’ social media websites when searching for their most recent apartment.
However, building a brand is no easy task. Unless you have a team of skilled designers and marketing professionals on staff, it will be hard to know where to start. By choosing a property management software that already has a marketing suite of features, you’ll be able to get your brand established quickly and efficiently.
#2 The Challenge: Responding to Leads
Filling so many vacancies at once means your leasing team will have their hands full. Emails and phone calls from prospective residents can quickly fall through the cracks if you’re not careful. Today’s renters expect to have their inquiries answered promptly, and if you fail to respond in a timely manner they may look elsewhere.
The Solution: Put Leasing on Autopilot with AI Technology
Personally responding to every prospect email and phone call can eat up a lot of your team’s time and resources. One way you can save time, while still providing a stellar customer experience is to use AI technology. An AI leasing assistant, like AppFolio’s Lisa, can work around the clock to provide thoughtful, personal communications with prospective renters. From setting up showing times to pre-qualifying renters, AI technology automates the leasing flow and frees up your team to focus on providing higher levels of customer service.
#3 The Challenge: Ramping & Training New Hires
A new property also means new team members. If your onboarding process is disorganized and complicated it can take new hires longer to ramp up, which can impact your renter’s experience and your lead-to-lease conversion rate.
The Solution: Automate the Onboarding Process
Configurable workflows can help your team automate and standardize the onboarding process. With built-in processes and web-based training, you can get new hires up and running faster, so they can reach more prospects and fill vacancies quickly. In addition, a step-by-step task management plan can keep your associates on target, reduce time spent communicating updates, and ensure handoffs between teams are seamless.
#4 The Challenge: Testing New Marketing Channels & Strategies
When entering a new market you may not understand your renting population, so you’ll have to experiment with your marketing strategy to attract and retain great residents.
The Solution: Leverage Real-Time Analytics
An AI leasing assistant can ensure 100% accurate lead attribution, by providing the actionable insights and data you need to understand the ROI of your marketing spend and make strategic decisions. Plus, you can discover which tactics and channels are performing best, so you can allocate human and financial resources wisely.
#5 The Challenge: Revenue Management Can Be Complex
Management companies and investors face unique pricing challenges during the lease-up phase. Cash flow can be tight when a property is still at low or no occupancy, so it’s critical to set the right performance expectations during this period.
The Solution for Fee Managers: Be Transparent
Owners and investors expect their property management team to produce results fast. Even more importantly, they expect to have quick and easy access to insights, so they can understand the performance of their community against other properties and account for demand.
As your community begins to fill up, you can better manage revenue expectations by keeping all parties well informed. One way you can do this is by creating sharable reports and posting them in your owner’s portal. Modern property management software has these features built-in, which makes it even easier to be transparent and efficient during every stage of the lease-up process.
The Solution for Owners: Capitalize on Current Market Conditions
Owners and operators often have complicated financing needs. For both, it’s imperative to reach a positive cash flow as soon construction is completed.
The difference between a quick and efficient lease-up and one that drags on can all come down to rent pricing. Setting rents too low can result in missed revenue, while setting rents too high can result in increased vacancies.
One way you can maximize asset performance is by using a sophisticated pricing algorithm, like Revenue Management in AppFolio Property Manager PLUS. This feature allows management to instantly adjust rent tiers based on real-time conditions, so they can take advantage of market changes. The agility that comes from using advanced technology allows owners and operators to quickly respond to changing markets regionally and nationally.
All-in-all, whatever challenges you face during the lease-up process can be solved with the right strategy and technology. Attract and retain great residents, improve your lead-to-lead conversion, and deliver an outstanding renter experience with the help of a purpose-built property management software.