Last modified on September 27th, 2023
By Brittany Benz
For residential property management, leasing season runs from May through September, with July and August typically seeing the most volume. To maximize your occupancy rates and see greater levels of success during this critical time, property management teams need to be ready long before the season begins. In addition, resources need to be fully committed and optimized during peak times in order to meet high prospect demand and expectations.
Keep reading to discover leasing season strategies that will give your team a competitive edge and boost efficiency before and during leasing season.
Before leasing season: Set a foundation for success
1.) Properly prep your teams
A well-prepared team can make all the difference, especially during the busy months. Help them thrive during the demands of leasing season by supporting them before it begins.
- Increase training budgets and access: Leasing season isn’t the time to cut back on training budgets. Instead, make sure all team members have access to technology and training before the season’s surge.
- Properly onboard and cross-train team members: If you’re short-staffed, invest in hiring new team members or cross-training existing team members. Either way, everyone needs ample time to get fully ramped up.
- Ensure high-demand teams are available and up to date: Review maintenance team procedures to ensure tools, supplies, and adequate team members are available and ready to respond. If possible, consider extending leasing agents’ hours during peak rental season — the extra investment can really pay off in leads.
- Don’t forget about remote and off-site team members: If any of your team members work remotely or are distributed across a large region, implement sound strategies that focus on improving engagement, boosting productivity, and reducing turnover.
2.) Put your property’s best face forward
According to the 2022 NMHC/Grace Hill Renter Preference Report, 51% of renters said overall property appearance would be very important in their future leasing decision. Be sure to spruce up your property since traffic from prospective residents is likely to increase significantly.
- Perform a property-wide freshen-up: Walk the property from a prospective resident’s point of view. Check for and implement small cosmetic improvements that can make a big difference in your community’s appeal.
- Address maintenance issues: Take care of all preventive maintenance, and check your roofing, gutters, and downspouts. Make sure common areas are clean and maintained.
- Consider investing in new amenities or spaces that add value: Take note of what added-value upgrades prospects seek when inquiring about your properties. For example, the 2022 NMHC/Grace Hill Renter Preferences Report revealed that 73% of renters are interested in having 24/7 self-service package access, 69% are interested in having a property-wide recycling program, and 58% are interested in having an outdoor communal barbeque space.
3.) Create descriptive and enticing listings
Great listings lead to more prospects and increase the likelihood that you’ll fill your property vacancies as quickly as possible. Here’s how to stand out in the right ways.
- Make listings as polished and thorough as possible: Provide robust unit descriptions, photos, and videos. Consider hiring a professional writer and photographer to ensure your properties’ messages are informative and images and videos are compelling.
- Leverage your website and third-party listings: Make all listing information available to prospective renters on your own website, in addition to third-party listing sites. Based on the 2022 NMHC/Grace Hill Renter Preferences Report, 83% of renters visited a property management’s website and 73% of renters visited rental listing sites when searching for their most recent rental home.
4.) Embrace virtual leasing tools
Meet prospective renters’ expectations for convenience and self-service with technology that enables virtual leasing options, such as virtual showings and video walkthroughs. These options can save renters time and reduce friction since they can view the unit at their leisure. Virtual tools also benefit your team since they can speed up the leasing process.
For qualified renters, offering self-guided tours with access to the property via a lockbox is another great option.
5.) Leverage online applications
If you don’t currently offer online rental applications, you could be missing out. Besides being a convenient application option for prospective renters, online leasing solutions streamline the rental process from beginning to end by removing manual, error-prone paperwork and creating a better experience for everyone involved.
6.) Update screening processes
To comply with fair housing laws, create a set of objective criteria to define qualified applicants, such as credit score or previous rent payment history. Be aware that legally this list cannot include protected statuses like race, gender, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, or religion.
To speed up time-consuming screening processes, look for technology that helps accurately and objectively screen tenants. This will allow you to make quicker and more informed decisions about applicants, especially during peak leasing season time.
7.) Review leasing and addenda language
Regulations for housing change every year, and you may need to adjust your leasing and addenda language to account for new Fair Housing Laws or updated local or state requirements. Failure to comply with regulations can result in a possible lawsuit, so always check federal and state resources online or consult an attorney if you’re unsure about what needs to be revised.
During leasing season: Focus on efforts that make an impact
8.) Stay on top of pricing
If your properties are priced too high, you run the risk of losing to the competition. But if they’re priced too low, your ROI will suffer. This is why a smart pricing strategy is one of the best ways to both fill vacancies faster and grow your business during leasing season.
Many property managers still call around for rental comparisons within their area; this activity can be time-consuming but highly informative. Just remember to only compare your units to similar units in the area. Additionally, your pricing should reflect current market conditions, property amenities, nearby attractions, and any updates you’ve made in the past year.
9.) Don’t forget about renewals
The nationwide average cost to a property owner for every resident that vacates is approximately $3,900. Resident retention should be your number one priority — especially during leasing season — since it has a direct impact on your cash flow and property asset value.
To determine your actual resident loss cost and see just how much retention can impact your leasing season success, check out the Multifamily Insiders Apartment Turnover Cost Calculator.
10.) Keep an eye on ROI
When allocating your marketing budget for each property, be intentional about where you spend and track whether those marketing channels attract renters. Generally, it’s best to invest more heavily in marketing channels that have led to successfully signed leases in the past and cut down on channels that haven’t yielded as many conversions.
For more tips on how you can better market your business, read our top tips on how to attract more leads with marketing.
11.) Respond quickly to incoming leads
Leasing season can leave your team feeling overwhelmed with emails and calls, but if you don’t respond to renters within 24 hours, you’re likely to lose them to your competition.
Speed up response times by leveraging smart technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automated messaging, to help prospects feel acknowledged. The time saved can free your team to focus on providing higher levels of service in other more impactful ways.
Leasing season is a vital time for residential property management, and it’s never too early to prep your team or too late to optimize your processes. With these tips, your rental properties and team members will be fully prepared for peak leasing season and ready to answer when prospective residents come knocking at your door.
To learn more about how you can attract more leads this leasing season, download this guide.