It’s fair to say that rising rents have dominated discussions within the residential real estate space in recent years. Increasingly valuable land, trend-setting apartment buildings, and a booming job market that pushed demand for luxury city-living propelled the national average rent to grow 36% in the past decade and the renters’ population to surpass 100 million. And while COVID-19 has turned the industry on its head since its onset, the reality is that pre-pandemic, America’s young renters were drawn to amenity-filled apartment communities in bustling urban areas.
In weighing the benefits of renting in more expensive and more populated cities versus less dense rural areas, or even home-buying, the luxury of living within well-maintained smart buildings has proved too alluring for many — they appreciate modern conveniences like being able to reach out to property managers in real-time when an issue arises.
In fact, this is something that multi-family property brands are increasingly emphasizing. According to F. Ron Smith, an agent at LA-based real estate firm Smith & Berg Partners, this type of communication and recurring outreach is important for residents to feel comfortable where they live, and of course, for landlords and managers to be comfortable with the people living on their property or within their complexes — which is why he told Forbes that opening up lines of communication early is key.
And as the pandemic continues to shift consumers’ priorities, including remote workers who are no longer tied to specific locations, the importance of well-maintained relationships has heightened and thus so has property managers’ quest to engage their residents and provide a better experience with real-time communication.
Opening Up New Channels for Two-Way Conversations with Residents
Of course, when it comes to COVID-19, proactive communication between residents, landlords and property managers is vital. However, with every American affected by the crisis in their own unique way, working with residents on a case-by-case basis has been a challenging task. One study conducted by Avail in March 2020, for instance, found that 70% of landlords said they had not yet contacted their residents about the pandemic.
What this gap means, however, is that a significant opportunity exists for property managers and residents to enhance their relationship and engage in better two-way conversations — something that has enormous benefits for both parties no matter the circumstances. Why? Attracting — and keeping — great residents is crucial to any property’s profitability, and showing a commitment to delivering high-quality experiences is key to this.
Even as society reopens and the risk of COVID-19 infection subsides, this show of empathy and attentiveness can go a long way towards easing renters’ anxieties and making them feel comfortable in their living situations — something that in itself is a luxury that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Property management firm CARROLL, for instance, says that this “people-first” approach is especially important in times like these when loyalty is more important than ever. Since the pandemic began, its team has touched base every month with its 60,000 residents. “It is this commitment to them as people that has earned us their trust,” CEO Patrick Carroll told Forbes.
A property management team that fosters a great relationship with each of their residents creates an approachable environment where issues like late rent or maintenance problems can be solved before they become larger issues.
Leveraging Modern Tech for Instant Communication
With a large resident base however, creating these types of valuable two-way conversations can be a challenge for landlords and property managers. But like every industry navigating heavy workloads and reduced bandwidth, the benefits of modern technology is empowering owners and property managers to scale their communication strategies, build relationships, and manage their communities more efficiently.
With intelligent messaging, for example, office staff are empowered to not only reach more residents in an instant, but do so on their residents’ terms. The utilization of these types of modern technologies have become such an integral part of people’s everyday lives that it has changed residents’ expectations — including how they want their property managers to get in touch with them, the updates they want communicated, and how quickly they expect a response to their own messages. As a result, the relationships forged between residents and the teams that serve them have become increasingly personalized and accessible 24/7.
When one elevator bank is out of service, for instance, a quick text message that notifies the affected residents of the issue, and gives them an alternative and an estimated resolution time, lessens any inconvenience caused. Similarly, if a resident gets locked out of their apartment, they can text their building’s supervisor for quick assistance, turning a stressful situation into a moment of relief. Real Star Property Management used real-time communication to connect with their residents during the 2021 Texas power crisis, saving nearly $1 million in potential losses. Studies actually show that when businesses solve issues quickly, their customers develop stronger emotional connections with the brand. And since the landlord-resident relationship is essentially this, the above illustrates just how powerful this form of real-time communication can be.
Property managers can also keep residents informed of community updates and use real-time communication as a selling point for package delivery and other ‘concierge’ style services that create peace of mind for modern, multi-family living. The bottom line benefits of instant communication are well-reported across industries, and the residential real estate space is one with considerable promise when it comes to engagement optimization. With real-time communication, property owners and managers can do their jobs more efficiently, scale the resident experience with more channels for conversation, and ultimately create happier residents that are more likely to renew their leases, share positive reviews online and spread positive word of mouth.