How to be ready for the influx of “new normal” rental demands from early summer through early fall.
For rent. For lease. Forgo your free time as peak rental season is just around the corner. Once warmer weather hits most of the country, landlords see a 51% increase of rental applications, according to data from SmartMove. For property managers handling the surge of applications, leases, new tenant inquiries, walk-throughs and more, May through September can be the busiest—and most stressful—time of year.
Jenny Lytle, General Manager of LiftMaster Access Controls, works closely with property managers of communities of varying sizes and understands that their typical workday can be hectic. “It’s a whirlwind of activity. People are coming in and out during the day, packages are being delivered, tenants have questions—there’s not a free moment.”
And as the country continues to make efforts to return to a sense of normalcy, this upcoming season is set to be just as busy, if not busier compared to years past. Rental trends indicate a return back to leasing within core urban areas, with hope of rent stabilizing once the demand is met and inventory shrinks. Properties will be putting their best foot forward with amenity concessions and added-value perks to keep rates from dropping during a hopeful post-pandemic demand.
After the unpredictable year we just had, and as property managers gear up for the most demanding time of year, consider these proactive tips to prepare you and your team for a successful peak rental season.
Refresh and Train Your Team on “New Normal” Policies and Procedures
Adopting to virtual showings, touchless experiences and new move-in, move-out policies, this past year was peppered with pivots for property management. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, most living communities implemented processes and procedures to abide by new health and safety guidelines to keep employees, residents and guests healthy and safe. Now, as the world adjusts to this new normal, it’s evident that people are starting to prefer new ways of interaction.
No matter the size and structure of your team, holding trainings to onboard and refresh new and old employees on all policies and procedures, like communication processes and software systems, can ensure smooth operations throughout the peak season.
“Prior to COVID, there were already processes in place,” says Lytle. “But now we’re seeing that residents prefer a more hands-off, touchless experience that property managers have had to adapt to.”
With the implementation of a cloud-based, smart access solution, like the LiftMaster Smart Video Intercom powered by myQ technology, property managers can remotely handle processes, communications and interactions that formerly took place in-person and face-to-face. For example, instead of making database changes to systems on-site or downloading and syncing the database, all updates can be done virtually from one dashboard on a computer or tablet—making the entire process of onboarding a new tenant much quicker.
Even better, the transition over to the platform is seamless and instinctive for property management teams and tenants alike. “Once a property manager and their team are completely onboarded, it frees up their time so they can focus on the more important tasks at-hand,” says Lytle. “This is crucial during those demanding times of year.”
Invest in Amenities that Matter Most to Residents
Property managers know that the rental market is competitive. To gain that edge, set aside a portion of your budget to invest in your property. Beyond general maintenance and cosmetic updates before the rush of renters arrive, consider investing in quality amenities that set you apart from competing properties in the area.
“When potential renters are viewing your property, they have a certain expectation,” says Lytle. “Whichever way you brand your community—whether it’s luxury, modern or something else—you should strive to live up to those expectations.”
According to Apartments.com, amenities like outdoor spaces, convenient parking and flexible pet policies are just a few features that renters are initially attracted to when searching for their next home. Security and safety are also high on the list of importance.
Lytle agrees and says that over the last year, renters have become increasingly concerned with their overall safety and security and property managers have the unique opportunity to ease those concerns with the amenities they offer in their community.
“In today’s day and age, residents are looking for that extra blanket of security,” says Lytle. “With smart access technology, like the LiftMaster Smart Video Intercom powered by myQ technology, property managers can assign residents the same code for access points across their community, including amenities like the gym or pool. Residents are comforted knowing that only authorized individuals can enter the building and these shared spaces.”
Amenities like these might be the key difference for renters when they are deciding on their next home so be sure they are front and center in your rental listings. Zillow advises landlords and property managers to highlight any recent upgrades, features and amenities your property offers to attract renters. Make sure to include at least 10 photos that are well-lit and highlight interior and exterior spaces along with technical advancements and shared amenities on the property.
Peak Season Improvements are Always a Work in Progress
If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that we should always expect the unexpected. To set you, your team and tenants up for success, take tips like these into consideration ahead of the peak season. Put new processes and procedures in place and invest in quality amenities that speak to today’s ever-changing preferences and environment.
And remember, make a point to keep detailed notes and reminders on what is and is not working—both leading up to and during the season. Use these key learnings to continue improving operation processes for future peak seasons in the years to come.