As data from Zillow’s 2022 Consumer Housing Trend Report portrays, apartment shoppers are expediting the length of their searches.
Nearly 25% of renters stated they signed a lease to live in an apartment community before seeing it in person. At the same time, 40% said they only took one apartment tour.
This trend should ring alarm bells for many multifamily marketers, especially those who still believe prospective residents need to see an apartment community in-person to feel comfortable enough to decide to live there. Or it takes the average prospect multiple weeks to select their future apartment home when it’s now possible to complete their search entirely from an iPhone.
Why are prospects taking fewer apartment tours?
Digital marketing has completely changed how apartment shoppers search for and discover potential communities.
For years, someone pursuing to rent an apartment had limited resources at their disposal that forced them to undergo exhaustive searches consisting of multiple in-person tours as that was the only way they could actually ‘see’ the community.
Now, communities utilize dedicated websites, digital advertisements, and other online platforms to display high-quality images, videos, and information about their apartments. It is truly amazing that the old-fashioned process of searching local city guides and classified ads in the newspaper for nearby apartments, calling the office, scheduling a tour, driving to the property, and not knowing what it looks like, can now all be accomplished in a manner of seconds.
While the digital age has impacted the multifamily industry for a while now, prospective resident behavior—especially regarding how they search for and engage with apartment communities online—has been significantly altered in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This phenomenon has accelerated the adoption of digital touring tools by apartment marketers who may not have been as up-to-date with new-age digital options.
What does this mean for apartment marketers?
Since prospective residents are willing to lease an apartment without touring it in person, apartment marketers must acknowledge the necessity of having high-quality, compelling video tours and photo galleries available online.
To be clear, only some apartment communities need an exhaustive online presence. For communities that operate in the luxury space or are B-class property that experiences regular resident turnover, it’s imperative to have a website, digital ads, virtual touring and leasing tools, and an optimized search engine presence that’s discoverable on every device as that will be their top source of leads from now on.
The multifamily industry is now at the point where the competition for interest and leads places apartment communities with powerful online presences over similar competing communities with incomplete digital marketing that doesn’t meet the expectations of modern-day apartment shoppers.
What should apartment marketers do to make their communities stand out in the ultra-competitive digital landscape?
One apartment marketing company, RentVision, reports that the walkthrough video tours they post on apartment websites result in high engagement and an increased probability of leasing success.
RentVision’s strategic advisors also recommend that apartment community websites showcase this high-quality visual content on floorplan-specific pages so that prospective residents can gather all the relevant information and see inside floorplans that match their predetermined needs.
Other recommendations for apartment communities to stand out online include ensuring that their websites work seamlessly on mobile devices and using targeted digital ad campaigns in Google.
With more apartment shoppers eschewing in-person tours and focusing primarily on communities’ online presence in deciding where they want to rent, apartment marketers must adopt new digital marketing tools to achieve leasing success