Can renting be high tech and high touch?


Customer expectations, advancing technology and a burgeoning build-to-rent sector are encouraging the best residential landlords to boost their “digital kerb appeal”, says Yardi’s Paul Yount.

Yount, Yardi’s industry principal and product manager for RENTCafé, says renters no longer expect to spend their Saturdays pounding the pavement or filling in dozens of rental application forms.

“We know many apartment hunters prefer online interactions, and 14 per cent of today’s apartment renters are willing to sign a lease without even seeing the property in person,” he says.

The explosion of ecommerce in recent years has driven an evolution in customer expectations. If a customer can expect a fast and frictionless experience when they make a purchase online, why wouldn’t they expect the same experience when choosing their next apartment?

“Physical kerb appeal has always been important in real estate. But now digital kerb appeal is more important,” Yount explains.

Virtual tours, a phenomenon already gathering speed before COVID-19, are now the preferred way for renters to select their next apartment, Yount adds. He points to a Yardi survey of RENTCafé users which found nearly a third (31%) preferred self-guided tours or had no preference, pre-COVID.

“Now, most renters would prefer a self-scheduled tour in their next apartment search – in fact 83 per cent of apartment shoppers tell us they’d prefer to take a self-guided tour if one was available.”

Yardi’s research is backed up by the largest survey of apartment residents, undertaken by the National Multifamily Housing Council in the United States. This survey, which got inside the minds of 372,000 apartment residents in 2020, found:

The appeal of self-guided tours, powered by Yardi’s technology, is not just about social distancing. Two thirds of renters want to tour a property at their own pace, and just under half want to check out a property after hours.

Does that mean today’s renter prefers a high-tech experience over a high-touch, personalised approach? Yount compares the expectations of today’s renter with that of a grocery shopper.

“Some people like old-school checkouts, others prefer self-checkout, some like kerbside pickups while others opt for delivery services. Today’s consumer wants to do business in a lot of different ways.”

Looking to build tenant loyalty?

So, what are Yardi’s top three high-tech, high-touch plays to build loyalty and create long-term connections with renters? Download Yardi’s latest paper to find out.

Download the paper

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