For some people, the summer season is when work slows down and they can enjoy the warm sun on a vacation. For property managers, it’s just the opposite. Summer tends to be a peak time of the year for relocation, driven by numerous factors: longer daylight hours, better weather, the arrival of tax refunds that can be used for rent deposits and down payments, and kids are out of school.
As the temperature continues to rise, so do the demands of potential prospects and current residents on property managers. “There’s a lot of movement around kids’ school schedules,” said Chad Dewald, vice president of Multifamily at Franklin Street. “Based on various prospects’ needed or current residents’ needs, there always seems to be more timing issues. People need something faster in order to have an established address to get into the school zone they want to be in. There always seems to be movement, but this is more frantic movement or urgent movement.”
“Ever time the end of April comes we just have to put our running shoes on because it truly gets very, very busy,” said Melissa DeMayo, asset manager at Walters Group. “The phone is nonstop, we know through August it’s our busy time so we try to capture as much as we can during t his time.”
This increased demand clashes with a current market that has very limited availability. As prospects fight the clock on their own schedule, they also face competition. “We have a lot of traffic and a lot of people looking for the end of June or beginning of July and they left deposits,” DeMayo said. “We also have a waiting list; we only have about four units available through the summer which is huge. People hear “waiting list: and they get scared. They would even go to our sister property and leave a deposit there if we didn’t have what they wanted.”
Dewald said with fewer options in today’s market, people don’t waste any time when they find something that fits their needs. “They’re not going to leave without doing whatever it takes to at least hold it and have some skin in the game to come back to it if need be. We’re definitely seeing people act with more urgency because in most cases they’ve already been looking for a little while and they realize how limited the availability is. So, if they find something in their range, they typically pull the trigger much more quickly than in previous years.”
June is the perfect time for property managers to go the extra mile to ensure a first impression is a lasting impression. It can be a time for increased rent prices or it can be a window of opportunity to take care of outdoor repairs.
Freshening up the landscaping, pools and exterior common areas are all important to ensure your property looks its best. “We like to plan a lot of colorful flowers to enhance the property’s curb appeal, especially around the rental office,” said Alec Lowenstein, managing partner at Waverly Properties. “I think you always want your curb appeal to attract potential rents, but on the East Coast we must take advantage of the short spring planting season and strategically place a lot of colorful flowers.”
Your property isn’t the only thing that can use a little makeover in the summer. Now is a great time to review marketing efforts and figure out what’s working and what’s not. Companies are continuously increasing digital use, so your efforts could possibly make or break a deal for a potential resident. Does your website need to be revamped? What does your social media presence look like? Do you have an up-to-date blog?
“When it’s hot, people don’t like to have to work or be indoors, and looking for an apartment can be a long, demanding process,” Lowenstein said. “People would rather be at the pool or on the beach in the summer, so we must work extra hard to keep our apartment marketing sharp, and to follow up on any calls or leads immediately. Marketing efforts mean doubling the number of ads, infusing them with pictures of flowers and colorful things, like balloons, on the property. We are sure to emphasize distance from the beach or the availability of the municipal pool, for example.”
So you’ve reeled in a potential resident – now you should be making the leasing process as easy as possible to lock down the deal. Companies are utilizing more digital space for marketing and presentation these days, so why not put your leasing online too? Technological advances and increased mobile applications are your friend. If you have access to e-applications, online tenant screening, and digital signature options, your new resident can sign the lease as soon as they find the home of their dreams. This will save time for both parties, give you the competitive edge over other industry players, and let the resident get to the pool or beach – where they actually want to be. It’s a guaranteed win-win.
And lastly, it’s crucial to always be thinking ahead. April might still have a focus on wrapping up the spring leasing season, but that doesn’t mean summer isn’t following quickly behind. Getting a head start on your marketing efforts can only be beneficial. “April and May I would call the critical marketing times so that we’re capitalizing on June and July,” Dewald said. “Whether you market aggressively or not, come August thing historically slow down for us. There’s a small window in there, so you need to start early on the marketing front so you can spend June and July writing leases and not trying to bring people to the door.”
Summer leasing season is upon us, don’t be left behind.