I just got back from Boise, Idaho recently to visit family and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Northwest U.S. I found out a cousin who has been living with her parents for various family reasons is now looking for a rental situation. I asked her what kinds of deals she was finding in the apartment market in Boise, and while she told me what I expected to hear – that the move-in deals were pretty amazing – she had chosen to submit a rental application for a single family home with a yard. This is no new story to any of us, and she shared all the reasons we’ve heard before:
- Fenced in yard
- Same price as an apartment
- No shared walls
- Lots of space
- And the neighborhood even had a pool and clubhouse!
Yes, the shadow market is alive and well, there’s no point in denying that. We’re competing with it for prospects as well as our existing residents! While there are many experts on the leasing side who can offer strategies and approaches to get new prospects in the door, there is a need to continue to use some of these same strategies to keep the residents we have. Remember the TV show, The Jeffersons? The theme song is all about moving to a “deluxe apartment.” How do we re-kindle that pride of residency in our own community? When it comes to existing residents telling us at renewal time that they are considering renting a single family home or condo, it may be an opportune moment to remind them of some of the extra costs that could be associated with renting a single family home:
- How quickly are maintenance issues resolved?
- What will it cost to maintain lawns/landscaping in summer or sidewalks and driveways in winter?
- Who pays for water/sewer/trash?
- What will utility bills look like in order to heat/cool the home?
- Who provides window coverings?
- Does the neighborhood have a pool, clubhouse, fitness room? If not, what will it cost for memberships at local facilities?
While the initial monthly rental rate may be equal to or better than the resident’s current rate, what other costs do they need to consider? And, ultimately, the renewal decision is most influenced by the service delivery the residents are experiencing. Are you offering your residents service that can not be matched? Meaning, do you return their calls and emails same day? Are their service requests completed in 24 hours, and are they completed right the first time? And as the theme song says, do your residents feel they have “finally got a piece of the pie?”