With over 1,000,000 apartment units under construction nationally—half of which are slated to come to market this year—2023 is shaping up to be a renter’s market. The combination of more choices for renters and 40-year-high interest rates could put serious pressure on maintaining cash flow. Against this backdrop, resident retention is more important than ever. What’s more, recent data from the 2023 AppFolio Property Manager Renter Motivations Report shows that 56% of leases expire in the next 12 months. Roughly 30% of all renters surveyed are actively searching for a new rental. Renters who describe themselves as unsatisfied with their current property management experience are two times more likely to be actively searching for a new home, and almost half of unsatisfied renters cite “seeking a better property manager” as a reason they’re planning to move.
So what can you do to equip your team to provide standout service to better retain or drive prospective residents to live at your property? This is what we set out to uncover in the 2023 AppFolio Property Manager Renter Motivations Report.
The data shows that maintenance, communications, and digitizing payments are must-have factors driving success.
Maintenance and communications
The data shows that maintenance is likely the greatest driver of overall satisfaction. The largest difference between satisfied and unsatisfied renters came from the level of satisfaction with maintenance. Unsatisfied renters are far more likely to be unsatisfied with every aspect of how their property manager handles maintenance. Unsatisfied renters cite longer wait times, poor communication, and limited visibility into how maintenance is progressing.
Like maintenance, communication is another major driver of satisfaction. The two go hand-in-hand, as the bulk of resident communications relate to maintenance.
Satisfaction with communication closely aligns to overall satisfaction with property management. Nearly 90% of satisfied renters are also happy with their property management company in terms of communication, compared to only 10% of unsatisfied renters. Phone, email, and text are the most common methods of communication, but the data shows that renters would like to use text messages more to communicate with property management in most situations.
The ability to pay rent online appears to be a significant driver of satisfaction with technology: renters paying online have a 77% overall satisfaction rate, compared to a 35% satisfaction rate for those not paying online. About half of renters pay online, but many more renters would like their property management company to offer this service; the main reason renters don’t pay online is that their property management company doesn’t provide the option. Of those without the option to pay online, 58% would like their property management company to offer online payments. A total of 60% of renters say online rent payments are important or very important when evaluating a new rental. This is even higher for Generation Z (63%) and millennials (73%).
How to stay ahead in 2023 and beyond
All this data clearly points to the notion that property managers can improve renter satisfaction by offering the best technology experience possible.
Most property management solutions address both the maintenance and communication expectations of the modern renter by providing greater insight into maintenance status while letting them communicate with management the way they want. The most cutting-edge platforms leverage artificial intelligence to receive and respond to all maintenance requests at any hour of the day—or night—and automatically create and route work orders to the appropriate team. And the icing on the cake: residents can reach out however they want: via phone call, online resident portal, or text message, which the data shows is the preferred way for residents to communicate with property management.
With the right property management software, residents can easily pay rent online from anywhere using their online portal. Ideally, the online portal should also be available as a mobile app, where users can make payments, update contact information, submit maintenance requests, and much more. Digital property management technology also offers flexible payment options that better accommodate each resident’s preferences by allowing them to pay rent by whatever method works best for them: eCheck, debit, credit, or eCash.
We invite you to check out the full 2023 AppFolio Property Manager Renter Motivations Report. It will take you on a deep dive into exactly what your renters expect from you and provide actionable takeaways on how to bring your A-game to key workflows. It also will win new business—whether that be residents or units—boost operational efficiency, and combat rising costs. You can find the full report and other helpful resources at appfolio.com/industry-insights.