Momentum Behind ‘Renting as a Lifestyle Choice’ Continues to Build

The COVID-19 pandemic set off one the largest waves of domestic migration in recent memory, and the emerging housing trends that have followed are vital to understanding how to succeed in multifamily. Consumer behavior and expectations continue to shift and advance through the pandemic, and there’s no indication that it will let up as the country emerges from this health crisis.

Despite much of the focus being on the scorching hot home sales market, the momentum behind “renting as a lifestyle choice” continues to build. Current and prospective renters are both looking—and moving—more than ever, and their apartment search experience is changing as they find new innovative tools to accommodate them.

Two male friends are outdoors, eating pasta to go and talk

A Quarter of Renters Have Moved Since the Pandemic

According to Zumper’s national special report from August, 26.2% of respondents said they have moved since the pandemic, with 25.2% of respondents saying the pandemic made them more likely to live in a suburb and 35.3% saying they were less likely to live in an urban area in light of the pandemic.

While appetite for urban living appears to have taken a temporary hit, the report shows “this is much less pronounced among the 18-to-29 age bracket, suggesting that the young people who cycle through the city will still do so.”

This migration was considerably less pronounced among people who live a “nomad life,”—or who move from place to place on short-term rentals. Among those, 28% said they regret moving out of the city and 33.3% said the pandemic made them more likely to live in a big city. Recent rental data from big East Coast cities shows rent rising back to pre-pandemic levels, suggesting the city life is still a draw for a lot of Americans.

One woman, young lady moved into her new apartment, holding a plant.

Streamlining the Apartment Search Process

Marketing to the renter demographic has become even more competitive, and successful community owners and managers are finding that providing the latest technology tools gives them an advantage.

Because renters most often start their apartment search online, visibility on apartment marketing websites and search engines is critical. To support this, Zumper just released an innovative new solution, zPosts, that enables partners to increase exposure by more than 350% on Google. Leveraging artificial intelligence to optimize their Google My Business profile is a no-brainer. In addition, Zumper is working with Movoto as the company’s inaugural rental partner, providing multifamily partners a new network of prospective renters.

Renters today are seeking the same level of technology and service they regularly experience in similar marketplaces. This equates to more-responsive communication, streamlined applications, and a more thoughtful approach to information sharing.

This gap in technology became evident by the No. 1 complaint of renters: communication response rates. Zumper tackled this challenge with the introduction of a new in-app messaging feature that enables renters to send and receive messages directly within the app by using interfaces that resemble chat services on popular platforms.

Renters are doing more of their own homework about communities before contacting them. They want to easily search specific neighborhoods for the perfect apartment, using integrated map features that clearly highlight relevant apartments and provide insights and data behind WalkScore, rent trends, and adjacent cities and neighborhoods.

Virtual tours and contactless applications are no longer a “nice-to-have,” but a “must-have.” According to a recent survey of more than 10,000 renters, 4 out of 5 said they are likely to lease a property they toured virtually, and 75% said they consider virtual tours to be a “very important” factor when signing a lease.

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