The High-Tech Experience: How to Secure Renters

By Chris Wood

The best thing about the pool closing for the season at Silver Spring Station Apartments in Baltimore is the end-of-the-year group swim. For dogs. “It’s a property where we have a high proportion of renters by choice,” says Carol Jackson, area vice president of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania–based Morgan Properties. “And renters by choice, as opposed to renters by necessity, want all of the extras. And they want to ensure that they get everything on their list. They want to find the ideal apartment home and are willing to wait for it.”

Indeed, pool time for pooches is just one of the seemingly endless stops that property management teams are pulling out to attract and retain renters by choice, a resident demographic that, broadly speaking, has the financial wherewithal to afford purchasing a single-family home or condo but instead chooses to rent at standout, highly amenitized, high-service communities.

“Renters by choice are expecting an elevated, high-touch experience,” explains Lauren Campbell, vice president of asset management for Charlotte, North Carolina–based Crescent Communities. “Not just a ‘Wine Down Wednesday’ or a ‘Taco Tuesday’ but a block party filled with food trucks and local breweries and live bands—a whole-day experience. Those are the things we need to think about to create the attraction to a property and the stickiness that makes them want to stay and renew.”

From curated events to health and wellness amenities to seamless, tech-enabled resident services, renters by choice are gravitating to communities that can flawlessly execute on the real-life and digital touch points that define the resident experience. And it all starts at lease-up. Community ratings and reviews are, of course, important, but establishing a tangible, it-factor sense of place online via social media and tours, both virtual and self-guided, are becoming a critical component as properties jockey for these coveted, high-rent prospects.

“One of the more interesting dynamics we see with renters by choice and search: Whether they come in from an ILS, Google, or our website, they tend to lean into social media more heavily as they shop,” Campbell says. “They’re seeking a specific lifestyle and level of experience, and are looking at property Instagram, TikTok, and other social channels to establish a feel for the community.”

Bridging the gap between top-of-funnel marketing and conversion, virtual and self-guided property tours continue to gain popularity among prospects and property management teams alike as a way to simplify the leasing process with convenience and self-service while still providing a visually rich perspective of the resident experience. “From floor plans to finishes to unit views, proximity to amenities, parking, and more, this demographic wants options and is a little more sophisticated with technology, so virtual tours of apartments before they make the trip to come and see it in person are a huge necessity,” Jackson says. “Anything that can make the leasing process simpler is a must.”…

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