With the increase in supply for multifamily product, property managers are finding unique ways to curb competition at the property level to drive value for owners.
Multifamily product is in high demand, but with ample new construction, owners are looking at what can be done at the property level to curb competition and create value. To find out what property managers are doing at the property level, we sat down with Scott Wickman, regional VP at Western National Property Management, a firm with 160 properties under management, how property managers are creating real value. Here, he talks to us everything from the growing supply to new technologies and onsite amenities.
GlobeSt.com: With an influx of multifamily product nationwide, how can property owners and managers stay ahead of the competition?
Scott Wickman: Maintaining a quality multifamily community that stands out above the rest comes down to a combination of factors. With so much supply entering multifamily markets nationwide, it is more important than ever for property owners and managers to establish a strong online presence. Technology has changed the way renters make their decisions. Many tend to perceive the quality of a community based on online reviews and photos. While owners can’t necessarily ensure all reviews are positive, they can remain proactive by responding to anything negative that may come about, and by ensuring that property photos are high quality.
Curb appeal can also drastically impact a potential renter’s first impression of a property. By investing in minor exterior upgrades such as a fresh coat of paint, landscaping improvements or fresh asphalt, owners can improve their chances of attracting new residents. In addition, taking a macro-level approach and noticing which amenities nearby apartment complexes may be lacking can greatly benefit property managers. Offering amenities that are in demand, but not widely offered, can instantly get a community noticed by renters.
GlobeSt.com: What major trends are you observing in amenities throughout your multifamily properties?
Wickman: Current amenity trends have a common theme: they are convenience-focused. Whether it’s automated storage areas or lockers for packages, trash valet services, or community dog parks, renters continue to demand amenities that bring ease to their lives. Many properties have added secure package delivery systems to their lobbies, which include either automated lockers or a concierge on duty to accept packages when residents may be out. In addition, many property management teams have begun implementing grocery delivery services as well as dry cleaning and trash valet in order to improve the lives of their renters. Further, communities are increasingly catering to pet owners by offering on-site dog parks and pet washing stations. Providing amenities that simplify the lives of residents can give property owners an edge, especially among new market competition
GlobeSt.com: How is technology driving these trends?
Wickman: Technology has changed the way multifamily properties operate. Everything from rent payments to resident screening and maintenance requests can be streamlined by websites and apps. Technology has also become the driving force behind renters demanding amenities that offer additional convenience to their everyday lives. With e-commerce thriving, the aforementioned package delivery system amenity at apartment communities is increasingly becoming essential not only as an amenity, but as an operational strategy.
Additionally, apps such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have become an integral part of life for many people. This is driving the demand for apartments to provide additional app-related services such as dry-cleaning requests and online grocery delivery via app. Owners and managers need to embrace these changes in order to adapt to modern-day resident expectations.
GlobeSt.com: What are some of the biggest challenges that you are seeing at the property level today?
Wickman: Property owners and managers need to be prepared to cater to the various needs of their residents. Renters are becoming increasingly diverse.
While millennial renters may be seeking electronic options for rental payments and dog-washing areas, baby boomer renters might want community activities and more trash receptacles dispersed throughout the property for ease of their lives.
Owners and managers must take geographic location and demographic factors into consideration in order to best assess which amenities will be most valuable in which location.
GlobeSt.com: When you take on a new property, what are your most common recommendations to property owners?
Wickman: There is no “one size fits all” remedy to operating a successful multifamily property, so it is crucial for owners to take a look at the demographics they are targeting and aim to best accommodate them. It becomes very easy to get caught up in the latest, high-tech amenities. If property owners were to constantly aim to have latest technology on the market, they may find that they are losing money. Instead, owners need to focus on the amenities that matter most to their specific renters. By doing this, owners and managers can increase resident satisfaction, NOI and retention rates. Further, we always advise going the extra mile when it comes to training on-site staff. It is important for staff to establish meaningful relationships with residents in order to increase retention rates. This also helps to garner a better sense of community throughout the property, therefore improving the overall experience for renters.
By: Kelsi Maree Borland (GlobeSt)
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