A resident’s journey begins with their first tour, and owners and operators that prioritize their interior design and community cleanliness are going to see higher interest and make better first impressions. A welcoming atmosphere and attention to detail are crucial to helping the renters build interest in the community, and shows the property is well maintained and welcoming.
Let’s review the resident journey, beginning with when they first start exploring a community online and schedule a tour, up to when they decide to sign a lease. What aesthetic factors are drivers for leases and why are these first impressions so important?
A picture is worth a 1,000 words
In the age of tech, the prospect will begin their apartment research on Zillow or Apartments.com and end up on your community website. This means that prior to actually arriving for a tour, they’ve looked at all online photos. While it’s important that images have consistency and flow, editing photos drastically is ultimately a bad idea. If the community looks spectacular online, make sure that this is also what the renter will be seeing during their tour. According to Domu “A picture matters more than ever when potential renters can easily compare so many apartment listings at the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger on their mobile device. So there’s no reason to settle for lackluster photos on your apartment listing.” When images online are wildly different from the actual property, the resident may begin to wonder if the original listing was falsely advertised. Make sure your images are close to what the community and rental space really looks like!
First impressions are everything
The very first thing the renter sees in-person is the exterior of your apartment community and it sets their first overall impression. Prospects will look to see if the grass is being cut consistently, weeds are being disposed of, the grounds are free of trash and pet waste, and whether or not resident packages are the sore eye of the community. When packages sit on the front steps of a community, renters may see this as a probability packages may get stolen, adding to the concerns of overall safety of a community. Make sure the exterior of the property is first-impression ready by removing packages from the community entirely. Curb appeal sets the tone for how tours will go, so it’s crucial to make sure the exterior is in tip-top shape.
A step in the right direction
Now the future resident takes their first steps into your leasing office. What do they see first? Hopefully not packages sprawled across the lobby or entryway floor! Unfortunately, communities that don’t offer an effective package solutions will have this type of showing. This allows the prospective renter to see that the community doesn’t keep resident deliveries under control, secure, and this may even make the community space feel less clean. With off-site package management, all resident packages are left at an off-site third party facility. During this initial tour of the common areas, it’s also an opportunity to show off the community’s amenities. According to Parterre, “Renters are keen on having top-of-the-line amenities in their living space, marrying the hospitality setting with the residential setting.” If your community has a gym, make sure residents follow rules to keep this communal space clean. If the community has co-working spaces, make sure they see the co-working spaces are arranged in a way that supports laptop outlets, comfy seating and good lighting. This also pertains to non-physical amenities and service amenities that impact the overall resident experience, such as assistance with service animals or outsourcing package management to a third party facility.
The renter gets their first glimpse of the unit they’ve been eyeing 👀
This is one of the most exciting parts for prospective renters… Finally getting to see the actual unit that they may make their home. Ensure the furniture is clean and untouched and that decorations aren’t distracting from what the unit really has to offer. Does the unit look like the images advertised? Has the unit had any updates since the last images posted online or after the previous resident? Talk about what updates were made and how it’s been improved even more. This pivotal moment is usually to get a feel for if the renter could make their home there or not. Speak to what makes your community unique from your comps by touching on non-physical amenities and amenity services that individuals can have, like how your community could offer resident deliveries going right to their doors instead of scattered around package lockers, keeping the community common areas free of clutter.
Prioritizing the aesthetic value of your community during tours (and throughout a resident’s lease term) can greatly impact a prospective renter’s decision to sign a lease or not. Showing residents that your community maintains a high standard of living all the way down to its aesthetic value, is what can help make your community’s first impression stand out from local competition and place you at the top. First impressions can make or break a community’s reputation, and adhering to these standards will certainly assist your community in giving renters a great first look.