It’s undeniable that the advancement of technology within the past 5 years has not only significantly changed the rental housing industry, but will continue to shape applicant acquisition and communication practices for years to come. Even the National Apartment Association can’t deny that the housing/technology opportunities are there. While some real estate agents and independent rental owners continue to do offline, in-person rent and fee collections only, you want to incorporate online options to keep your rental properties competitive.
We all know how much of a hassle it is to contact vendors, businesses or applicants on the phone or in-person. Personally, if I can’t reach the information I need online, I tend to push back contacting someone or avoid the task altogether, and I doubt I’m the only person who does this. As we showcased in our infograph, 90% of millennial renters (ages 18-34) and 84% of Gen X renters (ages 35-50) utilize online resources. As both generations consist of 85% of the renter population (and Gen Z has just begun entering the renter market), avoiding online processing is likely costing you rental applications and quality renters.
So, now the question is: What can you migrate online?
Online Rental Application, Tenant Screening, and Application Fees
You already know that we’re big supporters of online rental applications and tenant screening. In fact, we currently offer a solution that allows property managers to have both in one platform. While online rental applications aren’t the newest, most cutting-edge technology, incorporating this process can make the largest impact. Although I certainly don’t speak for all millennial renters, I can say that within my own leasing experience that any paperwork that can be filled out right on my cell phone and digitally signed automatically gives my landlord bonus points.
Green Documents and Renter Communication
Everyone who owns their own business or has a few rental properties thinks about going green every once and awhile. There’s something tempting about getting rid of file cabinets of tax documents and the expense of printing advertisements and applications. If you’re not quite ready to shred physical documents, take a step towards going greener by backing up your documents online. There are tons of file hosting websites, I personally recommend Microsoft OneDrive simply because it has high security measures.
As for communicating with your renters, experiment with social media and find a channel that works best for you and your tenants. Just make sure you save confidential information for in-person conversations or on a secure platform. For example, by using ApplyConnect®’s decision letters, which automatically come with federal and state required notices, you’ll be able to securely (and paperless-ly) notify the applicant of your final decision.
Online Rent Payments
Depending on how many properties you have (or how far away you live from your properties), online rental payments might be for you. This allows you to avoid waiting for checks to come in and spending time each month going to the bank. While this isn’t a necessary online process, the convenience is there. Plus, if you decide to try it out with our friends at ClearNow, you’ll get your first two months of online rent deposits for free.
Make it a priority to give your property the benefits of modern-day rental housing technology. Whether you start with online rental applications or make some progress into going green, moving your processes online will immediately give you a competitive edge against other properties and attract applicants. It’s not too late to start now.