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Multifamily Technology: 4 Types of Automation to Drive More Leases

While the industry entered 2020 on a high note, COVID presented various challenges for both apartment operators and renters. Unemployment led to missed rent payments, economic interruptions slowed rent growth and halted apartment construction, and general uncertainty upended more than a decade’s worth of strong growth trends.

The 2021 peak leasing season is here and even though data indicates leasing, occupancy and net effective rents are trending up, multifamily is not entirely out of the woods yet.

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Optimize Leasing With an Automated Technology Toolkit

On a positive note, the pandemic accelerated a trend already taking shape in the industry — automated leasing. In response to the market disruption, forward-thinking apartment operators have implemented new operational strategies and automated leasing technologies to address the needs of today’s renters while maximizing asset performance.

To help optimize peak leasing season — well, really all leasing — rental housing operators should invest in multifamily technology to automate the following leasing tasks:

1. Lead Tracking, Apartment Tours, & CRM

Historically, leasing offices relied on paper guest cards which were riddled with errors, constantly lost among the shuffle, and otherwise required manual work that took time away from customer service. They also forced onsite teams to cobble together lead tracking. This dynamic necessitated the physical presence of both the prospective renter and leasing staff, which slowed lead generation and put unnecessary hurdles in the path of lead-to-lease conversion.

Automation in Action
Self-guided and virtual tour technology, digital leasing platforms, and integrated CRMs have mercifully replaced paper guest cards. Self-guided and virtual tours not only make apartment touring more convenient, they facilitate more secure and efficient leasing experiences.

Lee Bradford, Vice President of Operations and Training for LMC, explains the importance of leveraging leasing technology: “We utilized existing media from our digital platforms, such as Matterport videos, interactive sight maps and self-guided tours, to enhance our virtual-leasing process.” With virtual 3-D tours receiving 49% more inquiries from prospective residents than listings without virtual tours, it makes sense why many operators have adopted this virtual leasing method.

2. Payment Solutions

Managing paper rent checks is a time-consuming process that not only comes with manpower costs, but also lacks convenience, security and NOI, and often contributes to incidental expenses.Meanwhile, online payment solutions provide renters with payment options while allowing leasing teams to focus on generating and closing leads.

Automation in Action
Rent payment technologies automate payment processing and integrate with property management systems, thus optimizing financial performance, reducing risk, and streamlining operations. As more renters faced financial challenges due to the pandemic, automated payment solutions offered greater flexibility for both residents and operators. Onsite teams were able to extend payment options through these integrated systems to ensure rent was paid and residents were comfortable with the payment process and timing.

3. Security Deposits & Deposit Alternatives

Traditional security deposits come with a costly infrastructure and a host of administrative hassles. Unfortunately, lower cost options like surety bonds come with their own set of issues. Often out-of-workflow, alternative choices involve applications to a third-party site that typically requires renters to provide a FICO score.

Automation in Action
Automated lease insurance software integrates in the lease checkout, billing, underwriting, and property management systems, without requiring any renter applications or approvals. Onsite teams can effectively manage their time because the implementation isn’t out-of-workflow. Integrated lease insurance facilitates more affordable move-ins, faster leasing checkouts, and ultimately more signed leases.

4. Onsite Training & Customer Service

There is some concern that automation will replace the human but housing will always be a very intimate business with customer service remaining the highest priority. Savvy operators are embracing the personal connection of leasing technologies through automated training practices.

Automation in Action
Integrated talent management solutions that cover policy, training, and assessment drive property and team performance. Companies like Grace Hill help leasing associates optimize the automated leasing process, giving teams access to modules that provide best practices to engage while leasing in an even more technologically-driven environment.

Operators Need Multifamily Technology That Automates Leasing

The pandemic accelerated automations that were already in the works, propelling multifamily into a new era of technology and integration. As operators seek to future-proof their properties based on the lessons learned over the past year, the right tools are essential. Fortunately, multifamily technology has emerged to automate leasing and maximize leasing performance.

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