How to Think Like a Renter

How multifamily property managers can think like a renter

As a property manager, it’s easy to get caught up in vacancy rates, rent cycles and spreadsheets as measures of business success. While you might feel tempted to gloss over the human part of the equation, when you think like a renter, you can uncover the key to a thriving multifamily community. 

The true measure of multifamily success

Two words: Resident satisfaction. 

If your residents live a happy and full life, you have unlocked the secret to success. Why? Because happy residents drive so many metrics that will help your property hit its financial goals, including:

  • Long-term leases and lease renewals. Happy residents stay longer.
  • Word-of-mouth marketing. A happy resident will reward you with high-quality personal referrals.
  • Online reviews. A glowing five-star review (or 100) will sell your property before you ever receive a phone call or contact form from a prospect.

On the flip side, unhappy residents can undo so much of your hard work as they cancel leases, badmouth you to friends and post bad reviews online. 

So, it pays to place yourself in your residents’ shoes and to think about what matters to them. As you begin to brand, market and reach out to prospective renters, that deep understanding of your residents’ mindset will make all the difference. 

What renters need

Let’s start with some of the basics. People need: 

  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Sleep
  • Security/safety

This list applies to all humans, of course. When you boil down residents’ needs to this fundamental list, it helps you remember to focus on the human experience. 

Think about the last time a water main broke near your home. How did it feel to live without fresh, clean water for cooking, drinking … and, um, showering. Things get real really fast when the water turns off. 

Or have you tried to cook a meal without a working oven or stove? Has your refrigerator ever died? Did the popsicles melt all over the rolls you were saving for Sunday dinner, and did you lose $200 worth of frozen meat? 

While the basics might feel like givens in an apartment community, reality can hit hard for a resident when appliances break down or building systems impact water, heat, air conditioning and more. 

You absolutely must get the basics right, and you must remember why: Residents need a safe place to call home. 

What renters want

Once you have the bare necessities nailed down, and you have a long-term maintenance plan in place, you can begin to add some attractive icing. 

In multifamily, we automatically think in terms of amenities, right? We can hear some of you rolling your eyes because it can feel like someone has always raised the bar by offering the latest over-the-time community feature. (I mean, a personal glass elevator for your Porsche?)

Let’s shift the thinking here a bit. While amenities will help sell your property, you need to understand the WHY behind each one. Getting to the why means understanding a bit more about human nature. 

Leadership experts, sociologists and psychologists agree that humans have six or seven fundamental needs beyond the basic survival needs we mentioned above. This LinkedIn writer sums it up well:

“…our behavior is motivated by the fulfillment of six human needs that go beyond desires and wants. Everybody has these six needs, but the order in which we prioritize them varies from person to person. Our most dominant two needs will determine the choices we make and the action we take, as they are the underlying drivers for achievement. Although these six needs persist throughout life, their relative priority may vary from situation to situation and can change over time.”

The six needs cited in this article include: Certainty, Variety, Significance, Connection, Growth and Contribution

How to help renters feel more at home

While you can’t directly provide people with a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives by leasing them an apartment (we don’t care how great the apartment is), it helps to remember how home and community supports these needs. 

People (including your residents and prospective renters) want: 

  • A sense of belonging. How to support it: Community-building resident events, open communication and personalized services.
  • To feel healthy, strong and energetic. How to support it: Fitness centers, pools, juice bars, nearby trails, healthy air circulation/green features, gardens and outdoor areas. 
  • Comfort. How to support it: Thoughtfully designed units and common areas, beautiful landscaping, art and much more.
  • Ease of living. How to support it: Concierge services, secure package delivery, pet services, childcare facilities or partnerships, ride share services and much more. 
  • Meaning. How to support it: Connect residents with the surrounding neighborhood through volunteer activities, tours, guided experiences and personalized neighborhood guides. 

Above all, look for opportunities to better understand your residents. Ask them directly for input and observe how residents go about their days. Consider what you would want in your community, or what would make life easier, and ask team members to share their ideas as well. 

Looking for new ways to reach renters on a deeper level? Reach out to us. We specialize in multifamily branding and marketing that tells a story and helps connect people with a sense of community.

Posted By

Sara Bess