"Technology drives modern leasing – remote leasing is simply not possible without it." Stacy Holden from AppFolio said during the discussion on how homeowners can fill vacancies faster. Today more than ever, technology is becoming the key to promoting leasing in residential real estate quickly and safely.
"Rental property owners and managers should make the most of every opportunity," Holden, industry chief and director at AppFolio, told GlobeSt.com. “Obtaining qualified leads, timely follow-up, and providing high quality touring options are critical to the success of any leasing strategy. There are a number of ways technology can speed up the remote leasing process. "
First, Holden says landlords need to make it easier for potential tenants to find available units. "As most property management teams should know, the technology can speed up and expand vacant unit announcements by sharing posts with hundreds of third-party sites like Apartments.com, Zillow and Trulia with just one click," she says. “What is not so well known, however, is how revenue management tools can track leasing demand. For example, rental pricing plays an important role in marketing. If it's too high, leads are minimal, and if it's too low, owners are missing out on profits. "
Revenue management works with property management software. "Revenue management features in real estate management software turn pricing decisions into guesswork and emotion," says Holden. "By taking into account factors such as engagement, market conditions and competition when creating targeted rental recommendations, management can generate the greatest leasing demand while optimizing revenue."
Next, Holden says that once they inquire about a unit, connecting with tenants is just as important. "Once a prospective resident shows interest, it's important that they get high-quality, timely responses," she says. “However, manually responding to job offers from prospects can be tedious, overwhelming, and / or any time of the day. Losing a great new resident due to a late response leaves money on the table, which no real estate management team wants. For this reason, teams should rely on artificial intelligence to answer these questions in real time and provide additional information about an open entity to a potential customer. "
Recently, AppFolio had launched an AI leasing assistant named Lisa who can provide instant leasing assistance to potential tenants. "AppFolio's AI leasing assistant, Lisa, can do this by instantly texting potential inquiries and answering their questions with natural answers and even scheduling potential customers for unit demonstrations," says Holden. "Lead response time is critical to real estate management. Zillow found that if you wait 30 minutes to receive an incoming request from a prospect, the chance of actually connecting with that prospect drops to just 10% to answer."
Quick answers are important for potential tenants, but can also mean a new lease or a missed opportunity for landlords. “The hard truth is that prospects will move on if they don't get immediate or timely responses,” says Holden. “Our customer, Bear Property Management, increased occupancy by two percent in the first two months after using Lisa – and since then an occupancy rate of 98%, doubling the number of leads and more than 400 planned demonstrations by Lisa. and have achieved a response rate of 100%. By automating this administrative process, leasing teams can be freed up for more strategic tasks like building relationships with potential customers on their way to leasing. "
The final step is the tour process. In addition to being popular, virtual demonstrations are necessary to lease units during the pandemic. However, Holden says that it is often not that easy to just take a tour. “As already mentioned, virtual demonstrations are an extraordinary tool that can be used during this time. This was an intentional development by AppFolio, accelerated specifically to address the COVID-19 realities, ”she says. “Hi-tech features and videos enable teams to virtually guide prospects through units on their phone with a screen share. It solves the remote problem, ensures compliance with social distancing guidelines and allows leasing activities to continue as usual, but in the virtual world. "
When that tenant is ready to sign the lease, make sure they have a virtual lease ready to sign. “The ability for potential customers to sign rental contracts online using mobile devices eliminates the need for face-to-face interaction in the final phase of the leasing process,” says Holden. "Our own survey shows that 64% of property managers believe that virtual presentations are a functionality that will last over the long term."