When it came to apartment features the top three must-have features were high-speed Internet access (93 percent), patio or balcony (93 percent) and washer/dryer in unit (88 percent). Kevin Thompson, senior vice president of marketing for Bell Partners, Inc., said he was a little surprised that balconies ranked so highly on the results. “From a development perspective, this could mean that it might be better to put in a Juliette balcony rather than a window, in some cases,” he explained.
Similarly, industry executives were surprised by what survey respondents indicated was an acceptable service request response time. Roughly 49 percent of residents expected non-emergency service within two days, contrary to industry belief that most issues need to be resolved within 24 hours. This was especially true for younger and older residents, with 33- to 44-year-olds having the highest expectations for one-day response time. While industry executives acknowledged that perhaps there is a little bit larger window of time for completing non-emergency service tasks than previously thought, they were quick to point out that they still felt the need to acknowledge requests immediately, even if the work was going to wait 48 hours.
Another interesting survey result was that residents had a strong preference for paying their rent online but most preferred to renew in person, presumably because residents feel they can better negotiate new rates.
Jennifer Staciokas, vice president of marketing and training at Lincoln Property Company, said she was somewhat surprised by this takeaway. “Only 40 percent to 45 percent of residents are paying rent online and yet the preference is to pay online. I think this shows we need to better communicate the option.”
Other executives indicated that the results were also running counter to many companies’ major initiatives to increase online renewals to help maximize their yield management systems. And one executive mentioned that apartment firms may need to revisit the fees they charge for residents wanting to pay their rent by credit or debit card so they can collect their reward points.
Full survey results are available for purchase by member and non-member firms here.