J Turner Research Survey Answers the Question: ‘What Do Residents Want?’

J Turner Research conducted a national survey based on “What Do Residents Want? Trends in Resident Technology & Communication Preferences,” a panel discussion held at the 2012 National Apartment Association Education Conference and Exposition. The survey looked at online apartment search patterns, behaviors and preferences at 1,231 apartment properties across the country.

Houston—J Turner Research conducted a national survey based on “What Do Residents Want? Trends in Resident Technology & Communication Preferences,” a panel discussion held at the 2012 National Apartment Association Education Conference and Exposition.

The survey looked at online apartment search patterns, behaviors and preferences at 1,231 apartment properties across the country, with 41,303 responses coming in. Among factors calculated were the absorption of smartphones, tablets and other devices for researching and communicating with apartment operators and property managers, as well as investigates emerging resident and prospect patterns in the use of social media and online ratings and reviews sites.

Results were also collated by age demographics into Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomer and Silent generations.

One of the main findings of the survey was that 64 percent of apartment residents admitted they used an ILS as a search source, besting drive-by (39 percent) and referrals from families and friends (24 percent). Coming in at number four was Craigslist, with 20 percent mentioning the popular website as its house hunting source.

Social media sites did not score high on apartment hunters search preferences, with just 5 percent of those surveyed saying they relied on either Facebook or Twitter. That number was much lower among younger apartment searches, with 36 percent using one of the popular social media sites.

Even so, reliance on apartment community websites during the apartment search remained a key source of information for prospects of all ages. The most important website resources were floor plans, amenity lists and unit availability. Of least importance were videos, virtual tours and online leasing capability.

While mobile-based lease leads are expected to surge in the coming years, the survey painted a different picture, with 87 percent of respondents showing a strong disposition for using desktop and laptop computers as their preferred device to search for apartments.

Survey respondents were much more likely to use mobile phones for communicating with property management and maintenance staff, with 34 percent saying they call the leasing office to submit maintenance requests. There was also a three-to-one ratio of those paying by phone over check.

Even with an increase in mobile phone use, residents don’t like sending texts, with only 2 percent opting to text service requests and nearly one third preferring not to receive texts at all. Also, 62 percent of respondents wanted texts only for emergency announcements.

Somewhat surprisingly, despite only 17 percent of respondents using Yelp.com for ratings and reviews, the site was tops with respondents in trustworthiness of online ratings, with a 7.35 rating on a scale of 0-10.

For a look at the complete survey findings, visit http://info.appfolio.com/rs/appFolio/images/AppFolio_WhatResidentsWant_Oct2012.pdf.