Site Seeing

Apartment websites are now one-stop shops for your potential renters.
Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor
Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor

Do you remember the Dark Ages of the internet?

We’ve certainly come a long way from the time of AOL chat rooms, dancing baby gifs and flash animation. So much flash animation. How did we not all get seizures?

But I digress.

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Now, of course, the internet is much different. (Plus, we no longer say we’re “surfing the ’net,” which I think we can all agree is a huge improvement.) And websites themselves are cleaner, more sophisticated and more useful. This is especially true with apartment sites. Prospective residents use them to find out information about the community, such as the size of units and what amenities are available.

Or they did. Now they use them for much, much more.

There aren’t many good things that came out of this pandemic, but one of the few is that it has made us advance technology faster than we might have, particularly in multifamily, an industry that was previously notorious for being slow to adopt new technologies. It made sense in the past—why spend tons to add the newest fad to apartments only to find out months later that residents don’t care about them and the investment was a total waste? (Does anyone remember when “word clouds” were a thing? Highlighting the words residents were most using in their social media on a big screen in a common area? Yup, totally worth the money.) But now, we’re seeing which technologies positively affect our ROI, and we’re pivoting.

One example of this is making apartment websites more robust and intuitive. With people unwilling or unable to schedule in-person tours, marketers had to quickly adapt, incorporating cutting-edge technology to make their sites a one-stop shop for renters. Apartment websites should now be considered a “virtual front door,” RentCafe’s Esther Bonardi told Diana Mosher for the story “Attracting and Converting Potential Renters With Your Website.”

According to Mosher, prospective renters spend 5 to 7 minutes on apartment websites, getting as much information as they can. Just having pictures of a glistening pool and a leasing office phone number will no longer cut it. Instead, companies are finding success touting virtual tours, chatbots, real-time reviews and more on their sites to entice renters.

I expect this trend to continue, even after this pandemic is just a memory (and please, let that be sooner rather than later). Once renters have a taste for apartment renting this way, there’s no turning back. Being able to lease an apartment in your pajamas, and having prospects be able to be totally informed before they even show up at your office? Sounds like a win for everyone!