Leasing technology playbook: Digital experiences to attract your ideal residents

Jake Belding
Jake Belding | 15 min. read
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Published on March 31, 2022

In 2021, property managers ranked attracting and retaining great residents as their top priority, up from ninth place in 2019. The dynamic between property managers, owners, and renters has clearly changed, fueled by the realities of the past two years and expectations for increasingly digital experiences.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the leasing lifecycle. Each step of that process is an opportunity to set the tone for your relationship with prospective residents, strengthen your company’s brand, and attract residents that stay for the long haul because they enjoy their experience from the start.

Read on to learn the specific ways technology can help you create the kind of experience you want to deliver for both you and your applicants.

Lease Renewals: Staying Ahead of Vacancies

The best renters are often the ones you already have, and keeping your units filled could simply come down to renewing a lease. Before offering a lease renewal or assuming you’ll have a vacancy, check in with both the property owner and the current resident to understand their plans.

Regular pulse checks should be a staple of your communication strategy. As a rule of thumb, have this conversation at least 4 months before the end of the lease. Of course, staying attentive to owners’ needs is part of doing business, but extending that same level of communication to residents is important, too. It’s an easy way to catch issues early and gives you the clarity to plan for, and even prevent, vacancies.

Renewals are the easiest way to keep your units bringing in revenue. Residents that feel heard and taken care of are likely to stay with you for longer. But retaining residents is not without effort. Making the experience straightforward for residents takes time and organization.

How Tech Can Help

When the time comes, property management software can also help you speed up the lease renewal process. A resident portal keeps communication easy, direct, and non-intrusive. Having templatized, shareable forms stored within your software solution means you can prepare and send out renewal documents quickly. This kind of technology automates some of the most resource-intensive parts of lease renewals and takes work off everyone’s plate. With a platform like Buildium, you can:

  • Set default offers and lease renewal letters
  • Store initial lease dates and other useful historical information
  • Track move-in dates, the status of renewals, and communication with tenants

lease renewal

These features can complement your communication with owners and residents, keeping you in the know, your residents taken care of, and your units filled.

Attracting Your Ideal Residents

You can’t always prevent a resident from moving out, which means you need a proven way to attract the residents you want with an exceptional applicant experience.

That experience starts the moment a prospective tenant comes across your listing. Technology can get your units listed on the right listing sites quickly and turn the applicant experience into a competitive edge for your business.

Software to Help You Market Your Listings

After putting the time into creating an attractive rental listing (more on that here), you’ll want to make sure the right renters see it. Property management software like Buildium can help you post the listing to your own sites and an array of the leading rental listing sites like Zumper, Apartments.com, Apartment List, and the Zillow Rental Network with just a few clicks. All you have to do is check the box next to each site you want to syndicate your listing to in the Listing Settings menu.

Read More: The 7 Best Rental Listing Sites for Property Managers

Once your listings are live, you can use the same software to keep track of activity, change the point of contact for each listing, and even use details you’ve previously entered whenever you need to re-list a unit.

Technology for Simplified Showings

With your listing syndicated on the right sites, potential applicants will start to take notice. It’s time to start scheduling showings. The pandemic has made virtual showings a norm, and helped to make a variety of virtual apartment tour tools readily available.

The demand for this option doesn’t look like it’ll subside anytime soon. 90 percent of respondents in a Zumper survey said they’d be more interested in a listing that offers a 3D virtual tour than one that doesn’t.

Whether you’re offering a virtual option or not, technology can help you schedule a full calendar of apartment tours, saving you precious time in the process. A tool like Showings Coordinator powered by Tenant Turner lets you book showings easily online, send immediate follow ups, and adjust schedules at a moment’s notice. These features automates every element of the apartment tour process, including showing pre-qualification, scheduling, follow-ups, and prospective tenant management.

apartment tour

Easier Digital Rental Applications

The rental application process is an equally important touch point for prospective residents—and another area where technology can save you a lot of effort.

A simplified way to fill out, submit, and manage applications digitally is the classic win-win, a way to make document management easier for both property managers and applicants.

There are a lot of options out there when it comes to online applications, so look for one that checks all the boxes. It should be customizable, easily shareable online, and, above all, simple to complete. Once submitted, you’ll also want an easy way to manage all pending rental applications, screen them effectively, and approve applicants quickly.

This is where a rental application feature that’s integrated with the rest of your property management software shines. Having that level of consistency goes a long way in creating an applicant experience that gets and keeps your units filled.

Smarter Tenant Screenings

Screening prospective tenants is all about efficiency. The goal is to set up a process that lets you screen applicants thoroughly, but also quickly, so that you don’t miss out on your ideal residents. If your listing is done well, you’ll already be attracting the residents that can get the most value out of what your properties have to offer.

The most adept tenant screening services have technology at their core, so you can get the vital information you need without zapping your time. Buildium’s Tenant Screening tool puts everything in one place, drawing from TransUnion’s credit insights.

There’s a lot to consider when screening tenants. We’ve laid out all the reports you should be paying attention to and pitfalls you should watch out for, but it’s important to remember that screening leaves an impression on applicants, too. A single, simple interface, connected to the broader application process, knocks down barriers between you and the residents you want renting your units.

Revenue Stream Pro Tip

A software-enabled screening process makes applicants more willing to pay fees that help you cover costs and even generate more revenue. As a more convenient option compared with the hoops they’d typically jump through during screening, applicants are billed a simple fee that you’ll collect. Buildium will do the rest.

Features for Faster Signing & Move-In Prep

When you’re this close, don’t lose sight of the finish line. Sharing and signing a rental lease agreement should be convenient and consistent with the rest of the applicant experience. Technology can help you achieve this in several ways.

eSignature tools, like the one built into Buildium and powered by HelloSign, makes it easy to create a simple lease agreement template that saves you time. Choose your software carefully, as you’ll need a tool that’s both simple and secure, while also keeping the agreement accessible whenever you need it throughout the lifecycle of the lease.

simple lease agreement template

Buildium provides an additional layer of choice and customization, letting you upload PDFs that can be shared and signed as easily as agreements created within the platform.

Revenue Stream Pro Tip

Consider offering renters insurance to your future residents. It’s an easy way to bring in additional revenue, especially if you make opting in as effortless as possible. You can offer insurance directly within your software through Buildium’s Renters Insurance powered by MSI.

Read More: Introducing New Lease Templates and how to prepare for eSignature

Read More: The Anatomy of the Perfect Lease

rental lease agreement pdf

Move-In: Making Residents Feel Welcome

The application’s complete, the lease is signed, and your future residents are ready to move in. If you’ve followed the tips above and introduced technology in the right places, you’ve already left a positive impression on your new renters. Now, it’s time to build on that reputation and set expectations for future communication with a warm, helpful welcome.

Set the Tone With Digital Experiences

Along with getting residents up to speed with the basics, like keys, utilities, internet, and any other amenities you offer, make sure they’re familiar with the resident portal and the channels they can use to reach you. A QR code placed within the unit, linking to the portal or any other information you want to share, can set the perfect tone for simplified, digital communication.

You can take the opportunity to share a small gift, links to useful information about the neighborhood and other resources, like a quick guide to request repairs or post on the portal. If you’re using Buildium, these tools are consistent with the application process residents already went through, making it easier to get them familiar with the full digital experience.

You’ll also want to extend this resident experience to the move-in inspection. That’s where third-party apps like HappyInspector come in, with intuitive move-in inspection forms tailored to the layout and specifications of your units.

With the move-in inspection out of the way and your residents familiar with the tools they’ll use to communicate with you, you’re in the perfect position to keep renters happy in the long-term.

Completing the Leasing Lifecycle

Completing a successful leasing lifecycle requires two things: regular check-ins to keep your residents taken care of and a clear understanding of how effective your leasing process is over time.

Tools to Measure and Build on Your Success

To know how you’re doing and learn where you can make adjustments, you’ll need an insightful, yet straightforward way to measure revenue, turnover, resident feedback, and a variety of other factors. A single software platform with built-in analytics lets you do just that, drawing data from every part of your business into one complete picture. You’ll be able to make more informed decisions that strengthen your lead-to-lease strategy, while also having insightful reports at the ready to share with owners as needed.

Following up with residents directly is also essential. This brings us full circle to the communication and rapport that forms the foundation of resident retention.

By now, your residents are familiar with tenant portals. You’re also equipped with the insights to have productive conversation with owners and grow your business. What this communication comes down to is letting residents know you’re there to help and making sure they’re getting the most out of the software-enhanced perks available to them.

The property management technology we covered is ultimately about making removing obstacles through the entire leasing lifecycle feel easier and creating experiences that feel more natural and personable to residents. Its real value is in letting your distinct strengths—your reputation, your brand, and your values—shine through.

Get Started With Buildium Today

Jake Belding

Jake is a Content Marketing Specialist at Buildium, based in San Francisco, California. With a background in enterprise SaaS and startup communications, Jake writes about technology's impact on daily life.

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