Single-family Student Housing
Buildium Customer Since
Single-family Student Housing
Buildium Customer Since
In our 2023 Industry Report, electronic applications made the top 10 list of digital tools property managers relied on to run their business more efficiently in the previous year. And no wonder. Applications can be a time-consuming process with a lot of back-and-forth between prospective tenants, former landlords, credit bureaus, and references.
But digital lead-to-lease tools can help remedy some of the application pain points, and provide a better experience for prospects as well as owners. One property manager we talked to knows this all too well.
Susan Draper is the owner of Draper Realty. Based in Norman Oklahoma, they serve seven communities and 128 properties, mainly single-family homes. Because they are located near the University of Oklahoma, some of their properties serve the student population, which can present a different set of challenges in the application process, from out-of-state applicants, to short credit histories.
There are also construction, selling, and listing arms of the company.
Draper has run her own property management company since 2018, but she started her career in property management over a decade before that. In that time, with the rise of property management software such as Buildium, she has seen an evolution in the business from very manual processes to more automated ones.
For this case study, we talked to Draper about the migration of applications to automated, digital tools and how that has affected the quality of tenants and the efficiency of the entire lead-to-lease process.
Draper began her career in property management over 15 years ago. Back then, she used paper applications for her rental listings.
“When I’d show a property, I’d actually hand out a physical packet of an application, which they would fill out and give me,” she recalls.
It was difficult to do a credit check, and while she could get criminal background checks for applicants with an Oklahoma address, she couldn’t get criminal history for residents who lived or had lived anywhere else in the country.
“If you had somebody that just lived in Oklahoma for six months, they could have had a felony in another state and I would have never known it,” she says.
Applications took four to five days to process, as well, with many manual steps performed by office staff. It took much longer to fill vacancies, and took property managers away from other essential tasks.
In 2016, Draper started using Buildium to manage her properties and, in particular, her tenant applications and leases. At the time, she hadn’t officially started her company yet, but she already had properties she was managing.
“I was really small when I started with Buildium. I probably had 10 to 15 properties, which was really just my own and then a few more,” she recalls, “But I was starting to gather them and I could tell if I wanted to continue to do the construction company and sell real estate, I needed to have something that was easier for me to [manage] these properties.”
Buildium’s lead-to-lease solution helped Draper streamline the application process, fill vacant units more quickly with quality tenants, and deliver a better experience for both her owners and prospective tenants.
With it, prospective tenants can apply directly from listings that include images and video, and are syndicated across major listing sites. Property managers can customize applications, as well.
Finally, comprehensive tenant screening powered by TransUnion gives property managers access to credit reports, criminal background, and eviction history, as well.
Property managers can then accept or reject prospects and get leases signed directly from Buildium.
These tools all help Draper fill vacancies with tenants who are a good fit for the properties she manages.
“I feel like I’m putting in better quality tenants,” says Draper.
With Buildium’s lead-to-lease tools, Draper and her team can place quality tenants in their properties while reducing the time it takes to process applications.
“I get the benefit of having credit checks. Fabulous!” she says. “I get the benefit of having criminal reports [from] all over the country. It’s all streamlined in Buildium. So it changed everything about applications.”
In fact, Draper estimates that they’re reduced the wait time for applications from four to five days to about two hours, depending on how responsive references, former landlords, and prospective tenants are.
“I don’t even think about the application process very much because it’s so streamlined…and it’s just so automated,” says Draper.
Digital lead-to-lease tools and electronic applications not only speed up the entire application process. They help property managers find tenants who are a good fit for their properties and are more likely to renew.
For Draper, it reduced the time it took to process applications from days to hours, and it helps her run credit and eviction history, and criminal background checks from a single platform.
They also provide a single repository for applications and leases, so all parties have access and nothing gets lost along the way.
With Buildium, property managers can link their lead-to-lease process to the software’s other tools, such as epayments, accounting, and tenant and owner portals, something that Draper has found invaluable.
“I can just log straight into Buildium and usually just take care of everything from there. So in the control world it’s everything. I can see the listings, the applications, the process of the applications, it’s everything.”