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Washington, D.C.—As you prep for an even more profitable 2016, J Turner Research presents the top 10 emerging trends in the apartment rental process that can empower you to increase your closing ratios. These trends represent the voice of 25,099 residents living in more than 500 properties nationwide.
- Ratings and reviews: The search begins here. Fifty-two percent of prospects are looking at ratings and reviews at the beginning of their apartment search. Other than location and price, ratings and reviews are among the first determining factors in looking for an apartment.
- Don’t miss the boat of ratings and reviews. Increasingly (78 percent) residents (up five percent since 2012) are using online ratings and review sites to gather information about the communities of interest to them. Have you established your presence on the leading sites and do you monitor them regularly?
- The go-to review sites are: Apartmentratings.com, Yelp, and Google are the three most used sites for ratings and reviews.
- Hail the power. The trustworthiness and the resulting effect of ratings and reviews on the rental decision are trending upward. Google+ is the most trusted site, followed by Yelp, and third in line is Apartment Ratings. The effect of review sites on rental decisions has notched up 4 percent since 2012.
- Social media: Residents yay, prospects nay. Social media does not play a significant role in a prospect’s apartment search. Only 13 percent of residents mentioned using Facebook or Twitter to research their current apartment. However, among residents Facebook rules, followed by Instagram,and LinkedIn.
- ILSs continue to dominate sources for apartment search. The top three sources for apartment search have maintained status quo since 2012, ILSs, Drive By and Word of Mouth.
- Desktop is not going anywhere. In the race to make your websites mobile friendly, don’t discount the power of the desktop, just yet. Sixty-two percent of residents still prefer the desktop to search for an apartment, followed by 20 percent indicating their preference for cell phones.
- Sweating about brand recall of ILSs: Take a break! Are you sweating about the brand recall of ILSs where your properties are listed? Think twice! In 2015, Generic Internet search has more than doubled since 2012 (2015: 23 percent, 2012: 10 percent). Apartments.com (26 percent) and ApartmentFinder.com (23 percent) are the two most widely reported ILSs for apartment search.
- Designing your website: Stick to basics. Similar to 2012, even today prospects are most interested in unit specific information, rather than flash. Unit Price, Floor Plan and Community Location are the top three information expectations from a community website. Information such as virtual tour, videos and online leasing capability featured low on the prospects’ website wish list.
- Boomers care for quiet, while Millennials care for value for price. In describing your property to prospects, you may want to carefully select the language used. A higher percentage of Boomers (75 percent) ranked quiet place to live as a key lifestyle aspect vs. 64 percent of Millennials. Conversely, for 84 percent of Millennials value for price is more important vs. 73 percent of Baby Boomers.