10 Reasons Why Your Property Isn't Leasing

By Tori Lewandowski
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The past two years have been exceptionally challenging for stakeholders in the multifamily real estate sector.

Multifamily leaders nationwide have been working diligently to navigate these difficult times by ensuring they have the right personnel, systems, and marketing materials in place to effectively nurture their prospects.

Leasing teams are going above and beyond just to try to maintain stable occupancy rates and drive revenue despite the numerous obstacles they face in the current market landscape.

The challenges are magnified for small to midsize developers, often with limited leasing and marketing teams. Yet, the path to losing a potential renter can be surprisingly straightforward if you're not careful.

This week, we thoroughly investigate the top 10 reasons why properties aren't leasing and offer best practices to alleviate each one.

1. Slow Responses

When a prospective renter reaches out, delaying your response is the quickest way to lose their interest. In today’s fast-paced digital world, renters expect instantaneous confirmation and replies. 

The rule of thumb used to be to reply to every lead in less than 24 hours, but in today's cutthroat leasing conditions, the best practice is a personalized response within the first hour of contact. 

2. Inconsistent Communication

Nothing says “lease at my competitor,” like inconsistent communication. Sending emails without a clear next step for the renter or neglecting daily follow-ups creates a sense of unreliability that no one would want to spend $30,000 a year on. 

Prospective renters must feel assured that their queries and concerns will be consistently addressed.

3. Getting Too Comfortable  

For many developers and property managers, it's comforting to believe that if you build a beautiful building, renters will flock. However, with the national vacancy rate higher than ever going into Q3 '24, we know this is not true. Getting comfortable is not an option in 2024. 

To stay innovative, you must constantly monitor all aspects of your go-to-market strategy and hone your craft with your marketing team or agency partner. 

4. Ignoring The Power of Onsite Activation

Picture this:

Your site team is ready to rock in their brand-new temporary leasing office, and little to no foot traffic is strolling in. Day by day, your property manager checks to make sure the phone isn't broken because it doesn't ring. The leasing manager refreshes their CRM every few minutes, but alas, there is nothing new.

 The hard-hat tours they do get, your leasing manager chases them down the street because they accidentally blew past the "future resident parking". 

Not the best first impression for a market-rate price tag, right?

This nightmare has been a reality for many, and we're here to tell you that it is one of the most effective ways to lose a lease. Especially in saturated submarkets where the competition is stiff, you can rest assured at least a handful of your competitors have bought into onsite activation. Of those competitors, at least one of them is doing so in a highly branded, sophisticated way that resonates with modern renters.

And that, my friend, is the competitor that is capturing your leads.

5. Depending On Run-Of-The-Mill Digital Assets

Depending on a website template and stock imaging is an oxymoron when you have a beautiful project on your hands! If you outsource your community website to a web developer or creative agency, you're probably paying good money for a unique and user-friendly website. But the problem is that many of these website templates are shared amongst competitor companies, and before you know it, your community is blending right in with the rest of them. 

Digital assets are costly non-negotiables of launching a successful go-to-market, so why invest tens of thousands of dollars to blend in? 

With the number of renters that shop apartments on mobile devices, it is crucial to have a flawless online leasing experience, dynamic photography and videography, and well-written copy that differentiates your community brand. 

6. Overcomplicating the Application Process

Speaking of online leasing experiences, a lengthy, overcomplicated application process can be a major deterrent. Prospective renters appreciate simplicity and clarity, all while multifamily owner-operators are constantly adding to their tech stacks. 

Ensure your application process is streamlined, user-friendly, and transparent to prevent frustration and application abandonment. Make sure your tech stack is working with you and not against you, and providing a simplified experience to an all-too-common problem. 

7. Lack of Personalization

Sending generic, one-size-fits-all emails and voicemails can feel impersonal and uninviting. Site teams need to be encouraged to tailor their communication to the community brand while addressing the specific needs and preferences of prospective renters. 

Personalized communications help build a meaningful connection and show that your site team is attentive to their prospects before they even sign the lease. 

8. Failing to Brand The Bigger Picture 

Renters are not just looking for a place to live; they seek a community within their neighborhood. Neglecting to market what life is like outside of your four walls can seriously hinder a leasing decision. 

Similarly, failing to put your site team out there and make connections within their community can also hurt your monthly numbers. Word-of-mouth referrals go a long way in the nation's hottest markets. Make sure your marketing partner is showcasing what makes your property unique, on and offsite.

9. Underprepared Site Team

Unfortunately, this one is pretty common within the multifamily industry. Sometimes, it's knowledge-based, with thousands of multifamily roles open across the country struggling to be filled. Other times, it's a fully staffed leasing office without the marketing materials they need to succeed in leasing. 

Skipping out on leasing collateral, move-in gifts, and more can suck the energy out of a sales play and leave your leasing team empty-handed when reporting on leasing goals. 

10. Waiting Until The Final Hour To Go-To-Market

This one is the strongest, most effective way to lose out on a lease. The kicker here is that it is also the most preventable. Waiting until the final weeks of construction and punch walks to kick off a marketing strategy is too little too late. 

The earlier you start, the more brand awareness, intrigue, and engagement you can count on. Even if it's 6-10 months out from opening, there will always be locals who are looking for a place to call home. And if they can't differentiate your construction site from a parking garage, they're setting their sights on another community down the street. 

Ready? Break!  

In the competitive world of multifamily real estate, losing a prospective renter can often be traced back to these ten common mistakes. 

Failing to address these issues can lead to frustration among site teams and create tension within your organization. When you consider the extensive planning and financial investment that goes into building a multifamily project, it's clear that your asset deserves better. If you find yourself questioning why your leasing percentages aren't meeting expectations, it's crucial to initiate discussions and implement solutions promptly.

By acknowledging and rectifying these growth opportunities, developers can safeguard themselves against disappointing returns while ensuring higher occupancy rates and a healthier bottom line. In 2024, attention to detail and responsiveness are paramount. Don't allow your next lead to slip through the cracks—learn from these pitfalls and watch conversion rates skyrocket!

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