Property Management: Retaining Residents by Building a Sense of Community

Last Updated: September 29, 2008By

Published: September 29, 2008

By Daniel Babka, president, Rental Marketing Success

The top amenity desired by residents (according to recent studies by the National Multi-Housing Council and the National Apartment Association) isn’t a granite counter-top, six-panel doors and crown molding.  It’s a sense of community: a feeling of belonging that cuts across luxury, A, B and C-grade properties.

Yet once they sign that lease and plunk their money on the desk, most of those residents will fade into the woodwork and become background music.  The smile they saw when you first greeted them, has been replaced with a blank stare or a glance in their direction that suggests you see them now as more of an interruption to the paperwork, than a valued client or resident.

Sand and water will forever run through your hands, just like residents will.  And attrition happens. Great businesses lose good customers through no fault of their own. That’s why all your employees need to understand that “marketing is your business.” Shrinkage happens when you don’t market. According to the latest surveys by SatisFacts Research, 65% to 70% or more of your existing residents will move from your property each year, while the cost of replacing them continues to grow more expensive (averaging close to $3,000 a turnover, including maintenance and lost rent).

Research tells us that the cost of attracting a new customer/resident is roughly seven times what you’ll spend retaining an existing one.  Much of what happens on your property, from a budget and expense point-of-view, is beyond your control with utility costs, taxes, supplies and most vendor costs rising right along with the price of oil. At $145 a barrel, that affects plastic, the costs of carpeting, service calls, labor —you name it.  You can’t control the local economy and job market or the direction and desirability of the neighborhood.  So what can you control?



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