Move over winter, spring, summer and fall. In multifamily, the heavy hitters are budget season and peak leasing season. 

A staggering 70% of moves occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day, creating a three-month frenzy of online inquiries, tours, screenings, applications, move-ins and move-outs. 

This demanding and pivotal point of the year requires careful planning and strategic execution to maximize occupancy rates and rental income. And the time to prepare is now. 

In this blog, we'll explore essential strategies and tactics that can help lay the groundwork for a successful peak leasing season.

Conduct thorough market research.

Well before peak leasing season arrives, it is essential to conduct comprehensive market research. Analyze local economic trends, employment data, population growth and housing market dynamics to gain insight into the rental landscape. Understanding market conditions sets the foundation for setting competitive rental prices and tailoring marketing strategies effectively.

Also consider touring other multifamily properties in your area to find out what amenities, services and upgrades are available to renters in the market. This can help you find strategic ways to stand out from the competition. 

Tackle routine maintenance. 

Preventive maintenance not only enhances property safety and appeal but also demonstrates a commitment to resident comfort and satisfaction.

Quiet winter months present the perfect time to tackle these tasks, which can include: 

  • Fixing leaks and plumbing issues
  • Cleaning gutters 
  • Servicing the HVAC
  • Pest and rodent control
  • Conducting roof inspections
  • Repairing drywall imperfections
  • Painting
  • Inspecting the roof
  • Checking fire detection and mitigation equipment
  • Inspecting, repairing and replacing appliances
  • Repairing and replacing flooring

One of the most effective ways to identify safety hazards, critical repairs and improvement opportunities is to tour your own property. Think like a prospective resident. Be cognizant of even the smallest cosmetic improvements that could make a big difference to someone seeing your community for the first time. 

Audit your online presence. 

Thorough and attention-grabbing online listings will exponentially increase your inquiries and the likelihood you’ll fill vacancies. Invest significant time and effort into elevating your digital presence, both on your own channels and on third-party rental platforms. 

Start by evaluating all of your existing listings for accuracy. This includes your own website and social media profiles. Is all of your contact information still accurate? Is your list of amenities up-to-date? Has your pricing changed? 

Next, ask your friends and family where they’re searching for rentals. In our technology-driven world, the methods people use to find new homes constantly shifts and evolves. 

On every platform, thoroughly and vividly describe each available unit, leverage high-quality media and highlight the features that make your property stand out from the competition.

During peak leasing season and beyond, it’s imperative to actively engage with prospects and residents on digital platforms. Respond to all inquiries promptly and make it a point to make everyone feel important.

Update physical collateral. 

Chances are, you still leverage a few key pieces of physical collateral in your marketing efforts. Take time to conduct a thorough audit of all of it:

  • Business cards
  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • Move-in packets / new resident information

Make sure all information is accurate and up-to-date, including: 

  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Office hours
  • Team member information
  • Logos
  • Photos
  • Pricing
  • Amenities

Finally, make sure you have adequate quantities of everything on hand well in advance of the busy spring and summer months. 

Review and modify lease agreements. 

Clear and transparent lease agreements contribute to positive resident experiences and mitigate potential disputes during the leasing process.

To mitigate the risk of a lawsuit, carefully review leasing and addenda language to ensure it complies with current legal requirements and best practices - especially as they relate to fair housing standards. To ensure compliance, check federal and state online resources or consult an attorney. 

Carefully inspect model unit(s). 

With a constant stream of people flowing in and out of your model unit, wear and tear is inevitable. Ahead of peak leasing season, make sure everything in your model is in pristine condition and perfect working order. Make repairs as necessary, and also update decor to fit current design trends and aesthetics.

Elevate your amenities. 

Amenities are one of the primary ways to grab the attention of prospects, but the right ones continue to bring value after move-in, increasing satisfaction and retention. 

As you’re evaluating new amenities ahead of peak leasing, don’t underestimate the power of some of the more unassuming ones, like a community printer. The Wall Street Journal said it best - no one wants a printer, but everyone wants to print. Tech-enabled solutions like PrintWithMe empower residents to print from their own devices, on their own time. In a recent survey, 82% of residents said they considered it an “essential” amenity at their property. Who knew a small amenity could make such a big difference?

Also consider replacing amenities with uncontrollable or skyrocketing costs (let’s be honest - that’s usually the coffee machine). Thankfully, new solutions tailored to the needs of multifamily, like SipWithMe, can simultaneously elevate the resident experience while controlling costs and reducing OpEx.  

For expert guidance and perspective on selecting amenities, tune in to WithMe’s upcoming webinar, “Amenities Your Residents Will LOVE.” Experts from Bozzuto, Draper and Kramer, and Asset Living will be weighing in on the amenities today’s residents expect, as well as the ones poised to shape the future. 

And if you’ve ever been curious about how tech-enabled amenities can make a difference in your community, check out how they delivered convenience, satisfaction and cost savings at four luxury properties. 

Curate your event calendar. 

If you haven’t had an opportunity to fill your 2024 calendar with thoughtfully curated resident events, late winter is the perfect time to solidify your strategy. 

Not only is a calendar brimming with events an incredible tool for attracting new residents, it also helps exponentially increase resident satisfaction and retention. 

If you need inspiration, check out our e-book, “Home Is Where Your Apartment Is: Building Community to Enhance Resident Retention.” It offers a host of diverse concepts and themes that you can leverage for in-house planning, as well as a robust list of third-party vendors that can assist you in taking your planning and execution to the next level.

Level up your landscaping. 

You only have one chance to make a first impression. Don’t underestimate the value of making the exterior of your property just as inviting and well-appointed as the interior. 

If your grounds are beautiful and impeccably maintained, prospects will immediately recognize that you take pride in your property and are committed to ensuring it is always in optimal condition. 

Lean into AI and Automation. 

Relationship building is essential in property management, but thoughtful implementation of automation and AI, especially in back-end processes, has the power to increase operational efficiency and make the leasing process better for everyone. 

Take applications. Automating the application process eliminates the need for manual paperwork that is prone to human error, and it gives prospective residents the freedom to complete it on their own time. 

The approval process is another area where human error can create bottlenecks and costly errors. New technology efficiently, objectively and accurately screens prospective residents, effectively eliminating bias and non-compliance with fair housing laws.  

Embrace virtual touring in its many forms. 

With so many prospective residents conducting their initial searches online, visually appealing digital content can make a significant impact. Capture the essence of your multifamily property through immersive virtual tours, sweeping drone footage and captivating professional photography.

Empower prospective residents to assess your property on their own time by investing in digital leasing tools that facilitate virtual showings and video walkthroughs. 

Thanks to apps like TikTok and Snapchat, younger generations have become accustomed to consuming content via video. To meet these renters where they are, it’s imperative to develop a presence on these apps - and get creative!

Train and prepare your staff.

Equip your on-site team with the necessary training and resources to handle the increased demand during peak leasing season. Conduct refresher training sessions on leasing procedures and customer service skills to ensure a seamless experience for prospective residents. Empower your staff to address inquiries efficiently and provide personalized assistance to enhance satisfaction.

By implementing these strategies now and staying ahead of the curve, you'll be well-positioned to not only survive but thrive during peak leasing season and beyond!