Gone are the days of searching for an apartment by spending a complete Saturday driving around from complex to complex. With 90% of renters and buyers turning to the Web to find their home sweet home, it’s no wonder apartment management companies are putting millions of dollars into property websites every year. But are they sacrificing crucial information for cutting-edge designs? And what missing elements on the website are causing potential renters to cross properties off of their lists even before they step foot on the property?
In January 2016, Standing Dog Interactive conducted a survey to discover what goes on in the minds of today’s online apartment hunters. Surveying 100 people age 20 and up, we set out to see what information might make or break a renter’s decision to schedule a tour or fill out an online application.
Our first order of business was to discover where the majority of this online searching is happening. Despite the huge increase in mobile and tablet users across the world, 66 percent of respondents said they still conduct the majority of their online apartment hunting on a desktop computer.
But don’t let this statistic validate dragging your heels when it comes to making your site mobile friendly. Google is penalizing websites that are not optimized for smartphones, so getting on the mobile trend is crucial, despite where the majority of your visitors are coming from.
Speaking of penalizing, a whopping 99 percent of respondents said online reviews have some influence on their interest in an apartment community. Do you know what your current and former residents are saying about you? For properties with a majority of positive feedback, we recommend finding a way to leverage these reviews, whether that’s including a review page on your site or providing links to sources where reviews can be found. Even if your reviews aren’t quite as stellar as you want, the way you respond to them can provide insight as to whether someone wants to be a tenant of yours or not.
While a review page may be optional, a photo gallery is not, as 69 percent of our respondents said they would not visit a property without viewing photos first. A page providing information on individual floor plans also proved to be of high importance, as 47 percent selected this page to be the first one they look at when viewing an apartment website, followed by 38 percent viewing the photo gallery, 6 percent viewing the amenities page and 7 percent viewing the location page first.
Although it is ideal for sites to inform users which floor plans are currently available, 72 percent of respondents said they would still call or visit the property even if the specific floor plan they’re interested in is not listed as available online. Only 24 percent of respondents use a floor plan’s availability as a determining factor when deciding if they will schedule an in-person tour or not.
When it’s time to get to know the area surrounding an apartment community, we discovered that the majority of online apartment hunters are taking this responsibility into their own hands. While map and location pages are often helpful when optimizing a property’s website, only 22 percent of respondents said they actually pay attention to the map and nearby attractions list provided, while 78 percent either type the address into their phone or computer to see the area themselves — or wait to see it in person.
Additional significant statistics:
- 59 percent of respondents said they will view a property’s social media presence and/or blog either before or after visiting, while 41 percent admit that these factors do not contribute to their research or opinion regarding an apartment community.
- When approaching the topic of additional fees (i.e. application fees, trash fees, pet fees, etc.), 67 percent of respondents expect to know this information up front, before even visiting a property.
- 56 percent of respondents believe it is important for an apartment community to have information regarding its property management company easily accessible on its site. 15 percent said they do not find this information important, and 28 percent had no opinion.
- 57 percent of users prefer to complete a leasing application online versus in person.
Did any of these results surprise you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.