I recently attended NMHC’s Annual Meeting in Palm Springs. Many of the discussion topics revolved around economic and market trends, including up-and-coming markets, mixed use spaces, student housing, and financing development projects. The Council seems pretty bullish about 2013. There was little concern expressed about national economic issues. Instead, they were very optimistic about job growth within the industry. Because of that, experts are predicting the development of 300,000-500,000 units this coming year… pretty impressive!
But there was one session that stood out to me more than others – Creating Communities, a discussion surrounding resident amenities. I was surprised at the amenities multifamily developers are using to attract prospective renters. Residents now can enjoy amenities like dog washing booths, surf board storage, tanning beds and even recording studios! What got me thinking (besides how cool some of these services are), was how many of these property management companies go all out to provide unique resident amenities, while also lacking basic services.
Case in point…online rent payments. Now, granted, it’s certainly not as sexy to a prospective resident as tanning beds and recording studios, but at the same time, it’s certainly cheaper and easier to implement. Plus, this is an amenity for property managers too, not just your residents. Having the ability to pay rent online (or in a property manager’s case, collect rent online) instead of writing and mailing a check is a considerable convenience. And gone are the days of online payments being a costly service for management companies. Now online rent payment options are expected by residents. We hear this from our clients and prospects all the time, yet we still talk to so many management firms that have yet to get on the e-payment band wagon.
So, to all you property developers and managers alike…your dog washing booths and recording studios are very impressive. Don’t ruin the image of a hip and trendy property by making your residents search for their check book when it is time to pay rent. Make sure you offer the basics, which in 2013, definitely includes online payment options!