Catering to the concerns of your residents can help with retention, not to mention filling empty units faster. And what a recent survey found to be the biggest concern among residents might surprise you. Sure, there is concern about rent increasing, but according to Freddie Mac, even more residents are worried about the price of utilities increasing.
Of those surveyed by Freddie Mac, 63% said they were at least moderately concerned about the rising cost of rent, while a staggering 70% said they were at least moderately concerned about the rising cost of utility bills – and for good reason. Utility price increases across the United States varied widely over the past year, but saw an average increase of 3.2%.
Rent hikes, particularly here in San Diego for instance, have been fairly stagnant. From 2015 to 2016, there was an increase of less than 3% in San Diego County. Compare that to a 9% hike in rental rates from March 2014 to March 2015.
This may partially account for the increased concern surveyed renters felt towards utility cost increases, but the perception that utility costs are rising may be as affecting as the actual costs increase themselves. Residents’ concerns are rooted in the instability of utility bills, and by presenting a low-cost solution that keeps the fluctuation of that bill to a minimum, you are creating both a sense of security for residents and helping to make your property more appealing.
With the abrupt halt in what was an almost exponential growth of average rental cost, and the consistent increase in utilities, residents may be starting to feel their wallet tightening in a way they previously didn’t put as much thought into.
A positive for property managers is that residents are willing to spend more on rent if they feel property managers take their concerns about rising utilities seriously. Nearly half of the respondents surveyed (47%), stated that they would be willing to pay more to live in a conservation-friendly apartment.
There are a lot of ways to be more conservation-minded at your properties and help put your residents’ minds at ease over utility costs. One way is to be as transparent as possible with what residents are being charged for. Implementing submeters, along with a resident billing program, will give residents a precise picture of their utility consumption, and most likely decrease the amount of utilities consumed. According to the NAA, residents who are billed back for utilities consume approximately 39% less than those who are not charged.
Understanding how residents prioritize their needs and concerns can help property managers make informed decisions about how to make improvements on a community. Those decisions can often have a lasting impact on the long-term success of a community as they cater to the needs of both current and prospective residents. At PayLease, our utility billing team has the knowledge and experience to guide you towards equitable solutions that benefit both you and your residents.