Years ago Multifamilypro conducted  a study with the help of multifamily management expert Ed Kelley to determine whether the time spent shopping for an apartment home had a discernible impact on the length of a resident’s stay.  The results confirmed what many of us have long suspected, and still ring as true today as they did when the study was first conducted.

Leasing Professionals have long suspected that a resident who waits to within three weeks of his/her move date to select a new apartment home, will likely stay in that apartment home for a shorter period of time.  To test our suspicions, we examined the records of 200 residents to determine if such a pattern really does exist.  We chose a middle to upper middle class community in each of four cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Denver) to conduct our study.  Records of residents who rented two years previously were randomly selected, and then sorted into three groupings (according to whether they needed a new apartment home “now”, “soon”, or sometime in the future).

The first group (our “Now” group) contained the rental histories of people who moved into their apartment within 21 days of their rental application.  The second group (our “Soon” group), contained the histories of people who allowed between 21 and 60 days of lead time from application to move-in.  Our “Future” group included those residents who began looking and/or made their choice more than 60 days in advance of their move-in date.

The results of our research showed a very distinctive pattern.  Lease terms were definitely shorter among our “Now” group, significantly longer among our “Soon” group, and markedly longest among our “Future” group.  Why?  We know from experience that people tend to follow patterns in many of their personal activities, including the choice of a new home.  People who invest more time in the decision making process are likely to do so because they intend to live with that decision for some time to come.  It’s often true that people who exhibit patience and prudence in choosing an apartment home will exhibit these qualities in other areas of their life, making them better residents and neighbors in our communities.  Whatever the reasons may be, the results of our study speak for themselves.  Try this experiment with your own leasing records, and your findings will likely reflect ours!

Avoid the temptation to take less seriously those future residents who don’t have to make an immediate decision.  Take them as seriously as the visitors who come to you with more immediate needs.  Our study shows that our special advance shoppers are worth their “wait” in gold!

How do you think this translates when we studied concessions? To be continued…