By Joel R. Nelson, Yardi Systems

In a highly competitive business environment, harnessing the power of the Internet can be your best strategic move in meeting the ongoing challenges of attracting prospects, retaining residents, and generating new revenue. Consider that according to Compete, Inc., up to 72 percent of rental prospects with access to the Internet use it to start their apartment searches. Leading multifamily property owners report that more than half of their lead and lease activities come from online sources. These facts make integrated portal solutions an indispensable asset to fill rental units—and keep them filled.

Portals comprise property marketing websites and a variety of self-service tools. Employed to their full advantage, these versatile tools:

• Gain new residents by presenting customized, visually appealing property marketing Web sites and self-service tools easy for prospects to navigate. Yardi Portal™, for example, delivers real-time unit availability (not just unit type), along with virtual tours and photos and local area maps.
• Prospects can submit applications online, including credit checks and fees, and schedule appointments to see the property. Executing the entire leasing process online is easy and convenient for managers and prospects alike. Yardi Portal can also process lease renewals.
• Increase occupancy rates by delivering first-rate service. Residents are empowered to pay rent, view account balances, lodge service requests and exchange messages, easily, quickly and with minimal paperwork, all via the Internet.
• Maximize cash flow with faster rent payment processing and by eliminating administrative tasks that distract property managers and their staffs from higher-value functions.
• Increase operational efficiency by leveraging information from the property management system for use on the Web site that prospects and residents see. This eliminates double entry of data, and mistakes that accompany re-keying. Moreover, a resident portal enables functions such as rent and bill payments, message posting, personal information updates, and maintenance requests, which ordinarily require staff time and resources.
• Generate a significant new revenue stream through convenience fees added to online payments.

Prospects and residents all use the Internet to conduct much of their personal and professional business, from working and banking to booking airline tickets and renting movies. Accordingly, forward-thinking multifamily property managers are quickly grasping portals’ significance in streamlining operations and adding efficiency, without making large investments in new resources, since portals integrate with existing property management systems.

Competitive advantage, marketing initiatives, enhanced customer service, efficiency, and new revenue sources all lead to a quick and tangible return on investment. Portals can be a significant factor in helping multifamily real estate owners and managers attain business goals and get ahead of the competition.

For more information about Yardi products and services, call 800-866-1144 or visit Yardi