CLASS has spent the past month leasing a by-the-bed student property at Texas A&M University. In a saturated market it is extremely important to quickly identify emerging trends in order to capitalize on market share. By gauging these trends and tweaking our sales process, the property is almost ten percent ahead of last year’s pre-leasing numbers.
Here are three trends we’re seeing this year:
- Enhanced focus on cost-effectiveness
Having leased-up the same property last year we have noticed an unmistakable uptick in the number of students paying rent on their own, whether through part-time jobs or student loans and grants. This results in a consumer far more involved in the buying process than we’re used to seeing. Whereas last year’s student, with parents footing the bill, didn’t care about price tags, this year’s student wants to ensure they’re getting the most bang for their buck. It is imperative that value is conveyed to this year’s student. Whether that means calculating how much money your community will save them on utilities each month or charting out the bus route to show how much closer they’ll be to campus, you must be communicating value at all stages of the sales process. In order for the price-conscious student to lease at your community, they need to perceive some sort of value in your product. Resident events and parties are no longer cutting it for a lot of students.
- Short-term leases
Reading that may have you cringing, but it’s true. The reality is that many students don’t want to lease an apartment over the summer if they aren’t planning on staying in town. However, students want short term leases so badly that they’re willing to pay almost anything for them– and Mom and Dad are too.
At my current property, the only alternative to a 12 month lease is one beginning in August and ending in May. With our current rent concessions taken into consideration, the 12 month lease actually ends up being the cheaper option when compared to the 10 month lease. Naturally, you would think that students would agree with the math and choose the longer lease. However, that is not the trend. Students are choosing the 10 month lease at almost every opportunity and sighting their “summer freedom” as reasoning. Our competitors have also taken notice of this tendency and one property in particular is charging a premium fee of $100 a month for 9 month leases.
- Applying and leasing online
There is nothing this generation loves more than the ease of technology. While some of you would never personally apply for an apartment online, this year’s students are doing that and more. Recently my property expanded upon the typical process for applying online. Instead of filling out the standard contact form and having a leasing agent get in touch with the prospective resident, our new website allows for the entire lease to be signed via our property website without ever stepping foot on the property. While this approach certainly won’t appeal to every student, it definitely has caught the attention of some. In almost a month’s time we have received an average of about 20-25 online leases. While this number may pale in comparison to the number of leases signed in the leasing office, it is significant nonetheless. It’s very likely that the property may have lost out on these leases had we not had the online process in place.