Last modified on May 18th, 2023
By Stacy Holden
What do renters want from their property managers?
In today’s on-demand, service-oriented economy, surely they expect more than just four walls and a roof. But with a record number of new units slated for delivery this year, renters may have more choices than they’ve had in quite some time. While prioritizing resident retention is always a sound strategy, today’s rental market makes it essential. After all, unit turns have become costlier in recent years as prices for materials have increased. Combined with a strong job market leaving renters feeling confident, renters who aren’t satisfied with their current property management may decide to take their chances in the market. And with interest rates at 40-year highs, elevated vacancies could be problematic for many.
So what do you have to do to keep residents in place?
You must meet and exceed their expectations.
The annual AppFolio Renter Preferences Report gives real estate owners and operators a look into the minds of their residents so they can see if they are doing just that — meeting and exceeding their residents’ expectations.
In it, you’ll find a high-level view of overall satisfaction levels with property management, and a deep dive into the specific aspects that influence their responses and sentiments. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find in this year’s report.
Satisfaction with property management
The data shows that the youngest renters are the least satisfied with their property management, while the oldest renters are the most satisfied. Just over half of Gen Z renters are satisfied, compared to 75% of Baby Boomers surveyed.
The data also indicates that renters who are not satisfied with property management are two times more likely to be actively searching for a new home: 24% of satisfied renters reported that they are actively searching for a new residence, while nearly 50% of dissatisfied renters are actively searching.
Further demonstrating the link between renter satisfaction and retention, almost half of unsatisfied renters cite “seeking a better property manager” as a reason they are planning to move, compared to only 12% of satisfied renters. Satisfied renters are much more motivated by price and upgrades than property management.
Seeking a better unit and lower rent are by far the top reasons renters are considering a move to a new rental. This year, however, seeking better property management ranked in the top three: 18% of respondents say a main reason they are considering a move is to find better property management, up from 4% in our last report.
Since overall resident satisfaction with property management is driving unit turn, it’s important to understand what factors influenced these responses, and how you can improve.
Maintenance is a major driver of renter satisfaction. We asked survey participants if they agree with the following statements:
- My property manager promptly responds to my questions or concerns
- My property manager promptly resolves maintenance issues
- My property manager proactively communicates time-sensitive updates about my rental unit or community
The responses were fairly positive. We then asked the same question and grouped respondents based on whether they previously reported themselves as being satisfied overall or dissatisfied overall with their property management company.
Across the board, there was a significant delta between satisfied and dissatisfied renters in terms of their experience with communication, time to completion, and effectiveness of maintenance.
We also found that just as younger renters are least satisfied overall with their property management company, they are also least satisfied with how their property manager handles maintenance. The biggest difference between generations is found in their level of satisfaction with time to completion and visibility into how requests are progressing.
In property management, the vast majority of your communications with residents are about maintenance. It follows that just as maintenance plays a major role is quality of life and renter satisfaction, so does communication, and the stats backs this up: 65% of all renters surveyed reported being satisfied with property management communication, while 17% said they were not satisfied or very dissatisfied.
When grouping respondents according to whether or not they are satisfied with the technology their property management company offers them, it becomes clear technology is a major driver of overall satisfaction. Indeed, technology can help improve the renter experience overall, as well as in specific areas like maintenance and communication: 22% of renters satisfied with their technology plan to move in the next 12 months, compared to 49% of renters dissatisfied with their technology. Also, tech-satisfied renters are also almost twice as likely than tech-dissatisfied renters to say one of the main reasons they are renewing their lease is that they are satisfied with their property manager (50% vs. 27%).
The ability to pay rent or other charges online drives satisfaction with technology: Renters paying online reported a 77% technology-satisfaction rate, compared to a 35% satisfaction rate for those not paying online. Similarly, renters satisfied with their technology are much more likely to pay rent online (71%) than those who are dissatisfied with their technology (26%).
The number one reason renters don’t pay rent online is that their property management company doesn’t offer the option, with 66% reporting this as the obstacle. Among this group, 58% would like their property management company to offer online payments.
Improving renter satisfaction is key to ongoing success. And the key to improving renter satisfaction is understanding what they expect from their property management company so that you can exceed those expectations. In the full 2023 AppFolio Property Manager Renter Preferences Report, you’ll get answers to questions like “What do you plan to do when your current lease expires?”, “What are the main reasons you are considering moving to a different rental?”, “What are the main reasons you are thinking about renewing your lease?”, “Where do you typically search for a new rental unit? “What are some of the reasons why you don’t pay your rent online?”, and so much more. You can check out the report here.