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Poll Data Shows Renter Preferences and Trends After 2020 Pandemic

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Posted by Pete Evering on December 17, 2020
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Poll Data Shows Renter Preferences and Trends After 2020 Pandemic

As we all know, 2020 has been a year of many changes. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered how we work, live, and communicate. This also means the pandemic has had an influence on the housing market and rental trends. A recent survey conducted by Appfolio reveals the opinions of renters from across the United States on moving, property location, and technology in the leasing process as we head into 2021.

After being stuck inside for many months, most renters have reevaluated their living preferences. Thousands of Americans now have the opportunity to work from home or learn from home, which changes their lifestyles and priorities when choosing a place to live. 60% of the renters surveyed reported that their living preferences have been altered by the pandemic. Of those renters, these were the most popular reasons for moving or wanting to move:

  1. To live in a less populated area
  2. For a change of scenery
  3. To move closer to family
  4. They no longer need to commute to work

This shows that the increased rates of remote work have allowed renters to consider the location of their home based on pleasurable factors rather than practicality. The data suggests that this may lead to a general trend away from cities and into more suburban and rural areas.

How can we use this data?

The survey results suggest changes in the kind of properties that may be the most valuable for an investment in the coming year. Although they certainly do not predict extreme or widespread market changes, they are worth consideration for property investors. Property owners should tailor their advertising campaigns to emphasize what are now the most valuable assets to their renting audience. For example, proximity to public indoor spaces may not be as important to renters if they do not imagine themselves using these facilities. Nearby outdoor parks and take-out opportunities could be more attention-grabbing. Additionally, property renovations and amenities have become more valuable as renters will plan to spend most of their time at home.

Embrace Technology

The greatest change we have witnessed through 2020 is the impact that technology has on our way of life. This applies to everything from property advertisement and showings to leasing and property management. Virtual showings are skyrocketing in popularity as more renters prefer to explore housing options remotely.

56% of survey respondents who signed a lease in the last year utilized a virtual showing experience (some viewed in-person as well), and just under 80% of them were satisfied with this option. Additionally, 40% of renters reported that they would prefer to have the ability to view units both in-person and virtually after the pandemic is over.

Beyond the showing process, most tenants prefer to complete rental applications (46%) and lease renewals (48%) virtually as well. Less than half of respondents agree that the rental application process is generally easy. This means that property owners who offer streamlined, tech-savvy experiences to renters will make a lasting impression. 54% of renters reported that customer service from the property manager or owner is a key deciding factor in lease renewal. Employ the following tips to capitalize on the increasing popularity of virtual leasing:

  • Use virtual showing technology: If there’s one thing Appfolio’s survey has taught us, it is the rising importance of virtual showings. It is becoming essential to offer virtual tours or interactive images of your properties.
  • Explore new software: The best way to upgrade your leasing process and customer service experience is to experiment with new programs and software. There is a vast array of apps designed specifically for property management and leasing that could improve your appeal to customers.
  • Give renters self-service opportunities: Allow potential renters to explore properties on their own accord, via virutal showings, online tour scheduling, or live chats with representatives.

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