I have been leasing apartments for over 30 years (yea, I started at 12 years old). During this time I have seen a shift in the way we market our apartments. The number one source for receiving traffic/leads is from an Internet Leasing Site or Service (ILS). The apartment shopper will generally search for their new apartment home via Internet. No matter what the prospect puts into the search field, the search results will produce multiple ILS selections.
Don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of ILS’s, but as a Marketing Director for a portfolio of affordable communities, I feel the ILS's are "missing the boat" for the affordable audience
An affordable community office is typically busier than a conventional office, and this is primarily due to the additional paperwork necessary to stay in compliance with their state. I train my leasing teams to know the value of great customer service with prospective and current residents rather it be in person or on the phone and doing some "extras" in an effort to keep the residents happy and thus reduce turnover. SO when they get numerous calls, internet leads and visits from prospective traffic who have seen our listing on one of the ILS sites and they do not meet the income guidelines, they begin to get discouraged and the quality of service declines.
I feel the big ILS’s target the conventional apartment audience. I have suggested to my representatives from the ILS's I am or have used to design the affordable and senior listings so they look different. For example, Apartments.com, ForRent.com, ApartmentGuide.com, ApartmentFinder.com and even Zillow.com could design something that will set aside the affordable and the senior restricted communities, for instance a watermark. Plus, because there is a large number of the audience who is not aware of the affordable programs, I'd like the watermark to have a link to a page that will explain the affordable program offered by the community. IS THIS TOO MUCH TO ASK?????
Some of our affordable communities have dropped out of the internet listing sites just because of the number of unqualified leads. They do produce a lot of leads! But, in reality, most of those leads are unqualified.
The LIHTC database, created by HUD and available to the public since 1997, contains information on 39,094 projects and almost 2,458,000 housing units placed in service between 1987 and 2012*.
THAT’S OVER 2 MILLION UNITS! Will that make the ILS’s revisit their page formats and create a format for the affordable and senior communities. Who will be first??!!