Online leasing revolutionized (and explained)
If we were going to take out a billboard about today’s standard of online leasing software it would say something like this: Stop asking your teams to lease with decades-old “tech.”
We feel passionately that it’s time to stop wasting time and money by overloading leasing professionals with outdated, manual application, screening, fraud prevention, and contract processes. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what your prospective renters are going through on the other end.
We aren’t just another tech platform blowing up your email inbox touting “innovation” when it’s really an analog-processes-made-digital. There’s a better way to lease (we’re launching it to the world at NAA’s Apartmentalize 2022).
Renter (consumer) expectations changed + online leasing is vital
Consumers can buy nearly anything they want in a few clicks from their couch and in sweatpants. They order their groceries online, book a dinner reservation or buy insurance from an app, and make most of their choices online on their own time. In short, they are impatient. They want results in near real-time, demand fast, frictionless experiences that are not only personalized for their preferences they’re mobile-first too.
The technology solutions they’ve adopted in the past couple of years shifted their expectations. Unfortunately for many multifamily operators, they’re hamstrung by their tech when trying to meet renter’s expectations. Property management companies are stuck choosing between either niche single-solution challengers or mile-wide-inch-deep antiquated monopolies is holding back their ability to truly innovate the apartment shopping experience.
In short, renter expectations changed. And as a result, the lines are quickly blurring between multifamily and hospitality. Renters are voicing what they want with their days and ever-lengthening stays with companies like Airbnb, and multifamily companies need to pay attention. One thing hospitality does remarkably well that multifamily operators and multifamily tech companies could take inspiration from is creating a modern, eCommerce experience that aligns with consumer expectations throughout the customer journey. In our case the leasing process. Building this kind of experience in multifamily, starts with putting the renter at the center. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Here are a few data points to back that up.
According to NMHC, nearly half of respondents (46%) would consider joining a rental housing membership program at a premium over a normal lease that would allow its members the flexibility to move between communities within a brand’s network of properties (similar to a vacation club).
(46%) would consider joining a rental housing membership program
Consider one of the more popular travel brand names, Airbnb. In 2007 Airbnb’s first year in business, 0% of guests were staying more than 28 days; in 2019, 12% of stays were longer than 28 days; and as of 2021, 24% of stays were longer than 28 days. Airbnb has transformed its brand from a weekend getaway to a try-before-you-buy in a new town option, or a digital nomad’s flexible home base. Airbnb offers more apartment-style amenities than hotels, making people feel at home (even in someone else’s home). Showing that there is a demand for flexible, eCommerce, home-style stays. To deliver that, a modern eCommerce platform to lease apartments (think the Airbnb app but for your property management company’s portfolio) is a must-have.
It digitally verifies applicants’ identities and takes the role of fraud police off of the shoulders of leasing professionals.
Six ways Renter Management Software + online leasing make leasing professionals’ and renters’ lives easier
We know that for many of you forward-thinking multifamily professionals, we’re simply preaching to the choir. You want leasing to be streamlined and modern, but for decades the tech hasn’t been up to par. We also know that changing solutions can be disruptive to an organization, so any new technology adoption needs to be worth it. Here are six things that make our online leasing solution different (and worth adopting).
#1. Mobile-first applications
When a prospective renter is touring (and falling in love) with an apartment in your community they can apply FROM THEIR PHONE in as little as ten minutes. This allows for faster application processing, meets the demands of mobile-everything digital natives, and lowers the time that units are sitting vacant.
#2. Effortless screening for renters and leasing professionals
At Funnel, the industry’s first FinTech integration is paired with powerful screening tools to verify income and assets. For prospective renters, this means they aren’t searching for W2s or pay stubs to verify their income and qualify to live in your community. Instead, they’re able to simply link their bank account, and let tech do the rest. If you’re skeptical, let (actual) renter behavior ease your mind. In our leasing data, we saw that over half of renters complete their application on a mobile device, and of those who apply via mobile 60% choose our automated income verification tool over old methods of uploading personal documents.
#3. Fraud prevention + identity verification
We hear from leasing professionals and operators within multifamily property management companies that fraud is a huge problem weighing on teams. They’re asked not only to provide excellent customer service to residents, prospective renters, AND to know all the ins and outs of specific government documents to prove prospective renters’ identities. Our screening integration takes the weight of this off of leasing professionals. It digitally verifies applicants’ identities and takes the role of fraud police off of the shoulders of leasing professionals. Automating this process limits risk and liability to property management companys, and frees teams to focus on the enjoyable parts of their roles creating a more engaged workplace.
#4 No more checks to pay back deposits
This one is a cousin to the point above, but it should stand on its own because it’s sliiiiiightly different in the kind of fraud and risk it mitigates for operators. We know this is obvious but hang with us. When a renter applies to a community, depending on the property management company, there are various holding fees and/or application fees these are often paid by credit cards. Nothing groundbreaking yet.
What we learned from leading property management companies is that: When an application is declined, due to outdated technology limitations the property management company can’t refund the card. So, instead, they need to refund the applicant via a check (yes, the paper ones). This leaves the company open to fraud because fraudulent applicants will take the paper check (thankyouverymuch) AND THEN contest the credit card charge costing the property management company money.
Our tech eliminates the need for paper checks to pay back renter’s credit cards, making it impossible for someone to game the application process as a shady solopreneur side hustle.
#5 Mid-lease changes (aka adding a roommate, or getting rid of a roommate)
A lot can change in a year (just think about the past few 😳), when a renter signs a lease they can’t 100% anticipate what may happen in their life, or the lives of the other people living in their apartment home. Gone are the days of re-screening paper applications for residents who want to stay, because they are adding a roommate. Here are the days of simple mid-lease changes like adding roommates (including the four-footed woofing or meowing kind), adding or subtracting parking spaces, and other rentable items within your community.
#6 Easy renewals
Because this online leasing solution is integrated into the full Renter Management Software platform it’s easy to trigger renewal notices, with a rich library of automated communications that take many manual tasks out of renewals. Plus, when a renter decides to renew, they are guided through a modern, eComm experience much like the original application process.
It’s no secret that traditional leasing processes from inquiry through screening (and beyond) are a hassle both for renters and leasing professionals. Our online leasing solution is simply one piece of Funnel’s Renter Management Software platform. This secure, enterprise-grade, platform is the Goldilocks “just right” in the multifamily tech space (not too narrow, not too broad). If you’re looking for more than yet another expensive single solution challenger or an antiquated monopoly, then look for a Renter Management Software.
Four Criteria of Renter Management Software
To qualify as Renter Management Software (RMS), the platform must meet these four mandatory criteria.
#1. Renter-facing solutions, only
No accounting ledgers, no stringing together solutions, just a single, secure, enterprise-grade platform to create consistent renter experiences from initial inquiry through renewal.
#2. Single guest card architecture
No daisy changing and linking guest cards, multiple systems don’t cut it either. The single guest card solution puts the renter at the center of the platform structure. This means their one-and-only guest card will be full of ALL preferences and communication. Making it the source of truth for the leasing teams at any in-portfolio property and allowing them to cross-sell and provide all the relevant vacant units across town or the country.
#3. Ability to centralize work streams or tasks
Take mundane, (but necessary) tasks off your on-site teams, with centralized workflows for specific tasks that don’t NEED to be done on site. Make your teams happier by removing most of the admin and letting them focus on what they do best: the personal touch to close the deal.
#4. Core operating ethos
Your entire success is dependent on the happiest of renters. Treat this above and beyond everything else and you will win and win big.
Leasing apartments shouldn’t be a nightmare
At NAA (and beyond) we’re changing online leasing FOREVER. If leasing apartments keeps you up at night, come visit the “Apartment of Terror” to have your worst nightmares confirmed. And “Funnel of Love” at NAA booth# 2231 to make your PINK heart happy and see how all things Funnel and all things Leasing are better together.
…or if you’re reading this in 2025 (aka beyond June 2022), schedule a demo here.