May 05 2020


Do you call it soda, pop, soda pop, or simply a Coke? What about sneakers, are they gym shoes, tennis shoes, running shoes, trainers? There is usually more than one way to say the same thing, just ask a firefly…We mean a lightning bug! You get the point. 

Someone you know in the multifamily industry might call it automatic leasing, or self-serve leasing, and at Funnel we call it online leasing. 

Feel free to call it what you want, but let’s agree on what it does, and how it will transform the renter experience (and the onsite office experience, too). 

An automatic leasing service allows properties to treat renters how they want to be treated

First, let’s start with what online or automatic leasing isn’t. Automatic leasing isn’t virtual tours. It isn’t a paper application that a renter can download, fill out with a pen, scan, and then (finally) upload.

Automatic leasing, or online leasing, is transforming the antiquated process of applying for an apartment — including income verification and background screening — and re-imagining it to align with modern eCommerce experiences. It enables prospective renters to apply, and sign their application electronically from their phone, at their convenience. 

When was the last time you rented an apartment? A year ago? Twenty years ago? Either way, one thing holds: moving is stressful. So, take a minute to put yourself in your renter’s shoes: Gone are the days of frantically filling out a pen and paper application while a leasing agent hovers above you. Here are the days of applying from your phone, in the middle of your self-guided tour, while looking out at your soon-to-be view. 

Doesn’t that feel good? 

…Nobody puts the renter in the center (except, Funnel) 

At Funnel, renter-centric is more than a tagline or a slogan, it’s an ethos in every. single. thing. we do. This vision extends from our chief executive officer to the full Funnel team, all the way to the actual architecture of how the software is built. Our SINGLE renter-centric guest card is automatically created for each inquiring renter. We know, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but what’s unique about that, is the renter-centric part.

Instead, of creating a different guest card for each property, and having Rachel Renter interact with a virtual sales assistant, and individual leasing agents at each property. All of the leasing team’s follow-up with Rachel Renter is in one place: attached to her single guest card. 

This does two things for leasing teams. First, if Rachel inquires about a two-bedroom at one community, but a one-bedroom at a sister property, your team has a richer picture of her preferences as she expresses her preferences. Second, because all communication is kept in one place, property management companies aren’t repeating the same tasks over, and over, and over at each property to talk to the SAME renter. And, Rachel Renter’s phone isn’t blowing up with communication from a bunch of people who all work for the same company. Instead, she’s communicated in a thoughtful, individualized way that makes her feel known and builds trust. 

What does this thoughtful follow-up and renter-centric ability mean for automatic leasing? Simple. After she’s toured, and she’s decided 1000% these are the right apartment communities for her, the leasing process is just as easy. In traditional, and frankly antiquated leasing and screening processes, customers spend their time tracking down their old pay-stubs or W-2s to verify their income, submit sensitive personal information for a background check and then wait way too long to hear back. For leasing professionals, the experience is just as poor. They’re expected to understand and spot inconsistencies and fraud in applications, across a multitude of documents.

Compare this with online leasing on the Funnel Platform. Renters can apply from their phones in under ten minutes. When they apply using Convert, they’re no longer uploading paperwork or reminiscing about their Lisa Frank stickers and 1990s childhood because of the tech involved in the process. Instead, Funnel’s industry-first fintech integration allows renters to automatically verify their income by simply using their online banking credentials.

Through best-in-class screening tools, leasing professionals can rapidly screen applicants, empowering them to make timely, informed decisions. 

This results in faster close times for property management companies, and a better simpler experience for renters and lease agents. 

Automatic leasing service and centralization in the multifamily industry

Centralization is a huge buzzword in the multifamily industry. It means different things to different people because, to centralize, a business needs to dramatically rethink and re-structure processes throughout the company. Change is uncomfortable and can feel scary, or hard. 

This fundamental shift can be nerve-wracking to sign up for unless it aligns with your company’s vision. 

So, if your property management company knows that centralization is the multifamily business model for the future, and it’s something your company wants to do…but you don’t know how to start, or you don’t know how it could work in your business. Then a renter-centric approach to centralized leasing is something you might want to explore. 

With true renter-centric automatic leasing, a remote team, or a team in a single area, could handle all of the leasing processes for your entire property portfolio. Because, with a single guest card for each renter, there would never be duplicate Rachel Renters applying at two different properties seeing where she “got in.” All information would be attached to a single guest card, so instead of needing to know specifics from the onsite teams at each property, a centralized team would have all the information they needed at their fingertips. 

We hear again and again from our industry partners that onsite teams are stretched thin, and that it’s a huge challenge to hire more onsite leasing professionals. So, instead of adding one more task to your already overburdened onsite team’s plate, centralizing the leasing functions to a small specialized team, would free them to deliver an exceptional service to both current renters and residents. 

Let’s take a minute to pause, and put a pin on this idea: While this is rare with new tech adoption, it will guarantee a win for renters, onsite leasing professionals, and the property management company. Or a win-win-win.