2020 Wasn’t All Bad: 5 Amazing Multifamily Stories from This Year

As we head into 2021, read these five amazing multifamily stories to help get your wheels turning and your spirits lifting.
December 14, 2020

What a Year—Multifamily 2020 in Review

We can all agree that the year 2020 has not been the greatest year ever. This art installation located adjacent to Baron Properties’ Linear 295 and iLuminate 290 luxury apartment communities in heart of Phoenix, Arizona’s Art District, seems to sum it up perfectly.

But it’s not all bad! It was an unprecedented year for technology adoption in the multifamily industry and despite market stress, apartment communities remained resilient.

Take some time to look back on your own big moments, and small wins, to reflect on the positive lessons that 2020 has brought you. Here are five amazing stories that happened in the multifamily industry this year to help get your wheels turning and your spirits lifting.

5 Amazing Multifamily Stories from 2020

1. Despite Market Stress, Multifamily Remained Resilient

One of the largest concerns for landlords throughout 2020 was the nonpayment of rents due to mass employment disruption. According to a recent article published in Million Acres, it was long discussed that this could lead to significant financial losses and potentially flood the market with distressed assets, perhaps even force foreclosures. But the year has not yet played out like this.

Source: National Multifamily Housing Council, https://www.nmhc.org/research-insight/nmhc-rent-payment-tracker/

The article also mentions how the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) kept close tabs on rents throughout 2020. Despite major workforce disruption, it was reported that multifamily rents only saw slight decreases compared to 2019. Which all points to the resiliency of this sector.

2. Rental Prospects Continued to Show Demand

Over 6.1 million multifamily phone calls were tracked and recorded by LeaseHawk in 2020. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) models, LeaseHawk analyzed each call to determine if the callers were a prospect or non-prospect. The results showed that the volume of prospect calls in 2020 remained consistent with 2019.

The total number of prospect calls received by communities was unchanged at 27%. This indicates a steady demand of prospects calling with leasing intent year over year. One change that did occur in prospect calls this year was the average call time. This year, there was a 5.5% increase in the average prospect call time.

Did the longer call times result in a higher close rate for your leasing agents? Take a look back and see if the correlation is there for your properties. Longer call times may result in your agents being able to build rapport and answer more questions, and new questions—maybe like what it’s like to quarantine at your community or what safety precautions have been put in place.

3. Adoption of Virtual Leasing Technology Soared

It was previously forecasted for chatbots and self-guided tours to be a prop-tech trend in 2020. But no one expected to see the level of new adoption that actually occurred. The adoption was a necessity due to social-distancing and stay-at-home orders.

According to a report published by Redfin, agent-led video tours saw a 494% increase back in March, and for those of us in the multifamily industry, we saw a very similar trend. 3D Apartment Home Tours also saw staggering increases through the Spring season as stay-at-home orders were mandated.

In addition to virtual tour options, chatbots came into the limelight as a cost-efficient method for operators to keep their communication lines open 24/7 to renters. The total volume of renter requests handled by ACE, the Virtual Leasing Assistant powered by LeaseHawk, increased an incredible 43% from June to November of this year. Plus, it averaged a 35% conversion rate for prospect calls to appointments.

Owners and management companies made nimble decisions in order to get virtual leasing tools up and running at their properties. One great example of this is Arizona-based management company, MAR Companies. This year, they not only installed a chatbot on their property websites, but they created an entire autonomous leasing process. It features LeaseHawk’s ACE Virtual Leasing Assistant, tour scheduling from ShowMojo, and smart home technology by PointCentral. Watch the video above to witness their entire process in action.

4. Onsite Apartment Teams Received Well-Deserved Recognition

Endorsed by the National Apartment Association (NAA), our industry friends at Apartments.com set the official date of August 12 as Apartment Onsite Teams Day. It was the first time the multifamily industry has set aside a date to give tribute to the thousands of hardworking individuals onsite in our communities. It was a way of thanking essential industry workers for the dedication shown during the COVID-19 crisis.

LuAnne Acton Ross, executive vice president of JMG realty, stated in Multi-Housing News, “Although we have always known that our onsite teams are the frontline to our residents, the crisis we have experienced over the last several months has reminded us just how invaluable they are and how crucial they are to our industry.”

5. We All Came Together (Virtually)

Most of us would have joined together in Boston and Last Vegas for two of the biggest industry tradeshows: Apartmentalize powered by NAA and OPTECH by the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC). However, of course, 2020 had different plans for us.

But that didn’t stop our industry from coming together. We continued to learn from each other virtually through video conferences and even “Braindates”. Without the hinderance and investment of travelling, the virtual tradeshow platforms permitted more professionals than ever the opportunity to participate. That included the Opening Pitches presented at OPTECH, this year there was a total of 55 experts who were able to present the latest and greatest technology to the industry.

One of those experts was LeaseHawk’s very own Founder and CEO, Mike Mueller. You can re-watch his Opening Pitch here:

Looking Ahead

2020 proved to be challenge; however, there were many positive lessons learned and wins to look back on, both big and small. Overall, I think we’re all ready to say goodbye to 2020 and welcome a new year.

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