Right now, it may feel like your visibility on revenues and forecasts for 2021 are fuzzy at best. With the COVID-19 pandemic still very much affecting how the multifamily industry does business, planning a solid budget for next year may seem like a daunting task. In the past, it was easy to take last year’s budget and adjust it for the planned curveballs that may be ahead—but unfortunately, a pandemic was one curveball that most of us could have never seen coming.
So, how do you budget during these uncertain times? You learn to adapt.
Budgets should reflect your priorities and financial goals. Some of which, probably need to be reconsidered for the next year. Here are a few tips and suggestions for how you can adapt your budget for the rocky road ahead.
Compared to last year, your maintenance budget may need a boost to ensure the wellness of your on-site team and residents. Cleanliness plans that may have been introduced this year will most likely need to continue into 2021. That means budgeting for things such as disinfection and disposal services, cleaners and sanitizers, masks, and non-contact thermometers are all things you may want to provide for your properties.
As major companies, such as Twitter, have announced permanent work-from-home options as a result of the pandemic, many of your prospective renters may not see your lease-up or beautiful property during their commute. That means less walk-in and drive-by traffic. That could also mean a shift in what prospects value the most. Instead of focusing advertising campaigns on location vicinity and property amenities, showcase your properties’ private balconies and office space.
Redefining your marketing goals to target more online audiences rather than offline, such as outdoor signage and radio, can affect your budget. According to media resource, MAGNA, digital advertising sales are expected to increase up to 7% in 2021. Their research also suggests that brands who are able to maintain advertising activity through a crisis outperformed those that “went dark”.
Many properties are experiencing changes in hours, availability of amenities and even changes in staffing in response to COVID-19. A constant rotation of policies—one day you’re open and the next you’re closed—can cause a lot of confusion.
Virtual leasing assistants can offer properties some peace of mind with their consistent and reliable communication. ACE, LeaseHawk’s virtual leasing assistant, uses artificial intelligence to conversationally answer your property’s phone calls, chats and texts. It can even schedule virtual tours, collect guest cards and provide your property’s latest information regarding changes in hours and amenities. It saves your leasing team countless hours from having to answer repetitive questions, so instead, they can focus on bigger tasks at hand. At nearly half the price of a call center, having a virtual leasing assistant can be a huge asset to your 2021 budget.
Rent delinquency, forgiveness, and eviction are all heavy terms that have many multifamily businesses unsure of what is ahead. The long-term financial impacts of our current environment are still unknown, but through all of this, there’s one great tip to follow in 2021—prepare to improvise and have compassion.
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