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Apartment Leasing for the Long Term

Balancing occupancy rates with long-term profitability is one of the keys to effective leasing strategies in the multifamily industry. It is important to understand both the owner’s goals for the property and the shifting dynamics of the market when considering changes to rental rates, application approvals, and delinquency management.
In turbulent times – whether that’s an economic downturn, changes to the market’s population, or a global pandemic – it can be tempting to make changes for short term gains without recognizing the potential long-term implications. Here are five key guidelines WPM property managers suggest for managing changing markets and ensuring effective and sustainable leasing practices.
  • Establish and maintain standards for application approvals. One of the ways that WPM creates value for our clients is by maintaining the highest standards of excellence. This includes the standards set for application approvals, including things like thresholds set for credit scores and verifying rental histories of prospective residents. While in the short run holding on to these during tough times may affect occupancy rates, over the long-term doing so ensures consistency in the quality of the property’s residents and the best results for owners.
  • Remain objective with data-driven practices. Everyone has a story. And while it is important to presume good intent and to empathize with an individual’s situation, property managers must remain objective and unbiased. Using data to inform decision-making and not manipulating processes is critical. This is part of our commitment to transparency about our leasing practices and to maintaining fair housing and equal opportunity standards.
  • Focus on the human experience. At its core, property management is fundamentally about serving people, with the aim of creating great places to live. This means understanding the aspirations and constraints of potential residents and extending empathy to those who may not meet application criteria. By fostering a people-centric approach with each prospective resident, managers cultivate goodwill and strengthen relationships and connections within the broader community.
  • Work to proactively mitigate risks. Part of the role of a property manager is to be forward-thinking about changes that may occur. In addition to carefully managing delinquencies, it’s important to connect and understand residents and their plans. Preparing for potential issues that might create a negative situation for both the property and the resident allows for early intervention and support.
  • Think creatively to solve problems. This works hand-in-hand with proactively mitigating risks. When vacancy rates are low it can be easy to pull back on some of the traditional practices for driving new resident applications. Proactively seeking out unconventional outreach opportunities, building a waiting list and remaining engaged with those prospective residents, as well as knowing resources in the community to help residents are just a few ways to creatively address leasing challenges. 
In summary, navigating the complex terrain of apartment leasing demands a strategic blend of short-term pragmatism and long-term vision. By adhering to the principles of maintaining high standards, embracing data-driven decision-making, prioritizing empathy and understanding, proactively mitigating risks, and fostering creativity in problem-solving, property managers can effectively steer through market fluctuations while cultivating resilient and thriving communities. By staying true to these guiding principles, property managers can ensure not only sustained profitability but also environments where residents feel valued, supported, and at home.


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