As anyone who has searched for one knows, choosing an apartment is a big decision. Apartment hunters want as much information as they can get to help them locate the ideal place and technology gives them more ways than ever to find it. Here are five trends shaping the way renters find apartments in the information age.
1. Deeper Research
With more information available to them than ever before apartment renters are taking the time to look more deeply at apartments before making their final decision. Renters consult multiple sources to get a complete picture of the apartments they are considering and compare many different options to find the best fit. By the time they come to visit an apartment, many renters will already know about its rent, its policies, and even its floor plan. This trend means that more apartments will be seen by renters, but that only apartments marketed across different media will really stand out from the rest.
2. Social Media
Nearly everyone has heard of Facebook and Twitter by now. These social sites are a powerful source of information; referrals from a renter’s friends tend to carry more influence than any other single factor when it comes to making a decision. Recent research reported by Tech Crunch found that people now use Twitter to share referrals as often as email and that Facebook is used to share referrals as much as Twitter and email combined. This trend means that apartments that get people talking online will easily find interested renters.
3. Online Ratings
Referrals from friends aren’t the only ones that matter to apartment hunters. From Amazon to Yelp, reviews and ratings on all types of products and services have become part of the online shopping experience and are becoming a larger force in the offline world as well. A handful of authentic reviews helps renters verify the information they’ve found elsewhere and commit to their apartment choice. This trend means that apartments without reviews will take longer for renters to commit to.
The Internet today is faster today than it has ever been and this offers video a chance to finally shine online. Paul Bergeron of the National Apartment Association reports that spending for video ads is expected to increase 39% in 2011. People looking for an apartment are especially interested in video information about an apartment location because it is so relevant to the quality of life. Reading that an apartment is a sunny and friendly place to live doesn’t carry nearly as much weight as seeing a video of the place that confirms it. This trend means that videos may soon become as commonplace as photographs for apartments listed online.
As more cell phone users upgrade to smartphones with Internet access, apartment renters are increasingly finding information through their mobile devices. Though most apartment hunters still browse the web on a desktop, their phones let them access information anywhere and they are making use of this when they are out exploring apartments. Mobile information accessed during the later stages of an apartment search helps prospective renters come to a decision more quickly. This trend means that apartments with mobile optimized websites and those that employ QR codes will be able to more quickly convince renters that they are a good fit.
Have you seen these trends in action? Is there a trend we missed? Let us know what you think here or on our Facebook page!