7 Tips for Leasing Downtown Chicago Apartments Successfully

December 15, 2014 | By Aaron Galvin
Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Last week I was honored to be the featured guest speaker at BG Staffing’s Property Manager’s Networking Breakfast. This bi-monthly event offers property management and leasing professionals in Chicago the opportunity to network and learn from each other.

I was asked to provide an overview of what’s currently happening in the downtown Chicago multifamily market.

With over 3,000 new downtown Chicago apartments coming to market in 2015, I shared seven tips for how on-site leasing professionals, rental brokers and prospective renters can best work together to ensure everyone is successful in leasing apartments in 2015.

Tip 1: Showing Requests

Being accommodating to showing requests is essential when leasing apartments. Starting the process off on the right foot means finding out when the potential resident would like to come in to tour, not telling them the schedule is booked.

Tours don’t always have to take an hour, especially during peak busy times like on the weekends. Getting potential residents through the door, even if it’s just for 20 minutes, to walk the amenities and see the model apartments results in a positive experience. Interested parties can always come back at a different time to drill down into exact pricing and availability.

Tip 2: Be Welcoming & Enthusiastic

It’s important both the on-site leasing agent and the outside broker be warm, welcoming and professional to each other. Remember a prospective tenant has an established relationship with their broker. They’ve put their trust in the broker to help find them an apartment by sharing their search criteria, budget and other personal information. When they walk into a leasing office of a building, it is their very first time meeting the leasing staff. The way they are greeted is the first impression of their potential new community.

Additionally, leasing staff should express excitement about the building they are selling. Going through the motions, or rushing through a tour does not play well with renters. They will be more likely to rent if they tour with an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and friendly leasing agent.

Tip 3: Don’t Ask About Other Buildings

One of the easiest ways to kill a sale is to ask a prospective renter what else they are seeing.  It makes renters uncomfortable, introduces new variables and puts your property at a disadvantage.

Why bring up other buildings when they are standing in YOUR beautiful building?

Tip 4: Streamline Pricing

While revenue management systems are in place to maximize pricing and vacancies, this way of setting rents is very confusing to the renter. The bottom line is that renters want to know their bottom line so they can rest assured they are getting a good value. They may not be purchasing a home, but renting a downtown Chicago apartment is the most financially significant decision they are making in their lives.

If we can, as an industry, simplify the way we present pricing to the renter, it will make for a much smoother transaction overall.

Tip 5: Manage the Application and Lease Process

Once a renter has decided to apply for an apartment, the application and lease signing process must be efficient and as quick as possible. The longer an application sits unprocessed, the more opportunity a deal has to fall through.

The application process should not fall solely on the property management company either. The outside broker who procured the rental should be accountable for helping move the application process along by securing any necessary documents and checking in on the process. The on-site leasing team has many things on their plate and a good broker should work hard for their clients.

Tip 6: Clear & Concise Procedures for Invoicing & Paying Commissions

A task that falls on a property management company is to pay out the broker commissions. I’m sure if you added it all up, a good portion of a property manager’s time is spent answering brokers questions about when they will be paid.

Providing the protocol for invoicing when a deal closes and setting expectations when commissions will be paid will save everyone time and energy.

Tip 7: Embrace the Industry

Forming close relationships amongst leasing professionals including individual building leasing teams, property managers and brokers creates a tight knit community.  We can learn and grow from each other. The multifamily industry in Chicago is small. You never know when you’ll cross paths again, when you might need help from a colleague, or where your next referral or resident will come from.

Lets work together to ensure a successful 2015!

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