How to Successfully Manage the Summer Leasing Season
Multifamily real estate tends to be a seasonal business when it comes to volume and operational requirements. The summer season can be the busiest time from a leasing, marketing and management standpoint, according to Elie Rieder, CEO of New York-based Castle Lanterra Properties (CLP). Rieder founded CLP in 2009 and has been a real estate owner, operator and investor since 1998. Directly involved in the acquisition of more than 8,000 multifamily units, Rieder invested across all real estate sectors. CLP and its affiliates have acquired more than $800 million worth of real estate over the last 36 months.
MHN asked Elie Rieder why summer is the “busy season” for this key real estate sector and how to stay on top of it.
MHN: How does your company prepare for the summer leasing season?
Elie-RiederRieder: Because the summer tends to be the high season in the multifamily sector, we make sure that our properties are prepared to receive new prospective tenants and apartment seekers in several ways. First, we try to schedule large maintenance and capital projects at the end of the winter and throughout the spring season to make sure each property is ready to receive a large group of new residents.
We also make sure that all vacant and/or “down” units are brought back to “rent ready” status to allow for immediate move-ins if new tenants so desire. Furthermore, we invest in landscaping in preparation for the spring and summer seasons, as that is the best time of the year to showcase the property at its most beautiful state. Depending on the property and staffing, we may add additional leasing staff on a full- or part-time basis to accommodate the additional leasing traffic.
MHN: You noted that summer is the “high season” in multifamily. What makes the summer season busier than the rest of the year?
Rieder: To begin with, during the summer we see a high volume of new tenants from all across the demographic spectrum. It is the time of year that many families with children move since school is out, students move before or after college, and professionals move to their new job locations as many employers recruit during the summer season. Another point less related to leasing: As a result of the great weather, we tend to have more resident events at our properties in the summer – pool parties, community BBQs, events for children and more.
MHN: What are the “pain” points you face in business during the summer?
Rieder: The main point is keeping up with good management practices during the peak season to make sure our properties continue to perform as well as we expect them to. A large number of move-ins typically means a large number of move-outs as well. Our maintenance staff is very busy during the summer season, making sure every unit is turned around quickly and available for the next resident. Due to summer’s heat, air conditioners are more likely to exhibit problems, so we proactively service and replace them to ensure comfortable living environments for our residents.
MHN: What should be done in terms of exterior maintenance?
Rieder: For those properties with exterior pools, the pool is open during the summer, of course, which requires additional cleaning staff, lifeguards, furniture, and so forth. Residents also tend to spend more time in the communal and outdoor areas, and we make sure to keep them clean, pristine and inviting.
MHN: How do you facilitate the marketing of your properties during this busy time?
Rieder: Most renters today seek new apartments online, and that is where we spend most of our marketing budget. We aim to have an easily accessible online presence with updated websites, current availability information and, in many cases, the ability to actually lease online. We also view both the appearance of our properties and our staff as part of our marketing efforts and endeavor to present a product that ensures that tenants who find our properties choose to sign a lease with us.
MHN: Finally, are you finding that there’s more desperation now than in past years for people to rent quickly when they find something they think is right for them? What kind of demand are you seeing in your markets?
Rieder: We are seeing strength in most rental markets, but tenants today can still be quite discriminating with many communities to choose from. It is important to offer high-quality units, amenities, and customer service in order to attract new residents. That is something that we strive to do across all of our properties.