Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series.
Apartment vacancy rates are declining and rents are rising even faster. If you want to make more money in your real estate business, it’s a great time to start representing "Gen Rent."
"Many young people, who normally would have struck out on their own from 2008-10, had been doubling up with roommates or moving back into their parents’ homes," said Laurence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR). "However, they’ve been entering the rental market as new households in stronger numbers this year."
As a result, NAR forecasts that vacancies will decline by 0.9 percentage points in the multifamily market over the next year.
If you’re considering expanding your business to meet this rapidly growing market segment that includes rentals and property management, here are three sets of tools that can help you make the transition:
The granddaddy of property management software, Yardi’s products are currently used to manage more than 7 million rental units and 7 billion square feet of office space. Yardi’s systems are used at an enterprise level and are based upon the Yardi Voyager property management software platform.
This is ideal for brokerages and other large property management firms. According to its website, "We provide integrated real estate investment management, accounting and property management software that enables managers and owners to work more efficiently, deliver superior services, cut costs and grow."
RentJuice is a great application that works for individual real estate agents who do not need enterprise-level property management software. RentJuice pulls your listings information directly from most multiple listing services.
RentJuice also updates you daily with leads from your ads, new listings, as well as what is leased or off the market. In fact, if you are a brokerage, you already have a RentJuice account. According to its website: "Every brokerage in the country has a free RentJuice account. All they have to do is log in."
RentJuice also simplifies your marketing process. "Say goodbye to HTML editors and filling out countless forms. Your data and photos are automatically prepopulated and ready to advertise. Our customers are switching from Postlets because they’re tired of factory-made rental ads. Our ads give your agency a more unique and personalized look and feel."
Furthermore, this application integrates with your current property management software, so there is nothing new to buy.
Three of the most powerful features of RentJuice are its website widget, syndication and tracking functions. Rather than having to design a whole new website to accommodate the rental side of your business, you can use the RentJuice website widget and it will sync all the leads from your ads directly to your account.
Currently, RentJuice syndication publishes your rental listings to 25 partner websites. In addition to the syndication, RentJuice Ad Reports provides metrics on your advertising initiatives, allowing you to determine which ads are effective and which ones aren’t.
Imfuna Rent Pro and Imfuna Rent Lite address one of the stickiest aspects of working with Gen Rent: disputes over the deposit and the property condition when the tenant vacates the property. Virtually all landlords collect a security deposit.
The Imfuna Rent Lite app for tenants costs 99 cents, and $1.99 to generate a report. The report allows the tenant to document the exact condition of the property at move-in time as well as when the tenancy terminates. The app allows users to snap pictures using their mobile device and then upload them to the cloud.
Both the landlord and the tenant can then sign off on the condition of the property. The system also provides a time-stamped report of the property’s condition with a side-by-side comparison.
Imfuna Rent Pro costs $1.99 with five free reports and then $9.50 for subsequent reports. The Pro version includes up to 30 minutes of dictation so that real estate professionals can provide a narrative in addition to the photos they take of the property.
In addition to using this app for rentals, it also can be a useful tool for the sales side of the industry. For example, you could use the app to take pictures of your listings as part of your disclosure process. You could also use it when there are inspections on the property to capture exactly what the inspector said as well as providing a photo record.
Finally, you could also use it to document the condition of the property at the time of the walk-through including any items that were supposed to remain behind.
"Gen Rent" represents a major opportunity for agents to serve a growing housing need. Most important, however, most of today’s Gen Rent will ultimately become "Gen Own" when market conditions improve and today’s housing recession is behind us.