How Do Small Building Renters Find Their Apartments?
Traditional word of mouth referrals and Internet searches are most popular among renters seeking small building rentals. But search modes vary with the end purpose of the move.
Overall Search Modes
Apartment renters have a range of options when searching for new digs. While Internet search has become a dominant player thanks to ease of use and the information it provides, referrals remain a powerful currency thanks to the verification and trust built in to a personal lead.
As shown below, based on the American Housing Survey in 2015, the most popular search modes employed by new small building renters (who moved within the previous two years) included ‘Word of Mouth’ (39%). This was followed by the Internet (37%), and to a much smaller extent, ‘Sign Outside Building’ (15%).
While these modes are not mutually exclusive, the data suggests that renters are highly discerning. They combine a variety of sources and modalities to make informed decisions for what ends up being a costly commitment.
In comparison, new large building renters employed similar search modes while also utilizing to a slightly higher degree the services of real estate agents.
Interestingly, large buildings seem to benefit more from personal recommendations compared to Internet searches (10% spread) compared to small buildings (2% spread). This is likely due to the aggressive referral programs in place with existing renters.
Search Modes Vary by the Purpose of Move
While small and large buildings follow similar search mode preferences in the aggregate, the story is more nuanced when examining the purpose behind the move.
As shown below, the Internet is by far the most popular search mode among renters following new jobs or transfers. This data makes sense considering the short time spans, lack of personal networks in new locations, and higher use of real estate agents in large buildings with deeper commissions.
On the other hand, renters who seek to move close to family rely heavily on referrals across apartment building type. This is most likely based on leads from other family members and friends in the neighborhood.
Small building operators can leverage multiple avenues to attract new renters. Strategies to prioritize should include effective referral initiatives and better use of Internet rental listing services.