Slowly but steadily, property management as we know it is changing. Technology has transformed day to day operations, making agencies far more efficient than ever before, allowing property management professionals time on “value add” functions such as better/personal service and renewed care for landlords, tenants and properties under their custodianship.
As well as “back office” operations, the rise of the real estate advertising portals, changed the way rental properties are advertised and the way tenants interact with the ads. Not that long ago, the main advertising channels were the local newspaper, street signs and the agency window! Filling vacancies, was taking longer and it was painful for both property managers and tenants! Today, all ads are placed online on the 2 dominant real estate portals and their apps, which prospective tenants can access and apply for, from any device and any place, in seconds of being submitted.
And just like any other web and mobile site and app, every user’s interaction with the ad, is captured in the form of raw data. This is raw data that properly interpreted, provides useful insights to the few property managers who have the time, energy and know what to look for.
Online Data and Metrics
First of all and before I go any further, I must profess that the concepts I am describing here are as primitive as they come. Widespread use of online and app analytics, has been available for the better part of the last decade. Through out-of-the-box platforms like Google Analytics, mechanisms to capture and report on metrics and data has been mainstream and available for years! A lot of this data and more, is available right now and is made available to property managers but also real estate agents.
Below I have included some of these metrics, which are made available through reports produced daily by the advertising engines:-
- Total Page Views: This metric captures the number of people that visited an ad.
- Property saves: This metric captures the number of visitors that have actually saved the property and are monitoring it.
- Phone, SMS and Email reveals/queries: These metrics tell property managers how many visitors clicked the button to call, SMS or email. They may not have called but they thought about it.
- Saved Inspections: This metric tells the property manager how many prospective tenants have saved the upcoming inspection time in their diary.
- Traffic per day compared to average in suburb: This set of data shows how many people visited the ad each day of the week, and how that compares to traffic on similar properties in the target market.
Others exist but have not been made available at this point in time. The ones I would have REALLY liked to see are Unique Visitors (number of actual human being visiting), Views on the photos, and Time on Page (length of time a visitor stays on the page). These would have made things far more interesting but sadly at this point in time are missing.
Why is data important and how does it help us reduce vacancy periods?
Data is hugely important to us because it enables us to see in real time, the effectiveness of our campaigns which allows us to stay in control and a step ahead of our target market throughout our campaigns. Stats are showing us exactly how our ads perform daily and they are guiding us on whether we need to make changes to our strategy or NOT (which is equally important). They then show us if our changes are hitting the mark OR whether we need to quickly change course. And this is the key: Adjustments to our ads are done quickly, and the feedback is immediate – not at the end of the week at the opening and when you trying to find a tenant quickly EVERY DAY COUNTS.
Furthermore, the insights they provide allow us to have informed and meaningful conversations with our landlords, which they appreciate feel part of the journey as our discussion and strategy setting is based on actual insights (which we make sure to share) rather our “gut feeling” and a “wait and see” approach.
Data and Analytics from the advertising platforms, provide insights that allow us to assess the effectiveness of our campaigns and whether our changes are working. They then allow us to have meaningful conversations with our landlords based on facts rather “gut feeling” and make them feel part of the journey.
In Image 1 below I have included a real life example of a recent campaign of ours which demonstrates how we used data and analytics to set, adjust and monitor the effectiveness of our ad, choosing to not automatically reduce the rent and eventually getting a solid result for our customers.
As one can see on this particular campaign :-
- After the initial excitement (1), traffic to our ad dropped.
- Two separate adjustments (2 and 3) to the copy and photography, increased traffic but the renewed interest was short-lived.
- Instead of reducing the rent (which would have been the natural reaction), in consultation with the landlords, it was decided to “hide” the price (4) instead of reducing it.
- Hiding the price had the required effect (5) – with the traffic increasing on the days that followed – eventually leading to an accepted application (6).
It should be noted that
1. The originally advertised rental price had been in line with comparable properties.
2. Average vacancy period in the area of the property are 3-4 weeks. This campaign was run in October/November when traditionally the rental market slows down and one would have expected the property to remain vacant for longer. This was not the case in this instance.
3. The property is located in an area with a lot of development where tenants always expect discounts. It was almost certain that if we had reduced the price – as we were contemplating, the application would have been even lower. We tested the waters by hiding the price and could immediately see that interest on our ad increased, proving that it was the right strategy!
Live data from ad campaigns, allows us to set, adjust, and constantly monitor the effectiveness of our ads leading to better outcomes.
In this example, data allowed us to see the effect of each adjustment, as opposed to having to wait for the next opening to see who would turn up! Whilst the campaign was run in a slow period, a great tenant was secured within 4 weeks. Furthermore, by choosing to hide the rent and not automatically reducing it, we secured a rent which is higher than we would have otherwise been able to achieve in the current market conditions.
There is no question that data can provide useful insights which can lead to lower vacancy periods and overall better results.
Knowing how many people are seeing the ad daily, is invaluable. Understanding which days of the week the ad attracts the most traffic so that you can make sure your adjustments are made before then, allows you to be a step ahead of the target market. In our experience for example, Monday and Tuesday then Friday are the big traffic days. Because of that, we make sure to share with our landlords the stats from the previous week, the outcome of Saturday’s openings and to have our recommendations for adjustments ready on Monday morning as it enables us to have our changes in place, BEFORE most of the potential tenants come looking.
And whilst it all sounds like a lot of work, the reality is that it isn’t. For us, looking at the campaign stats is how all our days start. We live and die by the stats and are seeing good outcomes.
The secret is to embrace the power of data and take genuine interest in it. Data and analytics will NOT not get a property rented, but I have no doubt that it can help you get better results!
Who we are:
NextGen Property Mgmt (www.nextgenpm.com.au) is a boutique Real Estate licensed agency that specialises in property management. NextGen Property Mgmt does NOT has a sales team unlike most other agencies that specialise in Sales and have Property Management as a side business.
Our area of focus is residential property and we operate in Inner and South West Sydney, as well as St George.
NextGen was created from its infancy to cater for investors as it was founded by investors who quickly realised that in a highly regulated industry like Real Estate – competence, expertise, care and service by property managers varies greatly.
As an investor, you need to have trust for and feel valued by your property manager. You need to know that your property is being looked after with minimal disruption and you are getting maximum return for your investment. At NextGen we understand that because we are investors living busy lives ourselves, so our promise to you is that you will no longer have to worry about your most valued asset because we will make sure to take care of it as if it is our own.
If you want to learn more about us just click here to organise a time for a chat. Or call us on 0414 494 840. We would love to hear from you and to share our story.