Preparing For Busy Leasing Season – State Of Search January 2021
Patrick Laycock, Senior Manager of Digital Strategy
Our team of strategists spend the majority of their time digging into data. It’s their job and it’s what they live and breathe, every day (even outside of the COVID-19 era). Numbers tell a story that can more effectively guide all of our marketing decisions and now more than ever, it’s imperative we keep a pulse on what’s happening in the apartment industry today. Each month we’re reviewing the ‘State of Search’. How are prospects and apartment renters shifting their priorities? What search terms are they using, and what’s happening with search volume? Are large metropolitan areas seeing a variation in online leasing velocity compared to other markets?
During this critical time, we’ll scrutinize the data, help you make sense of the trends, and more importantly, determine the exact actions you should be taking to maximize your marketing efforts (while being mindful of potential budget constraints).
The State of Search – January 2021:
Numbers continue to show good signs in January. All of our traditional Multifamily search terms are showing positive growth as we leave 2020 in the rear-view mirror. These numbers align with the upcoming heavy leasing season. Typically, online search interest translates to on-site traffic in 45-90 days. This data also aligns with the industry talk that we’re in for a higher-than-normal volume for leasing season this year. As we move into February and beyond, it’s vital that marketers invest in automation and nurturing to prepare.
Apartments for Rent
Our main search term, “apartments for rent,” showed strong growth from December to January. Search volume for this month looks to be about 5% higher than last year at the same time (pre-COVID) which is a very good sign for heavy leasing season.
Multifamily marketers need to act like heavy leasing season starts tomorrow. Laying the infrastructure for a healthy website and digital ecosystem means that you’ll be set up to capitalize on leads and traffic. This translates to investing money in website SEO, and optimizing marketing automation and nurturing tools like lead capture pop-ups, email, and chatbots.
Big City Apartment Searches
Most of the searches involving big cities saw the same drop and recovery associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. However, after the late autumn, when most other terms started to crawl back to typical levels, these big cities continued a slow downward trajectory. In fact, when looking over the last 5 years, big city searches are less plentiful than they were in from 2016 on.
This general decline in the larger markets is echoed in Multi-Housing News. “Millennials were beginning to move to the suburbs even prior to COVID. But the pandemic accelerated the trend, causing rents and occupancies in urban cores to lag. Cities are expected to rebound, but not until vaccine distribution is more widespread and the things that make spending more for an urban apartment return.”
During the pandemic, there were many months where “luxury apartments” lagged behind the trendlines for broader terms like “apartments for rent.” This is not the case currently, as “luxury apartments” looks to be growing right along with the other terms with a 20% bump from December to January.
The good news here is that it reinforces the idea that this coming leasing season will be very strong. Website and on-site traffic typically catch up to the trends after a month or two. Growth in the trend numbers further adds proof to the idea that the leasing season will be strong in 2021.