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The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a dramatic migration that is rocking property managers in major cities such as New York. Property managers everywhere need to protect their reputations amid change.

The News

  • StreetEasy reports that the number of apartments available for rent in New York City has climbed to its highest rate in more than a decade, with more than 67,000 units available. And Zillow reports a similar surge in Bay Area vacancy rates.
  • These numbers reflect a broader trend across the United States: people are moving because of COVID-19. According to Pew Research Center, about a fifth of U.S. adults have moved due to COVID-19 or know someone who has.
  • People are leaving cities for safer, less congested locations where the risk of contracting the coronavirus is lower. What’s more, for people who’ve become unemployed in 2020, paying rent in large cities is a nonstarter.

Why the News Matters to Property Managers

  • The migration is creating opportunity and disruption for property management firms. Property managers in cities are scrambling to incent renters to stay, including offering concessions on rent. But property managers in less populated areas have an opportunity to benefit from renters looking in their areas.

What Property Managers Should Do

  • Mind your reputation. Now more than ever, monitor what renters are saying about their experience at your locations, and respond to renters. Be especially mindful of how the pandemic affects renters’ perceptions of you. Our own research shows that renters have mixed reactions. Many praise property managers for offering tools to help them review a location more safely in a virtual format. But property managers have also taken some knocks for not being flexible as renters face financial challenges. Read more in our recently published blog post, “What Do Customers Think of Property Management Firms During COVID-19?
  • Keep Your online presence up to date. It’s especially important to maintain your Google My Business (GMB) listings, which have become your new digital front door. We’re seeing a surge in clicks to call property managers, visit their websites, and ask for driving directions on GMB listings. Is your information accurate? Are you publishing compelling visual content to showcase your locations, and do you capitalize on GMB to publish special offers such as financial incentives?

Soon, we will publish a new report that assesses the state of the property management industry. Our report will rank the leading property management firms during a year of great tumult and change. Watch this space for more detail.