So that’s what friends are for: the benefit of multifamily leasing agents. A new study found residents with no friends in a community have a 29% chance of renewing a lease—make seven friends, and that jumps to 47%.

Apartment Life, a faith-based non-profit, has the solution: make residents make friends. Apartment Life regional VP Wes Hood didn’t put it so forcefully, but he says there’s a direct and measureable value in creating community in your property. The company’s CARES program—implemented in 60 Houston communities and 300 nationwide—places a team (married couple or two single adults) on site to do just that.

The team gets a rent-free apartment and a budget to do activities. Wes says the decision to renew is often made in the first 30 days of a lease, so the team welcomes new residents, gets a satisfaction rating on move-in, and alerts property management to any concerns. It hosts three community events per month and reaches out to individual residents when needed (think dog walking when someone’s out of town or taking new parents to dinner).

90 days before a resident’s lease is up, the team (Wes calls them resident retention specialists) does another satisfaction survey and asks about plans to renew, again alerting property management if there are concerns. Wes thinks the multifamily industry has bought into the soft side of creating community but needs to be convinced about the hard benefits.

Greystar (above, we found its Stacy Hunt, who’s on Apartment Life’s local advisory board) uses the CARES program in its properties and this month reported that it’s raised its resident retention 6% and increased economic return 500% in the past year.

Total average occupancy at CARES properties is 1.5% higher than non CARES properties, and a Witten Advisors study found that the CARES program reduces annual turnover 8%, adds $138k in annual cash flow, and increases asset value $1.8M. Now if only befriending our cubicle buddies would do the same for our desk.

Reprint from “Real Estate Bisnow – Houston”

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