Amid All the Chaos, 2020 Offered Suprising Positives
Typically, these types of year-end recaps feature a cheery look back at significant milestones and benchmarks in the industry. Seeing that “cheery” will seldom be an adjective associated with 2020, some may wonder why we didn’t entirely skip this piece.
But although 2020 was a trying time for virtually everyone, it was not without positives. The multifamily industry deftly adjusted to the bevy of newfound challenges by finding ways to connect with residents and prospects in a socially distant environment. Many associates went above and beyond to assist those facing unprecedented circumstances and the words virtual, Zoom and contactless became a regular part of the industry’s vernacular.
All the while, the resilient apartment sector managed to avoid widespread disaster and continued to prime itself for a promising post-pandemic future. Here’s a look at some of the encouraging developments in an otherwise chaotic 2020:
Many multifamily organizations were in the process of implementing tech when the year began. When the pandemic arrived in March, many of those plans were fast-tracked. Eighteen-month rollouts were condensed to three or four, particularly with solutions such as self-guided tours that had sudden and immediate importance.
Additional tech-based concepts such as contactless building access, remote tours, interactive video chat, advanced package management and do-it-yourself maintenance guided by remote technicians became prominent in the industry. What’s more, many of these concepts have staying power and onsite associates now have advanced knowledge of useful tech platforms. This year’s challenges helped set the blueprint for what’s to come next in the industry’s tech space.
Predictably, rental rates didn’t experience a grand acceleration in 2020. But they didn’t take a nosedive, either. While certain markets might have experienced more significant shifts, nationwide rents remain flat or with a slight uptick according to a variety of industry metrics. This is encouraging as apartment operators work with residents experiencing turbulent times by being flexible on rent-payment dates and forgiving a variety of fees. And while fewer people sought out new homes in 2020, renewal percentages surged as many apartment residents elected to stay put.
From virtual concerts at the community’s pool area, increased pet limits and dedicated channels for community-specific cooking shows and yoga classes, property teams unveiled a variety of different ideas to help homebound residents remain connected. The industry also did a commendable job of supporting its own front-line team members in need, providing support services, emergency assistance and other resources to navigate challenging times. Entrata honored some in October during Entrata Connect, but the sample represented only a small percentage of philanthropic gestures from the industry’s collection of kindhearted and empathetic associates.
The last twelve months have had their share of key developments and acts of compassion, and we would remiss in neglecting to celebrate them. That being said, we’ll also join many of you in eagerness for the calendar to flip. Here’s hoping for great things in 2021!