The real estate industry has gone through a rollercoaster in recent months. The last year has been as unpredictable as it has been worrying to many developers. To deal with consumers’ changing attitudes, real estate companies have had to adjust how they interact with clients. A company that’s currently still focused only on making as much profit as possible won’t survive long term in this economy.
So how does a real estate developer reshape their perspective? It all starts with customer experience. Here, nine leaders from Forbes Real Estate Council look at how developers can focus on customer experience over profits to make their business more attractive (and thus resilient) in these uncertain economic times.
1. Always Go The Extra Mile
Customer experience and profit are not mutually exclusive; they are nearly synonymous. If you go the extra mile to satisfy your customers, you will make more customers (and more profit). As far as development goes, focus on the “basics.” These are the things people need to create their own co-living spaces. The list might include spacious sidewalks, big back patios and wide-open lawns. – Michael McMullen, Prominence Homes and Communities
2. Create Warm, Usable Spaces
Create spaces that are actually warm and usable for your tenants. All too often the amenities go unused. Send out surveys to your tenant base asking what they want and why they don’t use what you have. Can you convert a large rec room into a small informal meeting space for those working from home? Serve them—they will feel listened to, they will build friendships and they will renew over and over! – Sarah Sullivan, SuGo Capital LLC
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3. Design Around People’s Needs
In the current society, the key to desirability is creativity and designing around the people’s needs. Once there is a design, the next step would be financial planning to make the project profitable. For example, a place in a mountain area offering a clubhouse with hot tubs and a wine self-serve bar could be an enticing element for a buyer, as well as for renters. – Marco Del Zotto, LIV | Sotheby’s International Realty – Breckenridge CO
4. Leverage The Work-From-Home Trend
I would not ignore what will be a permanent work-from-home trend. For many residents, working from home will be full-time and for others, part-time. Adding amenity spaces with private work-from-home areas equipped with high-speed internet, comfortable chairs and privacy is crucial in today’s “new normal.” – Michael Zaransky, MZ Capital Partners
5. Maximize The Daily Life Of Renters
Community and resident retention go hand in hand. When a resident makes a friend at their apartment building, they are more likely to renew their lease. All development decisions should be rooted in maximizing the daily life of the renter, which will lead to retention and lower vacancy. – Aaron Galvin, Luxury Living Chicago Realty
6. Understand Tenants’ New Behaviors
It’s crucial that you understand the new behaviors of a tenant. Outdoor space and a home office are the new currency when it comes to what people are currently looking for. Investors that understand this will win on their next lease up. – Chris Turcotte, Centum Financial Group
7. Create Spaces That Foster Engagement
Create spaces that allow natural engagement to take place—for example, picking herbs in a common space. There is a real value for the customer in feeling connected organically versus in a way that feels manufactured all the time. Focus more on flexibility in common spaces so you can easily adapt to new trends or needs of the residents. A great customer experience is found in the details. – Debra Wyatte, Cecilian Partners
8. Focus On Build-For-Rent Neighborhoods
Focus on community living. Build-for-rent neighborhoods are rising again to the forefront in popularity among investors, developers and customers, with amplified growth over the last year. These detached single-family rental homes offer newly-built, affordable living options to customers who are increasingly valuing comfortable, spacious living experiences within a community over shared amenities. – Jeff Cline, SVN | SFR Capital Management, LLC
9. Focus On Meeting Safety Standards
Customer experience should meet safety standards which can be improved by appropriate design for co-living spaces. The developers should look at designs that are compliant with social distancing. Profit objectives can also be achieved by driving demand for these compliant spaces. It will also improve the social impact of sharing spaces by improving the community social fabric. – Chander Mishra, Accel Equity Group LLC
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