Three Features Every Student Housing Web Site Must Have

 

The demand for technology and web-based services in Student Housing is rampant. Here are three tools that no student housing web site should be without:

Online Leasing with eSignature
This is the digital age, and today’s students are well versed in technology and want instant gratification. Trips to the leasing office and paperwork are quickly becoming a thing of the past. In order to meet the expectations of your renters (and quite frankly get more leases with less effort), you need a complete online leasing process with eSignature available on your web site. This allows students and their parents to complete an application, get screened, and sign all documents electronically – a great benefit for out-of-state/international students. And you? You can expect to improve your pre-lease numbers by up to 50%, without the need for additional staff resources.

Roommate Matching
Forget note cards and meet-n-greets. Students want to control their own roommate destiny in a familiar format. This can easily be done through a roommate matching web application. These tools are similar to Facebook or LinkedIn, where students can create a profile and browse others for common interests. Students extend invitations to live together, and create the living scenario to best fit their needs. Your residents will be satisfied and your staff will have less conflict and turnover to deal with.

Electronic Payments
Collecting rent and fees is normally a challenge, but in student housing, it’s even more complex. Mom and dad are often footing the bill and are many miles away. You need to provide a convenient electronic payments platform through your web site where both students and parents can securely pay for rent, utilities, and other fees. Students no longer have to remember to deliver checks, and you can save your staff up to 16 hours every month and increase your overall collections – everyone wins!

As we approach the 2011-2012 school year, weigh the expectations of your renters, along with your operational needs, and consider web-based solutions such as these to help you achieve success in both arenas.

 



2 responses to “Three Features Every Student Housing Web Site Must Have”

  1. As a student housing developer, owner, and manager I found this interesting. Here’s my take:

    1)online leasing – while I do agree the less paperwork the better (all our leases are scanned and saved on jump drives) I have to disagree with the premise that an online leasing process is the way to go. Not that the idea isn’t good because I think it’s a great idea and pray for the day this becomes standard operating procedure. As lessors we want the lease signed then and there, once we get the prospective residents in the office it is much easier to get the lease signed than to tell them to go home and do it online. Most students don’t understand time is of the essensce and will put it off for days/weeks while you wonder if they’re signing up or not. Then rather than having them in the office taking care of all paperwork in one setting you’re forced to constantly be reminding them via email, text, phone calls, etc to hop online and complete the application and/or lease.

    2)Totally agree. Many students are doing this already by themselves via facebook, twitter, etc. And if an application can be created on the company’s website to help drive traffic there then even better

    3)No doubt about this one. How many times have I heard “I’ll tell my mom/dad to send the rent in” – also, many times our out of state parents are asking for this service before the lease even begins. Many prefer to simply be set up on a monthly billing plan via ach, credit card, etc

    Great article, keep the student housing stuff coming!

  2. Thank you so much for your feedback. I completely agree that as a lessor you want your documents signed immediately and you raise a good point about executing a signed lease if the prospective student is in the office. I think the idea of online leasing doesn’t necessarily replace leases signed in office, but rather it cost-effectively extends your ability to lease beyond the office to out-of-state students (vs. relying on US Mail or Fed Ex to sign/exchange lease documents), and it can also help with securing leases outside of normal office hours – if a student is on your website and going through the leasing process at 11:00 p.m. – they really want to live there! With the ability to collect leases at any time of day you can free up some staff time and even reallocate resources if needed. Here’s a link to a video where the EVP of Operations at Campus Habitat talks about his experience:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/RealPageMedia#p/u/47/NfdxrKvsjL0

    We really enjoy engaging in conversations about the student market, what are some other areas of interest you’d like to see covered?

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