How have rental rates been influenced by the pandemic?

In the areas where we operate, predominantly suburban locations, the pandemic’s effect on rental rates has been minimal. We’ve observed consistent and modest increases in rents depending on the specific market. Suburban environments have maintained robust occupancies, and rental values have remained solid. We continue to witness substantial foot traffic in these suburban areas.

Has the work-from-home trend altered your approach to designing and sizing residential units?

What we’ve noticed is that our smaller units are now demanding more space, while the larger units seem to be meeting the requirements adequately. Over the years, we’ve been involved in constructing what’s currently termed as “build-to-rent” units. Although this isn’t a new product for us, it has gained significant attention lately. There’s a rising trend in constructing single-family homes and townhouses for rental purposes. Our portfolio has long included townhouse rental options within larger apartment developments, and we’ve expanded these offerings over time, still actively doing so. We find these options particularly appealing for those seeking less densely populated living spaces while experiencing a house-like environment without the burden of ownership. Moreover, we’re rethinking how people interact with our properties. Electronic interactions have become more prevalent; individuals are more comfortable using digital means compared to a year or two ago. While some aspects like building relationships benefit from in-person contact, for touring units, people prefer video-based walkthroughs or even signing rental agreements electronically. To cater to this shift, we’ve introduced these electronic processes, aligning with industry standards.

Could you elaborate on the changing preferences in how people access your rental properties?

Prospective residents now show greater comfort with digital access to our properties compared to a year or two ago. There’s a decreased necessity for in-person interactions when touring units; instead, video-based tours have gained popularity. Additionally, the ability to rent a unit electronically has become prevalent, a feature we’ve introduced, similar to many of our competitors. While certain aspects still benefit from in-person interactions, the process of exploring and leasing properties has increasingly moved towards online and digital platforms.

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