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June 21, 2024

Prioritizing the Move-In Stage for Long-Term Multifamily Success

Learn how optimizing the move-in stage of the resident lifecycle can boost your multifamily community's online reputation.

AI topic sentiment analysis is a powerful reputation management tool used to analyze data at scale. 

For the multifamily industry, it provides actionable insights into the renter’s journey, allowing communities to uncover objective feedback, improve their practices, and by extension, the resident experience. 

Over the last twelve months, Widewail has compiled the Multifamily Reputation Index, a dataset of 400,000 Google reviews from 150 large, multifamily residential groups, to understand resident review sentiment across the industry.

We’ve analyzed and sorted reviews based on the 49 topics mentioned most frequently by residents throughout four key lifecycle stages: tour, move-in, residency, and renewal. In doing so, we’ve honed in on positive and negative sentiment trends throughout. 

Today, we’ll focus specifically on the move-in lifecycle stage, and how you can take advantage of the unique review opportunities it can present for your community. 


How Move-in Affects Reputation

Multifamily managers are responsible for their resident’s experience 365 days a year, not just during a single sales experience. This is what makes reputation so important to the multifamily industry. 

As the second stage in the resident lifecycle, move-in sets the tone for the resident experience. Residents enter communities with high expectations following the tour stage, eager to begin their new chapter.

As a result, the move-in period serves as a prime opportunity for multifamily managers to solidify good impressions and lay the groundwork for long-term resident satisfaction, and positive feedback generated during the move-in stage holds a lot of power in attracting new residents and enhancing your community's overall reputation. 

If move-in falls short of expectations, it can quickly erode positive sentiment built during the tour stage. Unaddressed maintenance issues, poor communication, or a general lack of attention to detail can leave residents feeling let down and less inclined to renew their lease or share positive reviews.

Conversely, a seamless move-in process fosters a sense of trust and loyalty, encouraging residents to share their positive experiences. 

The Data

Overall, move-in was mentioned in 11.4% of reviews in the Multifamily Reputation Index with an average Google star rating of 3.87. 

This rating is considerably lower than that of the tour lifecycle stage, which averaged 4.18 stars.  

The tour stage naturally generates excitement. Residents are excited to move to a new space and experience a new community.

During the move-in stage, however, the resident is further along in the resident lifecycle and has encountered more opportunities to provide feedback based on their individual experiences.

While the move-in stage may not as naturally elicit positive feedback, it’s a crucial component of the resident lifecycle that deserves attention. The initial impression residents form during the move-in process sets the foundation for their overall satisfaction and whether they choose to renew their lease.

By dedicating time and resources to ensuring a smooth move-in experience, you can identify and address any potential issues before they escalate. This proactive approach not only enhances the resident experience but also demonstrates your commitment to their happiness in the community, which can lead to positive reviews and increased retention rates.

Unit Turnover: Maintenance Drives Negative Reviews

Maintenance is the #1 driver of negative reviews during the move-in stage. It's mentioned in 40.5% of negative reviews, 17.5% above the industry benchmark. 

Residents are highly attuned to maintenance issues when moving into a new space, meaning first impressions are key. 

For instance, “unit condition” mentions increased by 80% in positive move-in reviews and by 50% in negative reviews compared to other lifecycle stages. Similarly, "cleanliness" is mentioned in 15.4% of move-in reviews, 42.3% above the benchmark.

A new tenant will expect their apartment to be in the same condition as the unit they toured or saw pictures of online. Thus, maintenance plays a significant role in determining overall resident satisfaction during move-in.

Communication is Key

Communication is key in determining resident satisfaction during move-in. 

As new residents embark on their journey in a community, effective communication from onsite teams can make all the difference in ensuring a smooth and positive transition.

The data from the Multifamily Reputation Index reveals that there is a heightened sensitivity to communication throughout the Move-in lifecycle stage, as the top drivers of positive reviews are all closely related to it:

  • Onsite teams: Positive reviews during Move-in mention onsite teams 76.4% of the time, 12.2% more when compared to the entire dataset
  • Leasing Process: While the leasing process is mentioned in 26.5% more negative reviews, it’s mentioned in 74.8% more positive reviews
  • Helpfulness: Positive reviews mention helpfulness 28.9% more often. It’s mentioned less than 1% of the time in negative Move-in reviews.

Overall, communication is mentioned in 55.9% more positive move-in reviews and 32.2% more negative reviews. the industry benchmark. 

Overall, effective communication serves as a key differentiator during the move-in stage. 
While negative interactions are inevitable, ensuring that positive interactions outweigh the negatives will help improve your online reputation over time.

Key Takeaways

The move-in stage is a pivotal moment in the resident lifecycle that sets the tone for the entire resident experience.

By prioritizing a smooth and positive move-in process, multifamily communities can lay the foundation for long-term resident satisfaction, increased retention rates, and a strong online reputation.

The data from the Multifamily Reputation Index has revealed key insights into the factors that drive positive and negative reviews during the move-in stage. Effective communication, well-maintained units, and a proactive commitment to addressing resident concerns are all essential for creating a positive move-in experience that exceeds expectations.

To capitalize on the unique opportunities presented by the move-in stage:

  • Ensure clear and responsive communication from onsite teams throughout the move-in process
  • Thoroughly inspect and address any maintenance issues in units before new residents arrive
  • Actively solicit feedback from residents and address concerns promptly to maintain a positive experience
  • Leverage positive move-in experiences to generate online reviews and showcase the community's commitment to resident satisfaction

Implementing these strategies to prioritize the move-in stage, will improve your community’s online reputation while fostering a culture of resident-centric service that will set you apart. 

To hear more about what residents are talking about and common multifamily review trends, check out our live event webinar series: The Voice of the Resident. Register to watch the full episode and learn how to create more positive experiences for your residents.

Voice of the Resident Virtual Event Series Visual

Nick Ciufo

I am originally from Ludlow, Vermont, and recently moved to the Burlington area. I have a BA in political science from Union College and a background of working at startups in finance and SaaS. In my free time, I enjoy skiing, biking, reading, and being around water—anything from sailing, water-skiing, or just floating! I love music and going to concerts, especially hip-hop and rock & roll.

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