No one expected that this year would turn the world upside down. There are really no businesses that haven’t been affected by the coronavirus crisis in some way at this point. Whether it’s financial losses or human resources issues, industries have had to make quick decisions to keep their business afloat and try to survive through the crisis. 

The rental property industry is no exception. But luckily, many industry players are adjusting to the new reality and getting some valuable experience along the way.  

Let’s recap on a challenging 2020 and see how it has reshaped the property management industry and modified tenants’ renting preferences:

No surprise that 2020 was tough for the property management industry. Statewide lockdowns, along with a high unemployment rate and eviction moratoriums greatly impacted landlords and tenants alike. But it was also a turning point in the context of transforming the way rental properties are managed and maintained. The most persuasive proof of this phenomenon is the fact that old-school property owners moved their business online and are now utilizing digital communication channels, as well as online payments. 

At the same time, with historically low mortgage rates, real estate investors see single-family homes as a winning investment asset. They’re now paying more attention to rural properties, rather than apartment complexes, because of the great number of tenants who are leaving big cities and looking for more space in the suburbs. That is especially true for remote workers and families, who have learned that quarantining together with small kids in an apartment isn’t an ideal scenario.

Due to money-related reasons and work from home policies, tenants and potential homebuyers are now opting for affordable housing with a home office space and private outdoor area, preferably close to green zones.

22% of U.S. adults moved due to the pandemic

Digital shift 

It looks like everything went digital in 2020. The global digital transformation is probably one of the most distinctive features of the year. And that’s good news. It’s strongly believed that shifting to digital will lead to positive outcomes for the rental property business. The automation of business activities increases productivity and optimizes the time spent on organizational bureaucracy. 

Landlords are taking advantage of online lease documents instead of sticking to traditional ones. The main benefit for them is the ability to make adjustments and customize the clauses by just editing the document. Plus, everyone can easily access it if questions arise.

Related: Online Property Management Software Solutions: 6 Main Things You Can Improve

Along with that, digital payments have become even more popular worldwide. TenantCloud data shows that for 43% of tenants, online payment functionality is the first thing they look for in a property management system. Also, it’s calculated that total transaction value in digital payments amounts to $4,934,741 in 2020.

43% of tenants at first are looking for online payment functionality

Due to virtual tours and digital applications, landlords can make the process of showing off the property and getting leads safer and less time-consuming. It’s likely that video tours of rental properties will remain more popular than in-person showings- even when COVID-related restrictions are removed across states. The same trend will probably happen with cloud-based communication tools, at least in the rental property world. Thanks to digital rental agreements and online payments, face-to-face interactions between tenants and landlords are gradually being substituted with online communication.

Related: How To Start An Online Rental Business: 5 Steps You Need To Do

Renters’ needs and preferences

Based on TenantCloud data, about 29% of TenantCloud tenants have moved to the suburbs this year.

Renters’ needs and preferences
TenantCloud Twitter Poll

Related: 4 Reasons To Find Roommates For Rent: Is It Better Than Living Alone?

Though we may see rent price reductions at this point, housing demand is still high, and it’s likely that rent prices will be skyrocketing in the future. So, don’t miss a chance to invest in more residential properties in 2021 to boost your rental portfolio.