Finding an apartment can be a daunting experience. Renters can put tons of time into checking all the possible options and going to showings, while never knowing for sure if they’re getting a fair deal, missing out on amazing amenities or singing on with an absentee landlord.
On the other side, property owners and landlords also face challenges: finding the best way to list their property in a very dynamic marketplace, monitoring those online listings and making themselves available virtually 24/7 via phone, text message and email to schedule and follow-up on showings.
Enter Residential Renters, a local firm that seamlessly connects renters with apartments and helps property owners increase their occupancy rates. The firm offers both renters and property owners in metro Milwaukee the benefit of its market knowledge, customer service and convenient system.
We talked with Residential Renters President Ben Kerpe to learn more about the firm and how they’re making it more efficient for property owners to find qualified tenants and for renters to find the ideal apartment.
How does Residential Renters help prospective renters?
When renters connect with Residential Renters, they are connecting with hyper-local leasing agents who have a considerable amount of market intelligence. Our agents are familiar with the local rental inventory which saves renters a considerable amount of time and hassle. We are non-exclusive and work with many of the most popular management companies, private landlords, and exclusive listings the market has to offer. Providing this unrestricted and unmatched access allows renters to compare and select the “pick-of-the-litter” in a timely and well-informed manner. We also work to build a genuine relationship aimed at meeting the Renter’s needs and wants vs. the traditional “sales” approach.
How does Residential Renters help property management companies or building owners?
It really depends on their objectives. If a property owner or management company is interested in attracting a larger pool of ready, willing, and able renters to reassure best terms and best price, we are a great fit. Our clients benefit from our dominant marketing presence, social media exposure, relocation relationships, proactive representation, market feedback, and a structure that guarantees 100% performance.
Property Management Groups also work with us to supplement their in-house leasing operations without the overhead costs. Not only do they immediately benefit from all of our marketing exposure, we are also taking on calls, following up and keeping showings coming through the doors when management is “off the clock.”
If a property has room for improvement we engage with the objective of eliminating vacancies and increasing quality results.
Most renters want to eliminate the time and hassle of the rental process and prefer working with our team. In a competitive marketplace, property owners and management who have yet open the doors to these efficiencies are at a significant disadvantage and their only options are to reduce rents and/or increase marketing budgets. Neither of which guarantee quality results.
What properties do you work with?
We focus strictly on rental accommodations including single-family homes, duplexes, condos, and apartment buildings throughout the Greater Milwaukee area. Furthermore, we are selective and make peace with the fact that we don’t work with everyone. In order for us to represent a property, we thoroughly evaluate condition, terms, and favorability factors to minimize renter remorse scenarios.
How do you help out-of-town tenants relocating to Milwaukee find apartments?
We have found there’s little support or help for out-0f-towners looking for rental accommodations. Many are unfamiliar with Milwaukee and even more unfamiliar with the rental market. We help bridge that gap and serve as their Milwaukee Welcoming Committee. Regardless of where they are in the world, we connect with renters while we tour homes and apartments using live FaceTime/virtual tours to minimize the chances of renter’s remorse. Our clients have peace of mind that they have a local agent dedicated to helping them find a great place to live.
Apartment vacancies are reportedly near record highs. Do you see that continuing?
With rental appreciation outpacing home value appreciation and the apartment development boom continuing to produce an abundance of new inventory, it will certainly be an interesting and uncharted rental market ahead. Some of the property management groups are already raising rents and pulling their rent concessions off the table. But with so many new options for renters to explore, we feel the properties that will do best will be the ones most accommodating to secure ready, willing, and able renters. If a reasonable win-win deal cannot be negotiated, renters are simply able to apply elsewhere. Then there are those management groups desperately offering two or three free months of rent. With so much competition out there, it will be a survival of the fittest. Those with superior customer service will have lower turnover ratios and vacancy rates.
How does Residential Renters help property owners and managers keep their buildings occupied?
It starts with us maximizing “effective” marketing exposure not only on our website but across many of the new and most popular online social media venues. While renters use a variety of sources to browse for accommodations, we know that the vast majority will discover the rental property with the assistance of a Leasing Agent and the Internet. That is why we combine a powerful combination of hyper-local agent representation and a dominant online presence. With approx. 92% of renters using the Internet as part of their rental search and an ever increasing number of searches being done on mobile and tablet devices, it’s smart to partner with an innovative team that understands how to reach today’s renters with an effective marketing strategy to back it up.
Our agents have an abundance of market intelligence and renters most often want to work with someone that is eager to help them find the right fit. In turn, property owners and managers also value the market insight we have. Although we don’t share or disclose client confidential information, we do share market dynamics in a consultative manner.
Lastly, we supplement the property owners existing rental procedures with unmatched availability. Essentially, we work around the clock providing tours so that building owners, landlords, and managers don’t have to. This ensures no renter is left behind when the phone is off or the doors are closed. Nights, weekends, holidays, we are here to help.
Any risks for a building owner and prospective renter choosing to work with Residential Renters?
For property owners the challenge is to embrace outside help without negatively disrupting their existing procedures. Our goal is to work as a team, yet having outside agents renting more units than the onsite management can create competitive pressure. Ultimately, it’s a great way to conduct split testing and run parallel operations to learn and adapt to best results. By engaging and consulting with onsite management or the landlord to ensure the objective of securing a ready, willing, and able renter is not compromised, we minimize the risk of competitive pressure.
For renters, we simply may not have what they are looking for and the search comes to a dead end. We embrace the notion that we are unbiased and selective. Our agents know that if the criteria doesn’t match what we have available, we either show them ways to conduct effective searches or try to point them in the right direction. This additional support and genuine dedication has led to some really great online reviews!
How did Residential Renters take form?
Years ago when I was moving to Milwaukee to attend UW-Milwaukee, I remember my dad and I heading down to apartment shop. It consisted of relying on the newspaper and driving around calling numbers on yard signs. We had no idea what we were doing, frustrations were high, and no one was answering the phone. We ended up renting the first apartment we toured. Despite overwhelming odors and being outdated by a good 30 years, I made it my home.
While attending college, my friends became building managers for one of the larger East Side property management groups. Through these connections, I quickly learned that I could manage a property as a building manager, receive a rent credit, and help other people find places to rent. They handed me the keys to roughly 5,000 units and said go get ‘em. So I jumped on my moped and became obsessed with the rental market. Shortly after, I began working with Marcus & Millichap where I learned the art of the multi-family investment industry and decided to test my real estate, marketing, and entrepreneurial skills in Silicon Valley. During this transition to San Jose, a few friends in Milwaukee who worked in property management wanted to pick up where I left off and we decided to create what is now known as Residential Renters. Adam Schroeder is now Director of Operations managing the daily operations of the company while I oversee marketing initiatives and investor relations.
What’s next for Residential Renters?
There’s been such a favorable market response to our presence that our business is opening the doors to a whole new realm of opportunity and innovation. Our challenge will be to accommodate increasing demand with an expanding team environment. It’s truly an exciting stage to be a part of and requires the hiring creative people with complementary skillsets to produce a synergistic effect.
We are constantly on the lookout for entrepreneurial mindsets who have a passion for helping people find a great place, thrive in the world of social media and marketing, or simply enjoy team leadership. We are also collaborating with the local universities and colleges to provide internship opportunities for students who want to build upon their skillsets, gain needed work experience, and take a career test drive, all while earning credit depending on eligibility. Various positions include Marketing Associate, Social Media Associate, and Leasing Agent Services.