Recently my wife and I had the opportunity to be apartment consumers when we helped our son, Michael, find a student apartment near his campus. I’d lived in a few off-campus apartments when I was in college back in the, ahem, ’80s, so I was more than a little amazed at what student housing had morphed into in the past 25 years. Your own room with a private bath? Granite counter tops? Stainless appliances? Your own washer/dryer? Flat screen TV in the living room? Free wi-fi?
“Good gracious,” I thought to myself, “maybe we should move in and let the kid stay at home.” Sadly, we had to return to reality and let him enjoy the lap of luxury.
We weren’t originally planning on our son living off campus as a freshman, but since the school messed up his housing assignment (a long story for another day) we found ourselves scrambling to find him a place to live just two weeks before school was to start. A couple of Sundays ago my wife and I did an initial visit to whittle down the list of potential places for Michael to live. He had to work so we thought we’d do some leg work and then return the following day after he got off work and have him choose from a couple of pre-screened options.
We were able to whittle down the options to three communities based on the initial research we did online. We made the hour drive about mid-day on Sunday and when we pulled into town we immediately knocked one of the communities off our list because of its distance from campus. We then toured the two other communities and found that we had a pretty clear “winner” based on the tours, but thought we should have Michael tour both communities the next day so he could make up his own mind.
This is where it gets interesting. The next day when we toured the property we weren’t real high on we were given a tour by a different leasing professional. Her tour was far better than the tour we’d received the day before and what had been a pretty clear cut choice became a dead heat. She showed us options that the first leasing pro had neglected; she gave us lots of background on the community and the school; she gave us lots of competitive advantages her property had over its competitors without criticizing the competition in any way; in short she did a phenomenal job of putting her community in the best light. The tour we received at the community we were originally impressed with was given by the same person on both days and she did an excellent job both times, so it was interesting to see what a difference one leasing person made in the process.
In the end Michael opted for the property we originally favored. It was a close call but it was a single amenity, a pet-friendly policy of all things, that made his decision for him. Had he been with us on the initial tours I’m almost certain the choice would have been far easier and the pet-friendly policy wouldn’t have even mattered.
— Posted by Jon Lowder, Executive Director, PTAA