The Multifamily Housing Climate: Tenant Relationships are More Important Now Than Ever

We know how COVID-19 has impacted retail, office space and local and national businesses, but how has it impacted the multifamily housing market? Kevin Carney, President of MacKenzie Multifamily, weighs in on short and long-term trends in the multifamily housing markets, how COVID-19 has impacted these markets and steps property managers can take to uphold tenant relationships during this hard season.


The Short and Long-Term Multifamily Housing Trends

In the past few years, the multifamily housing market has undergone two major trends. The first being an influx of millennial tenants waiting to get married and staying in an apartment while saving for a house, and the second being retirement tenants. Carney says he sees more retirement tenants now than any time in his career. “Many retired couples choose multifamily housing for the full maintenance and amenities that are fully taken care of for them.”

Short-term trends are a result of the sweeping sheltering-in-place initiatives caused by the coronavirus. With everyone staying at home, implementing sanitizing best practices has become of utmost importance.

Pools are open at limited capacity and cleaned every hour. Units are being scrubbed constantly with alcohol-based products. Appointments are required before signing leases to limit the traffic through the leasing office. There are more expenses for multifamily housing units than before.

Despite the Pandemic, Many Are Still In Search of Multifamily Housing

It may seem like a surprising trend that an abundance of people are still looking for housing, but in Carney’s words, “If you have to move, you have to move.” Carney recalls a housing property that MacKenzie Multifamily opened during the middle of the pandemic, and the anxiety that it wasn’t going to do well. “We got a surprising amount of traffic,” Carney says, “people are still moving, they still have to live their lives and make decisions for themselves and their families.”

Carney encourages property managers to adopt a more intensive mindset of communicating to tenants and residents to plan proactively, and to be as understanding as possible regarding the situation. “You don’t want too many people in one spot,” Carney says, “appointments should be made before signing a lease to prevent excessive foot traffic in the leasing offices, and control the amount of people inadvertently in the same space.”

Preserving Positive Relationships is a Must

Carney’s number one focus right now? Prioritizing healthy tenant relationships. “Communication with tenants is more important than ever. With everyone sheltering in place, we are unable to see our families and friends in person and we are just lacking the socialization we need. Their friends are in the same position they are in. Checking in on the tenants frequently is not only creating a better sense of community, but it’s happening naturally because we are social.”

Even with the stimulus checks many residents received as a result of the CARES Act earlier in the year, the sad reality is that many have lost their jobs or are limited to a fractioned version of their pre-COVID careers. Carney says that this means two things: “Of those who may have lost their jobs, they either know they have to move, and in that case we will not hold them to any past delinquency, and write it off as to not hurt credit. We’ll try to fill that spot if we can. The second option is that we’ll try to keep them through the current year, pay down past delinquency, and be understanding of the problems people are struggling with. It’s just the proper way to treat people.”

Contact MacKenzie Multifamily to Continue the Conversation

As we navigate the uncharted waters of COVID-19, the priorities of MacKenzie Multifamily remain the same; to support our local community, because we know local matters and everyone has been affected by COVID-19 in some way, shape or form. To speak to a member of our skilled team, contact us today. To learn more about MacKenzie Multifamily, click here. We are proud to serve the Mid-Atlantic region with offices in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Harford County, Howard County, and Annapolis.