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7 Incentives Apartments and Realtors Use That Actually Work

Renters looking at apartments with their realtor

Did the pandemic throw everything off for you, too? With our lives shifting in big and small ways over 2020 and into 2021, we are figuring out how to adapt to a new, better normal, and that normal includes housing. People need housing, and housing needs people. Prioritizing people and their lives is important as they create new memories within the walls of their homes. Providing apartment and realtor incentives is a sure way to do that! Incentives are a way to meet people’s needs while convincing them to choose what you’re offering. Here are seven incentives for apartment complexes and real estate agents to put into action — to help their communities to get back on their feet, move forward, and thrive in a changing world.

Free essentials that help renters

Moving into a new place is both an exciting and stressful time. Over the past year, our understanding of what people need has deepened and expanded, when considering a dynamic variety of financial situations. There are a lot of things for people to consider when searching for a new place to call home. Homes define so many major parts and moments, so every step of the apartment searching and moving processes matters. It is so important for apartment complexes and realtors to show that they prioritize the wellbeing of people touring apartments.

With a surge in rental vacancies in many major cities, the market has shifted towards renters. That means it’s more important than ever to cater to the needs of renters, to get those leases signed. These features will draw the attention of prospective tenants and aid them in their move and future standard of living.

First month of rent

Rent affordability has been a growing, trending concern among tenants moving in and out of places across the country. Budgets have changed. More than ever, realtors will be looking at rental prices first before diving into property details.

To fill empty buildings in new development projects during the pandemic, these apartment complexes began offering beneficial concessions, such as free rent for the first month of the lease. Benefits of offering a month of free rent include easy marketing, increased renewal rates, and more potential income. Offering free rent is a better long-term choice than lowering rent to encourage lease renewal and keep occupancy high. As the market picks back up, it will be harder to increase rent. A disadvantage of offering a month of free rent is losing a month of rent. You also might end up with renters who sign the lease for the free concessions and may not be able to cover all costs on time in the future.

According to rental listings on Zillow, free rent has become the top concession choice. From Feb 2020 to July 2020, 90.8% of listings in 50 metropolitan areas offered free months of rent, and over 12 months, the national vacancy rate has decreased by 5.9%. In New York, many landlords were offering the first five months on a 25-month lease or the first three months on a 15-month lease for free. Another creative concession is a free storage unit paired with two months of free rent on a 14-month lease. Even as our days are picking back up with us returning to a faster pace of living, rental spaces across the country are still offering the first month of rent for free to accommodate their tenants.


Waiving the security deposit, as well as reimbursing moving costs, are other options that cut expenses and allows people to focus on other moving priorities. Realtors should keep an eye out for concessions like these while browsing the market for potential homes for their clients and picking places to tour. Another attractive option to consider is including the utility bill in the rent. Plus, providing free parking or including parking in the monthly rent total is always a huge perk, especially in a sprawling city or the suburbs — where driving is way more convenient than taking the bus or train.

Stay competitive. Take the time to look at other properties actively renting in the area, to see whether anything needs to be changed or improved. Any improvement made will add value. This will also make it easier to rent the property long-term while keeping the tenant happy and committed.

Discounts are always a bonus

Whether people are shopping for clothes or a house, they love checking the latest holiday deals. Before, during, and after the moving process, there are a lot of expenses that buyers and renters need to account for. That includes furniture, security deposits, moving fees, and other things that you need to set up a new home. Discounts are a fantastic way to get people to pay attention to the features that you’re offering. If you’re the manager of an apartment complex or a real estate agent, everyone understands that you have a business to run. That’s why discounts are still great, and everybody wins.

For students, teachers, and others

Like all the seasonal deals, there are different types of discounts that you can give. Lots of shops and entertainment centers, like retailers and amusement parks, will give student discounts. Many college students rent an apartment or condo close to their campuses, so this would be the perfect chance for realtors and apartment complexes to gain more clients and tenants. One example of a discount that could be offered is 10% off the first month of rent for students that sign a lease. To reach out to different demographics in the area, offer a similar discount to government personnel, teachers, healthcare workers, or seniors.


Purchase decisions based on different information sources

People will talk about new places that they like. If they are interested in moving, they will ask their friends and family members whether they would recommend checking their places out. 93% of respondents in a survey done by Kantar Media say they trust and believe suggestions from friends and family over advertising. If a tenant likes their place, get them to tell their friends. They could refer other potential renters to the apartment complex for a discount on one month of rent. It is more personal when you hear about something from someone you know and trust, and you’re more likely to explore that option. Apartments could also use online reviews as another kind of referral. 88% of people trust recommendations from other users as much as personal recommendations, and reviews help create buzz.

It is well known that word of mouth also drives a realtor’s business. However, even though 86% of clients would use their realtor again and recommend them to others, realtors mentioned that only less than 20% of their clients referred new clients to them. Yet a realtor gets about 75% of their business from those referrals, or word of mouth. That’s a lot! Realtors, a referral incentive would drive more of your clients to recommend you to others, and more referrals lead to more business.

For those referrals, you could offer rewards in a referral program like a parking discount or a gift card for referring a target number of people. A tenant referral program is a great way to encourage word-of-mouth advertising. This would definitely be helpful for apartment complexes that are new in the area to fill those vacancies. Close those deals, and get those leases signed!

Partner with local organizations

What do new home owners need? Cater to those needs. Create and boost interest by offering a sweet deal. You can consider promoting what you have to offer by partnering with local businesses and non-profit organizations. Partner with a business or organization that engages with the community on a regular basis. This could also help get the word out there.

One example of an organization that you can partner with is a local animal shelter. People love their pets! Offer a discount for anyone who adopts. Help shelters adopt their animal residents out to your potential clients and residents. Everyone deserves a home.

Throw in some fun giveaways

People will never say no to free stuff, especially if it’s entertaining! Some apartment complexes are giving away cool, expensive items like gift cards, plasma TVs, or iPads to the people who sign a lease with them. Make it a giveaway that new tenants can enter for the chance to win some amazing items. You can also offer discounts to people who check in on social media during their apartment tours. Be engaging, and have fun with what you are offering to your tenants.

On a more serious note, the Broad Exchange Building offered virtual tours for charity, where they made donations to a COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to help first responders and their families. Find a way to give back to an organization serving the community. This is a kind, creative incentive that allows everyone involved — renters, realtors, and rental spaces — to do their part, big or small.

Move for free!

As we all know, moving is hard work! With the busyness of packing and moving, it would help renters to not have an overload of upfront expenses, easing their stress levels. Some realtors use a slogan paired with a moving-related incentive to encourage people searching for their perfect home to buy or rent with them. Some apartments are partnering with moving companies or paying for the moving truck expenses so that people can move for free. This is a service that can be easily provided by a team of movers like UniMovers.

Despite all the excitement that comes with buying new things that you get to love and enjoy, the reality is that it’s also a tiring process with a lot of heavy lifting. Moving for free aids people financially, and having a team of movers move everything also makes moving day much easier. It takes a literal weight off their chest, and they can catch their breath and pause to take it all in when standing in their new homes.

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