7 Moving Incentives Apartments and Realtors Use That Actually Work

7 Moving Incentives Apartments and Realtors Use That Actually Work

renters discussing moving incentives with realtor

Updated 6/23/23

Renting and buying a home have changed significantly since the pandemic of 2020. Renters are less willing to put up with apartments that they find do not meet their standards, even in small ways. This is good for the renter, and not great for realtors and landlords. Especially as housing becomes increasingly difficult to find and afford. That’s why realtors are beginning to use moving incentives to promote their living spaces. The common modern idea is prioritizing people and their lives as a top priority.

Providing apartment and realtor incentives is a sure way to do that! Moving 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.

Moving Incentives Apartments and Realtors Use That Actually Work Graphic

Free Essentials That Help Renters

Moving into a new place is both an exciting and stressful time. Over the beginning of the decade, our understanding of what people need has deepened and expanded when considering a dynamic variety of financial situations.

There are many 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 process matters. Apartment complexes and realtors need to show that they prioritize the well-being 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. This shift in focus will draw the attention of prospective tenants and aid them in their move and future standard of living.

1. A First Month, Free Rent Apartment

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, these apartment complexes began offering beneficial concessions, such as free rent for the first month of the lease.

The benefits of offering a month of free rent include easy marketing, increased renewal rates, and more potential income.

Offering a “first month, free rent” apartment 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 “first month, free rent” apartment is losing a month of revenue. 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. This would require landlords to do some more vetting than they initially planned.

According to rental listings on Zillow, free rent has become the top moving incentive for landlords. From February 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 decreased by 5.9%.

In New York, many landlords offered 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 days are picked back up with us returning to a faster pace of living, rental spaces across the country still offered the “first month, free rent” apartment to accommodate their tenants.

2. Moving Incentives On Fees

Waiving the security deposit, as well as reimbursing moving costs, are other options that cut expenses and allow 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 moving incentive to consider is including the utility bill in the rent. Not only is it enticing to not have another bill, but it also makes your possibly higher rent look much more reasonable than some of your competitors.

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.

To realtors, 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.

3. Discounts On Rent

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 you need to set up a new home.

Discounts on rent are a fantastic way to get people to pay attention to the features that you’re offering and create an enticing moving incentive at the same time. 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 on rent are still great, and everybody wins.

Unlike the “first month, free rent” apartment deal, discounts on rent allow you to lessen revenue loss or avoid it entirely. It also allows rent prices to raise at a more acceptable rate when a lease is renewed or when the market demands it.

Moving Incentives 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 on rent 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 on rent to government personnel, teachers, healthcare workers, or seniors.

4. Referrals Program As A Moving Incentive

Graph illustrating what factors influence purchasing power

People will talk about new places that they would like to live. 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, encourage them to tell their friends. They could refer other potential renters to the apartment complex for a discount on rent for one month. 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 be helpful for apartment complexes that are new in the area to fill those vacancies. Close those deals, and get those leases signed!

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5. Partner With Local Organizations

What do new homeowners 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 regularly. 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.

You can also offer events where you partner with local restaurants for holidays. This would essentially be a catering event. People love free food and it creates a positive experience associated with your apartment complex.

6. 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 on rent or other services 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.

7. Move For Free!

As we all know, moving is hard work! With the business of packing and moving, it would help renters not to have an overload of upfront expenses. Some realtors and apartment complexes partner with moving companies to incentivize residents to move in.

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. Having a team of movers is a great way to jump-start a positive relationship as well.

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 home or apartment.

Now You Know The Best Moving Incentives

Now that you are aware of some of the best moving incentives that truly work, you’ll be able to make moving a breeze. Be sure to check what benefits you can receive before or while touring. Best of luck!

Graphic listing moving incentives


How can I find out if the place I’m looking at renting has moving incentives?

Ideally, the landlord or realtor would promote them in the listing. However, you could also check the apartment complex’s website. And if you’re still unsure, you can always call and ask about potential “first month, free rent” apartment deals or discounts on rent.

Can I discuss possible incentives with my landlord?

Absolutely! The worst they say is no. There’s no harm in asking, especially if you bring up things like utilities not being included or issues that the building may have.

Nicole Ting is an engineer and a freelance writer based in Houston. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering and a Certificate in Creative Writing. You can find her writing poetry in a local coffee shop on Saturdays.

Maura De Cicco attends the University of Iowa as a Journalism and Anthropology student. She plans to pursue a strategic communications track when it comes to writing, and an archaeology track when it comes to Anthropology.