Thursday, December 13, 2007

Renters Pay More For 'Sense of Community'

by Broderick Perkins
© 2007 DeadlineNews.Com

Deadline Newsroom - Silicon Valley apartment renters pay as much as $447 extra a month to get satisfaction from a sense of community.

Westlake Village, CA-based goods and service rater J.D. Power and Associates, earlier this year, conducted it's first Apartment Resident Satisfaction Study and Novato, CA-based checked its database against the findings to discover renters will pay from $37 to $447 above average rents for the right kind of satisfaction.

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J.D. Power took renters' pulses in four communities: Denver, CO; Las Vegas, NV; Orlando, FL; and San Jose, CA to determine what satisfies renters most about large apartment management companies.

The rating company measured apartment resident satisfaction six ways: amenities; condition of unit at move-in; rent/value; safety/security; sense of community; and service staff. Renters also rated management companies in terms of overall satisfaction.

Sense of community was the most important factor in determining satisfaction with apartment management companies, and residents who associated a strong sense of community with their apartment complex were considerably more satisfied than those who did not.

"Satisfying residents isn't necessarily about providing resort-like amenities, but rather about offering a lifestyle and a sense of home that resonates with tenants and creates feelings of pride, connection and identity," said Michael Drago, a senior account manager for real estate and construction studies at J.D. Power.

When renters chose management companies based on overall satisfaction, the top rated companies were also shown to collect rents higher than the market average.

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Rental market monitor RealFacts put a spin on the Power study and checked the rents for two-bedroom/two-bath units offered by top-rated apartment management companies. It then compared those rents against the average rent for the area.

In the San Jose area, renters choose Irvine, CA-based Irvine Company Apartment Communities as the most satisfying management company. It collects an average $2,328 a month in rents for two-bedroom/two-bath units. That's a whopping $447 more than the Metropolitan Statistical Area's (MSA) average rent of $1,881 a month, according to RealFacts.

Most Irvine-managed apartment complexes in the area are clustered in the North Park development in north San Jose between N. 1st Street and Zanker Road and include The Pines, The Redwoods, The Sycamores, The Laurels, The Cypress and The Oaks. The company also manages a complex each in Cupertino (The Hamptons) and Sunnyvale (Cherry Orchard).

RealFacts only checked rents for the top-rated apartment management company in each city. However, in the Power study, other management companies for area apartment communities were also rated higher than the average market rating for overall apartment resident satisfaction.

They were Washington, D.C.-based Avalon Bay Communities with 15 apartment communities in Santa Clara County; San Mateo-based Prometheus Real Estate Group, Inc., with 30 communities; and Woodmont Real Estate Services with 14 communities.

As for the other three cities in the Power study:

• In Las Vegas, top rated Houston, TX-based Camden Property Trust collects average rents of $994, $37 more than the MSA's average of $957. The company does not manage in the San Jose area.

• In Denver, renters were most satisfied with Foster City, CA-based Legacy Partners, which collects an average $1,087 in monthly rents, compared to the $1,029 MSA average -- a $58 difference. The company also manages five communities in Santa Clara County.

• Renters in Orlando gave the nod to Orlando-based ZOM Residential Services which came in with an average $1,101 rent, $110 more than the MSA's $991 average. ZOM doesn't manage properties in Santa Clara County.

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© 2007 DeadlineNews.Com

Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service, and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's new backshop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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