From Leads to Leases: Why Landlords Need to Respond to Inquiries in 3 Hours or Less!

Monday, December 19, 2016

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A few months back, we had the opportunity to speak on a panel at the CFAA Rental Housing Conference with Max Steinman from Landlord Web Solutions discussing apartment marketing and digital content. Max brought up a good point about the lead-to-lease timeframe, saying apartment managers and landlords need to respond to email and telephone inquiries in less than 24 hours. He posited that leasing agents who fail to follow up promptly inevitably lose potential tenants. 


This point is very important; especially in the student housing sector. Students nowadays have high expectations for a quick response and usually have little patience; especially millennials.


But can you blame them? Society has fostered innovation to take the waiting and inconvenience out of practically everything. It’s no surprise that students want an instant reply to their email inquiry, text, voicemail or Facebook message.


A study conducted by Vacation Rental Services found that the average rental inquiry response time was 8.73 hours, which sounds fairly reasonable. However, for student renters, this may not be fast enough. Most students will typically send out multiple inquiries on various properties all at once. The first leasing agent to respond will have the greatest chance to schedule a property viewing appointment.


So what is an ideal timeframe for responding to a student’s rental inquiry?

Responses should be made within 3 hours or less.


To determine the expectations of tenants, we took a look at research done in other rental segments. While there hasn’t been any research done specifically for the student housing industry, there has been a fair amount conducted for the vacation rental by owner segment.


According to, “responding to inquiries within 3 hours increases bookings by 57%.” echoed similar findings by stating that, “owners who respond within the first 3 hours of receiving an inquiry are about 2.5 times more likely to get the booking than those that wait 24 hours or more.” It’s fair to conclude that students would have similar expectations, as they have been raised in a highly technical and fast-paced era.


 J Turner Research surveyed over 11,000 students to determine their expectations on a variety of issues related to student housing. The results to one particular question exhibited that students have a very high expectation for getting a prompt response from their landlord.

If something breaks in your apartment, what is a reasonable amount of time for the community to respond (via email or telephone) to confirm they are aware of the problem and working on a solution?


  • Within 30 minutes – 20%
  • Within 1 hour – 21 %
  • Within 2 hours – 14%
  • Within 4 hours – 10%
  • Within 8 hours – 5%
  • Within 12 hours – 8%
  • Within 24 hours – 17%
  • Within 36 hours – 4%


By using this data, we can determine that roughly 50%+ of students expect a response in less than 2 hours from their apartment manager or landlord. This undoubtedly would translate over to their expectation for response times on rental inquiries.


In order to reply immediately, some community managers and landlords utilize an automated-response message. This is highly effective in assuring the sender that the message has been received, but shouldn’t replace a prompt reply by the person who answers inquiries directly.


In the highly competitive student housing industry, a few hours can be the difference between signing leases and losing potential tenants. It’s recommended that all leasing professionals implement an inquiry response strategy that aims to reply to students immediately or within a few hours. 

SEE ALSO: How To Find Off-Season Tenants For Student Housing

The Team