“In a recent Apartments.com national survey, 48.3% of residents said that their most important search criteria is the cost of rent. This does not mean it is their most important evaluation criteria or that apartment selection is price-driven. This is a common misunderstanding you can’t afford for anyone on your team to have.

What is there to┬ámisunderstand about renters telling us that they want the lowest cost rent? We are, of course, supposed to listen to our customers. However, even more important than listening to what they say is doing what market researchers do – measure behavior rather than intention.

The next time income-qualified prospects beat you up on price, first ask yourself, do renters in my market have an option with lower rent? If so, and they are still looking at your property, then price is not the core issue or they would all choose the cheapest option. Qualified prospects who say price is the bottom line in their evaluation when they know they can rent for less, are really just negotiating. If they are not choosing the lowest price option, then price is not their bottom line. So why do they pay more to rent from you? Isn’t it because they value your amenities, location, or relative safety? Studies of consumer preferences show that we choose to spend more on all kinds of things to get options and extras of perceived value. The core issue with your renters is value – as it is with all people who have their basic needs met.

Since the core issue is value, if you raise it, you can raise occupancy.”