A focus on enhancing customer experience at its Red Deer residential rental properties has led to a large growth in occupancy for Avenue Living Communities.
Kal Chary, Regional Vice President for Avenue Living, mentions that just a few years ago upon acquisition, occupancy in several Red Deer properties was sitting in the 60 per cent range. After Avenue Living took over management, and strategically focused on the current and prospective tenants’ needs, occupancy now sits above 90 per cent.
“When we took these buildings over, there was a need to improve the overall community experience,” said Kal. “This was recognized through continued interactions with our residents. As a team, we were determined to change that. We have seen tremendous improvement – at least 25 per cent in the past few years.”
“One key reason occupancy is high is because we run our processes in a very simple format. We try not to complicate the process, with respect to everyone’s roles. Our customer service is of the utmost importance. If anything goes wrong, we’re all there to address and remedy it right away,” added Kal. “The primary goal is to make sure our residents are satisfied with their Avenue Living experience.”
In addition to a focus on lease renewals, the company has also built a strong team to attract new residents.
“Everyone on the leasing team are locals from Red Deer, some of them have been living here since their childhood. They understand the city very well. They understand the demographics. They understand the people,” said Kal.
One initiative Avenue Living launched was a zero-tolerance policy for residents, ensuring its properties were safe and reliable, and more attractive for existing residents to renew and for potential new residents to lease.
The company’s Red Deer portfolio includes 17 properties with 444 residential rental units. Out of the 17 properties, there are six townhouses and 11 apartment buildings. Of those 11 buildings, 10 are located downtown.
Avenue Living purchased its first building in Red Deer with 48 units in March of 2018 and acquired the balance of its current portfolio over the following three-month period. At that time, there was low occupancy in the properties and there were also some ‘problem’ residents. Some properties had occupancy as low as 30 per cent. Now, those properties are almost entirely leased.
“We have prospective tenants looking to reserve units in these properties so that if someone moves out, we can reach out right away to those who have reserved them,” said Kal. These properties are highly sought after in the Red Deer market, as they are ideal for families and provide desired amenities.
Although Avenue Living has not purchased any properties in Red Deer for the past two years, it continues to pursue investment opportunities in the central Alberta city. As the economy has been slower in the past few years, more people are looking for affordable, quality residential rental units.
Kal explained that Red Deer provides Avenue Living with a good opportunity to build its portfolio to meet the workforce housing requirements in the city.