On Wednesday, March 3rd, Luxury Living Chicago Realty hosted a virtual conference. CEO Aaron Galvin, Director of Leasing Strategy Mark Ziemke and Director of Residential Rentals Tristen Heiman shared industry insights with the over 300 attendees that joined live. In addition, the event featured a View From the Trenches panel with Hines’ Will Renner, Related Midwests’ Tricia Van Horn and Fifield’s Jon Schneider, moderated by Aaron Galvin.
Fifield’s Jon Scheider and Related Tricia Van Horn noted that their teams focused on creating digital asset for each of their properties when Chicago shut down last year.
These videos and photos helped them lease remotely, and they see continued value and use for these assets.
Scheider noted that pricing software didn’t handle instability and changes in the market well, which prompted Fifield to stop using it and take over pricing manually.
Van Horn shared how Related Midwest was monitoring resident sentiment and making decisions based on changing sentiment and marketing conditions.
Galvin noted that LLCR’s leasing team needed and received new training for selling apartments virtually in more of a B2B way versus in person.
In regards to pivoting amenities virtual, Schnieder shared how Fifield did not cut programming budgets and focused on offering virtual resident events to continue to build community at their properties.
Renner shared that being able to build a strong sense of community, empathy and respect at a building is not easy to do and relies on the people that work at each property. He was pleased with how their on-site teams were able to navigate a tough year and build rapport with residents.
Scheider also noted the importance of quality on-site teams being able to have tough conversations with residents about closed amenity spaces and new safety protocols to create a safe environment.
All of the panelists shared a need for increased communication with residents during the pandemic.
Even in a soft market, Renner saw residents continuing to be interested in ultra-luxury units such as at Wolf Point East. In January and February, he thought Wolf Point East would break records for Hines, but then the pandemic hit. Even through the pandemic, Wolf Point East and other Hines’ properties saw strong interest. Renner also predicts unit sizes will only continue to increase.
Schneider experienced similar strong interest in Fifield’s new developments in Chicago’s neighborhoods. For example, Logan, a new development in Logan Square, is now 90% leased. He credits having the right product, in the right location to 2020’s success.
Schnieder noted large communal working areas such as large conference tables or rooms are not ideal for residents and also not an optimal use of space at a building. Fifield is exploring additional private rooms for residents to work and take meetings from. For units, they are also ensuring floor plans accommodate a desk and have work from home space.
Renner shared that COVID has accelerated some trends and that Wolf Point West is getting a refresh with work from home in mind.
Van Horn shared how their properties with proximity to natural amenities such as Lake Michigan and parks saw increased interest in addition to residents upgrading to larger units within the same property.
Bringing the outdoors inside from natural light to plants to color palette to air quality is important for Related’s developments and existing properties and a trend Van Horn thinks is less obvious, but important for multifamily success.
Thank you to everyone that participated in and attended the Chicago Luxury Apartment Market Update.
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