For about a decade the country’s biggest landlords, who together control about a million rental apartments, have been using powerful software tools to set rental rates on new and renewing leases. Patterned after the technology used to price airline tickets and hotel rooms, the software weighs competitors’ rental rates, market conditions, seasonal trends and hundreds of other variables to recommend the highest feasible rent for each apartment at a given time.
The technology can benefit residents as well. Just as travelers can lower their airline fare by flying at off times, residents can often lock in lower monthly rents by agreeing to lease terms that help apartment owners avoid downtime or fill less popular units. Revenue management software can generate options for renters by varying rental rates, start dates and numbers of months on the lease — and still hit a landlord’s revenue target.