Citi-Urban management utilizes automation to streamline the rental application process

Citi-Urban Management Utilizes Automation to Streamline The Rental Application Process


Summary

The Closing Docs helped Citi-Urban Management by creating a streamlined rental application process. Each step, including the applicant entering their rental application data, receiving the applicant’s income information, transferring the rental application fee directly into their operating account, and importing the rental application into On-Site, is completely automated and hands-free for the property management team.

Using The Closing Docs allows Citi-Urban Management to focus on higher value work without worrying about the nuances in their rental application workflow. In this case, The Closing Docs handles over 100 monthly rental applications completely autonomously.

Results

Reduced the amount of back-and-forth communication time between the management team and the applicant from over two weeks to a matter of minutes.

Simplified the underwriting process by delivering insightful, refined data, reducing the time from rental application to approval by 28%.

Eliminated all instances of applicants who have potential grievances against management due to frustrations with the application process.

The Problem

Citi-Urban Management, a Manhattan property management firm with over 1,000 doors under management, struggled with daily activities due to using property management software with an unsatisfactory rental application workflow. In each step of their workflow, their team was plagued with reasons why a rental application couldn’t proceed to the next step, including:

  1. Omitted, incomplete, or incorrect information
  2. Each rental application includes conducting a background and credit check, which requires the applicant’s SSN. Their previous rental application had no way to ensure that this information was submitted by the applicant
  3. Grouping applicants together required applicants to send invitations to their roommates. There was no way to determine if the invitations were received successfully, adding complexity to a group successfully completing their application
  4. No way to identify if an applicant was a student with no income, which forced applicants to enter employment information (including annual income)

The team resorted to manually performing data entry to move information from one system to another. Specifically, tenant application information was received in one format with incomplete information, and then manually re-entered into a separate system to capture tenant info for lease documents, rent collections and accounting purposes.

The process of screening applicants was also done manually and relied on applicants and staff working together to accurately collect and depict the applicant’s information and income. As a result, the team was spending inordinate amounts of time collecting and sorting information, and then inputting it across systems in order to perform routine standard practices supporting ongoing operations.

Nothing in this cycle screams efficiency, let alone points to any chance at leveraging information to enhance business intelligence. What’s worse, their customers, the tenants, were stuck in this cycle of inefficiency, too.

"Serving the fastest paced, most demanding real estate market in the world is much more difficult when using tools designed to meet someone else’s needs." Spencer Lewin, CIO of Citi-Urban Management

The realty firm had long-ago adopted Yardi to digitize their accounting practices commensurate with operating investment real estate. Along the way, they latched onto a property management layer in On-Site with a goal of leveraging next-generation software benefits that were unavailable with their legacy accounting tool.

After implementing On-Site, they discovered that On-Site’s rental application did not satisfy their needs, leading to pain points and protracted cycles. Tenants would submit a variety of information online in unique and inconsistent formats and the team would be left to decipher what was received. Furthermore, the information fields did not accommodate all of Citi-Urban’s requirements, which meant staff had to correspond with the applicant to capture all of the needed info. Frustrated, Citi-Urban Management’s solution was to manually type in the applicant’s rental application into On-Site, wasting tremendous amounts of time.

Outcome

What if property managers were able to spend their time on high-touch, high-value correspondence with tenants instead of laboring over data entry? The results lead to higher retention rates, shorter vacancy periods, higher-quality tenants and more consistent distributions to their investor clients.

The Closing Docs pushed Citi-Urban Management forward by building an online tenant application that feeds the applicant data directly into On-Site, provides our objective third-party income verification, and automatically transfers application fees directly into their operating account on a rolling basis.

The Closing Docs embedded rental application workflow
Our embedded widget keeps applicants on your website and focused on your brand

As a result, Citi-Urban Management’s team transformed a process that took over two weeks into an automated process that takes a few minutes. The time it took from the applicant receiving their rental application to the property manager's approval was reduced by 28%. Previously, the underwriting process would require careful analysis, complex calculations and cross-examination of photocopied documents against credit reports by individuals with over 20 years of experience. Now, the underwriting process is simple, organized, and demystified.

"The Closing Docs’ ability to understand the rental application process, the pain-points experienced by both end users and management, and deliver a solution that truly satisfies the needs of both has been most impressive." Spencer Lewin, CIO of Citi-Urban Management

Not only is applicant information gathered more easily and consistently, but The Closing Docs also provides a significant upgrade with respect to illustrating whether an applicant has the capacity to pay rent over the long haul. How?

By relying on net income instead of gross income, the income verification report from The Closing Docs illustrates the liquidity of the applicant, accounts for deductions to pay like health care, retirement plans, alimony or other variables not reflected in gross income. Looking at the applicant’s disposable income available to allocate to rent, the property manager now gets a true sense of whether someone can predictably support an ongoing rent obligation. Predictability. Consistency. These are characteristics an investor wants in a tenant occupying their asset.

Leveraging technology to enhance daily activities is a great way to improve team morale as well. It allows for upgrading the skills and abilities of frontline people in ways that maximize relationships with clients. One prominent way to help tenants enjoy a streamlined application and screening process is to normalize how they submit information and to minimize which information they are required to share.

After finding success from streamlining a broken rental application process, Citi-Urban Management’s executive team sees The Closing Docs as a trusted partner capable of anticipating organizational needs and delivering solutions that far exceed expectations.

Better tech makes it easier for property managers to have higher confidence in their decisions regarding applicants. Better tech makes it easier for applicants to know where they stand in the process, and can put them on more solid footing by eliminating guesswork for those conducting tenant screenings. Better tech makes it easier for those managing accounting requirements for investment properties to know the tenants in place are quality, with a demonstrated capacity to pay rent on a long-term basis. The Closing Docs offers the tech solutions you need to run a forward-thinking property management business.

Want to learn how The Closing Docs can help your property management business? Get in contact with us, or try our income verification for free.

Want more free resources to make smart, tenant approval decisions? Subscribe now.