Apartment REIT Sees Benefits of Mobile App

Technology is working well for Home Properties Inc. (NYSE: HME), according to CEO Ed Pettinella, who said the apartment REIT has witnessed an increase in renter traffic after launching a mobile site for renters in March 2012.

 
Pettinella spoke with REIT.com during NAREIT's REITWeek 2012 at the New York Hilton on June 11 and said that the mobile site was launched with a focus on making the rental process easier for prospective renters.
 
"Technology is moving so fast and we're trying to stay up with it," he said. "About 17 percent of our website folks are coming in through the mobile source. Last year it was 9 percent, so it's working."
 
Pettinella said the type of customers the company gets through the mobile site are qualified and interested renters. He added that 30 percent come in to see a specific property.
 
"A 30 percent hit rate, which is what we are getting in this segment, is very strong," he said. 
 
One of the unique things Home Properties is doing with the mobile site is asking prospective renters who log on to the site where they're located and then giving them the Home Property sites that are located in that particular area. Pettinella said it makes the process easier for renters and keeps Home Properties on their mind while apartment shopping.
 
Pettinella said the comapny has increased its acquisition activity over the past two years. While Home Properties usually averages about $240 million a year, Pettinella said the company has done about $840 million in acquisitions in the past two years. 
 
"So, on average, we're doing more. I think the A properties are more difficult to acquire today, with the B properties next and C third," said Pettinella, adding that the company hasn't had any difficulty in finding and acquiring properties.
 
Pettinella also discussed the launch of the market equity offering program and called it a "godsend" to the multifamily sector.