The Best Gets Better: RealPage Beefing Up Peerless Apartment Industry Data for Smarter Decision Making


As late as 20 years ago, achieving maximum ROI from multifamily properties involved best guesses based on limited apartment industry data. Managers made decisions involving purchases, rehabs and developments, rent and amenity pricing, local supply and demand, wider economic influences and more by tapping into a patchwork of often manually collected data and their personal experience and seasonal trends.

Today the winners in the industry have one thing in common: they rely on deep, accurate, up-to-the-minute data to make decisions. Data made available from multifamily-focused experts who have collected millions of pieces of data over decades and are able to present it in an actionable form.

Among these data experts, RealPage is unchallenged, providing both the most comprehensive data and the property management software tools to fully leverage it.

“We really no longer think of ourselves as only leasing and rents software provider,” says RealPage’s Rich Hughes. “Industry data has become so critical to maximizing ROI that ‘data provider’ or “data analytics’ are usually included in any description you see of who RealPage is these days.”

Improving the data for multifamily

Over the years, RealPage has continually added new apartment data points to the pool of data decision-makers can tap into in order to understand and impact operations along with financial and investment decisions.

This data collection has been possible due to RealPage’s huge reach in multifamily across all asset classes, locations and regions, and RealPage software’s integrations across platforms. This has enabled access to records of millions of actual lease-based transactions instead of less accurate survey data that might include, for example, advertised rents rather than what was agreed to on the bottom line.

RealPage has also invested significantly in a peerless data science, market research and development team whose sole job is to assemble, understand, analyze and perfect analytical models and tools that deliver real value. Their research is often featured in industry webcasts, articles and other venues, and it’s continually feeding the RealPage data discipline and output.

Significant data points that are captured include such things as historical demand, forecasted demand, floorplan exposure, lease terms, cost per lease, renewal expectations and unit amenities.

Apartment reputation matters: ORA™ scores

The latest data point added to enrich the accuracy of RealPage apartment industry data is Online Reputation Assessment (ORA) score, from J Turner Research. A property’s reputation, as measured by online reviews, has a significant impact on asset performance. “Renting an apartment is an expensive, long-term decision, and looking online for reviews is now a standard part of making a rental decision,” explains Hughes.  “What people are saying about a property online has become an influential factor in performance.”

He says the ORA score is the industry standard for measuring online reputation: “This is data from a highly reputable and narrowly specialized third-party source with national reach, so it is the ideal way to fold property reputation into our data.”

In April of 2021, J Turner and RealPage released a report that represented the first solid correlation of reputation with performance. At the time, RealPage’s Rich Hughes had this to say: ““We’re excited to announce the results of the study that demonstrates and validates the relationship between changes in online reputation and revenue performance over the market.  In an environment of limited rent increases and shifting prospect expectations, paired with the need to continue to drive yield and NOI, reputation is now a proven lever to impact asset performance.”

Uncovering ORA’s power

Hughes explains that machine learning can parse the vast and various types of multifamily data and control them against other criteria to determine which ultimately translate to yield. For example, he says, “Analysts intensely look at apartment style, location, nearby competing properties, amenities, crime rates, all of these factors in determining rent levels, forecasting, potential rehabs and purchases and other important decisions.

“The machine learning model tells us which of these factors actually drive performance. And what surprised us was that online reputation, as measured by the ORA score, ranks highly up there with the very important factors that push yield, allowing you to, for example,  proactively charge a rent premium knowing that a comparatively high ORA score will allow you to achieve it, or lower prices if a less-than-stellar reputation is projected to lower your demand. We’re right now folding ORA scores into AI Revenue Management because it’s going to measurably increase accuracy for pricing, retention projections, forecasting and other important operational decision making.”

Hughes uses an automobile metaphor to explain the proactive new role of online reputation in decision making. “You started by looking at reputation in the rear-view mirror: ‘wow, people have been saying good things about us, that’s great, we’re moving in the right direction.’ Now it’s going to be more like the windshield, enabling you to make forward-looking decisions that will impact your NOI. And I see CommunityRewards (resident engagement software) as a sort of steering wheel in the sense that it helps you actually get that ORA score up so it’s going in the direction you want it to.”

Hughes goes on to add: “We provide managers and owners not just data, but also powerful tools they can use to really understand what this data means and to guide them in making decisions that directly affect NOI and asset value . Each new type of data we add to the mix makes these tools more accurate and powerful and gives those using them a real edge over the rest of the market.”

For more information on ORA™ scores click here to learn about their correlation with performance. To find out how you can positively impact your properties’ ORA scores, learn about Community Rewards. And if you’re interested in data analytics decisions, click here to see how it can drive more profitable decisions.

Have a question about our products or services?