Automating Weekly Rent Surveys with

Published by
Tim Gamble
June 13, 2023
Automating Weekly Rent Surveys with

Whether you’re a property manager looking to monitor competitor rents, a broker generating an opinion of value, or an appraiser looking for the perfect floorplan comps – doing an accurate rent survey is time-consuming.

To see exactly how long, we timed ourselves while putting together a rent survey for five apartment buildings in downtown Chicago. The requirements were that we had to go to each property website, copy the data from each available floorplan into Excel, calculate average rents for each unit type, then compile a table showing average rents for each comp. Here are the results:

A table showing the time it would have taken to do the rent survey for all comparables, explaining how rentsource makes it 98% faster

It took a grand total of about 48 minutes to create a rent survey for 5 properties. Granted, these are larger properties, and we definitely don’t do rent surveys as often as a property manager would. If we were surveying smaller apartment buildings, they’d have fewer units listed, so less time spent. And I’m sure if we did this every week, we’d get a bit faster at it. Below are some difficulties we encountered in the process:

Different Data Formats

All the property websites had a different format for floorplan data. We couldn’t just copy and paste into Excel the same way for each. In fact, the bulk of the time was spent getting the data into the proper format after it was copied into Excel.

Need to Open Records Individually

For some, like Wolf Point Plaza, some data was easy to copy as a table, but other data was not. To get square footage, we had to click individually into every available unit, copy the data, and move to the next.

Manual Data Entry Errors

Some of the values were concatenated with other values. For example, for One Eleven, the square footage was merged with the unit type when we copied into Excel. Rather than trying to click into each cell, copy the right value, and paste it in another cell, we just keyed in the sqft. But it was very easy to make mistakes while trying to do this fast, and we had to backspace and retype quite a bit.

Conduct Rent Surveys 98% Faster

Based on a quick Google search, the average property manager makes about $60k a year, so around $30/hour. At 48 minutes per rent survey, that’s $24 each time. Not too bad, but most property managers do this once a week to survey the competition and set pricing. If the average property manager does 50 rent surveys per year (let’s assume no one is surveying rents during the holidays), that would be $1,200 per year spent on rent surveys for each property.

Fortunately, we built to eliminate this manual work. As you can see in this video:, all you need to do is enter the addresses you want to survey, run the program, and you get all the data you would have had to survey manually in weekly email. And clearly, doing it manually is very time-consuming... in 1 minute, RentSource completed a rent survey that took 48 minutes to do by hand. That's 98% faster.

Best of all, it runs automatically each week. By delivering critical, aggregated, and up-to-date data right into your inbox every Monday, RentSource saves time, reduces manual entry errors, and provides a competitive edge in the dynamic and demanding real estate market.

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Property managers, investors, brokers and appraisers all use HelloData to analyze multifamily comps, optimize rents, and increase deal flow.

Tim Gamble

Co-Founder & Head of Data Engineering at HelloData. Tim is the driving force behind data structuring and engineering initiatives. His leadership role involves developing AI and computer vision-based products and overseeing the data engineering team responsible for the firm's efficient, time-saving products.

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