Waters Edge at Harbison in Columbia, SC is a 204-unit garden-style apartment community acquired by Lloyd Jones in 2016.
The Columbia multifamily market as a whole suffered a challenging period in summer 2017, when one of the area’s largest employers, V.C. Summer, suddenly shut down production of its nuclear power facility. More than 5,000 local jobs were lost virtually overnight.
Nearly three years later, Waters Edge has come back stronger than ever—and even six months into the pandemic is currently pre-leased at 99.02%. Forward-thinking approaches, exceptional customer service and innovative technology have all contributed to the community’s success.
Waters Edge offers flexible deposit options: the standard security deposit, to be refunded at the end of the lease; $125 non-refundable deposit; and for those renters who don’t qualify due to a low credit score or inadequate rental history, Liberty Rent—a provider of rental guarantee contracts—which acts as a guarantor for their first year of rent. “Helping all applicants become paying residents, especially those who need a second chance, has definitely contributed to our high occupancy, despite the financial impact of COVID-19,” said Joei Lemacks, business manager at Waters Edge. “And because we know that building a credit score is one of the most important tools to personal financial health, we also offer RentPlus, a service that reports their rent to credit agencies. We even had one resident who increased her credit score enough to become a homebuyer.”
Other factors that helped Waters Edge gain a competitive edge this year were shifting to self-guided tours almost immediately, and purchasing electrostatic sprayers, which allows for quicker, more complete sanitizing of public areas and amenities. “Implementing these procedures helped give us more time to focus on leasing,” said Joei. “We also added the Knock CRM, a leasing tool that enables our team to respond and follow up on inquiries from prospective residents more quickly.”
Personally connecting with residents, whether at lease renewal time or working through challenging times, is another area where Waters Edge excels. Earlier this year, in anticipation of residents who may be faced with financial struggles due to job loss or furloughs, the staff recorded personal video messages for the residents, asking them to reach out to the office if they expected difficulty in paying their rent. “It was a sincere touch that I think went a long way to let our residents know we genuinely care about them, versus simply sending an email reminder about rent being due,” said Joei.
Waters Edge prides itself on exceptional customer service, which contributes to a high renewal rate among residents. “We have an outstanding team in place at Waters Edge,” said Mandy Doucet, executive vice president of property management for Lloyd Jones, LLC.
“Everything we do reflects the Lloyd Jones core values of Passion, Compassion and Optimism, and it shows in our work, our attitudes, and how we interact with our residents. And it’s putting these principles in action that ultimately benefits our investors.”