Apartment giant Equity Residential says its leasing business is starting to show signs of life.
In its first quarter earnings report, the company said 97 percent of its tenants have been paying their rent through the coronavirus pandemic.
“Under very challenging circumstances, our business continues to be durable,” said Mark J. Parrell, Equity Residential’s president and CEO.
“Our April payment statistics show a financially resilient resident base and while very early, we have not seen anything to suggest that May will be materially different. We are also seeing an improvement in our leasing activity from the very low levels we experienced in late March though most activity remains lower than usual levels.”
As the company’s markets became subject to shelter-in-place orders, traffic, initial leads and apartment applications fell by 50 percent or more compared to the same period of last year.
In April 2020, the company experienced a recovery in demand with traffic, initial leads and applications “meaningfully improving.”
While its residential rent collections remained strong, non-residential operations, which mostly consist of ground floor retail in its apartment buildings and public garage parking, have been more impacted by the pandemic.
The company collected approximately 58 percent, or $3.6 million, of retail cash collections during the month of April 2020 as compared to the month of March 2020, and 67 percent, or $1.3 million, of public garage parking cash collections during the month of April 2020 as compared to the month of March 2020.
As of the end of April 2020 and March 2020, retail tenants owed over $7 million in either deferred or delinquent rent.
Parell said Equity Residential is preparing for the reopening of New York “working diligently to prepare our people and properties to operate safely and as efficiently as possible once restrictions are lifted in our markets.”
“While the employment losses of late will pressure operations in the near term, we expect our properties and markets to remain desirable to our affluent renter demographic and our operations to return to a more normal state over time,” he added.