Why Web Scraping Only Gives You a Few Pieces to the Puzzle
Web scraping has revolutionized data extraction in the multifamily industry, providing an easy way to obtain rent information for certain properties and floor plans. However, it is important to understand the limitations of web scraping and explore ways to overcome them. Scrapers are only able to pull data that website administrators publish. Property websites do not list their occupancy, traffic, new leases signed, total units available, and leased percentage. Websites also only update their rental rates sparingly and do not offer comprehensive pricing for all floor plans. Multifamily fundamentals are changing rapidly right now, occupancies are declining, rents have turned negative and traffic and leasing never reached their expected levels this summer. Out of date data is misleading, especially in volatile markets like today. Relying on web scraping can be helpful, but it does not paint the full picture of a property’s operations and does not accurately represent the current state of the market. Often having limited and inaccurate data that does not paint the full picture of your property’s operations can be more damaging than having no data at all.
Shortcomings of Web Scraping
NER: Web scraping struggles to accurately capture net effective rent figures due to the lack of explicit mention of concessions or incentives on websites. This can lead to incomplete assessments of rental income. Even for properties regularly updating their website, less than 20% of all properties are pushing the rents directly from their revenue management platforms to their websites. This leads to significant inaccuracies in the data posted publicly.
Occupancy Rates: Relying solely on web scraping for occupancy rates will result in stale and inaccurate data. Websites do not publish occupancy rates, therefore extrapolating occupancy based on the units listed on the website is insufficient. Usually, there are more units available and unoccupied than a website lists.
Lease Percentage: Web scraping does not capture lease renewals or units in the process of being leased, providing an incomplete representation of lease percentages.
Property Traffic: Property websites do not post traffic, as this data is used specifically for internal operational purposes. Without traffic, you are missing a key leading indicator that will dictate future performance.
Lease Information: Websites will also not include the number of new leases signed in a given week. Trying to derive this data by comparing changes to the website availability will leave you with incomplete information, as not all changes in a website reflect leases that have been signed. Therefore, scrapers are unable to accurately collect this data.
Benefits of Integrations and API Data Pulling
Accurate and Real-time Data: Integrating with Property Management Software allows for direct access to accurate and up-to-date data. By pulling data through APIs provided by PMS vendors, real estate professionals can ensure reliable and real-time information on NER, occupancy rates, lease percentages, property traffic, and lease data.
Seamless Data Integration: Integrating with PMS provides a seamless connection between various data sources, consolidating information from multiple properties and streamlining data analysis processes. This provides more extensive data than web scraping can offer and reduces the risk of inaccurate or incomplete data.
Enhanced Data Security: Direct data access through APIs and integration ensures secure data transmission and reduces potential vulnerabilities associated with web scraping, such as anti-scraping measures or IP blocking.
Comprehensive Insights: PMS integration allows for a comprehensive view of multifamily data, including lease terms, rental prices, occupancy trends, and property performance metrics. This holistic approach facilitates more informed decision-making and improved strategic planning.
Time and Cost Efficiency: Integrating with PMS and utilizing APIs saves time and resources by automating data collection and reducing reliance on manual web scraping processes. This enables real estate professionals to focus on data analysis and interpretation rather than spending time on data extraction.
Collecting Leading Indicators: Real time data and leading indicators have become vital in today’s day and age. Not just in multifamily but in industries across the board. Traffic and Leases Signed, the two leading indicators in the apartment industry are best collected through direct integration or site team contribution. Knowing and understanding the leading indicators are crucial to managing occupancy and rent growth down the road. Imagine booking a vacation in the Caribbean in September. You may get lucky and dodge a storm, but in all likelihood you will come across a hurricane and you won’t be prepared.
While web scraping has its limitations in extracting accurate multifamily data, integrating with Property Management Software and utilizing APIs offer significant benefits. For these reasons Radix has chosen to collect data using only PMS integrations and direct user input. While this is new and unique to multifamily, other industries including the airline and hotel industries have been using consumer facing data integrations for years, showing the cost and availability of seats and hotel rooms at the click of a button. Travel agents are a thing of the past, and any hotel or airline that displayed the message “call for pricing” would immediately be passed over in favor of its competition offering transparent, real time, and accessible pricing.
By directly accessing data through PMS and APIs, real estate professionals can overcome the shortcomings of web scraping, ensuring accurate, real-time, and comprehensive insights into net effective rent, occupancy rates, lease percentages, website traffic, and lease data. This integration enhances data accuracy, security, and efficiency while enabling informed decision-making and strategic planning in the multifamily industry.