Judy Blume Didn’t Prepare Me For Adulthood

On Monday night I purchased my first new car. It was a right-of-passage moment straight out of a Judy Blume book. I stood there with the keys in my hand, sobbing as my mother went off on the dealership manager because he did me wrong.

OK, maybe not Judy Blume.

The Spice Girls may have paved the way for girl power in the 90s, but the truth is it’s really intimidating to walk into a car dealership full of men and try to hold your ground. So when you’re misled about APR rates, pressured into picking up the car that very night, frantically calling your parents and wishing you had eaten more than a 4-ounce yogurt all day, well, sometimes you burst into tears.

There are certain milestones in life that people will remember forever. The first time you’re looked down upon for trick-or-treating at the age of 19, the first time you’re forced to take a job selling sandwiches on the streets of Ireland from a cooler strapped to your back, the first time you eat a box of macaroni and cheese too quickly and a noodle shoots out of your nose when you sneeze—you know, those Hallmark moments.  

And then of course there’s buying a new car—not to mention renting that first apartment. A car dealership is a business, and so is an apartment company. At the end of the day, it’s about making money. But making money and taking advantage of people don’t have to go hand-in-hand. It’s up to consumers to read the fine print, but it’s up to companies to be forthcoming.

The best apartment companies out there are the ones that value honesty and integrity—and make a profit, too. If your community is next to a drainage stream, don’t tell me it overlooks the water. If it costs an extra $50 for a second parking pass, don’t wait to tell me that until I’m signing the lease. And if I walk into your leasing office, excited to rent my very first apartment, don’t take advantage of my naivete.

This isn’t to say a prospective resident should get whatever they want or that every advertisement should have the fine print blown up into 72-point type. It just means being candid and hoping that your honesty will go a long way towards the sale—and the company’s image.

After the age of 21, we get so few “big” moments in life. Apartment owners, managers and leasing consultants have the privilege of being a big part of one of those moments. So make sure each prospective resident is able to look back on their experience with your company fondly, and not with a bad taste in their mouth.

Especially if that someone is a blogger.

Has there ever been a time when your honesty with a prospective resident paid off? E-mail your experience to lauren@naahq.org.