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I truly agree with this post. If you are looking to invest in real estate but don't know how to anal...

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Open ended questions are helpful tools leading up to a close. Which of the following is an open ended question?

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Posted by on in Apartment Investment
While both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still the big dogs in multifamily lending, their biggest competitors have begun doing what they must to win over new market share–and with everyone from the House of Representatives to the President of the United States looking to phase out Fannie and Freddie all together, it looks like the competition is heating up as the local banks have begun chomping at old Fannie and Freddie’s heels.  After the market crashed, accessing capital via traditional lenders and banks was nearly impossible and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were there to lend for multifamily. Unfortunately, in recent years, the amount of multifamily financing available has been stretched thin because of the increase in competition. How is the impact is being felt? In 2014, Fannie Mae’s overall multifamily lending business has totaled a mere $6 billion or less than half the $13.6 billion in multifamily loans they did during this same time last year. Aside from lowering interest rates, this drop-off in volume has had a surprising side effect in that there are fewer loans to turn into bonds. Which translates into potential bond investors being forced to compete for a limited supply of bonds, paying more, and reducing their overall yields by more than 20 basis points just in the last eight months. Is phasing out Fannie and Freddie the solution? As a result of the collapse of the mortgage market, many feel that replacing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is a necessity, but, according to an article...

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
I’m not married. So, when my married co-workers talk about their funny little marriage stories, I’m always curious to get that peek into married life. Sometimes the stories are unsettling, sometimes they’re hilarious, and sometimes I can apply them to the multifamily industry. This happens to be one of those lucky times. “Tell me again about the time your father-in-law critiqued your yard,” I requested of my co-worker this morning. “My father-in-law critiquing my yard? Which time?” He responded. This was going to be good. “The most recent time was last Friday. He stopped by and just started walking around the yard. He mentioned that our flower pots were looking a little sunburned and asked if we’d been watering them daily like he told us to do.” At this point he slowly shook his head, sighed, and did a poor job of holding back his frustration. “He said ‘You guys need to be weeding a lot more than you are.’ We have three kids under five including a 17 month old girl and they’re all very very active. We don’t have time to weed.” At this point another co-worker chimed in and said, in her dry way “She’s already walking. It’s time to show her the value of hard work and the difference between a flower and a weed.” Curb appeal is a real thing; a book is, in fact, judged by its cover (which is why romance novels always pick those ridiculously attractive models). For all you single people out...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Every person you encounter in life is vastly different and possesses varying motivations. However, did you know that each individual can be divided into four specific personality categories? It’s called the BOLT System, created by Charles J. Clarke III. This system is a selling technique that can help you lease more effectively and obtain more residents.   BOLT stands for bulls, owls, lambs, and tigers. Each of these animals represents a particular personality type that people can have. Learning to identify these personalities can not only help you have a more positive experience with your residents, but also can assist you with getting the leasing results you want.   Bull Straightforward Seeks control of the situation Owl Detail-oriented and analytical Asks a lot of questions Lamb People pleaser and caregiver Avoids conflict Tiger Positive and fun Expressive and energetic   The key to selling and leasing is engaging in a way that makes people feel understood. They want to know you recognize their needs and that you’re there to fulfill them. Because people are inherently different, a tailored approach is needed to accommodate an individual’s contrasting desires.   Senior Leasing and Sales Consultant for Berkshire Communities, Erin Vickrey, uses the BOLT System in her every day dealings with prospects.   “To me, selling and leasing are interchangeable terms,” Vickrey said. “This selling method applies directly to leasing because we are trying to sell a lifestyle through our product. It {The BOLT System} helps me to identify the needs of my customer and...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
There are many important factors to keep in mind when you are creating ads for your community, regardless of the advertising medium itself. An effective message takes into account several things – clear and concise copy, a call to action, good visuals, and more – but the apartment photography that you select to showcase your community is key when vying for the attention of today’s renter.   So, what’s the big deal with photos? Today’s consumer is highly visual. They have limited time, and with a Word of Eye mentality, they can browse photos to quickly gather information. Great apartment photography allows your prospects to begin building a story, where they start by imagining themselves living at your community. Knowing this, it is of the utmost importance that you capture their attention through your visuals – ensuring that your community, and not your competitor’s, is the scene for that story.   Let’s take a look at how you can optimize the photos you use for your community advertisements.   What should be in your photos:   Serious apartment shoppers look to photos to learn more about your community and to determine whether or not it will be the right fit for them. Your photos are an extension of your advertisement and should show off the features and benefits of your community. Think about what sets your community apart from others and capture that in your photos. If your community has a pool or a dog park, make sure you have photos available for...

Posted by on in Multifamily Training and Career Development
As young children we're taught not to pay attention to what others are saying about us, to not care. It's good advice in many scenarios. Be yourself and don't worry about what anyone else thinks about you. But while this may be good advice and it may work at an individual level, it may also hurt or kill a company. I love where I work for many reasons. One big reason right now is that there is a big emphasis, from the top down, to find out what our clients are saying about us.  We, of course, have several ways for clients to provide feedback, but historically the volume of helpful feedback that we get has been low.  With my focus primarily being an advocate for quality and for the customer, I am highly interested and motivated to know what our clients think.  If a colleague were to ask them about us, would they tell them they LOVE us or would they tell them to run for the hills?  In my last post I talked about quality at a high level, and this time I wanted to address one of the lower level points I mentioned, which was "Get Your Bearings." I have taken a very pro-active role in our company when it comes to getting our bearings.  A lot of effort has gone into asking our clients to rate the likelihood that they would recommend us and then even more importantly to find out the big reason(s) behind the ratings.  This has involved reaching out to hundreds of clients and asking some simple questions: Why did you...

Posted by on in Construction and Development
PVC is one of today's most widely used building materials. In fact, a study prepared for the American Chemistry Council found that consumers used over 6.4 million metric tons of PVC across the United States and Canada in 2007. Nearly half of that – 48 percent – was used for plumbing in both commercial and residential settings. What makes PVC the popular choice for both new piping installations and repairs? Many property managers find that PVC plumbing provides huge economic and safety advantages. Even in a large multi-family community, PVC piping is durable, long-lasting and easy to maintain. Reducing Costs with PVC In the same study, researchers noted that consumers in the United States and Canada saved more than $20 billion dollars by using PVC for new construction or to replace existing fixtures. Nearly 46 percent of those savings came from the use of PVC piping and fittings. Property managers can take advantage of these savings in two ways: ·       Reduced installation costs. ·       Reduced maintenance and repair costs. The lowered costs make PVC a very attractive option for multi-family complexes. It enables the property manager to lower rental unit costs. In the event of a plumbing failure, residents won't be inconvenienced by long repair times. How Does PVC Reduce Installation Costs? If you're building a new structure, PVC will cut labor costs. Small diameter piping is easy to cut with hand tools, while large PVC pipes are quickly cut with an inexpensive saw. Joining pipes and fittings is simple with a chemical...

Posted by on in Construction and Development
Is all the new construction we're seeing in the multifamily industry really helping the economy as much as we think? Could all the focused efforts on building multifamily units actually be taking away from the single family market's recovery and, in turn, hurt the overall job market in the U.S.? Some people are beginning to think so. Maury Harris, Chief US Economist and Managing Director of UBS Securities, told Fox Business, “Building a new single-family home adds more to the economy than the recent alternatives of building apartments or remodeling.” Harris goes on to explain that the lag in single-family construction and the boom in multifamily apartment construction has been driven by Americans' preference to rent as opposed to buy which, in the long run, has larger implications for the U.S. Economy than we think. It seems that, statistically, for every single-family house that gets built, the job market adds approximately 3 jobs and, when compared to the construction of a multifamily unit, that is about 2.5 times the total jobs an apartment unit creates. Over the long haul, some feel these numbers might add up to a lot of missed opportunities and Harris urges that the “job formation associated with likely home and apartment building this year is not trivial.” Job Multiplier statistics gathered by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) show that in 2013, single-family construction had 618,000 starts and created 1,806,000 jobs whereas multifamily construction had 307,000 starts and created only 347,000 jobs for a total of 2,153,000 jobs created. In 2014,...

Posted by on in Property Management
“If only there was more time in the day!” Do you ever find yourself saying some variation of that statement? You’re definitely not alone. Time is a precious, limited resource…especially during budget season, when your to-do list seems to be endless. Unfortunately, there’s no way to add more hours to your day. But there are a few simple dos and don’ts for better managing the time you do have. Do: Get OrganizedDo you dive right into emails and voicemails first thing in the morning? Resist that temptation. Instead, spend the first 20 minutes of your day getting organized. Take a look at your to-do list, determine your priorities and set goals for the day. Then, take a deep breath and dive in! Don’t: Try to Do It All YourselfIf you try to take on everything yourself, you’ll quickly find yourself feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. Instead, ask for help when you need it and delegate tasks, when appropriate, to members of your team. Asking for help allows you to get a new perspective on a project, and it also opens up your time to take on other important tasks. Do: Tackle the Most Difficult Task FirstIf you’ve got a list of tasks a mile long, your instinct might be to knock of the easiest tasks first. Instead, try tackling the toughest task first, when your energy hasn’t been drained from other tasks. That way, you won’t spend the entire day dreading the difficult task, plus, the sense of accomplishment you get from accomplishing a difficult task...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Although we would love every prospect to immediately lease an apartment on the spot, that often doesn't happen.  But even if the prospect is set on leaving out the door, there are still opportunities to maintain control over the buying process, even if they choose to tour other communities! Many people are afraid of letting the prospect leave the property because then they lose control, and to a certain extent, that is completely true.  But there are some strategies we can use to maintain that control, even when the prospect drives away.  One of the most important elements is finding out where they are in their own buying cycle.  Do they have several more properties to check out?  If so, which ones? This blog was actually inspired by a webinar presented by Don Sanders called Leasing Tours To Die For!, and I'm going to share a strategy he talked about, as it was absolutely brilliant.  He told us about a fancy new community that had opened up across the street from one of his properties.  As anyone would be, they were nervous that this sparkling new property would suddenly take away occupancy from theirs.  So he shopped the property and found that the leasing consultant he talked to was absolutely horrible.  She was so bad that she negated all the great things this property had to offer.  So what did he do?  When a prospect came into his community, he would ask if they were going to visit any other properties,...

Posted by on in Multifamily Industry News and Trends
There’s a lot of talk about both benchmarking and Business Intelligence in today’s multifamily industry. The nature of this talk is interesting – not least because it tends to treat both as if they’re the same thing.  It may be useful for us to begin with working definitions for both terms. Business Intelligence (BI) describes any transformation of data into information that supports business analysis.  It enables us to develop insights into the characteristics of our businesses, and – crucially – to measure performance and the things that influence it.  A critical facet of BI is that individual companies choose what intelligence is important to them, and how best to measure it.  Or to use a popular term, a business must “choose its own adventure”. Performance benchmarking, on the other hand, is the business of comparing key indicators on an apples-to-apples basis.  This is an area that the multifamily industry has yet to master.  We measure many things, using the metrics and data sources of our choice.  But none of the data sources that we use provides the level of certainty that we should expect from benchmarks. Imagine a football game where nobody kept the score.  Football is rich with performance indicators that lend themselves to measurement.  We could each come up with our own way of tracking a team’s performance based on the things that are important to us: rushing yards, passing yards, time in possession to name but a few.  You could conceive of a stadium full of spectators,...