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Posted by on in Social Media and Technology
Apartment developer American Land Ventures has capitalized on the popularity of selfie photo booths by including one in the elevator of its community Vu-New River, located in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The “camera” is dubbed The Vu Tube and is built into the video screen that is mounted to elevator cabin wall. There are touchscreen “buttons” on the monitor so that residents and their guests can take candid shots. The image then appears on the screen in a preview pane and the residents have the choice to save or delete it. Images saved are then posted on the community’s social media channels, including the Twitter wall in the lobby. “Our residents love it and it’s a great memory point that we have during our prospect tours,” Jason Robertson, Vice President, Development, American Land Ventures, says. “It will stand out for apartment hunters, especially those who have visited a lot of different properties in one day.” Robertson says the technology was simple and inexpensive. “It was just a matter of programming the software to enable images to be taken and shared,” he says. This blog was originally shared in UNITS magazine published by the National Apartment Association....

Posted by on in Property Management
Hot water conservation is always going to be an issue that landlords face. After all, between showers, heating, cooking, and laundry, every tenant you deal with will be using hot water constantly, especially during those cold winter months. In fact, about 18 percent of an average monthly utility bill goes toward warm water.   Obviously, a decrease in overall hot water use bodes well for a property’s long-term financial health and that of its landlord. In colder seasons, when tenants and appliances may overcompensate by kicking up the temperature, a balance must be struck between comfort and cost efficiency. The key to conservation, then, is understanding what factors go into the cost and use of hot water and making sure your tenants do as well.   Tenants always concern themselves with high bills that materialize from their utility usage. From a landlord’s standpoint, his focus should be on educating tenants so they’re able to make smart choices with their hot water, especially in colder conditions.   How to Winterize Your Hot Water Use   Showers distribute nearly 17 percent of the water in people’s homes. Informing your tenants about the benefits of taking shorter showers and using hot water more sparingly will save both you and your tenant grief in the long run.   The vital factor in hot water conservation is making sure your tenants understand it and apply it — which they will do, provided they understand the ways that doing so benefit them.   There are a number of things you can...

Posted by on in Property Management
Dear Gabby,   I am on the brink of moving somewhere where the weather is warm year-round! Snow might create a pretty winter wonderland, but it’s not as pretty when you need to get rid of it on a regular basis.   I manage a community in an area that’s prone to heavy snowfall every winter. Removing snow seems never-ending! I’m wondering if you can give me some tips for making sure my walkways are always safe this time of year. The last thing I want is for my residents to get snow in their shoes, or even worse, fall and hurt themselves.   #DreamingOfSunshine     Dear #DreamingOfSunshine,   I feel your pain. As that cool winter breeze makes its way in and pushes out the crisp autumn air, only one thought comes to my mind: Winter is coming...and it’s the worst!   Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season. But I could do without the winter weather that comes along with it entirely. For someone like me who wasn’t necessarily gifted with good coordination, winter is my worst enemy. Black ice… UGH, that stuff is always trying to sneak up on me and ruin my day!   Snow is inevitable in many places, so coming up with a plan for snow removal is something multifamily managers need to seriously prepare for well before a storm rolls in. Here are some important things to consider before old man winter shows his face:   Know the Local Laws To...

Posted by on in Multifamily Industry News and Trends
You may think you know smart devices. You talk, you text, you tour life with one hand on your smartphone. Home automation may even be part of your multi-family property’s amenities package. And, perhaps smart locks are even in play. So, you’re privy to new-wave technologies. But are you ready for what’s next? Staying in step with technology means staying 10 steps ahead of life. Today, it’s nothing to connect to the Internet through desktop computers, tablets, phones or other smart devices. Tomorrow, those devices will no longer need you to initiate the connection. Futurists, experts who study current trends in society and technology in order to imagine future possibilities, project that within the coming decade 50 to 100 billion Internet-connected devices will be operating on Earth, and these devices will connect to and share data with one another using automatic sensors rather than your thumbs. Until recently the Internet has been almost completely dependent on people and our inputs for its supply of information. Tomorrow, maybe not. Is your property prepared? This is not a cautionary tale. It’s part of the thrill of living in the age of information. Tools and products inevitably evolve, and as they do they will communicate with one another without the need for human intervention. This is exciting because when groupings of smart devices work in unison, previously unseen patterns and opportunities are revealed. Just think – one day your residents’ smart lock will be powered by energy-efficient LiFi, which uses the visible light portion...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
bull-market.jpg Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen increasing evidence that the historically strong “bull market” in the multifamily industry is at or nearing its end. In January this year, I wrote a post aiming to identify where we likely were in the cycle. I concluded that we were anywhere between the “5th to 8th inning” of the cycle. Recent data from Axiometrics would indicate we’re likely in the 8th inning. Their report showed that U.S. rent growth has slowed to 3% in the third quarter (down from 5.2% a year earlier).  While that still remains above the historical long-term average of about 2%, it’s a trend worth noting, particularly given the steepness of the decline from the peak. The report shows that rent increases have been slowing for four consecutive quarters and key, traditionally strong markets like San Francisco, New York and Houston are seeing negative rent growth. Does this mean we’re heading to a big crash, or just a return to normalcy (rent growth closer to 2%)? The answer is that we’ll have to wait and see. What is clear is that markets are softening, supply continues to increase and we need to be prepared to compete in what will be, at the least, tougher environments than we’ve experienced in more than half a decade.   The more valuable question to focus on is what actions should we take to maintain strength regardless of the greater market? Here are the five things we recommend: Prepare Your Team Given the unusually long...

Posted by on in Student Housing
A quick Google search of student housing news is bound to reveal hundreds of results discussing the amenity-laden luxury student housing that looks more like a vacation resort than student accommodations. On the other hand, trying to find news about other less luxurious forms of student housing is nearly impossible.   No one seems interested in hearing about an average student housing building that has the basics – not a lazy river, lavish fitness facility and infinity pools. Perhaps this lack of interest is why there isn’t a lot of investment in middle-market student housing, which is ripe with opportunity and a highly sought-after type of student accommodation.   While some may assume that luxury student housing is the more profitable sector, in many cases, middle-market student housing has better rental growth and lower vacancy rates. In 2015, Axiometrics found that the rental rate of a student bed grew by 2.2% on average, totaling $617/month. Compare this to older properties built in 1998 where rental rates increased by 4.3% to $542/month and buildings constructed in 2002 with a growth of 4.3% to $491/month.   Axiometrics also identified another subsector that can fall into the category of middle-market student housing – student-competitive properties – which are “…conventional properties that lease by-the-unit, but are located within three miles of a university. These properties aren’t necessarily cheaper, though, as Axiometrics found on average they cost $300 more a month on a per-bed basis for off-campus housing, but this varies from region to region. In some areas, student-competitive properties are priced well beneath purpose-built...

Posted by on in Multifamily Industry News and Trends
As we prepare to flip the calendar to 2017, the new year is accompanied by hints of a softening apartment market. That means you might have to find new ways to differentiate your communities from your comps as leasing season approaches. There are a host of new technology options hitting the market that you’ll need to drive success in the digital world. While some might not fit your particular portfolio or community, others might be just what you need to get a jump on your competition.  Here are a few innovative tech tools that might help: Customer relationship management systems (CRMs). These systems help you create a centralized database of prospective renters and residents. Not only can these systems capture important contact information, they can also help you capture additional data points that provide you the ability to more narrowly define and segment your audience later on. This makes email marketing infinitely easier and more effective as a leasing and retention tool. These systems are also set up to work with sophisticated marketing systems, such as marketing automation. Which leads us to our next tech tool. Marketing automation. This software can help you create scalable and much more strategic marketing campaigns. These systems integrate with CRMs and allow you to create dynamic lists (say goodbye to excel spreadsheets and list uploads!) as well as create triggered events based on how prospective renters or residents engage with your digital content. For example, if you send out a critical notice to residents at...

Posted by on in Multifamily Training and Career Development
Working in the multifamily sector is immensely rewarding. It's also extremely demanding. Community team members juggle a lot: keeping current residents satisfied, screening and engaging prospects, and making sure the apartment community is kept in tip-top shape, to name just a few of their responsibilities. The most successful multifamily companies find ways to consistently recognize their hardworking and high-performing associates. In addition to simply being the right thing to do, rewards are a great way to keep morale high and boost employee retention.  So what are some of the most effective ways to show your best associates some love? Below are some suggestions. Financial bonuses. Keeping associates happy is about more than just compensation. A company's overall work culture and its commitment to employee development are perhaps even more important factors. But let's face it: everyone likes a little extra cash in their pockets, and there is no shortage of reasons for which apartment companies can award some much-appreciated bonuses. At ROSS, for instance, we award $250 gift cards to high-performing leasing associates, as measured by their Telephone Performance Analysis (TPA) scores; these scores reflect how well associates interact with prospects during phone calls. We also give bonuses every quarter to associates who work at communities with strong scores on customer-satisfaction surveys. In addition, we provide bonuses to maintenance workers who perform well, associates who serve as mentors to new employees and associates who reach particular length-of-service milestones with the company. Paid time off.  Today's associates, particularly millennials, place a laudable...

Posted by on in Apartment Investment
Negotiation is simply defined as the act or process of having a discussion in order to reach an agreement. An individual is trying to gain the favor of others in order to achieve something. As a parent, I have become accustomed to my children “negotiating” for one more cookie, or to watch ten more minutes of a television show.   In this article, I would like to define the three essential variables and how you need to employ them in order to become a successful negotiator (get what you want). Read my previous article on How to Successfully Negotiate Your Next Deal for keys and tips on negotiating. Here are the three variables: 1. Power 2. Time 3. Information Power: Power can be defined as the ability to get things done, to exercise control over a situation. It allows you to get from a certain point to an end result. Power does invoke negative connotations, but it all depends upon how it is wielded. To me, power is not the goal. We use power to drive us to the destination. Here are a few sources of power and how to use them: Competition: When there is competition for a product or service, the price will rise. The principle of scarcity is an enormous motivator for those considering the purchase of a product. If people feel there is little competition, the price will inevitably fall. I see this in real estate every day. The price for single-family homes in the New York metro market...

Posted by on in Property Management
Going by Google’s report on consumer behavior, about 97% of consumers now rely on the web in finding local businesses, including property management firms. In real estate alone, 80% of all home buyers and renters are searching online for suitable properties. Evidently, the playground has shifted drastically over the last couples of years, in favor of online based businesses. In the past, firms with extensive local presence had an upper hand over their digital counterparts. But now, with Google getting over 100 billion searches a month, having a property management website has shifted from just an extra business element, to a critical asset. Interestingly, the internet scene is only getting warmed up. While we feel that the internet is almost getting overpopulated by websites, experts indicate that it’s yet to mature. There is still a lot to come, as businesses and individuals continue leveraging the internet on different levels to not only improve their operations, but also take advantage of the ever-expanding market base. The potential is immense, and it’s all yours for the taking. Capitalizing on its potential however, is not just about tweaking your website according to search engine keywords. Constant property management website improvements has become the standard survival tactic for firms that are already enjoying a web presence. It’s like a continuous race, and it involves both large and small property management firms, on a level playing field. Your strategy’s efficacy and finesse ultimately determines your rank not only within search engines but also other internet platforms like social media sites, which...