I'm a big believer that the way to the heart is through the stomach, at least it is for me! And whe...

Training Trivia

What percentage can a resident save on heating costs by lowering their thermostat setting from 70 degrees to 68 degrees?

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Apartment Community

- Blog posts tagged in Apartment Community
This tag contain 1 blog entry contributed to a teamblog which isn't listed here.

Posted by on in Property Management
Thanksgiving is around the corner. I'm going to take a break from my 3-part series on facebook, and be thankful. I'm  thankful for some of the hardest working yet most underappreciated people in our industry - the vendors of the multi-family industry.I should also point out, that as an industry, WE, ourselves, are vendors. We are vendors to every person who rents an apartment from us. Knowing how bad it feels when a renter takes out their frustrations on us, why do we do that to our vendors? We know that it takes time to learn about someone in order to sell our value proposition (remember all those questions from the guest card?), and how frustrating it is when our prospects say,  "just tell me how much it is," and yet we're always asking this of our vendors all the time. (Remember when you asked your sales person to *JUST* give you a number, without taking the time to explain what you want?) How hard is it to sell on value when you prospect says, "Well, ABC Apartments down the road is giving away 2 months free rent," and we turn right around and tell XYZ contractors their bid is 2 cents too high. Our renters don't buy IT, as we aren't buying IT ourselves. Kinda sucks when the shoe is on the other foot, huh?Don't get me wrong - smart business is still smart business. We definitely need to know where the market is and demand competitive pricing from our vendors. Whether the service is software, advertising, carpeting, screening, information, bulk...

Posted by on in Property Management
The poor economy has caused landlords and property managers to take drastic measures to lease units and keep them occupied. Some of the measures are understandable, considering the circumstances, but others make absolutely no sense at all.This week I reviewed approximately 80 files from previous tenants who left a large residential property in Sarasota, Florida, owing money. I sat with the manager and discussed how the residential housing market has been turned on its ear, and in some ways seems to be in a downward spiral. I noted that not only had the number of debtor accounts more than doubled, the amount of the average debt had increased by at least a third.The manager explained that the property had tried to increase its occupancy by allowing tenants to try and work out payment arrangements. As I looked at her over this mountain of files, I asked her, "How did that work out for you?" She understood my sarcasm and explained that the owners of the property had pressured her to do something to keep their residency rates up. She agreed that allowing tenants to pay late had only delayed the inevitable and increased the amount of bad debt the property must now write off.I would argue that in such cases, if closely analyzed, the cost is actually even higher. The tenants she allowed to get behind on rent grew accustomed to management's tolerance. When she finally drew the line and required payment, she was then often forced to file eviction proceedings...

Posted by on in Property Management
For most of us, winter has already arrived. These low temperatures of the season can affect us all, not to mention the living conditions for our residents. It is a must that maintenance employees have a proactive approach in getting ready for the winter. It goes without saying, but one of the most important steps in getting ready for winter should be having a well-stocked and organized maintenance shop with all the equipment, supplies, and parts necessary to maintain and repair water heating systems, HVAC systems, plumbing and electrical systems. Planning ahead will save you time, money and the frustration of not being able to serve your residents in the middle of winter. Examples of these items include: Thermostats, heating elements, heat relays, safety switches, relief valves, gas valves, water valves, pipes and fitting, and soldering supplies. Before ordering any parts, maintenance technicians should make an inventory of existing supplies to be able to order only what is absolutely needed, and prevent waste and overstocking. In addition, technicians will also need to order any materials for insulating exterior structures, fixtures, and piping that might be exposed to weather conditions and could cause damage to buildings or equipment, or cause cold air and water intrusion into the inside of apartment homes. Examples of these items can be: Exterior caulk, weather stripping, insulation, sand and filters. The following is a list of preventive maintenance recommendations to be ready for the winter time and prevent emergencies caused by equipment breakdown.Preventive Maintenance for the Winter...

Posted by on in Property Management
This is PART I of a 3-part series. You can read the intro here:3 facebook questions everyone asks when starting out... OK, so the million dollar question is:What is the ROI (Return on Investment) of facebook for my site? Usually followed up by - how many leases can I get from facebook? Serious questions, and just like an owner/investor/upper management to get to the point - eh?Well, short answer is your ROI is either 0% (yes you read it right, ZERO) or 100% depending on how you look at it. Intrigued? Read on...Facebook is all about creating community.  It's all about people connecting with other people because they have at least one thing in common. There is a group for just about anything and everything, from politics, to sports, to music. Some as broad as "I Love Music" fan page which has over 2.4million fans, to the more specific, like "Sting" fan page that has over 300,000 fans, to your local band, who may have 100 fans.Your apartment/site IS a community - whether you are 30 units or 300 units or 968 units, your apartment IS a community. Your #1 person on site - their title is "COMMUNITY MANAGER." hmmmm....Before facebook, and it wasn't so long ago, most sites had a bulletin board of some sort. The community manager &  staff would decorate this board, organize it, and make sure it fit within the guidelines of your community in appearance and postings. You allowed residents to post random things on there, like...

Posted by on in Property Management
City ApartmentParticularly if you own a property in an urban area or near a university or center of business, many specialized tenant markets are just waiting to be captured. Specialized property management may be just the solution you’ve been looking for to decrease vacancies and guarantee steady rental income. When considering just a few of your options below, be sure that you take your property, location, property management style, and goals into consideration. Section 8 and low-income housingEssentially, the Section 8 program provides low-income individuals with government-assisted rent. Generally, tenants pay approximately 30 percent of a unit’s rent and the government pays the remaining balance directly to the tenant’s landlord. In such a scenario, the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) will determine the unit’s fair market rate (FMR) and the landlord is not allowed to charge the tenant anything over this amount.  While it is up to you to choose whether or not to participate in Section 8, keep the following points in mind: You will be subject to property inspection to ensure you meet HUD’s Housing Quality Standards.You will not be able to charge a Section 8 tenant more than FMR.Regardless of your state’s laws, you cannot evict a Section 8 tenant without judicial action for eviction. While there may be some similarities, low-income housing is not the same as Section 8. Rather than receiving rental income from the government, property owners who run low-income properties are eligible for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). But it’s important to...

Posted by on in Property Management
I love jingle bells. I love trees decked out in all their glory, lit with all those gorgeous lights, a-dazzle with tinsel, loaded with beautiful ornaments.I love carolers and warm fuzzy sweaters and silver menorahs and snow - and yes, I even love the dancing Santas! Call me crazy, but I absolutely love this time of year. It's so cheery and cozy and before you bah-humbug me, here are a couple ideas you can use to get your team and/or residents in the spirit of the season!Cookie swaps! Everyone loves cookies - peanut butter kiss cookies, good old-fashioned chocolate chip, oatmeal butterscotch raisin cranberry and so, so many more. Set up a long table in your community center or cabana or conference room and instruct all invitees to bring at least two dozen (that's an average batch) of homemade cookies, along with a stack of recipe cards to exchange, and voila: instant party! Throw in some hot chocolate (don't forget the marshmallows!) for extra enchantment.Host a craft fair! This might take some organization on your part, but whether you opt for outside vendors or just take some of the PTA-types and ask them to set up some make-n'-take booths (little stations where wee hands can create simple craft items, like ornaments, to take with them), it's sure to be a hit. Sing-alongs, anyone? It doesn't even have to be holiday-related, just the act of getting people together and giving them permission to follow along to their favourite musicals (or, for little...

Posted by on in Property Management
Excellent example of curbside appeal1. Exterior Power WashThis is by far the most cost effective way to give your apartment complex that freshly painted look. Here is a link to a company that we use locally: www.hydro-kleen.com. The process is generally a 1-day deal for about an 1/8th of the cost of paint the entire structure. And yes, they do windows!Keep in mind, however, that the power wash only works if the current paint job is decent shape, other wise the high pressure water will blast the paint right off. But if the paint is being shot off by water - it is probably time to repaint anyway.2. Exterior Paint JobIs the building's current paint job too old to pressure wash? It's time to set aside a budget and save for a professional paint job of the building. If done correctly, an owner or management company should be able to set aside a 4 to 6 month budget to fund this work. Be sure to use a LICENSED, BONDED and INSURED paint contractor. Yes, your handy man will be cheaper, but chances are he is not insured...and its bad news if he - or one of his guys - falls off that scaffolding and hurts himself... We use a great nation wide company that does the job in less than 2 days: http://www.empirepainting.com/3. Landscape RepairDoes the grass in front of property have dry spots - or worse - areas where the is nothing but dirt? Are the flowers that were planted two summers ago looking...

Posted by on in Property Management
More often than we'd like to admit, we don't like who we are, we try to be more than what we are, and in the end, no one is happy. This is the way it is both personally & professionally. To top it off, they call THAT marketing. I call it "bait and switch," and as a consumer, I hate it. So why do companies do it? And more importantly, why do WE, as multi-family housing providers market this way?Don't think you do this?Take for example a recent advertisement I saw in a typical apartment advertising magazine, imagine: a beautiful, tranquil pool, nice pool furniture arranged perfectly and a tagline along the lines of "live at ABC Apartments and you could be relaxing at your pool!) Then imagine making an appointment and driving up to a property that looks nothing like the picture, EXCEPT you DO recognize the pool. You thought this was a classy mid-range apartment complex, but it ends up being in a questionable part of town. You are disappointed, and the whole time during your tour, the leasing looks apologetic, avoids looking you in the eye and tries to sell the pool, as if you are going to be LIVING at the pool 24/7! You realize that this is not for you, and politely decline their offers of 2 months free rent if you sign TODAY!The big mistake with this scenario is that the people who placed the add (whether it was a marketing company or a marketing department) assumed that the best thing about this particular property was the...

Posted by on in Property Management
Drive any city these days in search of an apartment home and you'll see the banners: "FREE RENT!"  or "ONE MONTH FREE" or even "2 MONTHS FREE RENT!" So I ask you, what value does 'free' have? I say it's got little to virtually no value when used as a concession in our industry. Let me try to prove my point:  As I drive down 'apartment row' I see the signs. But one property has a sign that's different. Instead of saying simply 'One Month Free Rent', it says '$1,000 FREE RENT WITH NEW LEASE". Which banner is going to catch my eye? Which property will potentially get my business? Now, this isn't a discussion on 'free rent'. The purpose of this blog entry is to make sure you stop using the word 'free' altogether, because 'free' doesn't have a dollar value. "Free" application fee? Ask ten properties what their application fee is and you'll probably get ten different answers. "Free" administrative fee? Ask ten properties and you'll probably get ten different answers there, too. If you're going to give something away, make sure you are providing your potential customers with the value of your giveaway. Stop saying 'free' and give the value. Instead of saying you'll waive an application fee, say "We can waive your application fee; you'll save $50 with that offer today." Always give a dollar value when you are offering something for 'free'.   You'll have better results - I'm sure of it. Lisa Trosien is an award winning multifamily educator, speaker and strategist....

Posted by on in Property Management
How are you writing your apartment community craigslist ad titles? Are you using rent concessions to drive traffic to your property? What if you don’t have any promotions? What content are you posting to your Facebook and Twitter pages? Are you just posting your rental rates and promotions? Did you know that more than half of American adults are attempting to save money?A new Harris Poll shows interesting statistics regarding ways adults are trying to save money: 36% have switched to tap water and refillable bottles instead of bottled water.21% have cancelled or cut back on their cable TV service.20% have stopped buying coffee in the morning.14% have been carpooling or using mass transit.Let’s face it, not every community can compete with ever-increasing rent promotions and concessions. Sometimes, the rent cannot get ANY lower. How do you differentiate your ads and your content from competitors when the properties are so similar? Try this: if your community offers something of value, highlight that feature in your ads, in your Facebook Page content, and occasionally in your Twitter feed. Please understand: I don’t mean use a long list of amenities. Frankly, that’s boring and exactly what everyone else is doing. Use the statistics above to create ad titles/headlines that are unique for your community.Below are a few examples of ways you can turn your apartment community features into a call-to-action. Your community offers -Free water and trash services.“Save $50 a month with our FREE water and garbage service!”Free cable.“Thinking of canceling cable to save money? If you...