Elesa Kassoff
Rommel,
I don't do much blogging(no time) but when I do I usually comment on your blog. You do seem...

Training Trivia

Incorporating social media into your marketing and resident retention efforts is good practice for all student communities.

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Property Management

- Blog posts tagged in Property Management

Posted by on in Property Management
Gone are the days when going green was a cutting-edge, leftist notion. With environmental issues at the forefront of the media, going green is now firmly in the mainstream, quickly becoming the norm rather than the exception. Even with all of these new, more eco-friendly options on the market, the truth of the matter is that completely greening your properties and your business in one fell swoop can be an expensive endeavor up-front (though most green measures will likely save you money in the long-run). Our suggestion? Take small measures over time that won’t break the bank in the short-run, will save you money in the long run, and will make you feel great about doing your part in the process. AppliancesInstalling energy-efficient appliances in your properties (dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, etc.) is a great way of incorporating greener, more energy-efficient elements into your properties. Not only will your property be more energy efficient by using less water and producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions, but you can also cut down significantly on utility bills by using water and energy more efficiently. Speaking of saving money, you can save some cash up front with energy efficient appliances as well. Rebates are often available for ENERGY STAR certified products, of which there are many. Not only do energy efficient appliances offer you the chance to be greener and save on utilities, but they’re also something that (sooner or later) you need to purchase anyway. You don’t have to break the bank by going out and...

Posted by on in Property Management
If there’s one document in property management that simply has to reviewed (and updated as necessary) on a regular basis, it’s your lease. This is, after all, the document that will ultimately determine your rights and protect your best interests when it comes to issues both big and small.  Because you’re dealing with a host of rules and regulations on the federal, state, and local levels, it’s imperative that you not only adjust your lease as necessary when laws change, but also that you’re in compliance and protected on all three fronts. If you’re not proficient in legalese, chances are reviewing your lease (and, moreover, identifying those elements that need to be changed) is a daunting endeavor at best. Following are some tips and best practices for keeping your lease up-to-date and your best interests protected on an ongoing basis. Hiring Legal CounselYes, this can be a somewhat expensive option. However, consider the fact that a water-tight lease can potentially spare you legal costs of a far more unpleasant variety in the future and additionally saves you a ton of time (as compared to reviewing and revising a lease on your own). Suddenly, the cost of hiring a legal professional to review your lease becomes a far more appealing option. If you do choose to take this route and don’t already have a trusted lawyer in your contact base, talk with real estate and property management professionals for references to proven lawyers that specialize in such matters. Professional or Association Meetings and SeminarsTaking part...

Posted by on in Property Management
As a business consultant to the apartment industry, I am asked a LOT, "What's fair leasing agent compensation? Is their a leasing commission structure you would recommend?" There is no easy or short answer to this question, so let's take a round about way of discuss it. I find it a little backwards when people want to know what OTHER properties or OTHER management companies are doing when it comes to leasing agent compensation. I never say it out loud, but I'm always thinking, "What's it worth to YOU?" (as owner/manager) AND, "What's it worth to THEM?" (your leasing agent/leasing specialist)  What do I mean by that? FIRST, let's first talk about the REAL problem - VACANCY. I don't have a vacancy problem! Well, then, you shouldn't worry about leasing agent compensation then! OK, OK. Let's talk about vacancy... TO make it easy, let's say we're talking about ABC Apartments. They have 100 units. Their average rents are $1000.00/unit. Prior to the rental market taking a downward turn, ABC Apartments has been running along great, apartments never took very long to lease, and they had been at 97% occupancy for many years. Fast forward to today, they are at 88% physical occupancy, which means they are at 12% vacancy. All of the sudden, they are struggling with just staying ahead of the renewals and turnover. Increasing the occupancy in the midst of the resident turnover looks very daunting. Let's do the math. At 97% occupancy, the vacancy loss is: (Average Apartment Rents) x (# of Vacant...

Posted by on in Property Management
"Forget about fictional, glitter-skinned teen vampires. You’re far more likely to have your blood sucked by bed bugs." So says Lynn Bruno, of MSNBC.com. CHEEZ'N'RICE! The story captured my attention when I was listening to the news this morning, and my interest was piqued because I've chuckled every time I've seen  a reference to "BedBugs" in property management. I know this is not my usual topic, but wow...Victoria's Secret has bedbugs? That's just freaky and thought it would spark some interesting chatter on the matter.. Check this out..."Despite several widely reported closures of retail stores and office buildings in New York City, infestations are still far more common in apartments and condominiums, single-family homes and hotels and motels. They're also turning up in some surprising places, such as public transit, laundromats and movie theaters." The article talks about how the sneaky critters are spreading so rapidly across the United States that almost no region or area is unbitten. The article researcher talks about the amazing number of people who think that the bed-bug hype is some kind of folklore. Not true. As multifamily property managers...do you guys have BedBugs stories? Please, share...not the bedbugs, just the stories. Read on. Man...now I'm itching to take a shower. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38382427/ns/health-more_health_news...

Posted by on in Property Management
Affordable Housing: What is it? How can we, as vendor/ associates, better serve the needs of these managers? Recently, during a conversation I was having with a new Atlanta Apartment Association member, I was asked what exactly it means when someone refers to a Community as Affordable or Tax-Credit. This individual was under the impression that these properties were essentially low income properties in undesirable neighborhoods with like deferred maintenance issues! I am familiar with many communities which fall into the Affordable Housing category that are newer, attractive A properties in very desirable locations. I hope to shed some light on this important component to our industry. The difference between these Affordable/ Tax-Credit properties and their Conventional Market-rate competitors is that the developer/ owner of the property will receive a Low Income Tax Credit Benefit to provide housing to those earning below a certain wage. There are many variations of this; some properties may be 80% Affordable Units and 20% Market Units. Some properties may receive Government subsidies for the rent as assistance to its residents.  These communities are heavily regulated by HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) and by DCA (Department of Community Affairs) for their compliance within the legal guideline of the program. Many of the AAA Owner/ Manager companies across Atlanta and beyond manage Affordable Properties. A few of these are Aderhold Properties, Lincoln, Vista Realty Partners, Walton Communities, Signature Management, Ambling and Wood Partners who has management of some of their communities but also hire Third...

Posted by on in Property Management
A few days ago I was on the receiving end of some particularly poor customer service. Know the feeling? Yuck! I have such a poor taste in my mouth I may not shop at Macy’s again for a whole month! But seriously, I was reading on MultiFamily Insiders and came across this interesting topic in their archived discussions relating to the Customer Service aptitude of Associates. The discussion was about the challenges with getting into contact with Owner Managers, beginning conversations and obtaining appointments. An associate felt he had a legitimate service or product to offer and that he was being disrespected by a particular Decision Maker that he was calling on. He did not know this customer. He wasn’t getting a return phone call. From what I could gather, this particular vendor did not seem to have any empathy for the person from whom he was attempting to gain business. It is Associates such as these that telephone every single day, refuse to take no for an answer, etc. that send Owner Manager’s seeking cover. You may not catch the Owner Manager today, next week or next month but if you do not operate with a Customer Service Aptitude you will never earn their business. I love what Jen Piccotti, an industry colleague on the west coast, had to say on the topic! “I guess it comes down to this - we can't control those around us, we can only control ourselves and our own interactions. I choose to approach...

Posted by on in Property Management
Do you think your day was stressful? Let’s stop for a moment to consider those extreme situations some property managers find themselves in. It’s often hard to personalize truly disastrous situations but when you think about it, there were faces behind those properties that were destroyed during natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the raging fires that ripped through Southern California in 2007. While it’s likely you will never find yourself or your property in such extreme situations, there are lessons in both of these cases that can be taken and applied to more run-of-the-mill property management situations. Hurricane Katrina and InsuranceWe are all familiar with the images of the destruction Hurricane Katrina left in her wake—thousands of homes and buildings completely demolished and the families who lived in them homeless, with all of their property destroyed. Good thing insurance exists … right? Well, according to an October 2007 article in National Real Estate Investor Online, one of the many hurdles which New Orleans faced in its ongoing rebuilding process was the fact that insurance premiums went through the roof, completely out-pricing many property managers when it came to getting back in the game. Not only did insurance premiums go up in New Orleans, says the article, but also “In coastal areas from Texas to Boston, insurers have raised premiums.” What can possibly be gleaned from this situation outside of how unfortunate the repercussions of Katrina have been? Namely, the fact that insurance is a critical part of owning and managing a...

Posted by on in Property Management
Jonathan Saar - The Training FactorEveryone seems to be experimenting with social media in some way, shape or form these days (regardless of whether you think it's working or not). But one thing that many people seem to struggle with is how to manage their brand's presence across so many different platforms. After Jonathan Saar from the Training Factor posted their own case study sharing their successes with social media, we asked him to join us on last week's #AptChat for a discussion on the topic. As it turns out (really no surprise here), you all have great ideas and examples to share. Here are the highlights from the chat: How do you manage the time commitment? It seems to be HUGE time sucker in our office. David Kotowski: If you get into the habit of checking in it becomes routine and doesn't take up much time. Jonathan Saar: Time and discipline go hand in hand. There must be a routine or else you are lost. Kim Cory: I set time aside each day just like I would reviewing reports, statements, plans, emails, etc. must make effort. Mike Whaling: Focus your efforts. You don't need to be on every site. David Kotowski: Let's face it. Your employees are ALREADY checking their personal accts and sending texts during the day. Get them involved. Mike Whaling: Set routines based on goals. 1 routine for monitoring sites, 1 for creating content, etc. Jonathan Saar: Make sure you give yourself an "off" time -- that comes from my wife :)...

Posted by on in Property Management
A friend of mine recently bought an apartment building here in Los Angeles and asked me "How do I know when/if I need property manager?"  To which I told him there were several reasons to hire - or at least consult with - a management company.  I then proceeded to rattled off my top ten list of "you know you need a property manager when:" 1) If you find yourself taking calls at 1am to fix a broken water pipe in your building - you might need a property manager. 2) If you don't remember the last time that really nice guy in unit #108 paid rent - then maybe you need a property manager. 3) If most of your residents have pets and you have never heard of a Pet Agreement or Pet Deposit - you might want to hire a property management company. 4) If you just realized that the residents in unit #207 moved out TWO months ago - it might be time for a property manager to take care of your building. 5) If you find yourself spending more time at your apartment building coordinating maintenance than you do with your wife, kids or friends - you should call a property management company. 6) If you think your apartment building MIGHT be under rent control, but you are not sure what that means - you should call a property management company (or your lawyer) immediately. 7) If you do not know what your Net Operating Income (NOI)...

Posted by on in Property Management
Are you new to the apartment industry? New to your employer? New career? New promotion? On a new project? There are 4 stages that every NEWBIE goes through before becoming comfortable in the new position. When I first started at Dominium Management Services several years ago, I was lucky enough to take a class called "Managing for New Managers," taught by a wonderful human resources mentor named Claudia. I took away a few lessons from that class, that not only helped me in my new job - I still remember those tips to this day and pass along this info to all newbies I meet! Before we get started, I first want to mention for anyone who is new to the apartment industry: CONGRATS! You have just joined the most exciting, most demanding, most fun, most fullfilling, most intelligent, most rewarding industry - EVER! If your manager hasn't prepared you, I'm preparing you now: 4 Stages to an Epiphany in the Apartment Industry STAGE 1: UNCONSCIOUSLY INCOMPETENT: You read it right. INCOMPETENT. In this stage, you're feeling good. You just landed a job - especially in this economy, this is quite a feat! You beat out the hundreds of other applicants and you were chosen as the best fit for the job. CONGRATS! You're being introduced to everyone, your resume is being passed around, people are oohing and ahhing. Everyone LOVES  you and can't wait for you to get started. YOU can't wait to get started! You feel important, after all, you're working for ABC Apartments/ABC Management Company...