Donald D. Miller
There is a easy solution to solving high turnover, longer term leases, let the tenant chose the term...
Hi Theresa, The good news is there are many ways to get into the industry! While many people do want...

Training Trivia

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

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Posted by on in Property Management
  Recently I had the opportunity to speak at the Fair Housing Matters conference in Nashville, Tennessee, hosted by the Tennessee Fair Housing Council, a private, non-profit organization with the mission to eliminate housing discrimination (http://www.tennfairhousing.org).  Bryan Greene, Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, was a keynote speaker.  His presentation paid homage to those women who exhibited their courage in standing up to landlords whose housing discrimination and harassment rose (or more aptly, sank) to the level of being despicable.  It is stunning that in today’s day and age that the following scenarios (all resulting in fair housing cases) would even occur:   In West Virginia, three employees of a management company threatened a resident with eviction if she would not participate in sexual activity.  Keys were used at night to access her apartment and to demand sex, all while children were asleep in the next room.  Additionally, a maintenance worker would expose himself while doing maintenance work in the apartment.  One employee’s wife was the manager of the property and she was also charged as she did not address the complaints that were brought by the resident. A resident in Tennessee was offered a rental special, although it certainly was not one that should have ever been presented to her.  The “deal” was one month free rent…in exchange for nude photos of the resident.  And failing to take advantage of this offer would result in a 30 day eviction. Berlin, New Hampshire had an ordinance stating that...

Posted by on in Multifamily Industry News and Trends
NAA’s units magazine will report on Curb Appeal trends in the July 2015 issue. They are seeking input from member communities. Please send NAA’s Paul Bergeron your best “curb appeal” photo and a description (100 words or less) about why your curb appeal strategy works. Frontal property shots with landscaping preferred. Please don't send swimming pool images or renderings. Entries must be submitted by 2 p.m. ET Friday May 29 to Paul Bergeron. Entries must include a high-resolution photo (4x6 inches at 300 dpi) to be considered. You may submit multiple entries. The decision to publish a photo entered for the July cover is up to the discretion of NAA units Magazine....

Posted by on in Multifamily Training and Career Development
Ten calls and ten straight customer hang ups. That's what it took for "Tom" to acknowledge that his French skills were grossly insufficient. Tom was already hired when I became the manager of a multilingual sales team earlier in my career. As the only French speaker at the company, I was curious how his language skills were tested during the process. The answer was simple: the hiring managers believed that Tom spoke French fluently because Tom believed he spoke French fluently. Since I knew what Tom didn't know, it took about 2 minutes of conversation for me to realize that he didn't. Tom, on the other hand, took more convincing before he finally acknowledged that he didn't know that he hadn't known his linguistic shortcomings. There are a lot of aspects to becoming a successful manager or employee. Of these aspects, none is more important than knowing what you need to know. So how do we avoid the pitfall that overtook Tom in this instance and overtakes so many others in different ways? Here’s the simple process that can help keep you in the clear so that you can "Know Like a Boss!" Define your goals. This is obvious. You need to know what you are aiming to accomplish before you start to accomplish it. Are you looking to increase retention? Are you trying to improve occupancy? Are you trying to recover more unpaid revenue? Whatever the goal, you need to identify it before you can work towards it. Once you’ve defined your goals, determine how...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Whoever said that fair and equal go hand-in-hand?  No one who has ever tried to get a loan lately if their credit score is below average, or just below the required standard.  For these millions of Americans, life is tough.  Essential services cost more. And service providers have no choice but to define those who fall into this group as "higher risk” and tack on extra charges to protect against future potential defaults.  I want you, but only if you protect me against the payment risk your credit score reflects… The irony should not be lost that those who have the less and who can least afford extra charges are charged the most to get by.  The question is why do so many people have credit scores in the doldrums?  We can point to lots of reasons, including wage growth that has been practically flat for the past decade while the cost of living has climbed consistently year-over- year.  The general consensus is that median household income has also been flat, but for a whole lot longer since the 1980’s, making it harder for individuals to stretch a paycheck and pay all their bills on time which ultimately makes it impossible to build credit.  Almost one-in-four of today’s college graduates are unemployed, and may never have had a chance to build a credit score.  And that doesn’t begin to account for the millions of people who have found no reason to trust financial institutions that could help them to build a...

Posted by on in Miscellaneous
A kid with a credit card…A smart move or a recipe for financial disaster?  A smart move for sure to associate a personal profile with a social security number and protect against identity theft.  After all, who would believe that five year old female from New Jersey could qualify for a $150,000 mortgage in Ohio?  A lot of people if there was nothing else on record with the national credit bureaus associating that child with her social security number and an unblemished credit report.  We hear multiple stories of young people who apply for credit for the first time only to be informed that their credit has been ground into the ground by an identity thief. What can you do to protect your kids?  Take out a credit card for each of your children and use it periodically for balances you can afford to pay in-full.  Unless you’re ready to teach your kids about being responsible with credit, there’s no reason to even given them responsibility for caring for the actual cards.  (I have to share though that it’s a thrill for a child when they do first learn to pay for something independently.)  Having a credit card for emergencies can also be a good idea for responsible younger adults as they start to travel on school trips and the like without you.   ...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Higher security deposits are typically charged when rental applicants don’t meet standard credit requirements.  These charges are intended to compensate for presumed future payment risk and protect an apartment community against loss.   The problem is that the renter population most likely to be charged higher security deposits is comprised of individuals most financially vulnerable.  In practical terms, because it costs more for lower credit renters to obtain access to a rental lease, apartment communities are making it more difficult for these consumers to pay rent reliably throughout the term of the lease. Why?  Because life always gets in the way of good intentions, and replacement of a car tire that has to be repaired in order to get the resident to work will always trump delivering rent on time.  And so the cycle continues until, according to survey released this week by Bankrate.com  consumer debt overcomes meager savings.  According to the survey, 37 percent of Americans have credit card debt that equals or exceeds their savings.  That means that nearly three-out-of- eight people would be financially stranded in the event of an emergency more pressing than a flat tire.  For apartment communities, that means that rent would be late, additional charges would be imposed on the resident whose already stretched, and things could result in either a skip or eviction, which no one wants. In light of these troubling statistics, what alternatives are there to charging higher costs to those with the least to give?    Enter security deposit alternatives like rent...

Posted by on in Social Media and Technology

Not every community enjoys a sterling reputation online, and some are flat out in the dumps, but it doesn't have to remain that way.  Here is a guide for communities that are being blasted on ratings sites and social media: (If you are too busy to read a whole blog post, at least do one thing:  Watch the video at the end, and see how a company took a horrible online reputation, made changes, and came out looking like a superstar at the end.) 1)      Honest Self Assessment Many people have convinced themselves that ratings sites are inherently rigged, so they simply ignore them all, assuming that nothing is accurate.  But the reality is that no matter how unfair some reviews might seem, there are going to be nuggets of truth.  Nobody's service is perfect, and reviews are a great way to analyze your own service and determine where you might be dropping the ball.  The real question is whether it is possible to analyze those reviews without taking a defensive attitude, and instead viewing them as opportunities to improve. 2)      Improve Your Product and Service When people talk about reputation management, it seems most times it is focused on the process of actually responding to the negative review.  And while this is important, it really ignores the ultimate fact that operational changes probably need to be made in some way.  It does not matter at all how you respond to your reviews online if steps are not taken to fix...

Posted by on in Student Housing
The biggest misconception of Student Housing is that the students who rent in our communities understand what they are doing because they don’t. Students often look at living off campus as an extension of dorm life and many do not really appreciate the difference until there is a problem. Even parents, in many cases, labor under this delusion. Let’s get one thing straight. Just because your student is living off campus, does not necessarily mean he is living independently. Since most Students make housing decisions long before the end of their sophomore, junior or senior year of college, and certainly many make their choice entirely on where their friends signed leases, they don’t take into consideration even the basics when it comes to finding a place to live. Eighty to ninety percent of these Students and their parents do not even read the lease before they sign. Sending leases through electronic signature programs makes it easy for the Properties to gather the necessary signatures but it also makes it easy for Students and their Guarantors to blindly click away without reading what they are signing. Parents who are considering allowing their college age children to live off campus should consider the following advice when choosing off campus dwellings. After all, Parents who are acting as Guarantors should understand that living off campus can be a rewarding learning experience for their children, as well as a good opportunity to teach valuable lifeskills. Before you sign on the dotted electronic line, read...

Posted by on in Property Management
groundsCoveted by property managers far and wide is an individual with the knowledge and skill to plan, execute and care for grounds. Hiring or discovering someone on your management team is blessed with a green thumb, is truly a treasure. Most communities suffer from the fatal floral fantasy. Believing tearing out that big space at the entry, and armed with a $100 budget, the results will look just like that display at Disney. Sad is the day, that a Regional visits a property to discover a foot wide trench cut through the precious sod with a proud manager and supporting team member, who announce..”Sam’s great with plants we’re going to fill this with flowers.” Either there’s no budget for the soil, plants and irrigation or no time to daily care for the plants that wither away from neglect. Most of the season will be needed to replace the grass that was removed. With plants in the ground, adding new area, less is more. Equally disappointing is the point of sale purchase by the team member. Leaving the grocery or big box store with office supplies, we think this planter will be beautiful next to the office entry. Its quickly painlessly added to our purchase. Kerplunk! its placed in the planter (with or without its plastic liner) and a week later we notice the plants have died. A skilled staff member can save us from ourselves. Selecting plants for containers or planting beds requires planning and understanding. Distractions of beautiful blossoms can...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Your resident is in front of you, angered by a mistake you or a member of your team made. Not so sweetly laying into grievances, feeling management has been unfair to them. What do you do? When the inevitable complaints come, it's natural to get defensive and explain why the person's complaint isn't legitimate, maybe even sink into a tit for tat conversation..but that never gets you anywhere as we all know. Instead of relying on the same old knee jerk response of “oh these crazy residents and their issues” I challenge you to embrace each criticism you get as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship. Yes, even with those residents that come to you hopping mad. If you follow the steps below while being confronted with an angry resident you may just be able to diffuse complaints and turn that irate person in front of you into a devoted fan in nearly every situation.   1.    Listen with an open mind Hear what the person has to say and let the person speak their mind fully, without interruption and without questioning the validity of the problem. Try to resist saying anything until you fully understand what has happened and why exactly your resident  is upset. Ask your resident if it’s ok for you to take notes so you can be sure you are both on the same page. 2.    Very Important- Repeat the problem back Once you see where the complaint is coming from, repeat it back in your own...