Brian Gault
Well said Jason. I work with numerous student housing developers. The biggest challenge is not in de...

Training Trivia

Maintenance costs associated with a student property are typically lower than conventional communities.

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Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
It’s no secret that advertisers use all sorts of airbrushing techniques to erase a model’s imperfections.  Who would possibly want to buy a product represented by an imperfect spokesperson?  Would that dress or those accessories be less desirable when photographed on someone with a fuller, dare I say normal, physique?  Recently, models and celebrities have rallied against dramatic retouching – some have even demanded magazines and advertisers stop the practice altogether.  Misrepresentation can severely damage ones brand.  Bottom line, no one benefits from the bait and switch.  Prospects turned residents have complained for years that apartment communities have misrepresented their product in much of the same way.  Relying on model apartments to demonstrate a level of comfort and oftentimes quality are the breeding grounds for mistrust between resident and management.  They can also result in disappointed residents at move-in and negative online reviews.  “They showed me a model and told me that the apartment that I was getting would be exactly the same. Believing them I put down my deposit.   The day before I was supposed to move in I was finally able to see the apartment.  It was horrible-completely different layout, the balcony was dirty, the laundry room shelving was falling apart and the kitchen cabinets were scratched and looked old.  Luxury no way.” “Everything in the model home is PERFECT however, the actual homes are just rough.  They have been used so long that they are falling apart. As I mentioned before my kitchen is awful.  Also my shower...

Posted by on in Property Management
IMG_3243I am, by nature, an emotionally charged human. While an introvert, I feel things with passion and gusto; I also manage to deal with things with the same passion and gusto. Call it an evil curse. We also work in an industry where personality and talking is extremely important. As is the passion and gusto I mention above. But I’ve learned something in the last few years working for my area manager….silence. That woman can sit and listen and just look, allowing, or rather forcing. words to come out of your mouth. I’ve witnessed it in person and over the phone on many occasions and I’m still in awe of it. During interviews, during site visits, during phone calls (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Are you still there??”). Being silent allows an opportunity for you to hear what is being said….in many situations. During times of unrest (aka drama), pulling yourself away, choosing not to be emotionally charged, will allow you to gain a different perspective. You won’t be amidst the emotions of the situation, you’ll be like an outsider looking in. And in most instances, if you allow yourself to be silent long enough, to not be dragged into the unrest, you’ll hear exactly what you need to hear. During an interview, don’t talk, don’t sell yourself and the company until you’re ready to sell yourself and the company to an individual that deserves that sales pitch. I have found myself in interviews, being the talker, pulling...

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
The millennial generation may not even realize “CC” on an email actually stands for “Carbon Copy,” let alone have ever put their hands on an actual carbon copy piece of paper. So why are maintenance work orders still managed on these paper forms? If you’re reading this and you think that you’ve upgraded your process just because you got rid of those old white, yellow, pink forms a long time ago, think again. My guess is the replacement is simply printer paper, still not quite the ultimate solution we are looking for. In today’s technology landscape, so much focus is being placed on pushing residents towards paperless payments, completing applications online, and signing leases electronically, but what about maintenance? Isn’t there an app for that? Why are we still using carbon copy paper or printed service requests? Most apartment community websites now have forms for residents to enter their service requests electronically. However, some of them simply send an email which is then printed out. Worse yet the request goes into an online system to track the work, but the very first thing the leasing office does when it's received is print it. In my opinion, the persona of the typical maintenance team member might be playing a factor in resistance. These individuals work with their hands and prefer tangible problems they can fix. They are attached to the idea of tearing off the pink copy (that's the one they give to the resident, right?) of the form and leaving it behind as...

Posted by on in Property Management
  This post is short yet not-so-sweet.  It is based on rumor, so I absolutely do not vouch for its accuracy, but my source is fairly credible (how mysterious that sounds).  It appears that in Texas, HUD and some of the fair housing groups are concerned about overly restrictive rules for children who reside in apartment communities.  As a result, rumor has it, they are reaching out to existing residents at apartment communities and giving them SASEs (self-addressed stamped envelopes) so those residents can “report” to HUD about children-based rules where they live.  Whether this rumor is sound or not, do consider looking at all of your “children can’t go there” – “children can’t do that” – “children can’t use that” rules, decide if they are truly necessary (best if it is from an objective health and safety perspective) and document your reasons for each rule.  That is a good business practice, no matter what.  And just because this is supposedly a “Texas issue”, don’t be smug and think that this sort of a survey could not be taken at your community, wherever it may be located.  ...

Posted by on in Property Management
From the title, you may assume that a drug deal went down, or maybe some sort of assault, but in this unique case, the felony stems from a 4 year old playing on the apartment community playground.  So what was the problem?  The mother was inside the apartment.  I'm not going to delve into whether it was right or wrong to let the 4 year old play by himself at the playground unsupervised, but considering it happened at an apartment community, I thought it was worth sharing here, as this is something that I'm sure happens at communities across the country.  Plus, this isn't the first case of issues relating to "free range" children - I've seen other cases where kids as old as 6 were escorted home from down the block. Even though this doesn't directly impact the apartment communities, in that they are not involved if CPS or law enforcement is called on an unsupervised child, it probably is something we should consider when it comes to playground rules overall. So what is your take on the issue?  Should apartment communities have rules against unsupervised children playing, and at what age?  (Update:  As Anne shared below, and Nadeen shared in her great blog, instituting a change like this would likely at odds with Fair Housing.  I recommend you see the comments below for some great discussion.)...

Posted by on in Multifamily Industry News and Trends
It’s a smart, smart world. Thermostats, TVs, home security systems, even the trusty slow cooker can now be controlled from anywhere through wireless devices. You’ve no doubt noticed the trend. Tech-minded homeowners nationwide are tapping into an increasingly interconnected lifestyle they say saves them time, energy and money. But what about multi-family residents? Don’t they deserve the same smart conveniences? You bet, and giving them a taste of the smart life is easier and more profitable than you may think. A good place to start is with their front door lock. Here’s why: It’s convenient for residents. To unlock the door, a resident just needs to use their smart phone or smart credential. No keys to fish for in the depths of purses and pockets. It’s convenient for you. Managing keys for an apartment complex is a chore. You have to deal with lockouts, lost keys and the rekeying of locks, all while maintaining secure storage space for extra keys. Smart locks, on the other hand, allow the property team to manage locks from just about anywhere. No touring required! In fact, cloud-based lock systems can be controlled with a smart phone, tablet or computer, and give facility staff the ability to add and track users, view history of access, receive alerts, rekey remotely, and more. It’s a safe bet. Your residents won’t have a physical key to misplace, have stolen or fall into the wrong hands. No more keys that anyone can copy at a local hardware store. Well-designed smart...

Posted by on in Property Management
In today’s world, distracted listening is endemic. Most American adults, over 90%, have a cell phone, and well over 65% of American adults own a smart phone.  With this recent trend, distracted listening is literally the click of a button or the swipe of a screen away. Tablets, laptops, MP3 players, smart phones, desk tops, TVs, Blue Tooth, etc., all provide the perfect excuse for us to not really listen to one another.  I found myself easily falling into the trap of not paying attention to those I needed to most; co-workers, customers, management, and to those I valued most; my wife and my daughters. I realized that I was providing more time and focus to my smart phone; emailing customers or reading the latest tweet from ESPN than I was to my three year old trying to get her daddy’s attention. I decided it was time for a serious change in my listening habits and focus. I needed to be able to focus on that which was most important, to remove the distractions, and truly be in the now. In the midst of pondering this question and seeking to determine a process to improve my listening focus, I took a vacation with my wife and children to California. While walking along the beach early one morning with Lucy, the previously mentioned three year old, we saw a large sea shell. This sea shell triggered a faint memory and reminded me of a literary device utilized by William Golding in his classic novel, “Lord...

Posted by on in Social Media and Technology
In-house or third party?   As consumers’ usage of mobile devices continues to increase, more and more properties are considering adding an app to their service. Some owners and managers have decided to build their own apps. This is a complex endeavor that requires substantial time and capital investments. Companies should consider the following when deciding if they should build their own app or choose a third-party vendor:   Cost to build the app Building an app will likely cost a firm well into the six figures. You need programmers, you need someone to create the user experience, you need someone to design the app’s screens, you need people to test the app. This “one-time” cost may not be a huge expense for some firms, but in the lifecycle of the app, it’s just a small piece of the overall cost. The app may look finished, but the real work is just beginning.   Project management As the app is being built someone at the firm will need to be in charge of monitoring progress, testing, and taking care of tasks such as submitting the app to the App store. Granted, this person (or people) does not need to have a masters degree in an IT-related field but it will require a significant amount of time away from normal duties. Third-party firms have processes in place to take care of many of the time-consuming tasks automatically or through dedicated staff.   Maintenance of the app Once the app is built, the...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Is money the best motivator? Many managers, when asked this question, will quickly say “Yes.” Although there is some truth to that answer, it is not the whole story. There are some people who are highly motivated by money and will perform better on the belief that will get them more pay, but they are not the majority. In today’s complex environment, there is no simple answer to this question. Each employee is unique and quite different from his or her co-workers. People react differently to similar motivators. Some would like extra time off, some respond to a simple compliment and some do respond to money. For the best results, it’s important to learn about each person who works for you and what motivates them. Forbes, not too long ago, studied this question by including motivation in a survey of more than 200,000 employees from more than 500 companies. The participants could choose their top motivation from a list of ten potential motivators. Money came in as number seven. Ahead of it were: camaraderie in the office, intrinsic desire to do a good job, feeling encouraged and recognized, having a real impact, and growing professionally. Another study several years ago was not too different. This study looked at satisfiers in the workplace versus dis-satisfiers. The primary satisfiers were: potential for growth and advancement, responsibility, the work itself, recognition, and achievement. Money didn’t appear in the top five motivators. The primary dis-satisfiers were: personnel policies, relationships with supervisors, working conditions, salary,...

Posted by on in Social Media and Technology
It’s the Number One question I answer when I’m at industry events: “How do you hide the negative reviews on” The answer I give is often met with skepticism. “You don’t hide them. You embrace them.” Ratings and reviews have been around long enough to have some research surrounding them, and what is becoming clearer and clearer is that shoppers – no matter what the product or service – don’t trust reviews that are purely positive. A study conducted by Revoo found that 95% of consumers suspected fraud or censorship when they didn't see any bad scores on a rating and review site. If it’s too good to be true…  ... then it probably is. Life is not a fairy tale, and we’ve all had our lack of ‘happily ever after’s’ from a purchase. That being the case, most people are actually looking for negative reviews when they are researching a purchase. In fact, shoppers spend 5 times as much time on negative reviews as positive ones. Why? They are looking for the deal breakers. Each of us has some things that are non-negotiables, and everyone’s preferences are different. What may be an absolute ‘No!’ for one person might be a resounding ‘Yes!’ for someone else. A Matter of Time When I was looking for an alarm clock to replace the broken one in my daughters’ room, I decided to find one with an iPod docking station so they could listen to their own music when going to sleep. On...