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Posted by on in Resident Retention
In the age of ‘everything online, all the time’, bad news spreads quickly; and residents are leveraging various online channels (BBB, Yelp, Google Reviews, Facebook, ApartmentRatings.com, and others) to communicate their displeasure and frustration with property issues – particularly when it comes to plumbing. Prospective tenants are utilizing these channels to gain insight into how property management responds to requests and handles problems, before they decide where they want to live. Repeated negative posts and reviews tarnish a property’s reputation. Sometimes all it takes is one negative review to impact your occupancy rate and for prospective tenants to look elsewhere. To become the property of choice for new tenants, as well as to increase or maintain your current tenant retention rate, properties must now address and solve problems before they tarnish their reputation.  This includes taking proactive steps to maintain functional and problem free plumbing systems, such as using a seasonal checklist for properly maintaining your pipes. In addition, ensure your property management staff is proactive in responding to any and all online feedback by providing timely responses and direct contact information for residents to reach out with their concerns. Not only will tenants be pleased with your property’s dedication to resolving their issues, but potential residents will see the diligence & commitment of staff to providing top-notch customer service. Don’t let negative reviews tarnish your property’s potential. By providing a comfortable and properly functioning property for your residents while maintaining a proactive and professional customer-service model, you’ll be well on...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Three Takeaways from the 2016 NAA Education Conference I just left the NAA Education Conference in San Francisco where I’ve been learning and sharing with thousands of my fellow colleagues in the industry. I also attended the MTEC Conference for the first time which is a really great place to see where technology is heading in our industry. Three things stood out to me: 1. The sharing economy is here to stay. I wish I could predict how market forces, regulatory decisions and industry policy will resolve themselves. But like file sharing in the '90s and rating sites in the ‘00s, it’s generally a fool’s errand to try to stop technological and sociological macro forces. There were several short-term stay sharing companies I ran into, and also a few looking at sharing other resources. The most intriguing, at least for urban markets, is parking spot sharing. The bottom line is that sharing is going on, so I continue to advocate that we figure out how to leverage this trend rather than resist it. 2. The sales conversation I’ve been advocating we start for at least the past two years might just be beginning. The panel I moderated, “How the Zero Moment of Truth Requires Us to Change Sales,” was standing room only (maybe as many as 350). More important than the attendee count was the quality of the conversation. We filled a full 20 minutes of Q&A without me having to go to any of my “back up questions.” Thanks again to my panelists, Joanne Chapman-Reps of Effective...

Posted by on in Apartment Investment
Starting a new venture can be one of the most daunting tasks, especially an undertaking that involves money and risk.  If you begin a new diet and don’t lose the weight, not much has changed.  You slide right back into your old habits and comfort zone.  Can you imagine investing money in real estate when you Mom told you it was a bad idea, and you ended up losing your investment? I’ve heard those words “ I told you so”, but I didn’t let it deter my will to succeed.  I just realized I needed a new approach.  I am just thankful that I didn’t allow anyone to crush my dreams of financial success, including mom. My goal in this article is to outline seven steps that any new investor needs to follow to achieve success in real estate.  I developed these seven steps through hard knocks and creating huge mistakes, but without those mistakes I would still be chained to a mundane job with no ability to control my future.   So let’s dive into the seven steps (actually eight)! Educate Pick a market Niche Network Analyze Submit Due diligence Take responsibility Educate: Investors think that a few podcasts and a couple of books on real estate will prepare them for the rigors and perils of investing.  Does everyone forget it takes four years to receive a college education, and most professions require additional schooling?  Podcasts and books are a fantastic start, but you will have to go deeper in your education to succeed. So where should you start?  Every...

Posted by on in Apartment Investment
When it comes to investing in real estate—and particularly in multi-family properties—one of the most important, no-brainer prerogatives is a rock-solid liability insurance policy. Investors are encouraged to shop around for the best possible coverage, as the ideal policy covers the widest range of potential pitfalls.   However, just as is the case in the automobile or homeowners’ insurance realm, various scenarios will likely not be covered by the liability policy, leaving an investor vulnerable to a massive court judgment. Likewise, establishing a corporation for property investments doesn’t always shelter the investor, who may be held personally liable in certain situations. The following provides a glimpse into some of those situations, as well as general liability issues to consider throughout the course of the real property business venture.   The perils of exclusions   Even the most savvy real property investor can’t predict every would-be liability-inducing scenario, particularly if the investor is a “hands-off” participant who chooses to leave the daily management tasks to a landlord or management company. However, investors must be mindful of the most common liability policy exclusions, and take as many preventative measures as possible.   When it comes to property liability exclusions, one of the most common perils that ensnares investors is that of unkempt, poorly-maintained common areas (i.e., areas considered to be the responsibility of the property owner/landlord). While a policy will generally cover the costs of liability for injuries occurring due to accidents or even the negligence of the injured party, it will likely...

Posted by on in Property Management
Entitled. Needy. Self-absorbed. Unreliable. Job-hoppers. If you listen to many baby boomers or Gen X'ers discuss millennials in the workplace, don't be surprised if those terms or similar ones arise. An array of negative stereotypes has been attached to millennials since they entered the labor force over the past half-decade or so. I don’t agree with the negative sentiment. Ask me about millennials, and you'll hear no shortage of compliments. Across ROSS Companies’ portfolio, millennials have proven to be positive additions to our on-site leasing and management teams. They bring energy, passion and a host of cutting-edge skills that have resulted in significant improvements in the operations of our communities. Here are some of the many admirable qualities we've noticed in this scrutinized generation: An entrepreneurial spirit. More so than members of preceding generations, millennials are interested in one day starting their own businesses. What that translates to while they're working at an already established company is that they work independently and show strong initiative in developing innovative solutions to problems. They're unafraid to propose new ways of doing things. This creative thinking has energized our on-site teams. Savvy with technology. It's no surprise that a generation that grew up with gaming, laptops, smartphones and the ever-expanding world of apps is well-versed in technology. As our communities specifically and the multifamily industry in general incorporate more sophisticated technology into our operations, we need team members who are unafraid of and fluent in these new frontiers. Social media expertise.  Due to their...

Posted by on in Student Housing
Managing a student housing community comes with unique challenges. Beyond managing residents who have never lived on their own before, student properties have more operational complexities than a typical multifamily community. Take managing utility expenses, for example. What do property managers have to do to recoup these costs from students? There are two common mistakes student communities often fall prey to. The first is padding the price of rent to include utility expenses. Apartments that include utilities can be a good way to entice students. But predicting consumption and the ever-changing costs of these utilities is a guessing game that often ends up shortchanging the property manager. Another common pitfall is offering students a “utility allowance,” which caps the amount of utilities the rent will cover. Students are then billed back for any overage beyond their allowance. It might sound like a reasonable solution, but the amount of work this entails can be overwhelming for a property manager. Let’s say that a 500 unit community receives 1 invoice per unit from each municipality (water and electricity/gas). That’s at least 1,000 invoices every month that must be analyzed, billed back to residents, and then paid to the utility company. Student properties that rent by the bed instead of by the unit see an even bigger workload in this process. Most student housing property managers will tell you that their time would be better spent on anything else. This is why utility expense management solutions are becoming so popular among the student...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
When weighing options on how to attract renters for available apartments, property managers should consider the added appeal that lighting can contribute. Trimark Properties specializes in apartments in Gainesville, Florida, and has used unique exterior lighting at Deco ’39 to attract the attention of student renters. When analyzing the development site, the design team realized that many potential tenants would drive by the real estate signage at Deco ’39 and other nearby Gainesville apartments daily without truly noticing the properties that are being advertised. Curb appeal is vital for property managers since a potential tenant’s first impression of a building should be positive. Successful property managers like Trimark pride themselves on features such as their impeccable landscaping, new paint job, and stunning architecture. These features can all be seen by passersby during the day. However, apartment complexes should be eye catching and appealing not only during the day, but at night as well. One creative way to call attention to an apartment complex while enhancing its natural features is to add creative lighting. Exterior building lighting is a creative way to show potential tenants how beautiful a property is, even in the dark when many people are actually driving home. Students living in apartments want to feel safe, and exterior lighting contributes to tenant comfort after nightfall. Exterior lighting can therefore be vital for tenants and their parents. But creative uplighting should do more than just illuminate the building; it should also add to the aesthetic of the apartment complex and create...

Posted by on in Miscellaneous
b2ap3_thumbnail_scaventure_hunt_blue--Kate-Good_20160616-162735_1.pngWe are launching our first ever Insiders scavenger hunt at the NAA Education Conference. Track down these elusive Insiders for a chance to win a gift card at the end of the week!  Click on the image below to see each Facebook Post.          ...

Posted by on in Apartment Investment
Multifamily property management can sometimes be a fickle investment. Knowing your target audience (current and potential renters) and what drives their leasing choices is a tall order, but that’s where your local market forecast and a national outlook can provide exactly the information you need to make smart decisions regarding your properties. Start Local Local events can have big impact on your renters. Consider employer changes, for example: People want to live near where they work. This means that a significant number of tenants at your property may work for just a few major employers. If your apartments are in the middle of the medical district in your city, for example, it’s important to know about major trends and local developments in the field of medicine. A new hospital being built near your complex bodes well for your future occupancy rates and could indicate a need for more units rather than the addition of any new amenities. On the other hand, if a nearby hospital is building a new facility across town and will move operations, it’s time to strategize about what you can offer those employees to keep them as renters. Local market forecasts are the best way to know what’s coming that will directly affect your community, and how you can best respond to remain competitive. Keep Your Eye on the Big Picture If the majority of your assets are multifamily properties, you would do well to keep abreast of trends in rents and occupancy rates on a national,...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
No, that was not a typo… Residents of apartment communities appreciate communication from their property managers, especially when it comes to critical information like severe weather alerts. Even for everyday occurrences like maintenance, resident satisfaction tends to increase as communication increases. Providing residents with a way to respond — and reach a live staff member when necessary — also fosters positive relationships. In all these situations, an automated resident notification system serves as a valuable tool. Here are some common situations in which automated systems can help. Severe weatherEveryone wants to know about severe weather. Keep an eye out for any weather alerts or warnings such as thunderstorms and flash flooding in the desert, winter storms on the East Coast, and freezing rain in the Pacific Northwest. You can use your automated notification system to let residents know how to avoid weather related annoyances, for example dripping faucets to avoid frozen pipes. Maintenance announcementsAutomatic notification systems can alert your residents about upcoming routine maintenance, like annual appliance checks or carpet cleaning. If you need input on scheduling a time, you can let residents know their options and how to reach you. Once you’ve scheduled with a resident, your automated system sends reminder calls prior to and after the appointment. New business openingsAlerting residents to the opening of new restaurants and other local businesses is a great service. Sending out business-opening notifications through your automated system supports the local business community and helps busy working people plan their time off effectively. Public service announcementsYou...