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Posted by on in Resident Retention
This month marks my second year as a home owner and I truly miss apartment living.  Buyer’s remorse? More like the apartment blues.  Don't get me wrong, I love my home but I jumped into things with all of the wide eyed exuberance of a first time buyer.  I had big plans for my new home; remodeling, painting, hardwood floors – the works.  Now that all of the work has been done and the newness is wearing off, the reality of what it means to own a home is overwhelming at times. Articles abound describing the pros and cons of renting versus buying and while arguments can be made on both sides, highlighting the cons of home ownership could sway residents into staying a bit longer at your community.  Beyond the move-out calculator, here are 5 things to impart upon residents who are considering the switch. 1. Maintenance – kind of a no brainer.  Maintenance is usually our go to defense when residents talk about home buying.  But let’s go a bit further.  Do residents have a full understanding of what entails a professional service call?  Plumbers, electricians and the like incorporate additional fees such as trip charges and diagnostic testing on top of labor and material costs.  Some companies often do not have the proper licenses and insurance coverage – things apartment residents may not know to ask. ACTION ITEM: Create an itemized list of costs associated with common household repairs.  2. Neighbors – where to begin.  If there is one...

Posted by on in Multifamily Training and Career Development
Let's face it: virtually nobody likes employee performance reviews. For community managers, performance reviews are one more thing to cram into an already hectic schedule, and they often mean confronting team members about performance issues.  For those being reviewed, the anxiety provoked by sitting down with their boss and going over their work with a fine-tooth comb can be profound. But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, performance reviews can and should take place in a relaxed setting where boss and employee can frankly discuss performance and set clear goals for growth.  Below are some tips on how community managers can make performance reviews a more comfortable and productive process: Constantly Provide Feedback A performance review should never be the first time a team member hears about negative or even positive aspects of their performance. Effective community managers are always providing feedback to their employees.  When team members receive regular input from their managers, they will have a firm understanding of where they stand going into the review process. This understanding will in turn decrease their stress levels and set the stage for a more relaxed, productive conversation about their future. Be OrganizedFor those conducting the reviews, preparation can be easy to put off until the last minute. But it's important to resist this powerful temptation, or the actual meeting can become a rambling mess. Decide in advance the overarching purpose of the meeting. In other words, what do you want the main takeaway for the employee to be?...

Posted by on in Property Management
Even as property owners add units to the national tally of rental properties, rents and occupancy rates are enjoying a steady climb. While filling vacant units might not seem like an issue at the moment, here’s a simple checklist for attracting and keeping those long-term tenants every landlord wants. Perform your due diligence before leasing. Get started on the right foot with every potential tenant by performing a thorough background and credit screening. Don’t ever go by what you see in just the face-to-face or solely by documentation presented by the applicant. Check references. Keep things running smoothly. When a complaint or request for repairs comes in, don’t let it sit unaddressed. Get it fixed in a reasonable amount of time. This will show your existing tenants respect and help keep the property maintained and looking its best for potential renters. Play fair. Don’t make special concessions for some tenants while not making the same for others. To avoid this situation all together, have rules and guidelines (such as when the rent is due) be the same for every tenant. Communicate your expectations clearly. This builds a good business foundation and retains consistency to avoid any misunderstandings. Focus on curb appeal. Keep the property clean and maintained, plain and simple. An unkempt property is only going to hurt chances of getting new, serious applicants in the door. It could also cause current tenants to begin their search for another complex. Show respect. Treat applicants and tenants with respect in every situation. Just...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
I had to go to the Apple Store to get my phone fixed, and I walked up to the person to sign me into the Genius Bar, or whatever they call it.  As he was filling out my information, I noticed him go through some interesting fields on his tablet with pictures of clothing.  Turns out, he was logging what I was dressing so they could quickly pick me out in the store to find me! Sure enough, a few minutes later a woman approaches me:  "Mr. Williams?"  What an interesting experience!  They used technology to make sure they could personalize my experience, which actually made more of an impact than I would have expected.  When I think about the experience of them walking directly up to me, addressing me by my name, compared to someone just loudly shouting, "Mr. Williams?" to a large group of people, I can see how much more professional the former seemed.  I felt like I had more of a relationship and rapport with each person, rather than feeling just one of several dozen in the store.  I remember back when I worked on-site, and maybe it was exacerbated by the fact that I often worked only on the weekends, but there were many residents whom I didn't know their names.  I would do my best, but sometimes I would only seem them once a quarter, or maybe even once a year.  And it was even worse when  I wasn't their primary leasing consultant.  Obviously some...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
  It hardly remains a secret that most of today’s renters likely fall into the millennial age group. The number of 18 to 34-year-olds who own a home has fallen to a 30-year low and for the first time in more than a century, young people are now more likely to live with their parents than with a spouse. Times, they are a-changing. The demand for apartment homes among millennials has skyrocketed. This young adult age bracket has essentially been driving the recent major rental market increase of the last few years and there are quite a few reasons why this is happening.   1. PURCHASING MEANS MORE DEBT With student loans accompanying the majority of recent grads after college, it’s not a surprise that millennials prefer submitting a monthly rent check over the acquisition additional mortgage debt. While in some cases mortgage payments can compete with rent prices, recent grads likely don’t have the necessary funds for an initial down payment.  (Source: AppFolio) Millennial renters in expensive metropolitan areas tend to widely underestimate the amount needed for a down payment, in many cases by 50% or more. It's been estimated that the majority of millennial renters will need a decade or more before they can afford a 20% down payment on a home. Why They Rent: Mortgage Debt, No Down Payment, Easier Qualification   2. RENTING IS MORE AFFORDABLE  While renting requires accustomed rent and utility payments, home ownership requires a much larger financial obligation. A recent research study indicated that the vast majority of millennial renters (79%) want to purchase a home, but that affordability is the...

Posted by on in Property Management
With the year 2016 almost drawing its curtains, we can confidently declare that it was one hell of a ride for a bulk of property management firms. The real estate market scene in the US has indeed lived up to earlier predictions, as houses continue recording some of the highest rental rates and prices since before the economic downturn in 2007- fuelled by downright low mortgage rates and increased demand for property. And fortunately, it probably won’t end this year. Although a survey by Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers recorded a drop in positive sentiment at 69% down from 84%, a significant majority of the biggest research and reporting firms, including Trading Economics, Forisk and NAR, predict a continuous growth curve in 2017, all through to 2020 and beyond. The biggest beneficiaries of this boom, apart from property owners, of course, are property managers and real estate professionals. A majority of the 231,457 registered property management firms, however, going by figures reported by the U.S Small Business Administration, fall within the small-business bracket- managing a limited number of properties. This restricts the amount of profit such businesses make, with a bulk of the $74 billion annual revenue going to large firms with extensive property portfolios. Of course the only way to bounce into the big league of the most profitable management firms is growing your property portfolio. Unfortunately, going by the average annual property management firm growth rate of 4.6%, it would take you about 2 decades or so to climb from a 5 to a 10 unit...

Posted by on in Construction and Development
Emergency Orders Can Have A Silver Lining for Property Owners and Developers CapasGroup Realty Advisors, in collaboration with zoning and land use attorney Drew Melville of Melville Law, PA is pleased to share the following discussion explaining how property owners can easily extend their real estate entitlements and permits.  To our surprise, many property owners are not aware of their statutory right to these extensions.  If you are a developer or own property with permits or other entitlements, please read this article and keep it on file for future reference.  For more details, please contact CapasGroup, Melville Law or your zoning attorney. Under certain circumstances, the Governor of Florida will issue an Executive Order “EO” declaring a state of emergency “SOE” for specific counties or even for the entire state.  In Florida, SOE declarations most commonly occur in advance of tropical storms or hurricanes but can be in response to other threats as well. Recent examples include SOE’s issued related to Lake Okeechobee discharge and even the Zika virus. To enable property owners in affected areas to focus on the emergency at hand, Florida Statutes makes certain entitlement and permit extensions available whenever a state of emergency is declared.  Property owners in affected areas can typically extend their entitlements for at least eight months, sometimes longer.  The process is relatively simple, inexpensive does not require an approval process.  Essentially, all property owners must do is notify the appropriate regulatory agencies of their intent to exercise their rights under the Section. How It Works Under Section...

Posted by on in Property Management
Dear Gabby,   How it is November already? Weren’t we just swimming in the pool? Anyway, it’s been awhile since I hosted an event for my residents and I have been hearing a lot about this thing called Friendsgiving...would that be a good idea? I am not totally sure what Friendsgiving is. I guess I am showing my age.   Please help!   #AManagerTryingToBeHip   _________________________________________________________________________   Dear #AManagerTryingToBeHip,     I would be lying if I said that you seemed like a millennial based on your question, but at least you’re trying! Friendsgiving is somewhat of a new idea and is really popular for young people that live away from their families.   I think that it would be a perfect fall event for your residents. It’s such a fun and relaxed way to get to know your neighbors without the pressure of having a sit down meal. Not only that, but it is before the winter holiday season so people are more likely to be free.   When throwing a Friendsgiving gathering, you should forget your idea of any formal meal or having to deal with your distant relatives that you have to see once a year (side note: if a relative doesn’t come to mind… you’re that relative!). Instead, think about drinks, delicious food, good tunes, and chatting with new friends!   Here are some tips from none other than Martha Stewart on how to make your Friendsgiving the best around...and we know she’s friends with Snoop Dogg...

Posted by on in Miscellaneous
If you think that it is difficult, expensive or time-consuming to make green improvements to rental apartments, think again. Many energy-efficient appliances and household products have come down in price, making many green investments more reasonable for property owners. During a renovation among tenants, adding green features is an easy way to modernize the apartment and re-orient it to match demands and expectations of top-quality renters. Plus, these green improvements will even pay you back. 1. Switch to Low-Flow Water Fixtures Got an old running toilet? Then don't be surprised when your water bill spikes from the constant demand. Replacing old toilets, showerheads and plumbing fixtures with low-flow fixtures curbs water use and cuts your water bill. Depending on your location, you may be able to get a rebate just for replacing old water fixtures with green ones. 2. Switch to ENERGY STAR appliances If you plan to replace a refrigerator, dishwasher, washer/dryer or other appliance, why not select an ENERGY STAR appliance? Your renters will value a brand-new appliance. You'll enjoy curbing energy use and utility bills. Better still, old appliances that work can be donated to local charities where they'll enjoy second lives (and you'll receive a tax deduction for your donation). 3. Install LED Lights in Common Areas While LED light bulbs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, they last longer than compact fluorescent bulbs and consume less electricity to run. Switch to LED lights in all common areas to reduce your electric bill at rental properties and...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Is Your Sales Process Prospect-Centered? This week we have a guest column from Stacy Bouchard, D2 Demand Solutions Marketing Manager. Recently, I found myself in the market for a new laptop. Based on my experience, I had a general idea of what I wanted but hadn’t done any research for a while. So I started my process there…with research. I sat down with my friend Google and we searched and found many reviews from third parties, user stories and a lot of information on the specifications available for the models on my short list. While I felt confident in my research, I decided to visit my local Best Buy to talk to an actual person before making my final decision. From my research, I knew that they carried every laptop I was considering. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to talk to a knowledgeable sales person but wanted to give it a try and I’m so glad that I did.   I’m not sure if it was my lucky day or if Best Buy has just improved their sales process and training that much. The sales rep I talked to was so helpful. He asked me questions that I hadn’t considered – questions that were all about me including how I worked, what my job is, where I work, my expectations of a laptop, the other hardware that I use or intend to use, etc. He offered suggestions based on my answers – some that had nothing to do with a laptop and in...