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To BE or not to BE?

Time flies when you're having fun, and the past 2 years have been a BLAST. I've been blogging and doing my own thing now for two years. It was so hard to decide to write my first blog/decide to do my own thing, because the choices were: now or never sink or swim do or die all or nothing to be or not to be! (This last one is SOOO important!) What terrible choices. What wonderful choices. What EXCITING choices. What dangers! What risks! My heart was beating FAST, ERADICALLY, I was scared > no terrified. I took a breathe, I took LOTS of deep breathes, and then...and THEN ...I made the decision, and then, and then... For the first time in my life, I was on my own. I was on my own, but I had a voice, I had opinions, I was doing MY thing, and it was scary, (what if people disagreed with me? what if they hated me? what if they don't want to hire me? the list went on and on) Scary, but I loved every minute of it. Looking back, there really was no other choice. Eventually, all roads, all training, all experiences had led me to this road > the road where I I had to CHOOSE to create my own path, my own way. So, I chose. And every day since, that little spark that drove me to dive off the deep end 2 years ago > continues to grow. The spark became a FIRE,......
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Success Stories: Two Apartment Managers Who Started Small & Making A BIG Splash!

This is the first blog in a series of blogs that takes a closer look at success in the multi-family apartment industry - Who's successful? Who's Being promoted? How did they do it? and most importantly to YOU as the reader - can their stories help YOU become successful in your apartment industry career? This blog examines: Two SUCCESS Stories of Apartment Managers Who Started Small and Currently Making a BIG Splash! I interviewed Kate Heitzman of Greco Properties - General Manager at BLUE in Uptown Minneapolis, a 242 unit luxury market rate property and Toni Powell of Bigos Management - Community Manager at Calhoun Greenway also in Uptown Minneapolis, a 350 unit market rate property. Both management companies operate in Minnesota. Q: How did you get your start in the apartment industry? Above: Toni Powell of Bigos Management Toni: By accident! I moved to the twin cities from St. Cloud. The apartment building I moved into didn't have my apartment ready - they needed a manager, and there I was. It was a 40 unit 1st tier Minneapolis suburb, class A property. Eventually, they asked me to take over a different 38 unit luxury townhouse project. I did. When my manager left, I asked to take over both properties. I was bored and I needed MORE. They didn't think I would be able to handle both properties, but they gave it to me, and I made it work.     Above: Kate Heitzman of Greco Properties Kate: I had always worked in retail man......
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9 Apartment Mobile Apps for the iPhone/iPad

With studies showing that the mobile web will rule by 2015 (i.e. more users will access the internet through their mobile devices than their desktops), in the apartment industry, who has apartment-related mobile apps? As apartment professionals, whether leasing agent, marketing director, apartment industry consultant, property manager, etc, it's important to see and understand how our prospects are finding us - so that we are reaching out to them in the platforms that they use. We should know which one of our current advertising sources (your apartment internet listing service or apartment ILS) are already mobile ready and which ones aren't - so that we can make better advertising decisions. If your apartment community's demographics are likely to use their mobile devices as part of their apartment search - you should come up on that search! This blog explores the options for the iPhone/iPad. We will explore options for other platforms in a separate blog. 9 Apartment-related Mobile Apps for the iPhone/iPad: NOTE: These are not listed in any particular order. All apps allow for a traditional search - where you enter in a city/state/zip, as well as a GPS-enabled search to locate near-by apartment rentals. I've also noted their average current user rating in the app store/# of ratings as of the date of this blog - most users aren't going to download all of the apps available. Many of these have similar functionality - just slightly different user interface, branding, and different "special" features. If there are special features to each application, I've note them, b......
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3 Gift Ideas for Your Apartment Residents For The Cost of Some Elbow Grease!

The next 30 days are a whirlwind of end of year celebrating. Whether your residents celebrate Christmas, Hannakah, Kwanzaa, or ringing in the New Year, the spirit of giving and goodwill are out and about. Here are 3 Gift Ideas your apartment community can give to your residents, for the cost of some elbow grease! 3 Gift/Amenity Ideas for Your Apartment Residents Package delivery - The next 30 days, your residents maybe ordering gifts for themselves, others, or receiving gifts from loved ones. Many of those items are delivered during the time when your apartment resident is not at home. How great would it be if you could accept their packages and deliver it into their apartment? What a great gift/amenity to give to your apartment residents!  To coordinate this, you will need to have your residents sign a package addendum allowing you to accept packages on their behalf as well as allowing you to place their package into their home. I've implemented this at many sites - sometimes as a year-round amenity. If you need a sample package addendum, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I can send you one that you can use as a template. Weekly Recycling AT-DOOR Pick-Up - With all the boxes arriving, packaging of gifts, and unwrapping of gifts, your resident will have additional recycling this month. (i.e. boxes, paper wrapping, newspaper, shopping bags, etc.) Why not offer a once a week pick-up at your resident's doors for their paper recycling? If you opt to offer this, you will need to set......
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TOP 3 Qualities of Successful Multi-Family Apartment Careers

Here at RENT SODA, we've been talking about success A LOT. From our recent article (Build on Your Strengths: Build Success by Jim Baumgartner) to our Profiling Your Way to MORE Success sales classes, to every day conversations with our clients ("We want our manager to be more successful,"), it seems everyone is talking about "SUCCESS." It begs the question: Do You Have What it Takes To Be Successful in the Multi-family (Apartment) Industry? or better yet: What DOES it Take To Be Successful in the Multi-Family (Apartment) Industry? We have been pondering this over the last few weeks. We've decided to do a series of articles on individual SUCCESS in the Multi-Family Apartment Industry. We've started researching and interviewing successful people - you'll want to read what they have to say - so check back weekly as we post those articles! First, we looked for individuals who were successful in the following categories: Someone who has had multiple career advancements and now holds one of the top positions in their company. (i.e. someone who started at the bottom and worked their way up to VP, CEO/COO/CFO or founder of a company in the Multi-family industry.) Someone who started in property management and has made a successful transition into a vendor role. Someone who started in a vendor role and has made a successful transition into a property management/development company. Someone who started at the corporate-side of the multi-family apartment business and has successfully transition into an on-site (at the apartment community) position. Someone who......
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Foursquare vs. Facebook Places - Which is Better for Marketing Your Apartment Community?

OK, I'll admit it. I'm a Foursquare GEEK, and now, with the launch of Facebook Places, I am TOTALLY CONFUSED. There's so much news out about Facebook Places - what will be the best tool for helping your outreach or marketing efforts at your apartment communities? Which application will help you stay connected to more apartment residents, attract more apartment prospects, give you more positive exposure? Some background: I use facebook as a place to connect with friends and collegues, keep up with the latest news about places/businesses I "like," and connect with other like-minded individuals. I use foursquare to find out about places near me, get tips based on my location, and I hate to admit it, but I secretly covet being "mayor" and earning badges. If I am a typical user, how does this information help YOU market your apartment communities or connect with prospects and residents? Let's put them in the boxing  ring and see who wins: ROUND ONE: First thing I do when I go somewhere is to look on Foursquare to see which businesses near me have tips, read them, and see if I want to try something new, or stick with my tried and true favorites. Currently very easy to do on Foursquare. AND Foursquare has had A LOT more activity - resulting in lots of tips & deals with local businesses. Facebook Places - I have not found a way to leave a tip or find tips others have left. The only way to see......
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Have Money - Need Apartment. PS Don't Irritate, Annoy or Otherwise *iss Me Off!

In today's apartment marketplace, when a prospect walks into your doors, they are READY to lease from you. With all the information available on the internet, your facebook page, your twitter account, your website, apartmentratings.com - believe me. They've seen it, and your prospect is STILL interested. They may as well have a sign around their neck that reads, "Have Money, Need Apartment." What's preventing you from leasing to them? I call it the PS factor. They sign around their neck that reads, "Have Money, Need Apartment," should also have a postscript that reads, P.S. Don't IRRITATE, ANNOY, AKA Don't *iss Me Off - Otherwise You WILL Lose Me! I'm sure you've never annoyed, irritated or *issed your prospects off, or have you? [video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7ACFZeCZwo 433x300] Here are 5 sure fire ways to lose a perfectly good & ready prospect AKA What NOT to Do When Leasing Apartments: Assume I want the cheapest apartment you have available. Start off selling me on price and price alone: Contrary to popular belief, finding your next apartment HOME is not a decision solely based on PRICE alone. ASK, LISTEN, OBSERVE and use the information you find to your advantage. When shopping for a home, most people do not try to find the cheapest thing they can find. CASE-IN-POINT: I recently did some apartment shops in a busy downtown market. I was dressed appropriately. My boyfriend and I asked to see a luxury unit in the 1500 - 2000 square feet range. We did not mention any budget. They leasing......
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Technology Tidbits: Monitoring Multiple Apartment Craigslist Ads With Google Gadgets

Do you have a need to check on your site's various craigslist ads - and its taking too long? Are you a Community Manager, Regional Manager, Marketing Director or someone who needs to check on your apartment sites' 20+ ads and find the search, find, review process in craigslist cumbersome & time consuming? If you are doing a search on craigslist to find and check on your apartment listings every day, every few days or weekly, THERE IS A BETTER WAY! And best of all, this is a FREE tool! If you have multiple apartment sites, or your sites are listing multiple apartment listings, and you don't have a good monitoring option, this TECHNOLOGY TIDBIT is for you! (A special thank you to Laurel Zacher of Bigos Management who shared this juicy technology tidbit.) Laurel recommends using Google Gadgets + the Craigslist Monitor. 3 minutes of set-up time will save you TONS of time. Here are step-by-step instructions to make this work and save you time! You have to have a google gmail account. (If you don't have one, sign-up for one. It's FREE, and there are a TON of useful FREE tools.) Sign-onto your gmail account. Laurel also recommends having a key word or code that all of your craigslist ads have, but that noone else will have. For Laurel, all of their adds mention the word "Bigos Management." For you, it could be the name of your company, or any arbitrary code that no one else is using. Once you are......
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Top 12 Tips: Apartment Model on a Shoestring Budget

Have champagne taste and a beer budget? Need a model apartment to help you lease, but on a shoestring budget? A client told me yesterday that they read my blog, "Got Vacancy? Apartment Models - Is it a DO, a DON't or a CAN't Afford?" and during their budgeting process, the sites that struggled the most with vacancy, budgeted for models. BUT, the budgets were "scrubbed" and the model expenses were taken out. There are lots of creative and affordable ways to model an apartment! The great news is, you don't have to go ALL OUT - you just need to make an impression! If you prospect is looking at 4-8 other apartments - how do you make yours MEMORABLE? Here are my top 10 budget conscious tips for whipping up a model on a dime! All white or ivory walls can be overwhleming. Painting an entire unit can be overwhelming and time intensive. Consider an accent wall! For the price of paint and minimal work, you can really make an apartment POP by painting 1 wall. Not only will this create visual interest, it will draw the attention directly to THAT wall. Kitchens - can use accent walls too! Instead of accent tiles which are expensive, consider painting the space underneath cabinets an accent color. This will make that area POP! Speaking of kitchens, if you have bare counter space, consider some kitchen accessories, like fake potted herbs, oven mitts, cookbooks. Artfully arrange them on the counter top to c......
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#1 Most Important TIP for Apartment Resident Retention

With so many choices available, the price competitiveness of the market, and concessions still a tool that lots of apartment communities still use to entice renters, the best way to control vacancy loss is to close that back door – retain your existing residents. What’s the most important thing you can do to increase resident retention and lower your resident turnover? Here’s my #1 most important tip I can give you regarding your resident retention plan: RESPECT your residents and genuinely APPRECIATE their business. OK, so maybe that’s 2 tips – just consider it my two-for-one tip deal! The reality is, no matter what the rent is, whether its $500.00/month, or $5000.00 a month, its likely the BIGGEST check your resident writes every month. Find ways to let your residents know you respect and appreciate them as residents of your apartment community! If you can find ways to show them you respect and appreciate them as residents, the higher your likelihood of turning them into life-long residents! This may sound like an easy no-brainer, but the reality is, it is so easy to forget – it is something you have to work actively to remember and practice. When I work on affordable communities, I am always amazed at the amount of complaining I hear in the site staff – they can’t identify with the residents – they find it hard to believe that anyone would live at ABC DUMP apartments, they complain about how small the units are, and its common for me to......
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