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Apartment Marketing 2.0 - Top 5 "Must Have" Marketing Strategies

Apartment Marketing 2.0 - Top 5 "Must Have" Marketing Strategies
“What do you mean I can’t just post an ad on Craigslist and lease my entire building?” In this day and age, I never expect to hear that, but to my surprise, I still hear those words from developers and managers. The problem is, long gone are those days of posting free Craigslist ads and watching the leads roll in. These days, it takes a lot more than simple ads to get a building leased and stay competitive. Even communities or portfolios who have moved beyond that, have resigned themselves to the status quo of marketing. You know the ones, they throw an ad on Apartments.com and post "how to spruce up your kitchen" posts on Facebook and still wonder why they have vacancy issues. You have to be creative, involved and spend the time and money to ensure your property is at the forefront when renters are searching for an apartment.  Here is what should be the most vital parts of any communities marketing plan: SEO | SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION This might be the most important of all the recommendations. Having a comprehensive SEO strategy is paramount to your community being found online. It also can provide a HUGE boost to reduced cost lead generation as well as a competitive edge in your market. PPC | ADWORDS A fundamental of leasing these days, AdWords advertising can produce excellent results if you know how to optimize it. The keys to a successful AdWords campaign is testing, good copyrighting and keyword selection. Remem......
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Resident Retention Tips For Property Manager & Landlords

Resident retention in the real estate industry is a critical part to an investor’s success.  Several factors go into the cost of acquiring residents, marketing, and make ready costs. There is also lost revenue from vacant units, making it a key part of your ROI. We put some tips together to help you retain your residents. A key factor in a resident staying is they feel they belong to a community. Their apartment should be more than a place to sleep and eat. Create a social media presence for your community. Try to get your resident to utilize your page to talk about the events you hold on the property. Talk about your staff and the community. Look to create experiences within the community. The day a new resident moves in, you should have a nice welcome gift waiting for them. Something they can use in their new place. Also, a popular idea is a gift certificate to a local restaurant for takeout or pizza. After a long day of moving, it’s nice to order some food and relax. Creating events for your property can give your residents a sense of community, and allow them to get to know each other as well. Fun events like cook-offs, BBQs or events for their children are usually big winners. An added benefit is once your residents get to know one another, they become more vested in the community, looking to better it, and taking a pride of ownership mentality. Training your staff in t......
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Screening in a Soft Market

After a historically good run, the multifamily sector has shown some recent signs of softening. The national occupancy rate declined for five straight months before rising slightly in February to end the month at 94.5 percent. But that number is still less than February 2016's mark of 94.7 percent. Additionally, the national effective rent grew by 2.3 percent on an annual basis in February. One year earlier, the growth was 4.1 percent. Of course, context is key: the apartment industry is still very healthy. But softening fundamentals should prompt operators to consider how they may relax their screening standards for new residents to keep occupancies up in a sluggish market. One thing is certain, though. Regardless of how an operator reduces its thresholds for factors like credit scores, employment history and income, it needs to incorporate rental payment history in its lease-application evaluations and to share the payment history of its residents with other apartment managers.  Put simply, doing these things is critical to determining just how risky a prospect is and to recovering bad debt should a resident skip out on a lease. Expanding on the Credit Score Picture Loosening your screening standards is often a necessary tactic for navigating a downturn in the market. But if you do so, you should have a crystal-clear view of the risk an applicant poses.  Generally speaking, credit scores are highly predictive of likelihood to default on rental payments. However, in certain cases, a high credit score doesn’t equate with a likelihood to p......
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Security Concerns with Off-Campus Housing

When students move off campus it adds a new layer of safety concerns that on-campus students may not consider. While living off campus offers students freedom from university housing rules, more space than the dorms, and the freedom to come and go as they please, it also forces students, parents and property managers to look more closely at the safety of multi-family residences. Students living on campus can rely on university security, building monitors and video cameras, and emergency phones across campus and in its buildings, but moving off campus requires students to ensure the safety of their rental property or home themselves. In a recent survey about key sharing, the majority (63 percent) of Americans reported that at least one person who does not currently live with them has a key to their home. In fact, 18 percent of Americans have given a key to their home to three or more people who don’t live with them, while one-third of Americans admit to making a copy of a house or rental apartment key without asking permission from the property manager or landlord. In an effort to increase the security in off-campus housing and to ease the minds of students and parents alike, property managers can update amenities and building technology in a multi-family building to include an integrated access control system or a smart interconnected lock, which will increase operational efficiency for property managers who will no longer need to worry about that hassle of mechanical key management or students m......
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IDEAS FOR RENT - Developing a Reputation Management Plan

IDEAS FOR RENT - Developing a Reputation Management Plan
Let's be honest. Very few in our industry like online review websites. They are a constant struggle. Very rarely do they provide a sound mechanism to generate leads and more often than not, they lead to bad reputations, decreased lead generation, and fewer renewals. However, we still need to deal with them. Online review sites are here to stay and should not be ignored. Hoping they go away won't solve the problem. However, if you have the right plan, you can make sure you are setup for success. Reputation Management Plan It's essential, if not vital that every community today develops a plan on how to deal with online reviews. The goal of any good Reputation Management plan is to minimize the impact of adverse reviews while improving the number of positive reviews left by renters and tenants. STEP #1 - Respond to Negative Reviews A Reputation Management plan starts with responding to reviews in a timely, understanding and mature manner.   React Quickly and Politely - Not responding to negative reviews can be the worst thing a community can do. Ignoring it doesn't make it better. Respond to every review quickly and politely. Address Criticism - When responding to a review, acknowledge the criticism if it is valid. You must address the issue "head-on." Making excuses or passing-the-buck can only lead to more criticism and worse reviews. Empathize with Complaints - What would you write if you had the same experience? Empathizing with a renter or tenant about their issues shows you......
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Does Your Beautiful Pool Actually Drive New Leases?


Last month, we conducted a study of apartment community amenities to identify what amenities were driving excitement, activity, and most importantly, new leases.  (You can access the full report here)   Perhaps unsurprisingly, the community pool was cited most often as one of the three amenities that excited prospects the most, selected by 64% of property management professionals.  So the question becomes, if everybody thinks their pool is "wowing" prospects, is it really helping with the final decision to sign a lease?

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IDEAS FOR RENT - Expand Your Apartment Community's Leasing Hours

I sit at a coffee shop watching half a dozen people plugging away on their laptops, making phone calls and texting away.   However, as lunch approaches, a wave of business people swarm the cafe looking for a quick bite. There are scores of them, frantically trying to get lunch and get back to their offices before their lunch break is over. These days we love to talk about the "on demand" economy, but the data suggests that a significant percentage of the population still works a very standard 9-5pm schedule.  However, those same "9-5" people still use Uber, Amazon, etc. and expect “on demand” service. That is why it is so perplexing that most multifamily communities have not changed their standard leasing hours in the past 30 or 40 years. Most communities have a pretty standard schedule. Weekday's from 9-5 or 6, Saturdays for a couple of hours and some Sundays. However, the problem is, that more and more people want to view apartments and homes when it's convenient for them, not for the management company or leasing agent. Let's say you have two buildings in the same neighborhood, with similar amenities and price points. One has "extended leasing hours, " and one does not. If It's going to be easier for a potential tenant to see the property with extended leasing hours, it's a safe bet to say that may play a role in the final decision of that renter. I've seen this both professionally and personally. During my t......
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A Tenant Signs the Lease and then Vanishes. What do you do?

The prospective tenant passed your background check, they were very welcoming in the showing, and really everything looked great when you signed the lease.  But then when move-in day comes, nothing happens.  The tenant is nowhere to be found.  Plans can change on a dime.  Below are suggestions on handling and preventing cases like these. Procedure: If you have already signed a lease with a tenant, it is a binding contract and you must go through the same legal process as any other tenant. This will be a unique circumstance since the tenant is not presently occupying the unit and may not see the notice on the door.  Post the notice there anyways.  You don’t know if the tenant will return or not.  You as the landlord need to make every attempt to clearly communicate the 3-day notice to pay rent or quit.  This means not only posting a notice on the door of the property, but also emailing, making phone calls, and any other possible form of communication you have at your disposal.  After this period of time, and you have established that the unit is vacant, you then will be able to go back to putting the unit on the market. Can I enter the property to check that the tenant is there? You must first provide a 24 hour notice before entering a unit.  This will simply extend the timeline to getting the unit filled with a paying tenant. If you haven’t received the rent payment on the day it was due......
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The 4 Levels of Customer (Resident) Experience

The 4 Levels of Customer (Resident) ExperienceOpen up any business publication and it’s a pretty good bet you’ll see something that talks about customer service or the customer experience. In the multifamily industry, the focus by nature is on our customer - the resident.  However, one problem with much of what’s written on the topic is that customer service and customer experience is often used interchangeably. To drive the type of results you want from your initiatives, you must understand the difference between service and experience, and the continuum of customer experience. Customer service is about process. It's a lot of the standards and internal processes. It's the basics that we have defined for our teams: the stand, smile and greet, the way that we engage with a customer when we meet them, when they come in the office, when we pick up the phone and so on. Customer experience, on the other hand, is a journey that companies go on as they start to evolve from providing service, that’s focused on our processes, to truly focusing on the customer and crafting an experience designed for them: and equipping our teams with the necessary processes and products to deliver that experience purposefully. Customer service is about standards, processes and techniques. Customer experience is how everything comes together to create an experience for the customer, and it’s how that experience feels to the customer. As you design your intentional customer experience, it’s important to understand there are, in essence, four levels of experience:   1. Random A focus on customer ex......
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Don’t let a Landlord-Tenant Dispute Become a Natural Disaster

shutterstock_171847709Don’t wait until disaster strikes to protect yourself and others from damages. Have a plan in place to prevent landlord-tenant disputes when there is property damage of any kind.  You should take steps to ensure that the lease clearly designates who is responsible for what damages and when.  Both parties should also have insurance when replacements or repairs have to be made. Mind the Lease Lease Termination Landlords should take special care in the rental agreement about terms and conditions for terminating or breaking the lease. This should include stipulations that specify how much advanced notice a tenant must give in order to break the lease and what fees will be incurred if the contract is violated.  Both parties are required by law to provide a 30 day notice that they will be terminating the lease, but you can choose to request a larger time frame in the lease.  Keep in mind that if special circumstances develop on the property, such as a tornado ripping off the roof of the property, the tenant can’t be expected to continue to live in the property.  In such situations that the property is deemed to be untenable, the Landlord must either provide alternative housing for the tenant during the period of repairs or terminate the lease. Damage Repair Replacement and repair for damages are generally isolated for the landlord and the tenant.  The tenant is to be responsible for their own personal belongings inside of their unit.  The landlord is responsible for the upkeep of the physical property inside and out. What if the pro......
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