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Diversity and Inclusion is More Than an HR Initiative

  Over the past several months, there have been many articles, forums, discussions, focus groups, and webinars on the need for more diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business. And while there have been many valuable points made and practices shared, there are three themes that have particularly stood out to me. 1. Diversity and Inclusion is not an HR initiative. I really appreciate hearing the clear stance that diversity, equity, and inclusion is NOT simply an HR initiative. I absolutely agree that it's not. It's a company value that can only be successful when it begins with executive leadership, whether that means the owner, CEO, president, or leadership team - it starts squarely with them. Based on a recent Swift Bunny Employee Engagement Study, out of the Top 10 things that matter most to employees, the 3 common topics that are shared between Corporate, Regional and On-Site employees are:   Senior management creates a positive work environment  I respect senior management  Senior management has communicated a clear vision for the company  How executive leadership talks to, talks about, includes, encourages, promotes, challenges, and values each employee is noticed and emulated. Diversity and inclusion begins with them. Human resources certainly manages many key aspects, but their work will never achieve real and enduring change without action from the top. 2. The Importance of a Diversity and Inclusion Employee Survey I've been very impressed and heartened at the number of multifamily companies who are considering or have already rolled out a Diversity......
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Stressed, uncertain, and overworked: This is how the onsite team feels

Stressed, uncertain, and overworked: This is how the onsite team feels
The pandemic has adversely affected both renters and personnel working in the multifamily industry. In a recent survey exploring team morale, J Turner Research found a 24% differential between the onsite teams and executives’ rating of their satisfaction with their company's handling of the pandemic.   The onsite teams were asked what their company could have done better to handle the pandemic, how the company had succeeded, and what ongoing challenges exist. In the open-ended comments, one recurring sentiment was that as essential, front-line workers, onsite team members felt disappointed with management’s lack of support, flexibility, and monetary compensation.   In analyzing the open-ended comments by onsite team members, the following themes emerged:   Lack of adequate compensation/hazard pay Many respondents from the onsite group said they were inadequately compensated or should receive hazard pay for working additional hours and putting their lives in danger. They highlighted the effect of the pandemic on income in reduced bonuses and expressed the need for more paid time off.  Despite some associates achieving leasing renewal rates between 70 and 85%, many reported receiving no commission, as there was no rent increase.   Unfair treatment of staff with children There was a general feeling of resentment and disappointment, particularly among staff members with young children. Many echoed that management had treated onsite team members with children unfairly — they did not offer flexible work schedules or childcare for such employees. Some reported an ongoing fear of losing their job, despite having young children to look after......
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What Are the Biggest Changes the Multifamily Industry Will Experience Over the Next 5 Years?

Alright, let’s talk long-term changes.  I know long-term anything is really difficult to think about right now because a lot of us in this industry are trying to figure out how we’re going to survive the rest of 2020. But that’s what we thought back in March when COVID-19 launched itself into our lives and look at what we’re doing now — surviving.  So, we’ll survive.  But then what? What does property management, unit tours, apartment marketing, and leasing all look like in five years?  I feel like these are important things to discuss so we can begin to prepare and get ahead of the curve. I definitely don’t have all the answers but here are my thoughts (feel free to comment yours down below):  Affordable Apartment Demand Will Triple Unfortunately, it’s going to take years for our economy to bounce back from the pandemic. So many people have had a change in income and due to current job unpredictability, money isn’t as freely spent. We’ve established that renters are still renting and those who want to move are still moving, even during the pandemic.  However, I think within the next five years, the amount renters are willing (and able) to spend each month on rent will slowly decrease. The truth of this becomes even more clear when we factor in how long this pandemic could potentially last in the United States.  On top of that, due to the previously stated job unpredictability and the need to possibly move for a new job, I think th......
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Which Commercial Property Sectors are Doing the Best During the Pandemic, and Which Ones Are Hurting?

Together with almost every other sector of the economy, commercial property has been disrupted by Coronavirus and social distancing. For many years, the main declining CRE sector has been retail. However, this sector is no longer suffering alone, since the pandemic is hurting most other CRE sectors: hospitality, office, multi-family, personal services, restaurant, entertainment, and construction. A decline in retail space may result in greater demand for industrial space. For the industrial sector properties, demand for storage space from online stores may continue to increase after the coronavirus pandemic. The online shopping industry has created a strong demand for logistic space and warehouse, increasing record asset values and rental rates for industrial properties, while reducing demand for some retail properties.   However, it’s worth noting that some areas of retail are still doing well. Shopping centers are still open because they have supermarkets that are all trading exceptionally well.  The non-discretionary retail segment will probably emerge from this crisis as one of the most resilient commercial property sectors. The performance of commercial office buildings depends on the underlying resilience of the tenant’s business. For instance, where tenants are government departments and big multinational companies with employees working from home, the effects are likely to be minimal. However, those with tenants whose business model has been significantly disrupted by social distancing are being deeply affected.  The aftershock is likely to affect various types of commercial property differently. Shopping malls will probably take some time to return to full capacity, as people remain worried abo......
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Gyms Deemed Safe with Sanitizing Protocol

Gyms Deemed Safe with Sanitizing Protocol
Pandemic or no pandemic, sanitization is always in style. Property managers stretching their maintenance team thin trying to keep up with the recent increase of cleaning demand can be stressful to everyone, and if the standards can’t be met, residents ultimately suffer.   In this post, I'll share the latest news in sanitizing and disinfecting to prevent COVID-19, how it may affect your property, and provide tips for what to do next. Safe & Sanitized The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and MXM, a technology company specializing in member tracking within the fitness industry, found that fitness facilities are safe and are not contributing to the spread of COVID-19. They analyzed member check-in data across 2,873 gyms, sports clubs and boutique fitness centers from May to August 2020. “The check-in data proves that health clubs – when following strict cleaning and safety protocols – are safe,” said Brent Darden, IHRSA interim president and CEO.    Overall, the data they gathered proved two major points:  1.) Properly sanitized gyms are safe for employees and members and  2.) Gyms are not linked to spikes or spreading of COVID-19. Our Survey Results Gathering feedback from residents is important to understand their wants, needs, and priorities. In our most recent survey, we asked more than 1,000 residents about their interest in group fitness activities. 98% of residents at two properties surveyed said they would take a class if, and only if, protocols and CDC guidelines were in place. With the help of an online am......
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What Is a “Leed Certified” Building, and Are Tenants Willing to Pay More Rent for One?

What Is a “Leed Certified” Building, and Are Tenants Willing to Pay More Rent for One?
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building certification system that is internationally recognized and provides third-party verification that a community or a building was built and designed using strategies for improving performance across all the most important metrics: energy savings, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, water efficiency, and stewardship of resources. It can be applied to all building types – both commercial and residential. LEED includes a point system to score green building construction and design. The system is categorized into five main areas: Sustainable Sites, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Water Efficiency, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Buildings get points based on how successful sustainable strategies are achieved. More points mean a higher level of certification, which range from Silver, Gold, to Platinum. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is focused primarily on new, commercial buildings. The more points you get, the higher your rating will be. Getting the LEED status can require significantly higher costs on the part of a company or a builder but can also provide huge cost savings over time, including higher rents, state and local tax breaks, and many other perks.  It is certain that green buildings are becoming increasingly popular, and tenants are looking for more sustainable solutions. LEED certification will improve your building’s image and establish you as a green building leader. And because sustainable green buildings are more positively viewed in today’s market, you will be able to charge higher rates. These buildings are also cheaper to op......
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Staying Well Inside and Out

Staying Well Inside and Out
In times of Covid-19, we have to get creative with how we navigate fitness and wellness in public spaces. Multifamily communities have shared amenity spaces in addition to the apartment rented by a tenant that allow residents to enjoy the perks of the property they've chosen to call home. The infographic below contains four options for indoor and outdoor health and fitness activities that can help residents coordinate different ways to stay mobile and well.   Group Fitness Social distancing doesn’t mean being antisocial! Group classes can be hosted in a gym or outside in a parking lot, and are a great place to meet new friends and neighbors. If your schedule is packed and you can’t make the class time, catch up with a virtual recap if available! Yoga Classes Yoga is a versatile way to practice focus, deep breathing, flexibility and strength. It can be done in-studio, or on the lawn! This is another great virtual option if you prefer practicing solo. Virtual Meditation If a desk is your home away from home, it’s almost effortless to log off of work and log on to a guided meditation or relaxation exercise. We like Mastermind Meditate (@mastermindmeditate) because they do short, guided mindfulness exercises at least twice a week! Remember: stress reduction is a way to stay mentally and emotionally healthy. Trail Jog State of the art treadmills come equipped with the option to take a virtual tour in gorgeous faraway landscapes. But nothing beats the real fresh air, so hit t......
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Multifamily Budgeting Tips During a Pandemic

    It’s that time of year again, budget season. In a normal year, budgeting comes with it’s own set of challenges, in a year with a global pandemic, it can seem nearly impossible.    I had the opportunity to sit down with 3 multifamily friends to chat how they were weathering the budget season in the middle of a pandemic.  Marcella Eppsteiner, Vice President of Marketing for Mission Rock Residential, Kim Boland, Director of Digital Marketing for Morgan Properties, and Savannah Wheeler, Vice President of Finance, Treasury and IT for Mission Rock Residential discussed next years budgeting strategy and how to adjust to an unpredictable world moving forward.    Embracing Nimbleness and Agility  Pivoting in the time of COVID requires nimble responses and openness to change. ”During a week in March where everything stopped, we realized 2020 was going to be an outlier,” Marcella says.    Mission Rock Residential, which typically does extensive performance evaluations for each of their communities when planning budgets, won’t just be comparing year over year, but several years to get a better idea of how far off they are from the norm due to the pandemic. Marcella shares that this year’s data alongside the five previous years should be a key factor for budgeting, along with prioritizing requests.   “Traditionally, we would share feedback and input for the strategy. This year, the real difference is seeing the granular data points that are strategy-determining factors for each department,” Marcella  says.   This year’s global economic upheaval propelled......
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If zoning or codes change while I own a property, do the changes automatically apply to my property?

If zoning or codes change while I own a property, do the changes automatically apply to my property?
Can a city change my property zoning without my permission? Yes, a city can change your zoning classification without your permission. Legally speaking, zoning is an exercise of what is known to be police power. It does not happen often, and we’re not saying it is a fair practice. But it is possible. “Police power” is used in the sense that a city's general powers under state constitutions can do what they think is necessary for general safety, health, and welfare. The most common case of rezoning is when a property owner, or a future land purchaser, asks for a more advantageous classification. In many cases, this is called a rezoning petition.  Usually, cities do this when they have some kind of policy goal to maximize. For instance, they might have decided that a specific part of town needs more or less residential density (which means housing units per acre). However, If the rezoning makes your property less valuable, this could be a downzoning. You might want to research that idea. Will zoning amendments negatively impact what you can do with your property or your ability to refinance, enlarge, or sell it? Can You Be “Grandfathered” into the Old Zoning? Typically, these amendments increase minimal dimensional requirements, or they decrease the kinds of uses permitted on the property. These regulations can severely restrict existing owners’ use of their land. Accordingly, municipalities can often protect the owners from difficulties caused by zoning amendments by “grandfathering” current building lots. The local zoning bylaw may provide tha......
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Why Population Growth in the Suburbs is Outpacing City Growth

Why Population Growth in the Suburbs is Outpacing City Growth
During the late nineteenth century, many Americans flocked to cities in search of factory work. In the postwar era of the 1940s-1950s, this trend was reversed. Because of low housing costs and GI Bill benefits, even working class Americans found that they could afford to own homes in the suburbs and pursue “The American Dream”. Then, in 2008, the housing market collapsed. The “dream” suddenly became less tangible and, as a result, suburban growth slowed as more and more people turned to rentals, and, in particular, urban living. Now, however, the tables have turned, and again growth in the suburbs is outpacing city growth. Recent data taken from the Census shows that during 2015-2016, the growth rate in suburbs (.89%) began to again outpace cities (.82%). What’s more, it is estimated that nearly two thirds of the nation’s largest cities showed a drop off in growth during the last year. Although these patterns do not necessarily imply the end of city attractiveness, they signal that the shift to cities that has occurred over the last ten years may finally be coming to an end. As a landlord, it’s important to dig deeper than general housing trends and understand why they’re occurring. Below are a number of reasons renters and home buyers are turning towards the suburbs. Suburban Living is a Better Deal As urban development patterns continue to change, the choice between suburban and urban living comes with a variety of new considerations. One of the most critical factors is cost. It’s no surprise that cities tend to ha......
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