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Two Ways You Can Stress Out Your Vendor Relationships

We started receiving requests to post anonymous posts on our Multifamily ShareSpace group, which we are happy to do, and today, we were asked to post an anonymous blog!  I can tell you I have heard similar thoughts from others on these topics, so this is definitely not an isolated incident.  Please chime in within the comments on your perspective of this issue.     I have two thoughts I would like to offer anonymously to the group from a vendors perspective.  I have been on all sides of the desk from on-site to corporate management to now a vendor.  As a vendor I obviously don’t want to come off as complaining, but would like to offer some perspective to a couple of issues.   1) The importance of vendor payments and their timeliness.  Many people look at vendor businesses as vast institutions with deep pockets, and some are.  But a great many are small companies that depend on those payments to meet their day to day obligations.  Management side employees who are responsible for getting vendor payments processed would be very upset by even a day or two delay in receiving their weekly paychecks.  Yet, sometimes they lack in getting vendors invoices processed on a timely basis not realizing the trickle down effect it can have on a business’s bottom line. Those payments are not only our paychecks but also reimbursements for expenses we front in order to complete a job for them. Down payments help offset expenses, but don’t help if th......
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How to Maximize the Space of Your Rental Property

image4.jpgMany landlords and other property owners try all sorts of methods to increase the value of their property. It’s always advisable to do so as you can receive some excellent returns for minimal effort. The same goes for the space in your property. There are many methods that you can use, many of which amount to fairly simple tricks that are always effective for renters. Let’s take a good look at the best of them to enable you to maximize the amount of space your property has and thus increase your earnings Hanging Things on the Wall One of the main ways renters and others use to maximize the space of their property is to hang anything they can on the walls to free up the floor space. The thing about this idea is that it’s quite easy to do and yet it’s so effective. Many things can be mounted – from smaller worktops to lights, nightstands, and much more. That way you won’t only effectively maximize space, but you’ll also make the property appear much bigger. Less Space for Beds Beds are an essential aspect of every rental, but they also might clog areas. The bigger beds are more attractive to your potential tenants, but there will be less space for other furniture. Keep the size in proper comparison to the room space, so it doesn’t hamper the flow of the area. You require a massive area for a king-sized bed. The solutions here are several: Murphy beds – many of which are ......
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Considering Concessions? Think about Eliminating Deposits Instead

Considering Concessions? Think about Eliminating Deposits Instead
When the market softens and vacancies begin to rise, apartment operators traditionally turn to lease concessions. Whether they take the form of discounted rent or gifts such as a free iPad or a free television, the goal of concessions is the same: boost occupancy.But while concessions do have the benefit of decreasing vacancy rates, they can cause their fair share of trouble down the road including increased out of pocket expenses or even devaluing a property. Instead of offering concessions, operators should consider boosting occupancy by permanently doing away with security deposits.The Current ClimateMultifamily has been on a roll for the last decade. Rents soared while vacancies were sliced razor-thin. But the market has softened recently as new development has increased. And where there is a lot of new construction, there are bound to be lease concessions. This past spring, RealPage noted that rental concessions are particularly prevalent in the 15 markets with the most new supply.In September, Doug Ressler, director of business intelligence with research firm Yardi Matrix, told National Real Estate Investor that concessions are now present in all 133 apartment markets tracked by the company.Concessions could increase in the months ahead. In the National Multifamily Housing Council's most recent quarterly survey of CEOs and other senior executives of apartment-related firms, the survey's Market Tightness Index was 41. A reading below 50 indicates that market conditions are getting looser.The Problems with ConcessionsWhen you're in the midst of a softening market and you see more and more units sitting unoccupied,......
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Top Five Problems with Surety Bonds

Top Five Problems with Surety Bonds
  Let's face it: security deposits are a big headache for both apartment residents and operators alike.For applicants – especially in this day of growing rents and stagnant incomes – it's often not possible to pull together the funds necessary to make a big security deposit payment. And when a lease is over, residents are almost inevitably upset about the portion of their deposit that is returned to them. This in turn leads to bitterly angry online reviews that can lay waste to an operator's reputation.Security deposits also saddle apartment operators with significant administrative costs and burdens associated with managing the deposits, issuing refund checks and handling reimbursement disputes. Another frequent pain point is the mismanagement of deposit pools meant to protect operators against lease skips, damages and bad debt. Furthermore, the inability of many applicants to pay for a security deposit means operators are losing out on prospects who would become high-quality residents.In their quest to find an alternative to security deposits, many operators turn to surety bonds. Surety bonds are a three-party system consisting typically of the resident, the property and the bond guarantor. The renter pays only a portion – typically 17.5 percent – of the total deposit amount at move-in as a non-refundable fee.The bonds enable residents to save money up front and move into the apartment homes they really want. For operators, they can help expand the renter pool, leading to more conversions, higher occupancies and increased revenue.But these instruments carry considerable drawbacks as well. Below are fiv......
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Apartment Marketing 101 - Professional Photography

Apartment Marketing 101 - Professional Photography
There's a case to be made that photos are the most important part of apartment marketing. While some would argue differently, there is no denying the impact that quality photos (or lack thereof) have on potential renters and their decisions to visit your community. For that reason alone, it's imperative that you have quality photos of your community. While some ILS's now offer professional photos with their listings, most of those images are watermarked, limiting their use in other areas. Not to mention, that in most cases, you do not have a say in who will be photographing your community or building, much less the final images. With that in mind, I always advise my clients to hire a professional photographer. Here are several tips on hiring the right photographer and getting the best photos of your community: FINDING A PHOTOGRAPHER Google Search - Most people start with a Google Search to find anything these days, and the same is true for finding a photographer. One thing to consider is searching for your specific city for photographers, not national firms. Also highly suggest using sites like Yelp, and Google Reviews to get more information on the reputation and reliability of the photographer. Competitors - This may sound counterintuitive, but asking competitors (who have great photos), who they used, is a perfectly acceptable course of action. In some cases, you can even find the photographers information on their website. Company or Individual - There are a large number of companies as well......
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5 Essential Automation Plays for Resident Satisfaction

5 Essential Automation Plays for Resident Satisfaction

What is the Resident Zone?

Before we jump into the Resident Zone, here is a refresher on the concepts behind Lifecycle Programming:

  • playbook is the complete guide to automated customer lifecycle marketing. It maps out personalized content to engage customers from the time a prospect fills out a guest card until they move out.

  • A zone defines where the customer falls in the customer journey.

  • A play is designed to move customers from one lifecycle stage to the next. 

 

The Resident Zone encompasses all customers from the time they sign a lease to until they move out. If you have looked through our Playbook, you probably noticed the Resident Zone has more plays than the other two zones combined.

There are three reasons why this zone has the most plays:

  1. It’s the only zone where the PMC’s make money (so we want to keep customers there!)
  2. It has the longest time frame. A customer can be a resident for years. So, it is important to keep them engaged throughout their residency.
  3. The Resident Zone has the most lifecycle stages; therefore, it has the most plays.

 

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4 Ways To Use Maintenance Data During Multifamily Budget Season

  For multifamily managers, budget season typically is not the highlight of their annual calendar. Off-sites, bootcamps, late nights, endless spreadsheets, stacks of reports for filter through...ugh. A thorough, well-crafted budget often requires us to step outside of our comfort zone and deal with personnel issues and other things that personally impact people we work with/for. If this isn't challenging enough, the budget proposal is just the first step. It is most often followed by upper management/C-level/board review and in many cases, the dreaded word - CUTS. Wash, Rinse, Repeat until you get to something that works.  OK, enough of the monotony - so how can maintenance data help? Data collected within your maintenance operations can be a hidden gem when it comes to the overall condition or staffing of your property from a maintenance perspective. Here are four of our favorite areas to dig in:   1. Maintenance Categories/Tags   Most property management software tools do a very good job of enabling categorization of requests. Analyzing and sorting work-orders/service-requests by maintenance category (some systems refer to this as "tagging") can provide a treasure-trove of information during the budget process. Based on multifamily industry data, the average 300-unit property generates average of 150 resident service requests per month. Add another ~50 on top of that if your sites track make-ready activities or preventative maintenance. Over the course of a year, or even just 6-months, there is a lot of harvest-able information when budget-time rolls around. Export them into a spreadsheet ......
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Can’t Keep Up With Your Tenants’ Maintenance Requests? Here Are 3 Ways To Fix This

Dealing with tenants’ maintenance requests is one of the biggest issues landlords face, especially with so much (rental) competition around. Tenants know that they can get the same or better service for their buck virtually wherever they turn. It is giving them a confidence boost to demand their landlord’s active involvement in their apartment upkeep, repairs, and all other pending issues, no matter how trivial. Naturally, every landlord’s goal is to keep the tenant’s happy; on that note, we’re listing a few ways that can help you get on top of your tenants’ demands and find the best solutions for both insignificant and significant requests. Have a Plan Whether you are dealing with your rental property yourself or through a property management company, the best way to handle your tenants’ requests is to have a plan for maintenance requests. That way you’ll respond promptly as requests come through, and you’ll know what do. Outline how the tenant should notify you of any problems Chart your response timeframe Keep a list of local contractors, such as plumbers, electricians, and general contractors to be ready should something urgent happens   Know the Law Running your property rental business needs to be done within the landlord/tenant law for you to execute your rights as a landlord. Since this law considerably varies from state to state, make sure you’re within the right one to avoid any potential problems. Also, it’s crucial you stay within both federal and state legislation. Most states have clear guidelines on how soon you’re required to res......
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To buy technology or to build technology? The cost is the true question.

To buy technology or to build technology? The cost is the true question.
There are certain technologies that apartment operators simply shouldn’t build on their own – like property management and revenue management systems, business intelligence platforms and even customer relationship management programs. With the growing demand for resident-facing technology from renters, many apartment operators are left with this question: should we build the tech ourselves, or should we buy it from a proven supplier? There’s a reason you wouldn’t ask a fisherman to cut your hair – you end up paying for it in the long run, and the same can be true when trying to build a technology someone else has already developed. Translation: an apartment operator serves itself and its residents best when it hires a company that specializes in the design and implementation of new technologies to do the work. The True Costs of Building a Technology YourselfIn theory, it may make sense to tackle building a new technology in-house – I mean, you may already have an IT team. But in reality, building the technology that will deliver the results and success you are looking for can be costly, both in terms of actual expenses and the extent to which an operator has to draw valuable resources away from its core mission. Let’s take building a custom, white-label mobile app for an apartment community as an example. White-labeled apps are those used by residents to communicate with management, pay rent online, make service requests, for example. They are created with both the resident experience and onsite process top-of-mind and are different......
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Are You Aware Of the 7 Year Rule In Background Checks

I have found that many are not aware of the 7 year rule when running a background check so I wanted to be sure you are all fully informed. The 7-year rule states that all civil suits/ judgments, non-conviction arrest records, and paid tax liens can’t be reported in a background investigation after 7 years. This rule applies to every state in the U.S., some instances, states chose to take it even further with their regulations, such as in California, New York, and Kentucky, where non-convictions can’t be reported at all, except for pending charges. Most criminal convictions are not governed by the 7-year rule. (see this chart for some of the exceptions) Since the 7-year rule is a federal guideline it applies to all states for non-criminal convictions and to many states for criminal convictions, you may find that your background check provider will only provide information according to those parameters. People earning over $75,000 annually may see arrest information longer than seven years in the past included on their background reports due to a Salary Exception, but this also depends on the state. Before requesting the report from the agencies, employers are required to provide the applicant with a clear disclaimer of disclosure and obtain the applicant’s written consent of the query. The employer is also required to inform the applicant about the types of information that will be requested in the report. If the employer decides to take adverse action as a result of the report, they are requi......
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