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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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The Value of Setting Standards on Products, Services and GL Coding

The Value of Setting Standards on Products, Services and GL Coding
  Setting standards on products, services, approval processes, and GL codes not only makes your process more efficient, but also saves you money and makes costs (and budgets) more predictable.  When paired with software to elevate visibility and enforce controls, your organization can more easily get the right things done, and eliminate time spent wondering what to do and/or what happened.   Product and service standards, approvals and GL coding all have common attributes.  They are necessary in order to operate profitably and to provide your residents with high quality service, and yet there are too many choices.   What are Product and Service Standards? Defining what products and services to use for a given class of property or region is what I mean by product and service standards.  For example, there may be a certain carpet spec and color used in your class A properties, and specific appliances used in your class B properties.  You may have regional differences in what you decide to specify, for example you may want to use an eggshell paint in more humid areas, and flat paint in temperate areas.   Some of the categories in which companies often enforce standards include:   Floor Covering Carpet Cleaning Appliances HVAC Water Heaters Paint Paint Services Landscape Services Plumbing Fixtures Lighting Fixtures Fire and Security Equipment Window Coverings   If you don’t provide guidance on standards, your staff may have too many choices of what to buy, who to buy from, and what to pay.  As you c......
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What's The Price?

What’s The Price?  How many times over the course of my 30 year career in multifamily housing I have asked or been asked this question?  When I was the one asking, it seemed like it should be a simple cut and dry answer and when I am the one being asked, it seems just as simple that there can be a ton of variables.  As a leasing agent I was trained not to answer the price question right off the bat, but to build value into the answer…yet when I was a 20 year old renting my first apartment, in my mind it didn’t matter if there was daily maid service included, I couldn’t afford what I couldn’t afford.  When I was on the management side of the desk getting contractor bids, many times I was impatient with the sales pitch thinking it was wasting my and the vendors time doing the “dance” to find out if it was even in the ballpark of my budget…again, didn’t matter what additional value was included, if it didn’t fit my budget I couldn’t afford it.  Back on the other side of the desk, I am now the vendor...I am the one setting the price and most times I find the question very difficult, if not impossible to answer without asking what my prospective client sees as a slew of qualifying questions. We produce video tours nationwide so obviously travel is one of our major expenses. The expense of producing one video at a single community thre......
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The Effects Of The Blockchain On Real Estate

  Blockchain is an emerging technology which will transform the way we buy, sell and lease real estate. “A blockchain is a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. Constantly growing as ‘completed’ blocks (the most recent transactions) are recorded and added to it in chronological order.  It allows market participants to keep track of digital currency transactions without central recordkeeping. Each node (a computer connected to the network) gets a copy of the blockchain, which is downloaded automatically. Originally developed as the accounting method for the virtual currency Bitcoin, blockchains – which use what’s known as distributed ledger technology (DLT) – are appearing in a variety of commercial applications today. Currently, the technology is primarily used to verify transactions, within digital currencies though it is possible to digitize, code and insert practically any document into the blockchain. Doing so creates an indelible record which cannot be changed; furthermore, the record’s authenticity can be verified by the entire community using the blockchain instead of a single centralized authority.” (1) Real estate will not be passed over when it comes to the blockchain disruption either. There will be a need for education in order to transition from the current standard analog norms into the digital space for high value assets such as real estate. Blockchain technology introduces smart contracts on its platform. This allows assets like real estate to be tokenized, and be traded in the same vain as cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin and others. You will be able track all information on real estate,......
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Managing community pool pass memberships

For multi-family communities with member-only swimming pools, what's the best solution for keeping track of who has access to your pool, checking members in at the front desk, and processing their pool pass applications? Whether you're managing a swimming pool in a neighborhood or apartment building, management methods can be grouped into three categories:   1. Paper passes and a log-book. The traditional method is to process membership applications from your community members and then distribute paper passes. The pool front desk attendant collects them when members enter the community pool and returns them when they leave. Perhaps members sign-in on a paper logbook. Labor costs are high to process all the applications by hand. You can't suspend someone's pass easily. You can't easily determine how many people are using the pool each day. And you have to trust that the person holding the pass is really the person named on the pass.    2. Standalone computer with Membership software. Building your database can be as easy as filling out an Excel spreadsheet. You can load member images or take them from a webcam. Using pool passes with barcodes makes check-in easy using a barcode scanner.  You can suspend members at any time (for example, if dues aren't paid). And you can track pool usage much easier than a paper log.    3. Cloud-based membership software. Options abound for services that provide online membership management: these are usually geared for commercial facilities such as gyms. They offer features like member billing, class scheduling, employee......
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12 Ways to Reduce Liability on a Multifamily Property

shutterstock_215430139The risks of lawsuit are great on a multifamily property.  There are a lot of ways that you can be held liable for other people’s mistakes.  It’s time to protect yourself.  There are a lot of easy ways to significantly reduce your liability when owning and managing an investment property.  Here are just some suggestions below: 1. Don’t Allow Pets on the Premises For some landlords, allowing pets on the premises is a risk worth taking to have happy tenants.  That said, injury and death has been known to occur due to pets being on the premises.  Although the pet is under the responsibility of the tenant, the landlord’s decision to allow the pets on the premises is considered part of the fault for the injury or death that occurs from an attack on another resident. 2. Require Renters Insurance of Tenants If a tenant’s guest injures themselves in the tenant’s unit, the tenant is held liable, but only as long as they are able to pay.  Let’s say that you have a tenant that can barely afford rent as it is, let alone a lawsuit.  Then somebody else is going to have to take up part of that bill.  That sometimes can be the landlord’s insurance.  If you require that your tenants have renters insurance, then they will be more likely to afford any accidental damages that happen to their guest. 3. Require that Vendors Have Insurance too There is high potential that a vendor working on your property may injure themselv......
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DIY Advice for Making Accessibility Home Modifications

Despite the disability, there’s no reason that your loved one shouldn’t be able to be safe, comfortable, and independent in their own home. In order for this to happen, however, it’s likely that you will need to make some strategic home modifications. If you’re the do-it-yourself type, you’ll likely want to tackle these home modifications without the help of professionals. Here are some tips for going the DIY route (and when you might need to contract a little help). Where to start It makes sense to start your home modifications with the easiest and the most beneficial to your disabled loved-one. Many home modifications are incredibly simple but have a major impact. You should prioritize these tasks. ● Improving lighting – it’s easier to get around and avoid injury in properly-lit spaces. This is a no-brainer. Making sure that every room has both overhead lighting and auxiliary lighting in the form of floor and table lamps are crucial. Consider LED lighting to reduce glare.● Getting rid of obstructions on floors and in pathways – make sure your loved one has a clear path to navigate all through the house. Tape down rugs and make sure they aren’t too tall. Rugs with large lips are tripping hazards.● Putting items in lower positions – this is especially important for those in wheelchairs. Make sure commonly-used items like the telephone, microwave, and other electronics are accessible. Next steps After you do all of the easy stuff, it’s time to move on to some projects that actually take a little bit of install time.......
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Supplier Insights: For Long Term Sales Success, A Focus On the Future Is Just As Important As a Focus On the “Now”

Large organizations have a great habit of remaining as market leaders because they do one thing very well:  They dual market both to today’s decision makers AND to the decision makers of tomorrow.  This means they have set up their success metrics to properly analyze how they are doing with those target prospects in today’s world, but then at the same time plan ways to build a base of loyal followers in the future. Everybody has a plan to reach decision makers, so I’m not going to cover that aspect right now.  Instead, I’m going to talk about nurturing relationships with future leaders.  One of the best examples of creating early loyalty and brand awareness comes from the computing world.  Apple and Microsoft have battled for years to get their computers and programs into schools - Back in the day, you could get the entire Microsoft Office suite for something like $15 if you were in school.  Was that just because they wanted to support students?  Of course not!  They realized that once someone was indoctrinated into their ecosystem, they were much more likely to stay with it. When thinking about creating a strategy to reach future leaders, three things are key: Everybody remembers their first!  When someone is a new leasing consultant at a property, every brand they see will be vastly more potent in making an impact, as those are the first they will see in their  career.  Their property management mind is a blank slate, and those first brands ......
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The All-In-One or Best-of-Breed Dilemma: Which Technology is Best for Multifamily Companies?

The All-In-One or Best-of-Breed Dilemma: Which Technology is Best for Multifamily Companies?
In the property management industry, there is a technology to solve almost every problem.  From paying rent online to managing packages, the industry is bursting with solutions that tackle all the tedious aspects of being a property manager. But first, you have to find the vendor that’s right for your company, and that can be a tough task. The best way to whittle down your choice of vendors is to determine if you want to use an all-in-one or a best-in-breed solution. You may not be sure which one is the best fit for your business, so here are the pros and cons of each. First, let’s take a look at all-in-one solutions. All-in-one providers catering to the property management industry offer a combination of management, investment, marketing, leasing, and resident tools. All-In-One Pros An all-in-one solution can be an easy sell for some property management companies. The idea of a single platform being able to solve multiple challenges at once sounds very appealing, especially if you have limited internal resources. The IT requirements required to use an all-in-one provider may be reduced when a single vendor is used because there are fewer programs to maintain. If your team is not particularly tech savvy, only having to learn one platform can help avoid confusion among users of the software and shorten the learning curve. Plus, users will only need a single login to manage each application. Only having one technology vendor to juggle can be convenient, too. You’ll only have one ve......
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