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The Problem With Better: A How-To Guide For Disrupting The Property Management Software Industry

The Problem With Better: A How-To Guide For Disrupting The Property Management Software Industry
  The June announcement of Property Solutions’ new management software offers interesting possibilities for disruption. Entrata, currently still in BETA, is a one-stop-shop for operators and boasts a single platform development. Features include resident screening, portal, and CRM. Just to name a few. What seems to set the software apart is its open API, which would, in theory, allow owners and operators to customize the code to their specific needs. Entrata sounds even better when you hear the price for its "core suite" - Free. While it is still unclear what, exactly, comes with the free edition, Entrata is sure to ruffle some feathers with its new pricing model. The decision to move towards an open source, freemium model make Entrata a prime candidate for a disruptive technology. It's clear Property Solutions intends to steal away market share by simply providing a better service with better pricing. When you consider the current state of property management software, you can't help but root for Entrata to knock out the established firms. Unfortunately, "better" doesn't always convince the masses. And it certainly doesn't last. Why Better Won’t Work The problem with better is it can always be made better. Theres nothing special about better. Software teams ship better all the time - better reports, better apps, better code. Better gives no real advantage to the little guy. Better is how the established firms compete and, in all likelihood, they can ship better a lot better than an entrant firm could hope to. Different, however, is, well, different. The rules for......
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Renting to Mary Jane

I want begin this post with the observation that there is absolutely no connection between the facts that (1) I have not posted here at MFI for a while and (2) this post is about marijuana. Sometimes I just can’t think of something that is truly relevant for you to read, but then my muse does her thing (and this time my muse is DJ Ryan with the law firm of Kimball, Tirey & St. John, LLC). Speaking of relevancy, this post is for the California folks only… Medical marijuana has been legal in California for many years and if you have communities that you own or manage there, you do need to have a policy about its use on your property by residents. (BTW – I have been told that a California case precludes employees from using medical marijuana on the job.) Many California communities are smoke-free now, as result of landlord preference or local laws. Smoking is smoking – cigarettes, pipes, cigars, hookahs, roaches. You can forbid it all, but if because of a disability someone asks to be allowed as a reasonable accommodation to smoke their medical marijuana, you will need to consider that request. It is likely that unless such use becomes a nuisance (in the legal and lease sense, and be careful here in coming to that conclusion), or if it conflicts with someone else’s disability, you will need to allow this to happen. This is a complicated topic – does the smoking of marijuana leave residue beh......
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William Rhoten
Hello Nadeen, With two states making recreational marijuana legal your post may have implications beyond California. The biggest ... Read More
Friday, 07 December 2012 10:37
Green Nadeen
And hello back, Mr. Rhoten. I do believe it is perfectly OK for a landlord to "just say no" to allowing the recreational use of m... Read More
Friday, 07 December 2012 10:53
Green Nadeen
An update to the information and comments above. If you are interested in more resources for this issue, you may wish to take a g... Read More
Friday, 07 December 2012 15:07
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Licenses and Furthering Education

As a professional in the multifamily industry, I want to take my career to the highest possible level. I am getting in gear to begin a graduate program, working on becoming a licensed Real Estate salesperson, and doing as much as I can to learn and stay active. My position right now is not directly in line with property management (but closely tied), however I have worked as a leasing manager, assistant property manager, and property manager in the last 3 years.

My question to those experienced professionals out there: What source of education, certifications, and licenses do you believe to be most helpful in the world of multifamily management? How do you decide what educational institutions/programs to pursue? Any suggestions for a young professional looking to grow and become a leader in the industry?

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Amy Abdallah, MS HRD
Nikki - Great questions! A couple of answers or at least suggestions that I would like to lend to you. First - Are you getting a m... Read More
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 13:52
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What's New in Resident Gifting

What's New in Resident Gifting
There have been a lot of interesting products to come on the market since my last post about ideas on creating a great tenant gift basket concept using travel sized toiletries.  I thought I'd post an update on some interesting products that we've seen multi-family building owners and operators putting in their custom kits that we've been designing for them: 1. Individual use laundry detergent: It is a great way to get someone started before they have a chance to get to the store for the full size, and it can be often done with a fun brand that might be different than the usual (like an all natural one, or the brand new one that is in a single use packet from GrabGreen... pictured above!). 2. Poo-Pourri: If you haven't heard about this brand, you should check it out. You spray it in the toilet bowl before using it, and it seals in the scent.  It is a great conversation piece that tenant can put out in their bathroom for their guests to use. 3. All natural disinfectant wipes: With the natural/organic trend on the rise, it is also possible to get travel sized cleaning items that are all natural as well.  The popular all natural cleaning brand Clean Well recently released a travel pack of wipes that is quite popular in a starter kit. 4. Stain remover: You can provide the latest with Tide's all new "to go" version of their stain eraser wipes. 5. Less items, but higher en......
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Communicating with Residents...Maybe it's Time for a Reality Check

  Communicating with Residents… Maybe it’s time for a reality check   Not all that long ago my planning calendar was my daily road-map. It would give me a good idea about how my day was going to go… what I needed to do. That’s no longer the case.   Thanks to the technology that allows us to instantly communicate with others, others can in turn instantly communicate with us! And with this high level of contact, comes high expectations of quick responses. Yet we all seem to be adapting to this spontaneous flow of just-in-time communications as we blast through our days checking in, reacting and responding.   So how can property managers make the best of this new normal? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how you communicate with your residents. Maybe it’s time for a reality check.   ·Newsletters are a colossal waste of time and money – and often outdated by the time they’re delivered. Don’t even think of starting one. ·Flyers are costly litter. ·Bulletin boards have limitations – they’re OK for general information, but not everyone will get the message. ·Websites work for seekers – don’t rely on residents to log on to retrieve important announcements. ·Email works, but it’s hit or miss for time-critical messages – not everyone spontaneously retrieves their email. ·Phone calls work, but can eat up staff time – if the timing isn’t right, your message may be forgotten. ·Text messages work – In my experience, text messages are picked up more frequently than voice or email messages. P......
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Jason Velazquez
Dead on! Old habits die hard. Newsletters are an old school paradigm.
Sunday, 11 November 2012 10:54
Mindy Sharp
I LOVE NEWSLETTERS! My Newsletter is created on PAPER with photos of Residents' Pets that they submitted and little tidbits about ... Read More
Monday, 12 November 2012 09:30
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Renters Predict 2012 Presidential Election Results

Renters Predict 2012 Presidential Election Results
Could renters be the ones to call this upcoming presidential election? If history repeats itself, they most certainly will. Four years ago, Apartments.com visitors were surveyed on the 2008 presidential election and more than half said they were voting for then-candidate Barack Obama. As the countdown to the 2012 presidential election winds down, we reveal the results of a similar survey where nearly 70% of respondents say they are backing a President Barack Obama re-election over Governor Mitt Romney. When comparing the two surveys, we noticed some interesting trends in how the attitudes among renters about certain aspects of the election and how their political activity fared from 2008 to 2012.  For example, the number of survey respondents who said they are registered to vote fell 10% from 2008 to 2012, and more than 40% described themselves as very politically active back in 2008 in contrast to the 22% who consider themselves that way today. In addition to the serious stuff, we wanted to have some fun with our respondents by asking them about some hypothetical situations involving the candidates, in the context of living in an apartment community. As a result, we discovered that three quarter of renters would prefer to fold President Obama’s laundry over Governor Mitt Romney’s if left in the dryer, and would rather have Obama as their landlord. Only time will tell—less than four weeks—if the apartment hunters who took our survey will predict the 2012 presidential election once again, but in the meantime, we hope you enj......
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We're Moving? Tips on the Transition

Whew! We’re now coming through another heavy leasing season for those of us in the multifamily industry, anyway. We’ve grabbed and garnered leases left and right. We’ve been able to hold onto a lot of current residents. We’ve gotten leasing bonuses and everyone is finishing up vacation time, even though we are secretly trying to harbor a couple of days to use at Thanksgiving for Black Friday or the holidays.   For me, I have noticed that the hardest “sells” have been those families with school age children. Honestly, it brought me back to the time when my husband was rapidly moving up the corporate ladder, which necessitated many different moves all across the country. I remembered that apparently my husband’s preferred method of informing his family that we were moving was to take us to a restaurant and make the announcement. It seemed his favorite restaurant to do this in was Pizza Hut. Probably because the kids loved the pizza there (and he did, too.) However, after the fourth time it happened, it kind of ruined the idea of going to Pizza Hut for me and the kids.   It has occurred to me that the actual moving experience does not have to be horrendous. It’s the fact that, if you are not the decision-maker, it can be very stressful. After all, if you’re the child, you really get very little input in the decision. Most of the time, your parents make the announcement and start discussing all kinds of......
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The Boom of the Next Generation of Renters

Call them what you will—Millennials, Gen Y, Generation Next or Echo Boomers—they are all descriptors for the next generation of renters hitting the multifamily housing industry. A key characteristic of this demographic (who were born between 1982 and 1995 and are either the children or grandchildren of Baby Boomers) is that they are the most informed prospects that you have likely ever encountered. These potential renters are approximately 80 million strong, range in age from 16-29 and are highly educated as well as technologically savvy. Before stepping foot on your actual property, they will already have a good idea of what it looks like from photos and videos online—some of which have been posted by prior or current renters, some of them possibly posted by your company. Members of this next generation know the amenities your community offers, how much rent will cost them each month and they have unprecedented access to communication with your past and present residents via various social media avenues like Facebook and Twitter. They will most likely find out about your property through the Internet by using a laptop, iPad or Android, Web-enabled mobile device like an iPhone, and even more likely, a combination of all of the above. When they come to visit, they will have specific questions based on all of the information they have gathered, and they will want amenities and features that are quite a departure from your current, standard apartment fare like Wi-Fi, cathedral ceilings, limited floor plan options and possibly......
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Extending to Your Extended Market

We all have our existing market.  The demographic (age, income level, etc) that exists, currently lives at, and already (by means of word of mouth) visits our communities.  But, we always are searching for the extended market, the next step up from those who are already here and walking in the door.  This is how to do just that. If your current market is working, but could just use that little extra oomph to take you to the next level, then your job is quite simple.  Don't fight it, thrive with it.  Base your brand around it.  If your current market is young business professionals, give your community that vibe.  Then go after the extended market that would work in.  In this instance your extended market would be longer standing residents, as these would generally have an average  lease turn of 3 years, after which they would mostly be leaving for home ownership or job transfer.  Be sure to keep them until that happens.  Your extended market is the niche that clicks with your existing crowd.  This crowd will most likely end up being 40-50, recently single, business professionals.  The great news is, the marketing campaign to follow will still apply.   If your current market isn't working, and you need a change of scene, then change your scene first, and work one your extended market second.  This generally applies to new community purchases, looking to sink their teeth into a C+ or B community, turn it into an A, increase......
Recent Comments
Jason Velazquez
Great post!
Saturday, 28 April 2012 12:11
Gretta Dare
Thank you!
Saturday, 28 April 2012 20:07
Brent Williams
This is a great post. I really think that Fair Housing scares people to such a degree that most communities don't think through t... Read More
Sunday, 29 April 2012 09:59
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Hola! Aquí estamos. Are you ready, or not?

  Hola! Aquí estamos. Are you ready, or not?   We are an assortment of cultures and ethnicities in America. Savvy multifamily marketers know they must learn “who” their audience, or target market, is in order to effectively lease more apartments.   One of every four Americans is ethnic or foreign born.  The largest cultural groups found in the US today are Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and European.  With numbers totaling 50.5 million, Hispanics are the largest minority group in the US, representing 16.3 % of the total population.  The buying power of Hispanics, which are an ethnic group but not a racial group, will rise from $1 trillion in 2010 to $1.5 trillion in 2015, accounting for nearly 11 percent of the nation’s total buying power. The Hispanic market alone, at $1 trillion, is larger than the entire economies of all but 14 countries in the world–smaller than the GDP of Canada but larger than the GDP of Indonesia. Nearly half of all Hispanics in the US – nearly 25 million people – rent their homes. Apartment owners and managers in the South and the West should take note as the 2010 Census indicated more than three-quarters of the Hispanic population lived in the West or South.  That does not mean Northern or Eastern property management professionals should forgo bonding with this group.  Larger MSA’s such as Chicago, New York, New York and others should seek to connect with Latinos as well.  So how Multicultural are YOU?  What are you......
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Johnny Karnofsky
I am not against immigration; it is illegal immigration that bothers me when peope cross our borders and expect us to learn their ... Read More
Tuesday, 24 April 2012 09:03
Brent Williams
And from what I understand, under Fair Housing rules, you can actively target the Hispanic demographic!
Sunday, 29 April 2012 09:02
Guest — Jeff Gough
A property management firm was fined by Fair Housing for placing ads with an all-white family. It conveyed the message that they o... Read More
Thursday, 03 May 2012 04:25
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