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Renters' Insurance -- Do You Need It?

Though the acquisition of renters’ insurance is ultimately your tenants’ responsibility, as a landlord it’s important that you have an understanding of what it is and why it’s important, both for your own well-being and for your tenants’. Your tenants should be aware that in the case of a destructive event at your property (fire, natural disaster, theft, etc.), existing property insurance will only protect your actual property. In other words, tenants’ possessions and personal belongings are not covered.  In addition to protecting their personal items, renters’ insurance also helps protect tenants in the case that a visitor is injured due to their negligence while in their unit. For example, if  a tenant’s dog bites a visitor, renters’ insurance will protect the tenant. Some property managers build a clause into their lease stating that renters are obligated to purchase renters’ insurance for the duration of their occupancy. Whether or not you choose to include this sort of stipulation in your own lease depends upon your personal preference and, also, state and local laws. Why would it work to your benefit to require tenants to have such insurance? After all, they’re taking on the risks of being uninsured and you don’t want to give competing properties an advantage by requiring tenants to pay the additional costs, right? Before making this decision, be aware that in cases where a tenant without renters’ insurance is sued by a person who is injured in their apartment, you can be included in this lawsuit also and......
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Keeping Your Lease Agreements Up to Date

If there’s one document in property management that simply has to reviewed (and updated as necessary) on a regular basis, it’s your lease. This is, after all, the document that will ultimately determine your rights and protect your best interests when it comes to issues both big and small.  Because you’re dealing with a host of rules and regulations on the federal, state, and local levels, it’s imperative that you not only adjust your lease as necessary when laws change, but also that you’re in compliance and protected on all three fronts. If you’re not proficient in legalese, chances are reviewing your lease (and, moreover, identifying those elements that need to be changed) is a daunting endeavor at best. Following are some tips and best practices for keeping your lease up-to-date and your best interests protected on an ongoing basis. Hiring Legal CounselYes, this can be a somewhat expensive option. However, consider the fact that a water-tight lease can potentially spare you legal costs of a far more unpleasant variety in the future and additionally saves you a ton of time (as compared to reviewing and revising a lease on your own). Suddenly, the cost of hiring a legal professional to review your lease becomes a far more appealing option. If you do choose to take this route and don’t already have a trusted lawyer in your contact base, talk with real estate and property management professionals for references to proven lawyers that specialize in such matters. Professional or Association Meetings and SeminarsTaking part......
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Effectiveness of Market Surveys...

Ugh... the dreaded Market Surveys!  Am I the only one that feels this way?  Our company’s policy is to do a minimum of two each year, although I have read that in some markets it is recommended to do it on a monthly basis.  Don't get me wrong, I know the market is continually changing on a day to day basis, and I do see the need for Market Surveys but it still does not make me enjoy doing them nonetheless. Thank goodness for the internet which saves me a lot of time to accomplish these daunting Market Surveys... but you can't find the real answers until you actually make contact with the other properties.  You know the questions I'm referring to, "what's your occupancy?", "Running any specials?", "How's your traffic been?”  You know the questions that rarely come with an honest response.  If I didn’t have a sense of humor, this could become very frustrating.  During my several years of apartment management I have classified the four types of answers that I receive when doing my, oh so important Market Survey.  Now, please use caution there is excessive use of sarcasm to come.The first one entitled and never convincing, "Oh... we are fully occupied... 100%" gets me every time.  In fact if I had a quarter for every time one of my competitors told me that they are 100% occupied I would never have to do a market survey again because I would be sitting on the beach with a Mojito......
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Spend Time to Save Time

Time is of the essence in the property management business. Let’s face it, there are just never enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished. So, for many, the notion of taking time out for training and other sorts of continued education (whether it be about real estate rules and regulations or maintenance tasks) seems like a nice idea, but also completely unrealistic. When considering such matters, though, it’s important to apply a bit of foresight to the decision-making process. Following are just a few examples of common property management scenarios where spending time up front might just save you a whole lot of time (and sometimes money) in the long-run. Computer and Software Training Incorporating financial and record-keeping software into your property management program can save you a ton of time in the long run, whittling formerly drawn-out tasks such as rent collection, payment recording, and maintenance tracking down to just a few clicks of the mouse. But installing new property management software and learning how to navigate it can be a daunting prospect. Taking time to learn the ins and outs of navigating office software that automates tasks and keeps electronic records is always time well spent. You’ll literally save yourself hundreds of hours down the line. Learning Basic DIY Tasks Having a stable of good repairmen to call when the need arises is crucial to keeping your tenants happy. And, certainly, you should always call in the experts when it comes to major or complex repairs. But......
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Resetting the Anchor For Renewal Rates

For my previous blog regarding negotiating apartment lease renewal rates, Johnny shared his strategy for the renewal letter, which included listing out the previous rental rate, the current market rate, and the new renewal rate, which was in between the first two.  His letter listed them out clearly to the reader (rather than mixed into a paragraph), and is a great example of anchoring the new rate relative to the higher market rate. So what is price anchoring?  You see price anchoring every day through sales - the price of a product or service is initially listed at, let's say, $30 and then discounted to $20.  That $30 serves as the "anchor" to show the customer exactly how much they are saving.  If they just showed $20 as the price immediately, it may or may not be perceived as a good price to the customer.  A good example is how the iPhone was price anchored to an extremely high price tag initially, so that when discounts were applied it had much more of an impact on sales. The problem with renewal rates, as Johnny pointed out, is that the "anchor" is what the resident is currently paying for their apartment.  If they are paying $900 for their apartment and you raise them $20 per month, it is a worse deal relative to their anchor price.  In other words, all they see is that they are having to pay more for the same apartment. But when you include the market rate in......
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Getting Resident Referrals: Watch Out For Overselling!

My poor apartment community...  It often gets the blunt response of my blogs because it's just so available and easy.  I really don't mean to pick on it, as I can tell it is definitely making strides, but I just can't ignore what they place on my door or email me.    Yesterday, I received an email from my community hoping for resident referrals.  The concept is great, as resident referrals can be a great source of leads.  However, after reading this email, I almost came away less impressed with my community than I was before reading it!  For your reading pleasure: Love where you live? Yes! The time has come, to let your friends and loved ones know about the best kept secret in town. XYZ Community... where enchantments await you. You indulge yourself in unique floorplans, elegant landscaping and fine amenities daily. Show off your dream home by reffering a friend or family member. Let them know to tell us your name and apartment number, after the first month here you will receive $250!! on us. How does that sound? Pick up that phone and send them our way. XYZ Community... where we customize prices to fit your needs.  A funny thing happens when a review, compliment, or anything else subjective comes out too positive:  Unless the object truly is better than sliced bread, the audience tends to actually devalue the opinion to the point of actually taking the other side of the argument.  So let's take that concept to the email above. ......
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Apartment Renewal Letter: The Email Follow-Up

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been sharing my apartment renewal process I have experienced from a resident point of view.  Last week's post was fairly harsh, as the renewal letter did very little to entice me to stay at my community.   It was more of a "If you want to stay here, this is how much you are going to pay us" approach, which was less than inspiring, to say the least.    In the original renewal letter, they said they would call me in one or two days.  I did not receive a call.  Instead, I got a follow-up email exactly one day before I would have to give my 60 day notice.  Here is the email (not originally italicized):   Hello Brent, Are you thinking about moving? Sometimes the right decision is to STAY the course, steady as she goes - no need to rock the boat! We think you should STAY and keep your current address. There is no need to forward mail, print new checks or to send out "we've moved" notices.  STAY and save yourself the expense of moving. STAY and none of your important possessions will be broken, disassembled, misplaced, mislabeled, lost or stolen and all because you decided to STAY right where you are! We look forward to hearing that you will STAY here with us because we value you as a resident in our community. Call us today to sign your lease renewal, so you can continue to enjoy your apartment......
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Apartment Renewal Letter Translated

Last week, I shared the renewal letter I got from my apartment community from a resident's perspective.  Today, I will dig a little deeper into the renewal letter and "translate" it from a resident's point of view.  I'm not trying to skewer my apartment community, but rather use it as an example of how residents see these types of notices from all communities.  In fact, there are going to be a lot of property managers who read this and have an almost identical renewal letter, so I hope I don't receive too much hate mail!  The 60 Day Notice I am required to give a 60 day notice, and yet this letter came only 64 days before the end of my lease date.  The letter says I will get a call in a day or two (which I never received), which meant that once I supposedly talked to someone, I will have effectively two days to make my decision.  It's the "we're leaving with you or without you" approach, which gives off the unmistakable impression that they really don't care whether I renew or not. Is It Really a Renewal? A renewal is a continuation of essentially the same service.  But when you change the terms and price, is it really renewing someone?  The letter clearly states my current lease "ends". I understand this is standard practice (and sometimes even required by law), but from a resident's point of view, it forces me  to completely reevaluate my living situation. I am......
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Online Rental Application vs. Print PDF Application

Bad PrinterSubmitting a rental application is a HUGE step for both the potential renter and property manager alike. Once the potential residents have submitted a rental application, they have made a conscious buying decision. It is a fact -phone leads, email leads, and walk-ins are great, but completed rental applications are golden.  It's a wonder then, why so many multi-family properties still use only paper and PDF applications when it comes to leasing their apartments! In the age of technology, it has been proven time and time again that electronic submissions are faster, easier, and more organized than a long paper trail.

I'm sure you're thinking, "I have a PDF application that potential renters can print, fill out, and bring back or fax it to me; what's the difference?"

The difference is huge!

First, ask yourself, "How many of your PDF rental applications have you received from your website and internet ads in the last 12 months? 1, 2, 5?"

Online Rental ApplicationPDF applications don't work because they are essentially the same as a paper application that is picked up at the office. In fact, in most cases it is the exact same paper application, just uploaded to the Internet to be printed. Applicants still have to fill it out and bring it to you or fax it. We've learned that the less running around people have to do, and the more convenient their application process is, the more likely they will be to rent with your property. Convenience is key!

We personally own ten multi-unit apartment properties in the Southeast. Our properties, receive an average of 2-5 new rental applications a week from their websites and internet ads! One of our properties had 29 sight-unseen leases last year!

Sergio Navarrete

Online Rental Application by Occupancy100.com

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Internet Marketing to the Growing Hispanic Community

The Hispanic community in the United States has an incredible $800 billion worth of buying power, even in today’s economy, proving to be an incredibly lucrative investment for the multi-family units willing to tailor their marketing approach in order to meet the needs of the Hispanic renter community. Home ownership proves to be incredibly challenging among the Hispanic community, with lower average education levels, large family units, the general lack of Social Security Numbers for applications and background/credit checks, and a relatively lower average age of individual households deterring most from being able to possess their own homes.

The majority of the Hispanic community is of foreign birth, opting to make their way to the United States by way of major cities such as New York, Miami, and San Francisco. These densely concentrated metropolitan areas are generally home to few owners, and more renters, thus making home rental among the Hispanic population a popular option. The road to home ownership is often lengthy and bureaucratic—60% of United States Hispanic residents opt to rent their homes, and take pride in doing so. Studies show that Hispanics take pride in paying their rent on time and are often more eager to keep a clean living space and uphold tenant/landlord requirements within their homes. Because of this, many multi-family complexes are reaching out to the Hispanic community and adapting the general structure of their renting process and marketing approach to accommodate these eager renters’ needs. In a world where identity theft is happening all around us, a vast number of apartment applications no longer require Social Security Numbers, and many complexes are making concessions for large families. Apartment marketing efforts targeting the Hispanic market can bring you many qualified and eager renters.

 How are you preparing? Do you have any suggestions? Do you have a spanish rental application?

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