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Job Postings Equals New Renters

We've heard many success stories regarding using Craigslist to find prospects, but what about using their job postings as a springboard to new leases with strong companies? I had a community approach me recently discussing how their market was very tourist driven, which was experiencing a significant downturn. Residents who left often left because of a new job elsewhere. But it's likely that there are still hirings in some aspects of the market, even if the market overall is struggling. So if you can target those companies, you will find not only stable jobs, but potentially people moving as a result of these new jobs. So why not look through Craigslist (or other) job listings to find these companies and approach them about working together? Give them a preferred employer discount and you might have a strategy to find residents in your down market!
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Selling Lifestyle in Apartment Marketing

Urbane has once again shown me why I'm a true "fanboy" of theirs. I'm scrolling down my MySpace page when I notice a new picture in my top friends area, with "Urbane Apartments" right above it. It's not a picture of their hip, modern communities, but rather three (attractive) women. They truly understand that they aren't selling just a physical space, they are selling a lifestyle. And check out their new layout - it's pretty trippy: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=121171181



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Apartment Community Business Centers Obsolete?

Are business centers in Class A properties a waste? The more $400 to $500 computers I see, I really wonder how useful a business center is to your property. Of course, actual usage data might tell a whole different story, but it seems as though it's just duplicating something people already have, for the most part. Now, some communities really go all out with their fax, copier, and meeting room capabilities, and I can see how having a truly state-of-the-art facility might make a difference in resident retention and apartment marketing, but many are just a smallish room with a couple of computers and maybe a printer. Is it worth the square footage? Just a thought...
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Can’t sell your condos? Tell people to take their clothes off!

A Florida condo conversion was having trouble selling its units. So what did it do? It made one of its pools clothing optional! I sure hope the residents are "purdy".

(The old link I had to this article doesn't work anymore, so no additional info!)

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Car Checkout For A Community?

A week ago I made a post about carpooling your way to resident retention. Well, for some reason I'm still stuck on the car-concept with apartment communities and was wondering about car sharing today. Are you familiar with any community that has a car on site that residents can "check out", while paying a fee per hour? On the one hand, I think it would be a great perk for city dwellers who want the flexibility, with the per-use fee offsetting the cost of the vehicle. Plus, you could cover the vehicle with logos for your community so it will be like a rolling billboard. On the flip side, I wouldn't have a clue what type of liability issues there might be, and if the driver is a bad driver, those logos might turn negative, I suppose.

Any thoughts?

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The Risk and Reward of Previously Foreclosed Residents

Multi-housing News put out a great article today showing that there is actually less risk from renters, even after the foreclosure crisis (http://www.multihousingnews.com/multihousing/content_display/industry-news/e3i1752bc99a224d58049587d86107de9a2). In other words, undoubtedly many of those who have experienced foreclosures have entered the rental market, and yet the risk of nonpayment for the market actually went down during that time span. I had written a month or two ago questioning whether these type of renters were inherently risky, as evidenced by their foreclosure, or if they had really just gotten caught in a bad circumstance. Trust me, I'm not an apologist, but I do look at things economically, and it seems to be showing that it makes sense to actively pursue this market.

Another interesting quote from the article was, "Renters-by-choice is the fastest growing group in multifamily." This is huge as these renters are more attracted to the lifestyle and specific benefits apartment living brings. Therefore, they will be less price conscious. Of course, that also means you have to provide a differentiated living experience to realize those price benefits.

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Should the Multifamily Industry Split In Two?

There was an apartment-related story in the Houston Chronicle today, but the interesting aspect wasn't in the news, but in the comments below. They were incredibly anti-apartments with comments like, "There goes the neighborhood" and "NO MORE APARTMENTS!" The interesting aspect is that a significant chunk of this new construction is Class A properties that cost more than the houses those readers live in. When your average rents are over $1,800, it is definitely not a situation of "there goes the neighborhood" (at least in Houston). In those communities, it is a choice to live in an apartment, whether it be to have less worries about maintenance, better location, or more amenities, these apartments attract a fairly strong clientele and it is their choice to live their versus owning somewhere else. So when more communities enter the scene and the response is overwhelmingly negative, it is obvious that the multifamily industry has a branding and image problem. I would say that there are three major factors that lead to this image problem: 1) On the whole, apartments will have more poor residents, just by virtue of the fact that it is easier to get approved for an apartment than it is to get a loan. 2) It's all about perception in your neighborhood. If you have a more spread out single family housing development with the same number of units as an apartment community, it is less likely that residents will be aware of any problem that happened several streets away.......
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Watch This And Imagine Showing Floorplans This Way (without the dog, though)

Imagine showing interactive floorplans with furniture you can move around!



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Targeting the Foodies

It's exciting to see more innovative architecture discussions coming out of the multifamily industry during the past year. Although "green" building is interesting, what really has me going is social-based architecture. This is architecture designed to create more plentiful and meaningful social interactions in the community. Yesterday, I came across an article about a community that has created a "food and wine" niche community that houses a temp-controlled wine room and Chef's Demonstration Kitchen. Residents can store their own wine in the wine room and the community brings in guest chefs from local eateries. (Read More)There are so many great things about this concept that I'm not sure where to begin! First, they've made the community area a real community area. It always amazes me how developed communities have so much capital wrapped up in their community rooms, but really they often end up being glorified waiting rooms for prospects. But here, they have actually made the room useful to their actual customers!Second, they have identified a target audience for their property. Not everybody is going to love the food and wine amenities, but that's really the point. There is no community concept that everybody loves, so if you are attempting to appeal to everybody, then you are likely truly appealing to nobody (i.e., you will get luke warm responses consistently, but those who LOVE your community will be few and far between). Now granted, haven't a food and wine niche isn't all that risky of a niche play compared to......
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Brilliant Targeted Marketing

Today I received a comment on my MySpace from a friend with the attached picture.



Now many of you will probably not have a clue as to what this sign is talking about, and in a way, that's why it's brilliant! This is a very targeted ad to males (in general) ages 18 to 24. It's a funny little sign about an EXTREMELY popular video game, which you've probably heard of even if you haven't played yourself, Halo.

Instead of trying a one-size fits all approach to marketing, the bank assessed it's target market and made a GREAT sign to reach them. Now I'm not a Fair Housing expert, but logically speaking, this should not go against fair housing as it's not anti-women, anti-elderly, or really anti-anything, but it does target a specific type of customer. My point is that many communities are afraid of developing a target market because they are afraid of Fair Housing, but that shouldn't stop you from taking steps like this that pursue a given market more heavily.

(If you happen to be a Fair Housing expert, please let me know if I'm wrong!)

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