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The Positive Impact of ORM on Apartment Operations

The Positive Impact of ORM on Apartment Operations
If you were asked to provide an example of just how much the multifamily industry has changed over the years, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more powerful one than the emergence of online review sites like Yelp and Google. As apartment communities across the country have learned, reviews posted by residents and prospects – and the online responses of operators – can make the difference between sinking and swimming. Consider this: according to a Kingsley Associates study conducted on behalf of RentPath, 91.4 percent of apartment shoppers rely on reviews and ratings at least to some extent when looking for their next home. These days, effective online reputation management (ORM) is absolutely vital to a community's success. But it's also important that operators and their onsite staffs not become intimidated by ORM or view it as a form of drudgery, simply yet another item to be checked off the daily to-do list.  Instead, apartment companies should embrace ORM enthusiastically and look at it not only as a necessary endeavor in today's marketplace but as a great opportunity to improve their operations. Free Market ResearchForward-thinking operators know that a robust ORM program can produce more than a slew of five-star ratings. They have realized that the honest online feedback can serve as invaluable – and free – market research into how to improve operations at their communities.  That's because when they're motivated to leave an online review, residents are inclined to provide the kind of raw and honest assessments they might not pro......
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It's R-U-D-E to Pay Rent Late

Why do Residents consider it rude for a Manager to ask a Resident whose account is delinquent when to expect the rent to be paid? Do Residents think that paying rent is an option under the Lease Agreement? For the past several months, I think I may be laboring under the assumption that Management has no right to even ask or remind a Resident that rent has become past due. Chronic late payers need to be corrected in their thinking that paying rent late does not matter to the “Big Bad Management Company” who has all the money in the world. Even if they do have all the money in the world, that isn’t the point. Delinquent payers CAN cause a Management Company to delay payments to vendors, put off capital improvement projects, even scrap a plan to replace outdated appliances for the quarter when collecting rent is THE paramount goal for the onsite Office team. Recently, spurred by this topic, I suggested some “creative” ways for Residents to scrape up the money to make it through another month. While directing concerned residents to the obvious sources: United Way agencies, township offices, Trustee Offices, churches, and other local charitable organizations, I was also wondering if there are other ways worthy of consideration.  How about: 1.       Payday Loans (One manager I know has used this successfully at his property. I don’t know how that ultimately helps a resident in the long run, but it can keep a roof over one’s head for a month or ......
Recent Comments
Brent Williams
I agree completely with the idea that the subject needs to be broached. I would be careful with payday loans, however, as those c... Read More
Friday, 20 October 2017 11:43
Jay Koster
At my previous community, whenever I had to hand out delinquency notices I also included a Community Resource sheet that listed al... Read More
Friday, 20 October 2017 12:08
Anne Sadovsky
Mindy and all. I would like to add this; Before a prospective resident starts signing documents, the lease needs to be explained ... Read More
Friday, 20 October 2017 18:45
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[Advanced Leasing] Rewarding Superstar Prospects

star_20170501-165830_1.jpgNot all prospects are created equal.  We often look at our prospect pool in a simple yes/no perspective - can they qualify or not?  If they can, we tend to see them as one giant group, but in reality, some residents are just "better" than others!  For example, will that resident stay only one year and leave, or will they stay 5 years?  Will that resident refer friends to the community?  Will that resident always pay on time?  Will that resident be generally well-behaved with no noise complaints?  So if we accept the general idea that not all qualified residents are created equal, then we can create a plan to increase the chances that the best prospects turn into our residents!  A lot of people are wary of doing this because of Fair Housing rules, and that is completely legitimate, but today, I am going to discuss the use of our screening process to help with this process.  Considering that our screening should already be Fair Housing compliant, so there should be no concerns on that front*. In the past I have suggested that we actively target prospects based on certain attributes.  For example, if we found that teachers were more likely to stay two times as long as a normal resident, then we might think of ways to target teachers.  Today, however, I am going to focus on the idea of incentivizing quality prospects who are already in communication with our property.  The idea of lease incentives may turn some......
Recent Comments
Guest — Amanda Sheehan
I think I'm going to have to chew on this a bit, but I like the general idea. I agree that we normally try to stay away from conc... Read More
Monday, 01 May 2017 17:40
Jay Koster
I love the idea, Brent!Unfortunately, I do see problems in cities like Seattle. They were keen on the "favored employer" benefits ... Read More
Monday, 01 May 2017 21:06
Brent Williams
Thanks Jay, and great point. Any local laws may definitely impact how this could be rolled out.
Tuesday, 02 May 2017 10:08
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15 Apartment Living Essentials

15 Apartment Living Essentials
Apartment Living Essentials While it’s still scorching outside, summer is giving way to fall and for many, it's moving time! From normal moves into new communities to students gearing up for the upcoming semester, prepare to see moving trucks soon. Moving can be a difficult, timely and stressful event even for the most experienced. Without fail, you'll reach a point where you're asking yourself "Where did I put ______?" or "Do I have _____?" You may not even realize you need something after throwing it away during the process. So, we made a list of the top 15 apartment living essentials, along with a brief explanation just in case you don't see the whole picture. You may not even be moving, but this list serves all apartment residents. Trash bags - Definitely number one on our apartment living essentials list. Ever run out of these and had to make a late night run to combat overflowing garbage? It's not fun, so always have a surplus! Proper Bedding - We're going to assume you already have a bed here, but good bedding goes a long way. Nice sheets, a comforter, pillows, etc. We also recommend having two different sets; one on the bed and the other cleaned and stored away. You never know when a loved one may need to spend a night. Towels - There's no such thing as too many towels. If it requires absorption, towels can save the day. Basic Utensils - We're not living in the Stone Age so cutlery and kitchen utensils are a must. Even if you don't c......
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Gardens for Better Communities!

Gardens for Better Communities!
In our last blog, we discussed the hottest amenities for 2017. One amenity caught the eyes of our readers: gardens and vegetation. Having greenery around a property is nothing new, but showcasing it as an amenity is. Take Fuse Cambridge for example. This year, they installed a Living Green Wall (seen above) by Cityscapes, which has more benefits than just visual appeal. Content producer Lauren Shanesy writes, "In addition to complementing Fuse's LEED Silver certification, the plants themselves aid in providing natural air filtration, sound insulation, and thermal regulation within the space while reducing residents' stress levels, as well”. A wall of vegetation may not work for your community, but a community garden might. With communities competing for new residents, appealing to green thumbs can be a great angle.  Here are three reasons why a community garden is a way to separate your community from others. Save on produce costs A community garden is great way to give residents a way to grow their own produce. Health conscience residents will spend top dollar at the grocery store for organic produce. What if you gave residents a way to grow produce that meets their needs? If you can market this interest, it can be a selling point. Residents may love the idea, but may have never had a garden. Nothing a community event can't solve! Current green thumbs may see interest in leading a few community classes to help. This can help your community get more social while growing healthy produce for all to enjoy! Sounds like a win/win to us. Low Costs for Gardens The cost of starting a community garden can vary, but the majority of the c......
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2017 Amenities – The Year of the Garden

2017 Amenities – The Year of the Garden
Amenities play a major role for residents joining a community. There are the typical amenities, such as a clubhouse and a gym, but apartment renters expect unique offerings to make a community their home. Amenities are a deciding factor. Like all things, amenities are subject to trends and popularity. While 2017 seems far away, the newest trends in amenities are coming into the spotlight. If you're responsible for the budget, you should take these amenities into consideration before letting the ink dry. Gardens Yep, 2017 is the year of the garden! From living art walls to herb and vegetable gardens, community vegetation is on the rise. Not only do they promote social interactions amongst residents, they provide access to healthy food! Many city communities are adopting these ideas so residents can step out of the urban jungle while they're home. While they've been around for a while, expect to see a significant increase in 2017. Read more about community gardens in our next blog! Luxury Experiences When residents come home from a hard day of work, they want to relax. There are a few ways to do this and in 2017, having a taste of the good life will be a selling point. What could be better than grabbing a bottle of your favorite wine from the secure on-site wine cellar? Maybe a massage from the on-call masseuse in a private therapy room is more your speed. There are communities even starting to install commercial grade kitchens for guest chefs and test kitchen events. We bet a few people could get used to that kind of life. Package Management Package management has been a......
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DEAR GABBY: Marijuana & Multifamily - What Do I Need to Know?

DEAR GABBY: Marijuana & Multifamily - What Do I Need to Know?
Dear Gabby, I’m really curious about marijuana and how it is affecting the apartment industry.  And what’s the deal with smoking pot in apartments? Is it ok to do?  Asking for a friend. Sincerely, #ItsAJointEffort     Dear #ItsAJointEffort, Please be sure to share this blog link with your “friend”.  This topic seems to be becoming more and more of a HIIIIIIGH priority discussion in the multifamily industry. Here’s what you need to know… If a police officer asks, “How high are you?” – don’t respond back with, “No officer, it’s ‘Hi, how are you?’”   I kid, I kid…. Most apartment complexes nowadays don’t want residents smoking anything (tobacco or marijuana) because it damages walls, carpets, etc. - not to mention that other non-smokers living in the buildings can be unwillingly subjected to secondhand smoke. The best policy for multifamily owners/managers: To have a non-smoking policy.  No matter which side of the fence you’re on regarding marijuana use, we all want the best experience possible for our residents. As most of us know, it can be difficult to identify a specific resident or apartment home that is lighting it up. It isn’t always obvious which apartment the smoke is coming from which adds to the difficulty in determining who is not playing by the rules. These days, most people have no idea what’s higher…phone bills, gas prices, or their neighbors. It can be increasingly frustrating and irritating for unwillingly exposed residents as they often times will become combative with the office staff that things aren’t being taken care of. T......
Recent Comments
Guest — Ashley
I have a question regarding this. If you have a resident that smokes marijuana due to medical reason, can you tell them not to smo... Read More
Tuesday, 26 July 2016 08:46
Guest — Jeff
If you are a non smoking community and they say its for medical reasons. Great you don't need to smoke it. Eat it. There are edibl... Read More
Tuesday, 26 July 2016 12:05
Jay Koster
My understanding is that it is not a discrimination claim to deny an accommodation request to allow illegal activity. Even if the ... Read More
Tuesday, 26 July 2016 12:53
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Residents: 5 Truths About the Most Underrated, Most Underutilized Marketers on the Planet

Residents: 5 Truths About the Most Underrated, Most Underutilized Marketers on the Planet
Remember when prospects battled like shoppers on Black Friday - scratching and clawing for a handful of underpriced, supersized vacant apartments?  If you answered yes, chances are those days are long gone.  Marketing is essential to leasing and retention; without it communities become ghost towns and owners disappointed in the teams hired to manage their assets. Beyond the banners, balloons, and latest gimmick of the moment, marketing is most effective when the message is conveyed by those who believe in the product itself.  So, if the goal is to market a lifestyle, as opposed to an empty box, who better to spread the word than residents at your community?  Here are 5 truths that point to why residents can be a powerful marketing ally. 1. They have an extensive network – the wider the net, the better.  Family, friends, co-workers, friends of family members, friends of co-workers, the cashier in the checkout line, their children’s teachers …you get where I’m going with this.  As discovered in our “Today’s Online Renter Study”, 74.4% of apartment hunters trust the opinions of people they know.  You never know where the next lead will come from and residents could be a powerful and FREE marketing channel. 2. They love to brag – and will do so to a worldwide audience.  In the same study, 61.0% of residents said they would be willing to post a positive review if asked by their management company.  Talk about low hanging fruit!  Especially considering that 67.7% of apartment hunters trust online re......
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Guest — Danielle Barrera
Awesome Motivation! Great ideas!
Tuesday, 08 March 2016 09:29
Lia Nichole Smith
Thanks Danielle for the awesome feedback - nice to know the post was helpful!
Tuesday, 08 March 2016 09:49
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Is poor active listening causing you to lose residents?

Is poor active listening causing you to lose residents?
Don’t have time to read the entire article? ***Click on this link to listen to it now!*** It does not matter how luxurious your properties are or what amenities you offer. The one thing that will make you stand out from the competition more than anything else is to have excellent customer service. In fact, an article released on forbes.com suggests that great customer service is more important than having the lowest price. Let's break this down a bit. Most people know the importance of good customer service, but the most important element that is often left out is active listening. Active listening shows your prospects that you care about their needs. There are several key components to being an active listener, but one of the most critical is to write down any concern they have or any information they provide you.                                              Writing down information serves two goals in your active listening strategy. The first one is to help you remember all of the details that the resident has given you. Many people may think that they can remember everything, but they can't. In fact, our memories are not nearly as reliable as we would like to believe. A few studies that have been done on memory recall suggest that we are not only more forgetful than we realize, but our brains sometimes make up false memories to fill in t......
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Guest — Lola Ervin
Thanks for the advice because it really does makes a difference in what the residents and the prospects sees, they believe your ac... Read More
Tuesday, 19 January 2016 11:17
Chiccorra Connor
Lola, thank you for your words. I am glad that it's working for you. Keep up the good work!
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 07:47
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When Models Attack! 5 Tips to Avoid Move-In "Meh"

When Models Attack! 5 Tips to Avoid Move-In "Meh"
It’s no secret that advertisers use all sorts of airbrushing techniques to erase a model’s imperfections.  Who would possibly want to buy a product represented by an imperfect spokesperson?  Would that dress or those accessories be less desirable when photographed on someone with a fuller, dare I say normal, physique?  Recently, models and celebrities have rallied against dramatic retouching – some have even demanded magazines and advertisers stop the practice altogether.  Misrepresentation can severely damage ones brand.  Bottom line, no one benefits from the bait and switch.  Prospects turned residents have complained for years that apartment communities have misrepresented their product in much of the same way.  Relying on model apartments to demonstrate a level of comfort and oftentimes quality are the breeding grounds for mistrust between resident and management.  They can also result in disappointed residents at move-in and negative online reviews.  “They showed me a model and told me that the apartment that I was getting would be exactly the same. Believing them I put down my deposit.   The day before I was supposed to move in I was finally able to see the apartment.  It was horrible-completely different layout, the balcony was dirty, the laundry room shelving was falling apart and the kitchen cabinets were scratched and looked old.  Luxury no way.” “Everything in the model home is PERFECT however, the actual homes are just rough.  They have been used so long that they are falling apart. As I mentioned before my kitchen is awful.  Also my shower makes this ......
Recent Comments
Anne Sadovsky
Lia, great article. I have begged for 40 years...don't make your models look like Neiman Marcus when the apartments look like KMa... Read More
Thursday, 10 December 2015 13:51
Lia Nichole Smith
Ann, I remember hearing you give the Neiman Marcus/Kmart analogy during a webinar; great example and so true. A la carte pricing c... Read More
Thursday, 10 December 2015 14:30
Mindy Sharp
We are sending photos of units assigned to our incoming student residents to avoid this pitfall. Leasing Specialists are required ... Read More
Thursday, 10 December 2015 15:19
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