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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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Student Retention: We're Not Gonna Take It

college kidsIt may come as no surprise that students generally score their satisfaction with rental housing a full quarter of a point lower than the average renter. Those who manage student housing can attest to students (and their parents) having higher expectations and being more vocal about their opinions.  This makes sense, as this may be the first time a student is away from home and their parents are not caring for the home. Many have no idea what housing in the real world is like! And while school may be out for the summer, there are many students (and their parents) who are finalizing their decisions on where the student will be living next fall. Here are some standards to put in place in order to position your community to be the student's home away from (mom and dad's) home.1. Be courteous and professionalAccording to the SatisFacts Student Index, students give their property management office team an "Average" rating when it comes to basic courtesy. Students are people too! What you may be interpreting as entitlement or rudeness may be a cover for insecurity and misunderstanding. Use every interaction as a positive opportunity to educate them on what they can expect from the property team, the best way to go about submitting work orders, what the timeline for resolution might be and why. Just as parents aim to shape their children to be self-sufficient, confident members of society, Student housing providers can aim to shape students into responsible, educated renters.2. Communicate - their wayStudents,......
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Pick a box...any box...

Resident Social Media meets Outreach Marketing

Pick a box…Do you like me? Yes, No or Maybe.  Remember when getting important information was as easy as passing a note in gym class, checking a box and passing it back?  It still is!  The beauty of the internet and social media (Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) allows us to find out all kinds of pertinent information on our current residents and potential new residents too!  This is a perfect marketing marriage!  This strategy, much like this post, is quick and easy to apply.

As they friend and like your community, become a fan or follow you, you can delve into their interests, their likes, where they spend their time and the activities they enjoy – viola!  Almost an instant resident/prospect target market survey.   This will streamline your outreach marketing efforts for your community!  You will know the locations where your residents go; which restaurants, entertainment venues, parks, etc.  It will provide you with both resident knowledge to aid in resident retention and help in creating a great effective outreach marketing outline! 

This information is only valuable if we get it and use it.  Kind of like watching that workout video from the couch…just sitting there doesn’t do much!  So, it’s easier than ever, to work smarter, not harder!  Use the fantastic social media tools at your fingertips to enhance your knowledge about your target market, simplify your market research and implement a successful outreach marketing plan for your community!

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Ten Ways to Make People Feel Like They Matter

What Three ThingsWhat can you do to show you appreciate someone, your residents, your family, your friends, or the person on the street you just passed?  As we learn and use the wonderful features of technology and social media, we tend to not interrelate like we once did.  We have all emailed the person in the next cubicle or office, and texted someone when we could have called them. What three things can you do on a daily basis that makes a difference in how people connect and react to you? Everyone has three things they can do to let others know they matter.  I recently sent an email about this to my fellow teams. Incidentally, I received more replies than normal and I would like to share some of the unedited feedback. Smile and compliment them. Make them feel welcome; tell them they have been approved for their new home. Ask them “How can we help”? Tell them you appreciate them, maybe bring them a coffee and tell them one nice thing! Or just give them a big hug.  Listen, people want to be heard and know that what they have to say matters, and it shows you value them, as well as what they have to say.  Speak directly to them, look in their eyes, and be attentive.  Use their name when you talk to them, it makes them feel important and gets their  attention.  A simple acknowledgement, “Great Job”.  To a stranger driving and trying to get in your lane, “Just wave......
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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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Lead residents down a green path this Earth Day

As property owners, managers or leasing agents, you understand the need to conserve energy at your apartment community.  By installing energy-efficient appliances and windows and using eco-friendly alternatives for floors, countertops and paint, you are not only significantly reducing your carbon footprint, but also banking significant savings on energy costs.  If 10,000 owners of large apartment communities change to Energy-Star appliances, the energy saved could power each of your TVs for 1,640,625 years!  While the people on the property level are doing their part to protect the environment, we want to provide you with four sustainable tips you can share with your environmentally-friendly residents—leading up to Earth Day on April 22nd—that they can put into practice today. 1. Be a Savvy Shopper Cut down on the amount of paper or plastic consumed by bringing a reusable shopping bag to the grocery store.  If eco-friendly shoppers forget their tote, ensure those plastic grocery bags get reused to line garbage cans or when scooping kitty litter.  Additionally, fuel and distribution costs can be reduced by shopping at local farmers’ markets instead of large chain grocery stores for produce.  2. Kick the Bottled Water Habit Americans use four million plastic bottles every hour – but only one in four is recycled.  Instead of reaching for bottled water, use a water filter on the kitchen faucet and fill up a non-leaching, lined aluminum SIGG bottle with filtered tap water.  If 10,000 people gave up their daily bottled water habit for a year, they could ......
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Do You Really Please Your Customers?

By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL In the history of property ownership and property management, as far back as the Stone Age (maybe not that far back), we have always called our customers “tenants” and for some reason it just stuck like glue. We can try to shake the term, but no matter how we spin it, turn it, or twist it the relationship comes back full circle to calling them “tenants” and not customers. It is rather maddening to say the least. Even though I preach this and believe it, I catch myself using the term because nobody understands who I am speaking about when I say “customer!” What drives me batty is that when you consider all of the blood, sweat, and tears we put into marketing, promotions, “tenant” retention, newsletters, “tenant” parties, and “tenant” appreciation, why do we not refer to our “tenants” as customers? It just does not make logical sense. If you go to Disney World, the tourists are called “guests” NOT “tourists”! Disney had a good idea and they pushed that idea so hard that it is ingrained in everybody, including the “guests!” If you have ever been to Disney World or Disney Land you know what I mean. The point is Disney believed that each person who entered “the property” was a guest and NOT a tourist or even a customer. Disney wants everyone to feel special and privileged, just like a guest. So back to my original point, why in our industry......
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Is that you...2123C??

Is that you…2123 C??

After a couple dozen years in the apartment industry…(yes, I started when I was 2!) I’ve seen many changes.  Pencil logged ledgers have been traded in for debit machines, hand written phone logs have mostly been replaced with savvy systems such as Onesite, Yardi and the likes.  But, one sad trend that seems to still exist and is even perhaps growing, is knowing residents simply by their address and forgetting who they are by name.

Before you start sending emails…this of course is not at EVERY property.  There are exceptions to every observation.   However, I do spend a lot of time on site leasing and training; at everything from A to C properties and this is a very common practice I see regularly.  Especially the first through the fifth of the month – rent time - everyone becomes an address.  What happened?

The courtship of our prospects seems to end once they become residents.  Like dating, in the beginning, it’s all about charming and captivating them, speaking their name over and over to create the relationship. “I can’t wait to tour you at 3:00 Mr. Jones!”  and “Mr. Jones, you will love living at Wonderworld Apartments!”  “Mr. Jones, have a seat while I get you the application!”   The relationship usually progresses with personal thank you notes, follow up calls, emails and ultimately the much anticipated, “Mr. Jones, you’re approved! We have the perfect apartment for you – 2123 C!   When would you like to move in Mr. Jones?”  And last but certainly not least, “Welcome to Wonderworld Apartments Mr. Jones!” 

Shortly thereafter on their monthly visits to pay rent, (you know… the money that pays the salaries) the name seems to fade into a distant memory.  You see them coming and know that resident looks familiar, but what was their name?  Quick!  Look at the check and hope their name is there!  If you’re not the one taking the payment, you ask, “Who was that?? I think I leased to them..!”  “Was that 2123 C?” 

What happened? All the days, weeks, sometimes months of charming them to get the lease is gone!  Now they’re just a number, an address that pays rent.  At a time when people want to be valued more than ever, I encourage you to start dating you residents again.  No, no, no…not in the violating company policy dating way, but keep the spark alive!  Especially the first through the fifth!!  Know their name, remember it and use it.  Ask something about themselves, their dog, their family, their job.  There’s few things more aggravating to a resident than giving their hard earned money to someone who doesn’t even know their name anymore…they’re just 2123 C.

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Resident Referrals On Facebook – The Evidence

Resident Referrals on FacebookThey always say that the “proof is in the pudding”, and if that’s the case, then this blog should just be one big picture of Bill Cosby with a Jello pudding pop!  When we started Share This Status, our general idea was that we could use our knowledge of social media to help apartment communities find interesting content to share with their residents.  But you never really know whether something will work until… well… it works!  The service is still a little new, so we don’t have all the data we want, but here’s a quick snapshot:   So let me take a second to “translate” what this means, and let’s actually put this into the context of if this was an apartment community – in other words, if an apartment community had done exactly what we had done, what would that mean?  First of all, the “apartment community” had a “reach” of 539 people, which means that 539 people saw our posts during the past week.  But what is amazing is that we only now have 146 official fans!  This means that 393 people who are not even our fans have seen our posts!  In other words, we just got 393 “resident referrals” over the past week!  That 393 people represents the friends of our fans, and because we were able to create really interesting and engaging posts, our fans liked it and passed it along to their friends and family.  Not only that, we had 105 people “talking about......
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If It Is Broke, Don't Delegate

Landlord RepairBy Colin McCarthy, J.D., Robinson & Wood, San Jose, CA Even after our little spigot fiasco, my father and I are speaking again. In fact, it did not take long. We both bonded over the fact that later that night, my wife and I walked out of the George Clooney movie, the Descendants. My wife and I both were bored out of our minds and had little empathy for a guy who owned all of Hawaii. I mean, really? I'm supposed to feel sorry for this guy!? Dad, being generally anti-Hollywood applauded our decision to vacate the movie theater in favor of the bar next door. We got to talking, and we agreed that in the future, it would be best if I not ask him to do repairs on our house. It's not really something I should delegate to him. We decided on the McCarthy "non-delegable duty of repairs” rule - I must do my own repairs. By operation of law in California, a landlord also has a non-delegable duty regarding repairs. If the negligent – grossly negligent one might argue – repairs my father attempted were on a tenant's dwelling that I rented out, I still would be liable for any injuries it caused. So if the tenant got hurt from this negligent repair, they could still sue me. A landlord cannot escape liability for his repair duties by having someone else do the repairs. This duty to repair is "non-delegable." Thus when a landlord hires a plumber, or......
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