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Structural Integrity; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

Many of the topics that we discuss in this blog are related to three basic themes;   1.       The Industry is broken and in need of a major overhaul. 2.       As our product becomes increasingly complex, the skill set of the developer has diminished. 3.       It is within our power to reclaim the glory of our profession.   For those of us dedicated to the betterment of the profession, one of the major challenges that we face is that our firm’s lack integrity. Now by that I don’t mean that they are liars. Nor do I mean that they are out polluting our rivers and streams, etc. I use ‘integrity’ in a broader and more exact sense. Integrity is achieved when each of our members is working in concert with the whole. In other words, when our highest ideas and values can be witnessed in even the simplest of our work and projects, there is integrity.   Let’s begin with the following principles; Each of us is made up of three primary components; the physical, the intellectual and the spiritual. We, as individuals, operate more happily and effectively when those three aspects act in unison. Put another way, when our actions operate in concert with our values, we achieve harmony. There are also three primary aspects of our lives; work effort, personal effort and sleep. If we live in accordance with our values in only two of the three, then our quality of life and greatness of achievement will be lessened.......
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How to Navigate a Short Sale as a Tenant

Moving boxesBy Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA You don’t have to be a homeowner to have heard the term “short sale”. It’s one of the most widely used terms in the real estate industry these days, and unfortunately, it’s also a term that many renters are starting to hear more of as well. The prolonged economic downturn that engulfed the real estate industry, starting with the subprime loan debacle, which rapidly resulted in mass foreclosures of adjustable rate home loans, has now inevitably morphed into the “short sale” frenzy of the 20% down conventional homeowner. Unfortunately, many of the affected properties are the homes of renters who abruptly find themselves caught in between the bank and the landlord’s hardships. The typical scenario is as follows: An owner/landlord carrying an upside-down mortgage on a rental property finds himself under financial distress due to the economy. The landlord tries to hold onto the property for as long as he can only to realize that it’s either too far underwater or the loan modification offered by the bank isn’t going to reduce the monthly mortgage payment enough to help him through his current financial situation. At this point, it’s either foreclosure or short sale, and currently, most banks are starting to favor short sales. Either way, the unaware tenant is typically left with minimal notice to relocate. So, what can you do if you find yourself in this situation? Tenants do have rights, and even though you may not be ab......
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How did your residents find you? Tips on properly attributing your leads

Do you know where your residents are coming from? Knowing the source of your leads – especially the ones that convert to leases – is critical in terms of determining where to spend your advertising dollars. Here are five friendly suggestions on how to keep track of your various lead sources: 1) Just ask – It may seem obvious, but providing a quick and simple survey as part of your leasing process will go a long way in determining where your residents are coming from. Keep your survey short, but specific. For example, knowing that someone found your property online isn’t quite as helpful as knowing if they found you on and ILS like Apartments.com or Craigslist. Keep in mind after visiting several apartment search websites, your residents could be confused about which ones they used. Try giving them a visual representation of websites that you advertise on to help jog their memory. 2) Stay organized – If you use multiple Internet Listing Services, be sure you are keeping track of how many leads you receive from each one. Note the date, prospect’s name, lead source and if you have followed up. This will make it easy to cross reference information to make sure it’s accurate. 3) Be thorough – Prospective renters may tell you that they found your property by just driving by, but, these days, there’s a good chance that they also researched your property online. Whether it’s a TV, a car or a new apartment, many purchases that......
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Fun Halloween Ideas for Your Apartment Community

Can you believe it’s October already?  The leaves are changing, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back and Halloween costume stores are popping up around the country.  Like other holidays, this is a great time for you to have some fun around your apartment community!  Here are some ideas to get your residents together for a spooky, good time:   1.       Lobby candy – If you have a large apartment community, it can be difficult or even impossible for trick-or-treaters to ring your residents’ doorbells.  Instead of disappointing all those little Ghosts, Sarah Palins and Hippies ask your residents to donate a bag of candy for the lobby.  Have your security guard or leasing agents greet the trick-or-treaters and hand out candy on behalf of the entire building.   2.       Scary movies – A lot of people love watching scary movies around Halloween or, if you’re like me, you prefer flicks like Hocus Pocus.  Visit a local used DVD store and stock up on classic Halloween and scary movies for both adults and children.  For the month of October, offer these DVDs for rent from your leasing office.  You can either charge a dollar for the night or ask that your residents bring a canned good to donate in exchange for the rental.  This is a great way to encourage people to have a fun night in at your apartment community.   3.       Used costume swap – Most people don’t want to spend money on a Halloween costume, so try hosting a used......
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The Mentorship Model; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

Over the past few months we have discussed some of the underlying problems within the wonderful profession of real estate development. We have also bantered about individual solutions to prepare ourselves (as the next generation) which have ranged from education to understanding the key success traits for our own self-improvement. Hopefully these have been fairly logical. But, if so, then why hasn’t it just naturally happened? Sadly, ‘obvious’ and ‘easy’ don’t always go hand-in-hand. I would suggest that self-improvement is one of the most difficult things to achieve- especially on our own. Often we are just not equipped to step back and look at ourselves objectively. And, even if we are, we don’t necessarily have the tools to affect the changes that we need. And when it comes to creating a good developer- it really takes a village. It would be nice if we could learn everything that we need to know from our superiors or the more experienced folks within our firms, but unfortunately, my generation and the one before me has left our profession in shambles. The built world is an uglier, less urbanistically successful place for many of our incursions into it. The reason for this is that (statistically speaking) you likely work for a spreadsheet monkey who was never taught or didn’t embrace the romance of what we do. He can’t teach you because he doesn’t know himself. If you want to be great, you will need to actively seek out the folks who can develop in......
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Great Websites for Your Clients - Useful Information, Moving Assistance, Etc.!

With all the day to day stresses, time constraints and hectic schedules, we hardly have time to "stop and smell the roses."  The minutes and hours slip by and before you know it, the day is almost over.  To assist my Residents and Prospective Residents alleviate some tension,  I have put together a list of some very useful websites that I personally have found to be particularly helpful.  These sites can reduce some of the moving and relocation headaches that many of us experience.

www.moving.com

* Find Licensed and Insured Movers

* Rent a Moving Truck

* Find Local Storage Facilities and Compare Rates

* Print Valuable Moving Coupons

* FREE Change of Address Service

* Helpful Moving Tips and Reminders

 www.neighborhoodplace.com

* Review Statics for Your State and County

* Stats Include Information on Schools, Population, Cost of Living, Average Home Prices and More

 www.InsWeb.com

* Compare Insurance Quotes and Find the Best Rates and Policies to Meet Your Needs

 www.healthgrades.com

* Review Ratings for Local Doctors, Hospitals and Nursing Homes

* Note: There is a fee associated with some search inquiries

 www.schoolmatch.com

* Review School Ratings and Statistics

SPECIAL PROJECT! - Create a flyer that has these websites, as well as any others you may feel useful to your specific Community and location, and present it to your Prospective Resident during their tour, or when your new Resident is signing their lease.  These small gestures will mean the world to your Community visitors and Residents.   

Don't forget, this is also an amazing marketing tool and resource for your On-Site Team to utilize and share with local businesses, storage companies, movers and more!

I hope this information is as useful and beneficial to you as it has been for me!  Feel free to share with the Multifamily Insiders Community which websites you have found to be advantageous and why!  Thank you!

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Resident Retention Tips

October 1st is one of the biggest moving days of the year and it’s right around the corner!  Having a solid resident retention plan is a great way to avoid the costs associated with big moving days.  Resident turnover can cost thousands of dollars once you factor in advertising, screening, leasing office time, maintenance, cleaning and everything else associated with finding the perfect new resident.  Here are a couple ideas for keeping your residents happy and living in your community.   Encourage residents to put down roots   Whether renting or buying, people want to feel at home in their neighborhood.  Help your residents build connections in the community and invite local shops to chip in.  Try negotiating a discounted rate at the neighborhood gym or with a dog-walking company for everyone in your apartment community.  Publish an annual neighborhood guide for your residents and have the popular coffee shop, book store, nail salon, dry cleaner and restaurants provide coupons, as well as fun tips for living in the community.  Giving back is a great way to build strong ties to a neighborhood, so try organizing a community service project for your residents.  Participants from your apartment community can get to know each other by cleaning up a local park or collecting canned goods from neighbors for a food bank.  Making friends and building relationships in their community is a great reason for your residents to stay.   Provide a resource   Fulfilling your residents’ needs is a great way to......
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Time Travel; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

I’ll bet that each of us has said, at one time or other, ‘I wish that I knew then what I know now.’ If you haven’t yet, you will. And I can promise that if I had a Way Back Machine, I would do more than catch a David Bowie show on the Ziggy Stardust Tour; I would give myself some great advice. Sadly, the best that we can do now is to submit our wisdom and musings to cyberspace. I would tell my younger self that, as a developer, you are a CEO. And as such, you need to develop a CEOs toolbox. But what does that mean? Within our individual toolboxes are both hard and soft (as you may have guessed) tools. A hard tool would be the ability to run a proforma, whereas a soft tool would be speaking ability (or presentation skills). The difference between the two is that you acquire hard tools and develop the soft ones. I’ve found that the real differentiators in one’s life and career, come down almost solely to the soft skills (As an aside, in the near future, we will discuss how one of the primary failures of the real estate development industry is that it has shifted to hiring for and developing hard skills in its young folks rather than the ones that actually determine success). So if soft tools are the key to growing our CEO toolbox, then logically not all tools are created equal. What are the top......
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Fourth Annual Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates List

Today, I’m excited to announce the release of our annual Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Grads list with Hartford-New Haven claiming the #1 spot!    Faced with a sluggish economy, many college graduates who collected their diplomas in the spring are still looking for jobs and a place to live as summer comes to a close.  As competition for jobs soars, along with the cost of rent, there is hope for many of these newly minted graduates who know which cities afford them the best opportunity to jump-start their professional lives.  To help give these post grads a leg up, Apartments.com and CareerRookie.com—the collegiate job website from CareerBuilder.com—have revealed their 4th annual best cities list to paint a realistic landscape of the current job market and cost of living in the most popular cities for young adults.   The Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates list was based on the ranking of top U.S. cities with the highest concentration of young adults, inventory of jobs requiring less than one year of experience along with the average cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment.    Read the press release now.   The Apartments.com and CareerRookie.com 4th Annual Top 10 Best Cities for New Grads list. Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates Average Rent for a One Bedroom Apartment 1.     Hartford-New Haven $1,047 2.     Cleveland $695 3.     Boston $1,625 4.     Denver $994 5.     Minneapolis $941 6.     San Francisco $1,560 7.     Washington D.C. $1,679 8.     Philadelphia $1,068 9.    ......
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Ask the Expert: Five Tips for Marketing Your Apartment Community to Students

It’s that time again.  Back to school!  If you have an apartment community near a college campus, then you are gearing up for the busiest time of year.  As soon as you get all of your 2011-2012 residents moved in, you have to start thinking about getting leases signed for next year.  I had the opportunity to chat with Kim Cory, Sales and Marketing Director for University Village, about marketing to students.  She offered five tips for reaching your key audience and having a positive presence on campus.   1.       You need to have school spirit On college campuses, a lot of prime recruiting opportunities for you revolve around university events.  Decide what the most popular sports team is and host tailgate parties before home games at your apartment community.  If the school allows it, set up a tent in the tailgate lot and hand out food and fun collateral to students.  Make sure to invite your current residents, their friends, parents and university staff to stop by.  Better yet, partner up with the university or student groups for a joint tailgate.  More exposure = More fun!   2.       Encourage your residents to bring friends When you host an event, encourage your residents to bring their friends.  These are your potential renters!  Don't be afraid to advertise your resident events on campus and in the school newspaper.  This is the fastest way, bedsides Facebook, to spread the word.  More students will want to come knowing their friends are welcome.   3.      ......
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