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Staff Versus Software for Property Management

There’s no doubt about it—of all the business problems you could potentially have, being too busy is certainly not a bad option. However, being too busy can become a problem if you lack the bandwidth to stay on top of things. If you consistently find yourself putting off certain tasks or letting them fall through the cracks altogether, it’s time to make some changes. Being overloaded can result in a slip in the quality of the service you provide or oversights, both of which may guarantee you’re not so busy for long. The obvious answer to too much work is bringing more hands on deck. But, of course, just because you’re busy doesn’t necessarily mean you have the budget to hire additional employees. Property management software may give you the extra help you need at a lower cost than an additional salary. Multi-tasking Functionality One of the great benefits of property management software is that it essentially acts as an office generalist. For example, hiring extra staff to take care of accounting work may alleviate that workload, but that same person can’t necessarily take on other tasks such as advertising. Modern property management software, on the other hand, handles a diverse variety of functions. It does accounting, allows tenants to make rent payments online, provides an advertising platform, runs credit and criminal checks, creates reports, and keeps records. Cost-effective Investment Property management software requires only a nominal investment when compared to hiring new staff and adding an additional salary to your......
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LEAVING THE DARK FOREST AND FINDING OUR WAY BACK TO THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD!

“Life is like a grindstone--whether it grinds you down or polishes you up depends on what you're made of.” Unknown   Wouldn’t it be great if we could just click our heels together three times and repeat “There’s no place like 2006, there’s no place like 2006, there’s no place like 2006….    So here we are still sitting in the Dark Forest waiting for the Yellow Brick Road to find us.  One expert says “we will not see recovery until 2014”, another says “the local real estate slump is over” are we going to just stay here and hope the poppies keep us asleep until then?!  No!  We need to look for ways to get out of the Dark Forest, out from under the poppies spell and back to the Yellow Brick Road! Smart marketers and businesses know a thing or two: They know that even in a down economy there’s always opportunity. They know that economies go in cycles. Good times will be back, even if they’re different. They know that those who market aggressively are the ones who will be there when the good times roll again. They know that winning means thinking creatively, borrowing ideas from other industries and focusing on customers and prospects. They don’t cut their marketing budgets. In fact they increase them and market even more aggressively. Maintaining a Positive Attitude – Let’s start with maintaining a positive attitude for everyone on your team! Be a realist, but keep your chin up!  Even when things look their worst,......
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Overcoming Objections that are really not Objections at all.

Training directors, leasing experts, property managers and even owners ask me how they can overcome a particular objection on their community.  I want to say this up front though, I do not try and jam a circle prospect into a square apartment.  Yes, you may close them, but many of them cancel and many more will be unhappy after they move in, as they have been sold not guided.  On the other hand, let’s say a prospect said she needs a balcony and you do not have one.  Ask a qualifying question.  For example, I was doing a lease up at a community that did not have balconies, and everyone told me they lost a ton of leases because of this.  I said, really?  At the end of the lease up I only lost one because of this.   Many people are in love with the idea of having this or that, but let’s be honest, many times we never use it.  I had personally rented a 7th floor apartment south west exposure with a huge balcony in brand new luxury high rise located in Atlanta, GA.  I rented that particular apartment because of this balcony and in the two years I lived there I walked out on the balcony a couple of times for a few minutes, never put any furniture out there either.    So when the lack of a balcony at our lease-up came up as an objection, I asked them if they were in love with the idea......
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Property Management Blogs

Industry-related blogs are a great way to pick up expert tips, tricks, and insider knowledge quickly and for free. But, of course, there are a lot of blogs out there. Since you only have so much time in the day to surf the web, here’s a quick run-down of five property management-related blogs you should be reading. Marketing and More Property management veteran Mike Brewer, who runs the M Brewer Group blog, is one of the most seasoned and consistent bloggers in the industry. While his blog focuses in large part on marketing, you’ll also find various additional industry topics included as well. Brewer has his fingers on the pulse of current industry conversations, so this blog is a great place to stop by to get a quick gauge of what’s currently being discussed by industry professionals. Cyber Consultant With Behind the Leasing Desk, Seattle-based property management consultant Heather Blume provides readers with musings on the industry and insights on how to up your property management game.  On her blog, Heather writes about everything from staff-related training class excerpts to tips for greening up your property. With quick, snappy reads, this blog is a great place to pick up a mish-mash of ideas to help you better your own business, including everything from tenant retention to customer service. Property Renovations Though Brownstoner.com’s Renovation Blog is Brooklyn-based, property managers from everywhere can learn a lot from the site’s home renovation section. If you’re the type that likes to take on projects—or if......
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The Value of Tenant Forums

As a property manager, you have a great resource that shouldn’t go untapped right at your fingertips: your tenants. For as well as you know your property, most property managers don’t actually live on-site. Because of this, your tenants are more qualified than anyone else to provide insights into potentially beneficial changes, improvements, and upgrades that can make your property more appealing—and perhaps even more valuable. You can solicit information from tenants in a number of ways: through an old-fashioned suggestion box either on-site or at your property management office, through an online form, or through a questionnaire for tenants to fill out upon move-out (or at any other point during their residency at your property, for that matter). In addition to all this, when it comes to encouraging tenants to share their thoughts and suggestions, property managers may want to consider taking a cue from condo associations. Hosting forums on an annual or bi-annual basis for tenants to submit ideas for changes and/or to vote on potential changes you are considering rolling out at your property is a great way to not only receive important feedback, but also to bring tenants together to brainstorm and share ideas that you may have never even considered. Though you have the ultimate say about what does or does not happen at your rental property, receiving this sort of organic feedback can lead you in the right direction, providing a lot of insight into what tenants do and do not want to see happen......
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How Bright is the Light at the End of the Tunnel?

“Area Rents Up, Vacancies Down” can be heard across the land as the new census statistics come out. Vacancies are down and rents are on the rise HOORAY! For a moment the excitement is heard across our industry as the communities that have suffered immensely from the recession see a light at the end of their long journey. Suffice it to say, rents are up and vacancies are probably down, but what have we all sacrificed in the past few years to get us through the dark days. During this time of struggle our industry strengthened a trend that we were hoping to make extinct which were the rent concessions, the lavish giveaways, and in some cases lower rents. Our industry as a whole has opened a door that cannot be easily shut. Due to the fear of high vacancies we have allowed the prospective residents to take control of an industry that was once controlled by quality apartments, great curb appeal, and luxurious amenities and turned it upside down to an industry that thinks it needs to survive by "outgiving" other communities. We have all seen the enticing ads in the newspapers, Craigslist, or Apartment Guide, “First Month Free Rent” or “Rent today and receive a $100.00 off your rent”. The oversaturation of these deals has changed the way prospective renters think about leasing. Five years ago, it was highly uncommon for a prospect to call an apartment community and ask for something free but today it is the norm.......
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Snow Removal Done Right

If you live east of Nebraska, chances are you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about snow lately. As cozy and idyllic as it can be to watch flutter to the ground when you’re safely tucked away by the fire in your living room, snow is a very different beast when you’re forced to contend with it. Particularly this winter, when a new blizzard seems to be blowing in on a weekly basis. As a property manager, contending with mother nature is part of the job description. Some cities even have laws mandating that you are legally responsible for removing snow and ice from the public sidewalks in front of your property. Even if your town doesn’t have such laws, it’s still in your best interest to get rid of that snow. Should someone happen to slip and fall in front of your property—which is all too easy to do right now—you may be legally and financially responsible. Let’s begin by looking at the areas you’ll want to shovel: A clear path leading from the sidewalk to your property’s entry door. A clear path leading from the driveway/parking lot to the closest door. The driveway. The sidewalk area around/on your property. In addition to shoveling these areas, you will also want to scatter salt and/or sand to ensure people don’t slip on any remaining ice. With that in mind, what are your options for removing snow and ice? Do it yourself. If you opt to remove snow yourself, remember, it can......
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Tips for Finding the Right Realtor

Getting ready to purchase or sell property? The first step to a smooth real estate transaction is finding the right real estate agent. Throughout the property selling and purchasing processes, your real estate agent will be your eyes, your sounding board, and your advocate. Here are some things to consider when selecting your real estate agent. Referrals from Trusted Sources Nothing is a better testament to a realtors ability than a proven track record. Ask friends and associates for agent referrals. It’s particularly helpful to speak with trusted sources whose situations are similar to your own. For example, if you are looking to purchase a multi-unit investment property, seeking referrals from other multi-unit investors may lead you toward a better match than asking someone who used a realtor to sell a single-family dwelling. Trust yourself too. Try visiting some open houses and meeting agents one-on-one. Open houses will give you the opportunity to meet a variety of agents and to get a feel for them, the properties they work with, and how your personalities mesh. Online Resources You can further narrow your search by doing some online research on sites like Yelp and Realtor.com to identify local realty companies and specific agents respectively. Also be sure to check out ActiveRain, a social networking platform for real estate agents that provides consumers with the opportunity to acquaint themselves with agents through professional blogs, profiles, and other online resources. Finally, keep an eye on relevant real estate transactions in your area (vis-a-vis local......
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Who Says T.V. isn't Educational?

One of the great benefits of the reality television craze is that distance education no longer has to cost any more than the price of your monthly cable television subscription. Of course this certainly does not apply to all sectors of reality television, but when it comes to house-flipping and home improvement shows on channels such as A&E, HGTV, and TLC  it certainly is possible to mix entertainment and education. Here are a few of our favorite TV shows that offer up some great business-minded take-away. Designed to Sell, HGTV Designed to Sell is perfect for those real estate investors who have done the hard work of renovations and are ready to flip their home. Or, for that matter, for anyone who is looking to sell their property and wants to command the best price possible. This show is inherently budget-friendly, with the premise of providing sellers with a maximum budget of $2,000 to invest in making their home as appealing as possible to would-be buyers (and, thus, maximizing the sale price). Designed to Sell relies on the expertise of interior designers, stagers,  and home improvement gurus, bringing a team of helping hands straight into your living room. Income Property, HGTV Though Income Property is geared toward first-time buyers who are looking to make some money from their homes by renting out rooms within their homes to cover their mortgage, host Scott McGillivray offers up a ton of tips that property managers can apply. With ten years of experience under his......
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Creating Community in 2011

It’s a New Year, saying goodbye to 2010 was easy; say hello to 2011.  Gone are the doldrums about the economy, good riddance to low occupancy, and never want to see you again lackluster marketing events. We have a clean slate, a new beginning and a positive outlook for the New Year. It is time to refresh, and take a ride with new motivation, new ideas, and a new purpose.  Wall Street crushed us in 2008 and the banks just about depleted all our futures in 2009. 2010 was the year of transition, of taking stock of what was left and by the holidays; I think we all about had enough of the dismal days of “woe is me”.  People were out shopping, and doing things with their lives, making plans and moving forward.  We got a dose of reality, spending too much and saving too little, now with a couple of years under our belt, we are ready to shine. Keeping our current residents is the name of the game plan, focus on our “bird in the hand”.  Keeping our residents happy and engaged is a full time job but one that can be easily planned. First and foremost, resolve your tenant complaints, a happy resident is one that will stay and not make problems down the road.  Have a time set aside each week that you are completely available to any of your renters’ calls, so they know you are there for them on a regular basis. As reibrain......
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