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  Let's face it...you are tired of seeing them. Yes, I am talking about those ugly roof stains. Are the roofs in your complex covered with black streaks & stains? If so, then you may be surprised by what the staining you see actually is. It is a form of algae called "Gloeocapsa Magma" which feeds on crushed limestone used in common asphalt shingles. The good news is it can be removed using the right roof cleaners and cleaning technique. Many people don't realize what causes the stains on your roof. We have heard almost everything...from residue of jet fuel to the shingles rotting from the insideout.                                                                               The truth is shingle roofs are manufactured with different degrees of quality. Most roofs applied by builders and roofing contractors are in the low quality to at most mid quality range with few, if any, fungus fighting elements like zinc or copper.                                                                                                                   Contributing Factors: - Black fungus requires three things to grow: heat, moisture, and a nutrient. Nutrients can be found within the shingle themselves while other variables contribute to and hasten fungus growth. The algae develops an actual root system and lifts granules off the shingles. The north side of the roof is usually the first to exhibit staining because the moisture remains there longer. Add to that, the type, grade and manufacturer of the shingle, the age of the roof, the close proximity of trees, pools, or lakes, how hot and humid the weather is and if there are leaves accumulating on......
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The Peggy Waskom Career Leadership Fund

On February 9th, 2010 a very special and unique event will be taking place in honor of a special Multifamily professional.  The event is entitled, The Peggy Waskom Superbowl.  It's an event where owner managers, vendors, and students will be able to get together and bowl for a fantastic cause.  Below is a bio composed by the Peggy Waskom Committee, of which I am privileged to be on. Peggy Waskom was committed to advancing the state of the industry-through improved training, better communication, and excellent customer service.  With your support, we hope to educate the next generation of leaders in the multifamily housing industry to emulate the very spirit and passion exhibited throughout her career.  In all she did, and all she was as a person, Peggy exhibited grace, compassion, and ingenuity.  Her intellect, humor, and ability to forge strong and lasting relationships made her a stand-out in not only her professional circle, but in her personal life as well.  She was a kind and loving mother, wife and friend.  For those who were fortunate to have met and worked with Peggy fell honored to have known such a loyal and uniquely talented individual.  It is in her memory that we begin this fund-raising campaign.    Beginning now...GAIEF is collaborating with Georgia's technical colleges and high schools to attract new talent to our industry.  Our industry will be represented at every educational level and can be viewed as a "career of choice."  This fundraising initiative will be launched in memory of a......
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To all the Multi-Family vendors I have worked with...Thankful for Thanksgiving! by Daisy Nguyen

Thanksgiving is around the corner. I'm going to take a break from my 3-part series on facebook, and be thankful. I'm  thankful for some of the hardest working yet most underappreciated people in our industry - the vendors of the multi-family industry.I should also point out, that as an industry, WE, ourselves, are vendors. We are vendors to every person who rents an apartment from us. Knowing how bad it feels when a renter takes out their frustrations on us, why do we do that to our vendors? We know that it takes time to learn about someone in order to sell our value proposition (remember all those questions from the guest card?), and how frustrating it is when our prospects say,  "just tell me how much it is," and yet we're always asking this of our vendors all the time. (Remember when you asked your sales person to *JUST* give you a number, without taking the time to explain what you want?) How hard is it to sell on value when you prospect says, "Well, ABC Apartments down the road is giving away 2 months free rent," and we turn right around and tell XYZ contractors their bid is 2 cents too high. Our renters don't buy IT, as we aren't buying IT ourselves. Kinda sucks when the shoe is on the other foot, huh?Don't get me wrong - smart business is still smart business. We definitely need to know where the market is and demand competitive pricing from our vendors. Whether the service is software, advertising, carpeting, screening, information, bulk......
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Houston's Performance Takes a Turn for the Worse

 Most apartment owners and managers operating in multiple markets across the country will tell you that Houston has been a comparative bright spot for their portfolios during the national downturn. But the metro turned in a weak 3rd quarter performance, losing residents in what is normally the seasonal high point in leasing activity and suffering notable rent cuts for the first time during this cycle.Houston apartments registered net move-outs from 2,760 units during the July-September time frame, taking the overall loss so far during 2009 to about 7,900 units. While demand is holding solid for new properties moving through initial lease-up - almost 3,900 top-of-the-market units were absorbed during the past quarter alone - this top-tier demand can't keep up with the slide occurring in the middle segment and bottom end of the market. Those resident losses reflect that this latecomer to recession now is dropping jobs at a serious pace. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports about 95,000 jobs eliminating across metro Houston during the year-ending August, downsizing the total base by 3.6 percent.Houston's net move-outs are coming at the same time that considerable new supply continues to reach completion. Properties totaling another 4,544 units were finished during 3rd quarter, taking year-to-date deliveries over the mark of 13,100 units.The ugly supply/demand relationship seen so far this year lowered Houston's overall occupancy rate to 88.3 percent as of September, off 1.4 points on a quarterly basis and down 3.9 points so far during 2009.While apartment rents in Houston had been holding......
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Did Your Light Bulb Go Off?

 So you receive your energy consumption bill in the mail (electric or natural gas).  It's already not a pleasant item to have to open, but you have no choice.  Much to your chagrin, what you owe this month nearly gives you a heart attack.  Then you reflect on how you have to pay all this money this month for your utility bill and yet your home never feels comfortable!! It is still so hot and my air conditioner is always on and nothing, no relief, still uncomfortable!!   Then you notice a little pamphlet inside the envelope that your bill came with.  It has a simple title, "Would you like to make your home more energy efficient?"  You gasp "YES" and you read the information.  It clearly outlines for you what it will take in order to start saving money.  Tips are given on your windows, doors, filters etc.  As you read through the material you come to realize two things are necessary in order to start feeling comfortable in your home.   1. Decisive Action 2. Spending Money on materials to upgrade various components in your home.   Now can you imagine yourself analyzing these 2 steps?  Would you be saying to yourself, "How ridiculous this is to spend money in the short term in order to save money in the long term?"  I would hope not.  Could you see yourself with such an important matter putting this decision off until next year?  I would hope not.  What is important? ......
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Imaginary Roommates Don't Pay Rent

A quick Google search for the terms "apartment" and "doubling up" gets you about 20,000 hits. Quite a few of those results are articles that feature photos of amazingly wholesome-looking twentysomethings who have combined households to reduce their individual rent payments during today's recessionary times. (Those in the heavily-pierced and totally-tatted set apparently go the lone wolf route, regardless of finances.)Each story also will feature a quote from a local apartment manager who will state how common the doubling-up trend has become of late.What you won't see in the article are any reliable numbers that back up the supposedly widespread pattern of behavior. And that absence seems to reflect that such moves in actuality don't occur frequently enough to produce a noticeable impact on apartment market stats.Sure, it's going to be tough for standard data collection efforts to detect the jobless cousin crashing on your couch, but it should be fairly easy to track the renters featured in the typical story. If a pair of people previously rented separate one-bedroom apartments and now are roommates in a two-bedroom unit, those moves would translate to falling occupancy in one-bedroom apartments and rising occupancy in two-bedroom floor plans (or at least a smaller occupancy drop in the two-bedroom options).Across the 5.1 million apartment units that MPF Research surveyed nationally during 2009's 2nd quarter, however, occupancy was identical for one-bedroom floor plans and two-bedroom apartments. The occupancy performance was a scant 0.1 percentage point higher for three-bedroom units. Furthermore, occupancy in each of these......
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Big Revenue Losses Smack Vegas

Like quite a few other markets across the country, Las Vegas registered reasonably decent apartment demand during 2009's 2nd quarter. The metro managed to absorb approximately 1,700 units for the quarter, despite losing jobs at an annual pace of about 59,000 positions (backtracking by 6.3 percent). That demand was enough to push up occupancy by half of a percentage point on a quarterly basis. The June occupancy, figure, then, came in at an even 90 percent. But, of course, occupancy is only half the revenue story, and the bump that Las Vegas posted in its apartment renter count during recent months didn't come close to countering the huge declines suffered in rental rates.Effective rents were whacked another 2.4 percent in Las Vegas during 2009's 2nd quarter, measuring change on a same-store basis. That quarterly cut took the annual pace of price reduction to 5.7 percent. Furthermore, the sizable downward adjustment in rents seen for the metro as a whole carried through to every niche of the market. Rents faltered by 4 percent to 9 percent in every product age segment during the year-ending June, and losses were at 4 percent to 10 percent in every single neighborhood. The near-term challenges for apartments in Las Vegas go beyond continuing job losses and a vast selection of shadow market condos and single-family homes offered for lease. The metro also is going to have to contend with quite a bit more new supply. About 5,500 apartments remained under construction going into 3rd quarter, with those......
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A Vendor's Perspective on Resident Retention.

It's interesting that in a down economy, there are so many low-cost opportunities to "wow" residents.  I'm noticing that residents are responding especially well to community-building "interactive" amenities much more so than the usua

l "physical" amenities like pools, fitness centers, and business centers.   It's really shown me the value of more community-building types of amenities as a cornerstone of resident retention and leasing strategy.
In talking to property managers, they all share the same complaint in these economic times.  Old tenants are moving out, and new tenants are not moving in as quickly as they used to.  How are their management companies responding?  Many are slashing marketing budgets and lowering rents.  I don't see this strategy as working well for them, however.  It's a bit of a Catch-22: they need visibility, but they can't afford to buy it.  We're seeing that our most successful customers are actually increasing their budgets for small-ticket items that pay off in big ways, and they are still charging among the highest rents in their territories.

I think the a big reason so many communities keep lowering their rents in a recession is that they get into a bidding war, because they aren't making themselves stand out.   Many offer the same types of "physical" amenities like gyms, business centers, and pools, so that they become relatively indistinguishable and compete mainly on location and price.  But in fact, residents tell us time and again that they are more likely to sign or renew their lease

s, regardless of location or price, when they feel emotionally connected to their communities by getting to know neighbors with similar values and interests.  What they want more than anything is to meet other residents more often, and in the right way!  You might call this a demand for "interactive" amenities, rather than "physical" amenities.  We also notice that some physical amenities, such as clubroom areas, kitchens, or certain outdoor spaces, go largely unused, just waiting for managers to turn that dead space into a profit-generating "interactive" amenity.  The great thing is, creating these sorts of amenities is extremely quick and easy to implement.  Best of all, it's incredibly inexpensive, since communities already have a multifunctional space, and they already have the residents!  All managers need is to pull them together with the right activities and a little creativity.

We always tell our customers to think of their clubhouse as the neighborh

ood's town center or social hub.  Imagine residents filling those empty areas socializing in small groups each week, really getting to know each other, and making friends in the neighborhood.  Those beautiful clubhouse areas are specifically designed for group gatherings!   By organizing such gatherings, managers finally put those spaces to good use and tap into their biggest marketing asset of all - the residents themselves, waiting to meet each other around interest-based activities.  We've seen many types of community-building activities flourish, including:

  • Volunteer Groups - organize a group of neighbors to participate in a charity walk, or create a bake sale fundraiser.  Get the staff involved!
  • Book Clubs - get residents together to read and discuss bestsellers.
  • Gourmet Cooking Classes - bring together residents with a hands-on, live cooking show with a professional chef.  This is an ultra-p opular, high-class amenity at little cost.
  • Wine Lectures - have a vivacious wine expert bring together your residents for a trendy, upscale "happy hour."  It's like a night out at a wine bar with friends, but on-site!
  • Group Fitness Classes - bring in professional fitness instructors to host after-work pilates or yoga classes once a week.
  • Intramural Sports Teams - organize a community softball team to participate in local intramural leagues.  This increases pride in the community.
  • Mom-and-tot Play Groups - Buy some inexpensive toys and games for the kids, and host a morning coffee-and-muffin indoor play gathering in your clubhouse.  Moms can relax on sofas and chairs while kids play in a safe space.  Or, organize a bring-your-own lunch outdoor playgroup in a grassy area or playground.

These are just some of the things that we've seen work at our customers' communities over the years.  But especially now, they are really hot!  And we're getting strong feedback that the monthly cooking class and wine lecture program is their number one most successful amenity.  They even use this event as a marketing tool in their "For Rent" magazine ads, on their property tours, and even announce it when new residents are "on hold" when calling in.

Anyway, today I just wanted to talk a bit about this idea of interactive amenities helping communities create a real in-group mentality and a lot of b

uzz among their residents, since it requires a bit of a different mindset.  Next time, I will touch upon some of the challenges we face in dealing with different property management styles, and maybe some of you will be able to offer some insight on that.

I look forward to meeting more of you in the weeks and months to come.

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Unlawful Detainer

Unlawful Detainer by Attorney Tamara Cross Many community owners and managers have been through the unlawful detainer process. Not all of them, however, have encountered just how different and difficult one unlawful detainer action can be from another with regards to time frames, discovery and even trial. If you are lucky, your encounter with an unlawful detainer action took approximately three to four weeks and ended nicely in a default judgment without the need to go to court. This article will walk you through the non-default unlawful detainer action and address some of the options that resident/tenants have to delay the process and to make the unlawful detainer action a long, expensive experience. In discussing the difficult unlawful detainer trial, this article will address the delay tactics taken by residents and their attorneys, the defenses raised to complicate the issues, and finally, suggestions on how best to avoid these delays.  Summary proceeding The unlawful detainer trial was intended to be a “summary eviction proceeding,” which means it was intended to be a quick and limited proceeding in comparison to the general civil litigation matters. For example, in a general civil lawsuit, the defendant has 30 days to answer the complaint, but only five days to answer in an unlawful detainer action. Also, the trial in a general civil lawsuit may take over a year to be heard, where the unlawful detainer trial is required to be set within 20 days of the tenant’s answering. The issues in an unlawful detainer action......
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Which is more important? Price? Quality? or Service?

What is more important to you as an apartment investor, owner, or contractor doing a remodel in a rental property?

Is everyone only looking at price now because of our economy? Or do some people still give credence and importance to quality of materials, loyalty to the vendor they are getting a bid from, timeliness of receiving the bid, the delivery, and installation?

 I would really like to know what is more of the  driving force in the market. We have seen a large upswing in people wanting a bid, but putting more emphasis on Price than anything else. What does that say about the relationships you have built with your vendors? About our society as a whole?


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