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Is Student Housing Still A Niche Market?

Is Student Housing Still A Niche Market?
Rewind to a decade ago and major REITs would have quickly dismissed student housing as a small niche market with minimal investment potential. The concept of purpose built student housing was almost exclusive to on-campus housing; aside from a few early adopters who helped usher in a new era of student focused accommodations. Outside of on-campus housing, students would by and large rent properties from independent landlords or local apartments. However, in 2015, the student housing sector has seemingly outgrown its status as a small niche market. A niche market is typically characterized as serving a very specific need to a relatively small market segment. While student housing can still technically be considered a niche market, the size of the market has grown to a point where it’s drifting from this characterization. This holds particularly true in the United States, where in 2014 alone, nearly 60,000 new private student housing beds were delivered to the market. The Canadian market, on the other hand, has seen slower growth; but it too is developing quickly. Rock Advisors stated that in 2013, there were over 950,000 full-time students enrolled at the 82 largest university campuses in Canada and 55% of these students attend universities outside of the communities they grew up in. Rock Advisors go on to say that there are over half a million students in need of places to live. This number will continue to increase, and as it does, the Canadian student housing sector will inevitably follow a similar path to its American counterpart. One of t......
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Be Nice to Everyone

b2ap3_thumbnail_be-nice-to-everyone.jpgFrom the time I was old enough to listen, my grandpa imparted the following sage wisdom to me: “Be nice to everyone. You never know what side of the desk they’ll be sitting on.” This lesson in both relationships and humility has stayed with me my entire life. And, as I am wrapping up my twenty-second year in multifamily housing, I am struck by the truth within that statement. I have always tried to be nice to people, that’s my personality, but I realize the importance of this quality in business now more than ever. People help people they like, that is a fact. I recently left a career at a company where I planned to retire. As I performed a postmortem on my time there, I discovered the limit of my career at the company had been reached, largely because my boss did not invest in me. A critical piece to career advancement within the organization was missing. There are several lessons to be learned from my autopsy, and I will share them with you in hopes you are able to avoid some of my mistakes. Manage your reputation and your personal brand. There is so much talk about managing our online reputation and delivering exceptional customer service to our residents, but how are we perceived by our co-workers? Are we giving good customer service to them? Are we willing to go the extra mile?  Do we say YES to opportunity? Do we have a good attitude or are we curmudgeo......
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The unmatched power of word-of-mouth marketing will never fade away

The unmatched power of word-of-mouth marketing will never fade away

The unmatched power of word-of-mouth marketing will never fade away, and this is something you can train your leasing agent to take advantage of. The only problem is that many tend to think of referrals as something they have to sit and wait to get, instead of being proactive, but that's wrong!

Current residents, past residents, and just about anyone you or your employees know are a potential source of referrals. This is not even to mention those prospects who seem to of gotten away. Just because these people might not be in a position to sign a lease with you at the moment doesn't mean they don't know someone who might be interested

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Exceed your resident's expectations and your promises on their move in day!

Exceed your resident's expectations and your promises on their move in day!
Exceed your resident's expectations and your promises on their move in day!  When the time comes to move in your residents, don’t just live up to what you promised, exceed it.  This does not have to involve a lot of extra work, energy and financial burdens on your part.  Simple things like baking a batch of cookies and brewing some coffee as a surprise mid-afternoon snack or personally delivering a pizza and drinks to their apartment can go a long way toward exceeding expectations.  Other than that, if you just treat your residents as you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes you will do fine. Additionally, when your new residents arrive to move in, make sure that you and your staff introduce yourselves again. Mention the staff members that are not present and explain everyone's roll in making their move in flawless, their stay memorable and the community the greatest.  Don't forget to give them a quick run down of the amenities , and let them know how to get in touch with you if they need you.  If your community provides additional services like exercise classes, resident events, trash service, area discounts and cleaning, make a quick reference to these services and tell them they can learn more about them in their move in package (you should always have move in packages that feature this information.).  Moving is ranked as one of the top three most stressful times in a person's life. Your job is t......
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Casual Friday…what does it really mean?


Casual Friday…what does it really mean? First impressions count and professional property managers and office staff need to be aware that personal appearance and demeanor counts just as much as the office appearance Always remember that if you look and behave like a highly trained and well-groomed professional, you will win the respect and honor of valued prospective tenants.  Once a lease is signed you will have already set the standard for how business is to be handled.  If prospective and current tenants see that it is alright for you to move around the office inappropriately their rent payments and behavior will reflect the same attitude.  However, if you display a positive image they will take you seriously and be more inclined to behave and pay their rent as they should. Well groomed hair, pressed attire and proper attire go a long way when establishing a professional demeanor. If you are in doubt about what to wear on casual Friday in a professional environment, watch “The Office, casual Friday episode” it will give you some pointers along with a few laughs that you can take back to the office.   Some employees may think that casual Friday means coming to work in club attire and jean shorts.  However, that type of attire should not set the stage for your property.  That is why your casual Friday dress code policy should be explicitly spelled out. Employees should be aware of the image they’re presenting when they dress according to their personal environment, and not......
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Best Practices for Photography in Advertising

Best Practices for Photography in Advertising
There are many important factors to keep in mind when you are creating ads for your community, regardless of the advertising medium itself. An effective message takes into account several things – clear and concise copy, a call to action, good visuals, and more – but the apartment photography that you select to showcase your community is key when vying for the attention of today’s renter.   So, what’s the big deal with photos? Today’s consumer is highly visual. They have limited time, and with a Word of Eye mentality, they can browse photos to quickly gather information. Great apartment photography allows your prospects to begin building a story, where they start by imagining themselves living at your community. Knowing this, it is of the utmost importance that you capture their attention through your visuals – ensuring that your community, and not your competitor’s, is the scene for that story.   Let’s take a look at how you can optimize the photos you use for your community advertisements.   What should be in your photos:   Serious apartment shoppers look to photos to learn more about your community and to determine whether or not it will be the right fit for them. Your photos are an extension of your advertisement and should show off the features and benefits of your community. Think about what sets your community apart from others and capture that in your photos. If your community has a pool or a dog park, make sure you have photos available for shoppers so the......
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The 3 S’s to Ensure Multifamily Resident Satisfaction

The 3 S’s to Ensure Multifamily Resident Satisfaction
Prospective renters that come to your multifamily property always have that set of requirements they make their decision on. Which properties they actually choose to tour depend on your online presence of the property (Yelp, photos, Google Maps) and most importantly, that call they make to a leasing agent. There’s always a chance, regardless of the quality of a property, that they may see something that worries them, whether it be a bad yelp review, not being budget friendly or weariness about the location of the property. Put your renters’ minds at ease by reminding them of the 3 S’s that stand out at your property: Safety A frequent question prospective renters have on the phone is whether or not the property is safe. If the renter is new to town and unfamiliar with the neighborhoods, they could make the mistake of getting fooled by the website without knowing community issues. You’re not in the business of fooling. No matter where your property is located, always make sure to take the time to explore every avenue of your property that could be a safety risk. Important safety features that many updated properties feature include gated parking with remote access and key fob access to buildings, pools and gyms. But it’s what your property is doing that no one else does that sets you apart, and makes the renter choose you. Offer them a number of an on-call security guard that can walk them to their car if they feel unsafe at night. An......
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Showing Off Your Community’s Assets

Showing Off Your Community’s Assets
In order to successfully market your community to prospective renters, you have to gain insight into what they are searching for in an apartment. Understanding preferences, such as the types of amenities searched, can help you showcase the best features that your community has to offer. Once you’ve seen some of the things that your prospects are looking for, it’s time to show them off. But how?   As a community, you should always be looking for fresh and innovative ways to accentuate your assets and what you can offer to renters. Using video is a beneficial way for you to highlight your community’s best features for prospective residents. Here are some of the pros: Showcases property. Video allows the renter to get a feel for the property in a way that photos alone cannot provide. With video, prospects are able to get the ‘big picture’ without having to actually step foot in the apartment. Saves time. Since apartment shoppers are able to view your video from your online advertisement or on sites like YouTube, when they make their next move to visit your community in person it can save your leasing staff time. For prospects unable to take an in-person tour, this saves time for everyone and creates the opportunity to build confidence in what they can expect from the property itself as well as get a feel for the community lifestyle. Makes a lasting impression. Once the video is recorded and posted within your online advertisement and on your website, the message you’re trying to convey does......
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Negotiating Apartment Investment Deals

Finding a property with strong upside and intrinsic value is only the beginning of an apartment investment deal. Negotiating with a seller or broker in order to reach a mutually beneficial agreement can be tenuous and fragile. You may often find yourself walking a fine line between offending the selling party and meeting the needs of your business. Look for a few scenarios that may help provide a positive outcome. My most preferred forum of negotiating a deal is to speak privately and directly with the owner before it is on the market. It is easier to achieve an agreeable price and terms without middlemen (brokers) or other buyers involved. If a deal has already been made public, my competition may be influencing the seller. Having a relationship with the listing broker is another quintessential negotiating forum. Ideally, I am the first, or one of the first, investors that the broker shares the deal with. A realtor or broker may often take a deal to their most trusted investors first because they have proven performance. It takes time to cultivate such relationships, but it is worth it for the advantage of being ahead of the market. The third most ideal scenario for me to negotiate an apartment investment is when the property has been on the market for many months and has yet to sell. Typically this means the deal is already over-marketed and has likely gone through a couple of failed closings, meaning a motivated seller and less competition. There......
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Is There Anything More Important Than Hiring?

A company is only as good as the team of personnel who run it. A mediocre team will create a mediocre company, a strong team - a strong company, and an exceptional team will undoubtedly result in an exceptional company. It is for this very reason that we often ask ourselves if there is anything more important than hiring. For clarity’s sake, keep in mind that I am using the idea of hiring to summarize the entire process which extends beyond just hiring itself. We must excel in finding, recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining exceptional personnel. Only when all five of these are executed effectively will we see the results we desire. We take hiring decisions very seriously. Hiring can be one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking processes a business experiences, especially if we're trying to fill a high-level position. There are many things to consider when selecting the right candidate. Will they fit in with their co-workers? What will they add to the culture of the company? Are they the type of person that will jump in and take ownership over their position immediately? Are they worth the cost of their pay? Rapid growth can pressure a company to hire without evaluating every factor, so here are a few tips to ease the nerves. Make Patient Decisions Decisions made out of desperation are often regrettable. I cannot stress enough how necessary it is to take your time during the vetting process. I look at every employee with a long-term approach, and i......
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