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Apartment Shopper Survey Reveals What Makes the Ideal Apartment Rental

Pie chart displaying the top twenty features and amenities renters look for in aIt's no surprise that location made the top of the list in a survey we conducted asking 131 apartment shoppers what five qualities mattered most to them when hunting for a new home. Many responded with typical answers like square footage, price and floor plan, but what we found interesting was where in the rank of importance they landed. You might be surprised to see what an average apartment renter deems a deal-breaker when shopping for a new apartment home. For a brief version, here are the top 20. Top 20 Apartment Amenities & Highlights Apartment Shoppers Look For What Apartment Renters Consider Must-Haves What apartment owners often consider features are quickly turning into expectations for many apartment renters. We were surprised to see how frequently hardwood floors made the top five in our apartment shopper survey. Several apartment renters stated that hardwood floors are often the deciding factor because they are significantly easier to clean and maintain. Location Laundry Facilities Hardwood Floors Closet Space & Ample Storage Appliances & Fixtures Light / Windows Parking Size Pet Policy Character & Decor Balcony / Patio / Yard Typical requests like newer appliances, ample parking, decent square footage and lots of natural light will always be lurking near the top of the list, but the condition of laundry facilities are an imperative factor as well. Dozens of survey-takers stressed the importance of having access to well-maintained washers and dryers; if you don't offer in-unit laundry as an option then make sure your community laundry facilities......
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People Love Us on Yelp!

People Love Us On Yelp!At this point I hope I don’t have to explain the importance of your property’s online reputation. Please check out Lia Nichole Smith's recent article about Reputation Management for a quick refresher course if you are, in fact, clueless.   Your online reputation means more than just 5 star reviews, but that’s a conversation for another article. I just want to talk about feedback and ratings.   Generally, we trust the opinions of our friends and family. Google recognizes that and updated its search algorithm to consider reviews when ranking search results. Crystal Hadidian has "A Brief Guide to Recent Google Algorithm Changes For The Multifamily Industry" that goes into more detail.   Yelp can be tricky, but I think that’s mostly because the overall concept is so simple it confuses people. You get better ratings and more reviews by providing outstanding service or an exceptional experience. It’s not rocket science. It’s that easy.   Some business owners take issue with Yelp’s review filter. The LA Times recently wrote an article1 about heated comments that local business owners shared during a town hall meeting Yelp held on August 20, 2013. Overall most in attendance understand Yelp’s position of wanting to do everything possible to maintain an appropriate level of integrity for consumers who rely on recommendations prior to choosing a company. The trouble comes when positive reviews from confirmed customers get filtered. I’ve been using Yelp since 2007 and without knowing more details, I’m 90% sure they were filtered because the reviews were posted......
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Marketing Plan 101: 6 Steps to Success

Marketing Plan 101: 6 Steps to Success
Budget-planning season is in full swing, and now is the perfect time to evaluate your marketing plan. Don’t have one? Not a problem – here’s a simple breakdown of what you need to know in order to build a strategic marketing plan for your business:   1. Decide on objectives. First things first: it’s time to figure out what you are trying to accomplish. Consider the strengths and challenges that your brand faces. Whether it’s the competitive landscape, geographic location, your budget, or your staff – it all plays an important role in determining your goals and objectives. As a property manager, you must determine what your occupancy level is and what you would like for it to be – take a look at industry trends and forecasts to determine how your community measures up. It’s important to be realistic when setting goals, but do consider challenging yourself for a greater reward.  2. Determine your audience. Who are you targeting? It’s critical to know who you’re marketing to so that you can tailor your messaging appropriately. A great way to identify your audience is by conducting market research. It’s easy to set up questionnaires using a service such as SurveyMonkey, and best of all, it’s very cost-effective! You can distribute the survey to your residents and prospects through email and social media, or have a staff member conduct in-person surveys at events or in approved public areas.  3. Choose your messaging. Now that you’ve established who your target audience is, it’s time to construct appropriate messaging for your brand. Use engaging content......
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Multifamily Rents - Appropriate or Antiquated? (March 2013)

Multifamily owners walk a tight rope when it comes to managing an adequate rate of return on their respective apartment investments.  To conquer the balancing act between maintaining positive cash flow and mitigating operating expenses is one that requires foresight, financial prowess, and tactful execution to successfully navigate across the proverbial tight rope of profitability. One primary component that requires the utmost consideration is implementation of appropriate apartment rental rates. According to the “Out of Reach 2012” study conducted by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, New Jersey ranks as a Top 5 least affordable state in the country for 2-Bed apartment rentals based on housing wage.  To put things in perspective, the national average housing wage is approximately $16.32; The Garden State mean is $25.04 (approx. +34% over the national average). The report depicts the correlation between “Affordable Housing” versus “Free Market” rental rates per unit type as they pertain to average hourly minimum wages.  Broken down by metropolitans and counties nationwide, the study tallies the amount of household earnings necessary to afford different size apartment rental unit types against fair market rental rates per jurisdiction.  For further information, statistics, and access to the full study, visit www.nlihc.org Perpetual decrease in vacancy rates (current average per NJ metro region @ 3.8% /Northern, 3.0%/Central, & 5.5%/ Southern according to REIS reports) indicates demand for apartment rentals has strengthened. High demand, low vacancy, and shrinking inventory can only lead to increased rental rates.  Albeit very encouraging to Owners, this is where “foresight” comes into play......
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The Problem With Better: A How-To Guide For Disrupting The Property Management Software Industry

The Problem With Better: A How-To Guide For Disrupting The Property Management Software Industry
  The June announcement of Property Solutions’ new management software offers interesting possibilities for disruption. Entrata, currently still in BETA, is a one-stop-shop for operators and boasts a single platform development. Features include resident screening, portal, and CRM. Just to name a few. What seems to set the software apart is its open API, which would, in theory, allow owners and operators to customize the code to their specific needs. Entrata sounds even better when you hear the price for its "core suite" - Free. While it is still unclear what, exactly, comes with the free edition, Entrata is sure to ruffle some feathers with its new pricing model. The decision to move towards an open source, freemium model make Entrata a prime candidate for a disruptive technology. It's clear Property Solutions intends to steal away market share by simply providing a better service with better pricing. When you consider the current state of property management software, you can't help but root for Entrata to knock out the established firms. Unfortunately, "better" doesn't always convince the masses. And it certainly doesn't last. Why Better Won’t Work The problem with better is it can always be made better. Theres nothing special about better. Software teams ship better all the time - better reports, better apps, better code. Better gives no real advantage to the little guy. Better is how the established firms compete and, in all likelihood, they can ship better a lot better than an entrant firm could hope to. Different, however, is, well, different. The rules for......
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Renting to Mary Jane

I want begin this post with the observation that there is absolutely no connection between the facts that (1) I have not posted here at MFI for a while and (2) this post is about marijuana. Sometimes I just can’t think of something that is truly relevant for you to read, but then my muse does her thing (and this time my muse is DJ Ryan with the law firm of Kimball, Tirey & St. John, LLC). Speaking of relevancy, this post is for the California folks only… Medical marijuana has been legal in California for many years and if you have communities that you own or manage there, you do need to have a policy about its use on your property by residents. (BTW – I have been told that a California case precludes employees from using medical marijuana on the job.) Many California communities are smoke-free now, as result of landlord preference or local laws. Smoking is smoking – cigarettes, pipes, cigars, hookahs, roaches. You can forbid it all, but if because of a disability someone asks to be allowed as a reasonable accommodation to smoke their medical marijuana, you will need to consider that request. It is likely that unless such use becomes a nuisance (in the legal and lease sense, and be careful here in coming to that conclusion), or if it conflicts with someone else’s disability, you will need to allow this to happen. This is a complicated topic – does the smoking of marijuana leave residue beh......
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WHAT’S YOUR RENTAL EXPERIENCE LIKE?

WHAT’S YOUR RENTAL EXPERIENCE LIKE?
Like a lot of other nerds, I watched the release of the new Microsoft Surface tablet with much interest. Being touted as an iPad killer, there was much hype behind Microsoft's reimagining of the tablet experience. The problem, of course, turned out to be Microsoft's failure in managing that experience correctly. The reviews haven't been good. Microsoft, it turns out, spent a ton of time making sure the device felt good in your hands. They wanted the right, curvy angles for the device. They wanted the screen to blast its high def-y goodness all over you and to create a better typing experience with its touch cover keyboard. All of those things turned out to be pretty cool. The problem? The overall experience associated with using the device stinks. Why? It's slow. The software is a cross between poor design and clumsy. Already, there are defects. The price tag is too high. All of these items overshadow its cool angles with touch keyboard. They focused on the wrong things and their oversights have been detrimental to the entire Surface Experience. Let Microsoft's Surface problems be a lesson for all of you. Make sure you are managing your leasing experience effectively. Think of every leasing opportunity as its own product launch. Everything a prospect sees is part of the experience. Your phone manner must be right. Make sure you're smiling, understanding the prospects needs and showing them the best apartment. A maintenance man addressing employees inappropriately in front of prospects takes away......
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Licenses and Furthering Education

As a professional in the multifamily industry, I want to take my career to the highest possible level. I am getting in gear to begin a graduate program, working on becoming a licensed Real Estate salesperson, and doing as much as I can to learn and stay active. My position right now is not directly in line with property management (but closely tied), however I have worked as a leasing manager, assistant property manager, and property manager in the last 3 years.

My question to those experienced professionals out there: What source of education, certifications, and licenses do you believe to be most helpful in the world of multifamily management? How do you decide what educational institutions/programs to pursue? Any suggestions for a young professional looking to grow and become a leader in the industry?

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How to Get Your Leasing Staff Off the Phone and Showing More Apartments

How to Get Your Leasing Staff Off the Phone and Showing More Apartments

As the managing broker and owner of a boutique apartment marketing company in downtown Chicago, Luxury Living Chicago, I spend a great deal of my time calling leasing offices scheduling showing appointments. In turn, I know as much time as I spend calling around, the leasing staff at the Chicago multifamily properties we work with spend even more time on the phone scheduling.

When I was tasked with running the lease-up of a student housing complex converting to market-rate apartments, I wanted a better, more efficient way to schedule showings. I wanted my leasing team to spend their time on tour with clients, not taking appointments via phone. Every aspect of my lease up would be done electronically, including scheduling showings.

After some research, I discovered ShowMojo, an online service enabling landlords, property managers, leasing agents and Realtors to schedule and confirm showings with renters and buyers online.

With ShowMojo I had the power to control the hours when prospective tenants could essentially sign-up to come in and tour.  This meant that I could allow for an hour or two throughout the day for my leasing agents to get paper work done around their showings.

I believe that utilizing this tool contributed to the quick lease up of this property - my leasing team rented 34 units in 45 days.

If you want your leasing staff to spend their time on tour, and ultimately rent more apartments, I highly recommend implementing an electronic scheduling strategy.

 

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Why Do Residents Only Say Something When They're Upset?


Have you ever noticed that you often hear from residents only when they're complaining about something?

I mean, when the grass is green and the flowers are blooming, how many calls are your offices getting saying "great job" on the landscaping? When the maintenance team fixes a broken appliance how many responses do you get saying "thank you" relative to the amount of service requests the team completes?

Until I better understood the psychology of customers, this used to bug me to no end! Then as I managed and trained I watched my people feel the same types of frustrations as well.

This short video explains a little bit about why customers only say something when they're upset . . . and what you can do about it as well!

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