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Things you need to know as a property manager that they won't teach you in a classroom

For those of you who know me or have read my blog, you know that I am a huge proponent of professional development and industry education. However, there are just certain things that you are not going to learn in a classroom about the multifamily management business. The following are meant to be lighthearted so I hope no one takes offense. 1) You will need to set a limit as to how many times a disgruntled person can drop the "f" bomb on you before its time to end the conversation2) If you have a property with 1 or more lakes you could end up knowing more about swans and geese and their feces than you ever thought appropriate3) You no longer will have a "normal scope of vision" you will find yourself looking at buildings and properties in which you have no affiliation and find yourself making "punch lists" in your head4) You will at some point have a conversation with someone about dog poo that may or may not end in a threat to DNA test said poo. 5) Someone will call you and tell you that there is a ghost living with them and actually expect you to "resolve" the issue........ I recommend calling an exterminator. 6) You will hear every excuse in the book as to where the rent check got lost...."the dog ate it" may be one of the most believable7) You will start to annoy yourself after the two hundredth time you have quoted the......
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Effective Communication is Key

Keys to the communication kingdom are sometimes hard to grasp.  Nothing in business is more important than communication.  You can have the best plans, the greatest ideas, but if you don’t have effective communication, your results won’t be stellar.  I recently received an email from a property manager sharing with me her response to a resident about an issue where the resident wasn’t clearly informed, and I quote, “I let her know (the resident) that we have a web site and a face book fan page, I also let her know we send out newsletters every month on top of crime watch meetings. She does not want a computer at home, she said that the newsletters are a waste of good paper and she doesn’t have time to attend any kind of meeting. Aside from staying after work and waiting for her to get home, I do not know how she would like us to communicate with her”. This is definitely a tough nut to crack, so, how is a property manager supposed to communicate with someone who doesn’t utilize technology? How about going low tech, a notice laminated and posted at the mail box kiosk, everyone gets mail and has to pick it up at some point, and of course there is the laundry area, there is usually always a bulletin board for postings there.  Did we ever ask the resident how she would like to be communicated with? I think in this age of new technology, we forget about......
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A Healthy Property Management Style

By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL If you like to read great business books and gobble up terms that help managers get the job done, there is one I want you to never forget, MBWA! Not only is it effective and powerful, but it is also good for your health! Here are variations on its commonly known names: The Acronym: MBWA Management by Walking Around Management by Wandering Around Management by Walking About Manage by Walking Around My own version and personal favorite is - Property Management by Walking Around (PMBWA). It is not easy because you have to push yourself away from the desk. Get out and just start walking around. Do nothing but walk. That is all you have to do. Start at the top, the bottom, the outside, the inside, or any part you would like. If you push yourself away from the office you will be out there in the thick of things. Walk around the parking lots, mechanical rooms, corridors, vacant spaces, other departments of the company, but just walk. Or as a former, very successful boss of mine said, "Get out there in look ‘em in the eye!" While you are walking ask questions, talk to people, make inquiries, and introduce yourself to strangers. Ask technicians what they are working on and ask contractors what project or task they are performing for the property? Do not have a plan or carry anything with you but your smartphone. If you must take a note, just......
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Telling Tall Tales; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

When recently asked about which skill I felt was the most important for a real estate developer to possess, I was stumped for about thirty seconds (which is an eternity when someone is staring at you and waiting). My mind raced. How could I not just rattle-off something well thought out and brilliant? Shouldn’t this be a question that every developer must be able to answer without flinching? Well- I flinched. But at the end of that short eternity, my answer was ‘They must be great storytellers.’    I say this for one simple reason: At his most basic level, the developer is a master salesman. We sell our visions and dreams to our investment committees, the communities in which we work, municipalities, equity partners and debt providers, and eventually to the end user.   So what makes someone a great storyteller?   1.       VALUES. More specifically, understanding what your audience values. Unlike a Dr. Seuss fairytale, the developers’ story is intended to illicit a response. It is designed to excite and sway the audience to allow us to build, help the designers understand our vision, invest in our project, lease or purchase from us, etc.  Our story will only connect with the listener if it appeals to what they value. For instance, telling a County Commissioner about how much money you stand to make will not excite them…hearing that same story, your equity partner will be quite pleased. 2.       FOCUS. A good storyteller understands that they are only providing a framework......
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Lessons Your Community Can Learn from Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but once again the occasion raised the question; is it a day full of love and romance, or simply an over-glamorized “Hallmark” holiday? During the week of the fourteenth, the topic of Valentine’s took over social media platforms everywhere, as an inundation of tweets and posts told the tale of two hearts, one positive and one negative. As “#HappyValentine’sDay” was a trending topic on Twitter, “#Happytobesingle” followed close behind from those who were not as enthused. Whether the array of red and pink decor, flower bouquets and chocolate heart boxes leave you feeling tickled pink or filled with anxiety and despair, Valentine’s Day still provides some informative takeaways for your business.   1. Don’t limit your gestures to special occasions, spread the love year-round.Although holidays are an appropriate opportunity to show someone you care, provide gifts to family and friends and maybe partake in the annual mingling with relatives, these kind gestures ought to become habit all year long—and your marketing efforts should follow suit. Building relationships and engaging with residents must be an ongoing occurrence, especially in your social media interactions. Share the love each day by setting aside time to interact with residents through social media.   2. Spice things up.Monotony and routine have no place on Valentine’s Day, nor should they appear in your marketing. Keep residents involved and engaged by using different communications outlets and messages. Explore new ways to attract residents while also adding value for current renters. Have you ......
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Can Your Rental Property Become a Day Care?

By Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA In a recent notice received by our legal counsel addressing this very issue, apparently if you own rental property in California the scary answer is yes! The great state of California is widely known as a pro-tenant state when it comes to tenant-landlord related issues. Many cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles are saddled with pockets of rent controlled areas making investment opportunities less attractive. They also have unfavorable statewide eviction laws that allow deadbeat tenants to continue residing in properties months after defaulting on rental payments. So this should come as no surprise that according to state law if the tenant is licensed by the California State Department of Social Services (DSS) it only takes a thirty day written notice of their intent to legally start and operate a day care center without the permission of the landlord if the total number of children under care, including the children of the tenant, is limited to six. In fact, permission from the landlord is only necessary if the tenant chooses to increase the total number of children under care to eight. The licensed provider does need to have adequate insurance or be bonded. They must simply provide each parent, in writing, a notice that states the landlord’s insurance will not cover any issues should they arise – how reassuring. In fact, the landlord’s only recourse is that they can require the tenant to increase the security deposit to......
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Property Management Banking Tips

By Carla Toebe, New Century Realty, Kennewick, WA If you have decided to delve into the world of property management then the banking procedures will be a bit more involved than simply having a bank account, making your deposits and payments, and balancing the register at the end of the month. I want to stress that every state’s laws are different. Much of what I talk about in this article relates to the best practices specific to the state of Washington. The first rule of business is to establish a trust account with your commercial bank. Oddly enough, once you have sat through the session to get this going, do some telephone banking and ask the representative what kind of account you have set up to make sure it was actually set up as a trust account. Just because they tell you that it is a trust account doesn't mean it is. You have to follow up to make sure that the personal banker did their job correctly. You could find out the hard way that this account was never in fact a trust even if you were told it was. If it isn’t a trust then it will not be protected from potential seizure in the event of bankruptcy or other issues with separate personal or business accounts. Do your due diligence and don't rely on the initial set up. Additionally, you should not have any business operating funds coming into or out of this trust account. The account should......
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Developing a Crack Team without Cracking your Budget: Top Ten Tips

Graduating PiggybankYou can spend thousands of dollars and hours on marketing and advertising but one negative interaction will undo all that hard work. The front-line team is the public face of your organization. If they are frustrated, harried, not knowledgeable, incompetent or rude you will alienate your customer (plus her circle of influence). Numerous retail studies have demonstrated that it is human nature to complain about our negative interactions while we rarely repeat positive ones. While we cannot completely eliminate negative interactions (or at the very least, a perception that a negative interaction has occurred), we can do our best to minimize them by effectively training our team. We talk about the benefits of training but few want to foot the bill. In fact, throughout the past few years of economic stress, the training budgets of most companies have been whittled away. However, consider the cost of one lost resident—due to a negative showing for example—and you could easily justify the cost of a basic training program. Engaging in a program of effective training results in two broad areas of benefit: improved morale and increased knowledge. Employees view education as the employer’s investment in them as well as a signal that they are valued. This results in an improved outlook towards the employer, towards the job and themselves. This morale boost results in more positive customer (as well as coworker) interactions. Conversely, when employees become stagnant their results and customer relations become stagnant. Training counteracts this tendency. An increase in knowledge is......
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Applying Green Principles In Property Management

A guest post by Samantha Harvey, General Waste Collection, Lancashire, United Kingdom With sustainability becoming more important to the general population, there is an ever-increasing necessity to provide eco-friendly properties. The rise in popularity of green technologies has led an industry that was once seen as expensive and niche-based into one that has competitive prices for many aspects of the building process. With the decreasing initial price disadvantage combined with the always present efficiency positives, the green movement presents a good deal of incentive to implement more eco-friendly resources. With the majority of greenhouse gas emissions coming from buildings, incorporating sustainable processes in homes is vital for curbing the impact of global warming. As a property manager, the bottom line is the strongest guide as to how a property is to be managed. Incorporating green strategies can be a very productive aspect of property management. A major incentive for providing eco-friendly aspects to homes are the tax breaks, whether on a local or national level. Whether it is windows, heating systems, or solar panels, incentivized government programs are out there waiting for people to take advantage. Along with tax incentives, the strategies of increased efficiency provide savings in the operating costs of residential buildings. In cases where utilities are included, the bottom line effect can really add up. If utilities are not included, the potential renter will, or at least should, recognize that their own personal utility bills would be lower. This provides a key advantage over non-green buildings where potential......
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Never Put Off Till Tomorrow

By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL Touch It Once is a mindset, a philosophy, and a management style. It is the antithesis of procrastination coupled with a smart way to work by stopping redundant behavior dead in its tracks; both of which are the enemy of any efficient and well run organization. The concept is simple – Touch It Once (TIO). Did you ever notice that each month the cycle is the same? Collect rent, send out 5 day notices, process accounts payable, cut checks, etc. So if this is something you know that’s going to happen, why is it so painful? Then at the end of the 30 day period, the cycle is going to start again! How can you not be prepared?! It happens every 30 days! If you think about how the concept of TIO comes into play it will change the outlook you have on your business. Every time you do a task, think about how you can do that task perfectly. Save the process, document the task, and create a road map for others to follow that same format or system. The next time the task is required, anybody can use your process, learn how to execute, and actually accomplish it with the least amount of error or redundancy. So how do you as a property manager or leasing agent “touch it once”? For me it was about checklists and document packets. These checklists include a new resident checklist, a move out checklist, a new......
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