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Happy Holidays Equal Happy Tenants

It’s the holiday season, and no one wants to be the neighborhood Scrooge. Those tenants that want to go all out when it comes to decorating for the holidays can do so in their own units, but it’s also nice to incorporate subtle bits of holiday cheer to the common areas of your property. Think of it as one of those little touches that demonstrates your ongoing investment in and appreciation of your tenants. Holiday decorations are a great low-budget way to make your property more cozy and cheerful for tenants. After all, tenants who truly feel like their units are “home” will be far less likely to move. Decorating doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, nor do you have to decorate with items that require a lot of upkeep (as we all know, Christmas trees, though fun to look at, can require a lot of regular attention when it comes to sweeping up and keeping them watered–not to mention the fact that a dry tree can be a fire hazard). Consider incorporating one or more of these simple items to jazz up your properties with some holiday cheer. Light it Up While hanging lights around the entire exterior of your property may be more effort than you want to exert, lights can provide a quick holiday fix when used in other ways–wind them around banisters or string them in pre-existing plants in common areas. A conservative amount of lights is extremely affordable at common chains like CVS and Target (a......
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Property Management Stories from the Front Lines

We need your help! Throughout the course of writing the Buildium Blog we’ve covered countless property management scenarios. We hope that our property management tips, advice, and best practices have been helpful to your company — at the very least we hope that they have provided you with an opportunity to reflect on the way that your company does business.

We constantly hear stories from property managers — those of you who are out there managing your properties day-in and day-out — pertaining to specific challenges, nightmares, or unique occurrences encountered on the job. Whether your story is funny, horrifying, or enlightening we’d like to give you the opportunity to share. Buildium will now be accepting submissions for our “Property Management Stories from the Front Lines” series of blog posts.

So what do you need to do? Send us an e-mail detailing your story and what you think makes it unique. The best stories will become a series of blog posts on the Buildium Blog, which can then be weighed in on by other industry professionals. In exchange for your story we will highlight your company, your expertise, and your company website at the end of each post. This will provide great visibility for your business, and great discussion points for all of our readers.

Please e-mail submissions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We look forward to hearing your story!

-The Buildium Team


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2011 Property Management Conferences and Seminars

As we begin to look forward to closing another year out, it’s a great time to look ahead and get your ducks in a row for 2011. Aside from all of the  information and lessons you glean out on the property management field on a daily basis, incorporating continuing education into your professional program is a great way to ensure you continue growing and perfecting both your business and your personal skill sets. Though complete certifications and ongoing classes may simply be unfeasible for some of us, property management related seminars and conferences are a great time-efficient way to add to your knowledge base. 2011 NAA Education Conference and Exposition June 23-25, 2011 Las Vegas, Nevada The National Apartment Association tags this event as the opportunity to “educate, energize, and empower” yourself and your organization. This well-attended event brings together 5,000 multi-family housing professionals from across the nation and 300 service providers, not to mention a wealth of high-profile keynote speakers, including Condoleezza Rice. NPMA 2011 National Education Seminar July 25-28, 2011 Las Vegas, Nevada Hosted by the National Property Management Association, this multi-day seminar provides a wealth of practical business advice, offered from a wide variety of field experts who have an in-depth working knowledge of how property management works from the inside out. In addition to seminars, the NPMA also offers break-out groups that allow attendees to discuss special interests with colleagues and experts. 23rd Annual NARPM Convention & Trade Show October 19-21, 2011 Dallas, Texas As the largest......
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10 Property Management Pitfalls

A few weeks ago, we talked about 10 Signs of Property Management Success. This week, we’re going to take a look at the flip side of that coin, reviewing some indicators that it may be time to make some changes (after all, the time for New Years’ resolutions is just around the corner!). Following are a few red flags to keep an eye out for in your property management business. 1. Lack of referrals – This applies to both tenants and property owners. In an ideal scenario, you should be creating a web of referrals that expands year after year. If you’re not, it may mean that: 1) existing tenants and clients aren’t confident enough in your work to refer you or 2) business-building incentive programs are not in place. 2. Haphazard organizational systems – If your office doesn’t have an organizational system in place for things like accounting, rent payment tracking, and maintenance requests, your efficiency and accuracy may be taking a hit. An investment in property management software will pay off big in the long-run. 3. Sporadic maintenance schedule – Staying on top of regular maintenance (like winterizing) and repairs will keep your property value up and your tenants happy. Creating and sticking to an annual maintenance check-list is the most sure-fire way to stay on track. 4. High turn-over – This applies not only to your tenants, but also to your property management staff. While people move on for any number of reasons (both personal and professional) ,......
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Renters' Insurance -- Do You Need It?

Though the acquisition of renters’ insurance is ultimately your tenants’ responsibility, as a landlord it’s important that you have an understanding of what it is and why it’s important, both for your own well-being and for your tenants’. Your tenants should be aware that in the case of a destructive event at your property (fire, natural disaster, theft, etc.), existing property insurance will only protect your actual property. In other words, tenants’ possessions and personal belongings are not covered.  In addition to protecting their personal items, renters’ insurance also helps protect tenants in the case that a visitor is injured due to their negligence while in their unit. For example, if  a tenant’s dog bites a visitor, renters’ insurance will protect the tenant. Some property managers build a clause into their lease stating that renters are obligated to purchase renters’ insurance for the duration of their occupancy. Whether or not you choose to include this sort of stipulation in your own lease depends upon your personal preference and, also, state and local laws. Why would it work to your benefit to require tenants to have such insurance? After all, they’re taking on the risks of being uninsured and you don’t want to give competing properties an advantage by requiring tenants to pay the additional costs, right? Before making this decision, be aware that in cases where a tenant without renters’ insurance is sued by a person who is injured in their apartment, you can be included in this lawsuit also and......
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Resident Retention: The True Cost of Turnover

In my last post, I made the bold claim that every time a resident chooses not to renew his or her lease, it costs the property an average of $4300. One reader asked me to break down the $4300 cost, and I thought that was an excellent opportunity for all of us to compare some notes. I have just updated all our figures, and the economic landscape has improved... a bit. Based on national average rent and concession data from Axiometrics, turnover costs have dropped to just over $4000 per move out - still quite painful! Here's the breakdown:



Obviously, different markets are experiencing different average rental rates, different concessions, different vacancy loss days, etc. But this gives a starting point to begin evaluating what the true cost of turnover is for your community.

I went through this exercise with a group in the Orlando, Florida area and a group in the Rochester, New York area recently. Two very different markets, but with surprisingly similar turnover costs. Each group calculated turnover costs ranging from $2700 to $4000 per move-out.

What turnover costs have been overlooked here? Over stated? Under stated? 

Jen Piccotti is the VP Consulting Services for SatisFacts Research, the experts in resident feedback and retention programs. www.SatisFacts.com

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10 Signs Your Property Management Company is a Success

While profitability is one great sign of success, there are also many other less tangible indicators that your property management business is doing well. Following is  a list of ten signs you’re running a good property management shop. How many items on this list apply to your business? 1. Your vacancy rates are low. Low vacancy rates can mean any one (and often a combination of) several good things: 1) that you’re doing a good job marketing your property to new tenants; 2) that you’re maintaining existing tenants; and 3) that your units are generally sought-after. 2. You receive new property management clients from referrals. In business, referrals are the sincerest form of flattery. When existing clientele are referring potential clients your way, it is a sure sign you’re doing things right. 3. You receive new tenants from referrals. Chances are tenants who are displeased with your property aren’t going to recommend your property to their friends. As with client referrals, tenant referrals speak kindly of your work and may also indicate that you’ve successfully instated a good tenant referral program. 4. Your tenants stay put. They like you, they really like you! As with all business, it costs far less to keep existing tenants than it does to find new ones. If your tenants tend to remain in your units for multiple lease periods, chances are you’re pricing your units right and making tenants feel well cared for. 5. Other property managers contact you for advice. While it’s nice to......
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STOP ask yourself do you do your follow up calls or thank you cards?!?!?!?

  STOP ask yourself do you do your follow up calls or thank you cards?!?!?!?  By Jolene Sopalski Leasing Specialist WRH Realty Services If you answered no to that question then I want you to hold up your right hand and pledge the following “ I will  start following up with my prospects no prospect will go un-followed up”. Good now if you are one of the ones that said yes I do my follow up calls and thank you cards I want to give you a big hug so just picture me giving  you a hug.  Why are follow ups with prospects so important to you and your owners? They are important to us because our prospects are the key to our success in this industry with out them leasing our apartments there would be no need for us. So why would you let them walk out of your office and never make contact again with money? All to often we use the excuse there's just no time to follow up. I really don’t like hearing there is no time to follow up on a potential lease because that is our job. I want to share with you some tips on following up on prospects that will hopefully increase your leases, make your owners happy and make it easier for you to follow up.  Always keep in mined that you are not the only property that your prospect is looking at so you want  to stay in the game by......
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Tenant Referral Programs -- Are They Worth It?

Let’s face it – keeping vacancy rates as low as possible is any property manager’s first priority. With the economy in its current state, this is truer than ever before.  We’ve written several articles in the past on combating a lousy rental market with strategies like lease renewal incentives and cross-promoting with local businesses. This week we are offering just another tool aimed at keeping vacancy rates low – a tenant referral program. Tenant Referral Incentives – How Much is Enough? By far the most common type of tenant referral program involves offering current tenants a monetary incentive to refer a new friend, family member, or colleague to their community – the current tenant is then paid for their referral when the referred tenant signs a lease.  Although monetary incentives can come in all sizes, one of the most commonly used programs offers $100 per tenant successfully referred. It’s important to note that if you go the monetary route, incentives should match your tenant demographic – we recommend starting with an incentive that is about 20% of one month’s rent. That being said, some of the most successful referral programs actually occur in more high-end properties. A wealthy person in a high-end property may be more motivated to refer a friend for a $1000 incentive than a less well-off person would be for a $100 incentive. Get Creative with Your Program You know your property better than anybody else. In order to achieve the highest adoption of your tenant referral program,......
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3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Renovating

Determining when the time has come to do renovations on your rental property is a process that requires good judgment and a careful analysis of your goals. Depending upon your situation, renovation time may occur before you ever even move tenants into your property or, alternatively, it may be one of the final things you do before selling your investment property. Following are a few key questions to consider when contemplating a renovation. Would I want to live here myself?While you don’t have to outfit every rental you manage like a luxury penthouse complete with every amenity imaginable, it is important to make your rental units as comfortable and livable as possible for tenants. Upon purchasing a rental property (and every few years thereafter), look around your rental unit and ask yourself: Is this somewhere I would want to live? If the answer is no, it’s time to start taking a serious look around at what features could stand changes or improvements. The better condition your rental units are in, the more quality tenants you will attract. And the better quality tenants you attract, the better care they will take of your units. Good tenants are a key element to consistently maintaining the value of your rental property. How do I stack up with the competition?If you are looking to sell your investment property at any point in the near future, you should make yourself familiar with comparable properties in your area. In real estate, sale prices are determined in large......
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