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Realtors Turned Property Managers

Anyone who has made a career in real estate knows that the market is always changing. There’s no arguing the fact that real estate professionals must have the ability to accept that while there are times of feast, there are also times of famine. But even when buyers are hard to come by, opportunities for income generation exist. And one of those opportunities is property management. Adapting to change. It’s not news at this point: Over the past couple of years, the real estate market has taken a huge hit. With foreclosures running rampant, loan qualification processes that can be difficult at best, and severe job losses across the nation, successful real estate transactions have been hard to come by. Even successful transactions now require far more time and effort than they once did. While things are slowly beginning to turn around, the real estate market is cyclical — we will at some point see it dip again. This is why it’s so important for real estate agents to have a back-up plan when times get rough. Property management offers realtors a great way to remain in the field and put their skills to use, even when the market is down. Steady income. No matter what, people will always need shelter. Particularly during economic climates like that of the past couple years, home sales may go down, but renting goes up, with all of the displaced former home owners looking for new places to lay their heads. No matter what field......
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Keeping Your Lease Agreements Up to Date

If there’s one document in property management that simply has to reviewed (and updated as necessary) on a regular basis, it’s your lease. This is, after all, the document that will ultimately determine your rights and protect your best interests when it comes to issues both big and small.  Because you’re dealing with a host of rules and regulations on the federal, state, and local levels, it’s imperative that you not only adjust your lease as necessary when laws change, but also that you’re in compliance and protected on all three fronts. If you’re not proficient in legalese, chances are reviewing your lease (and, moreover, identifying those elements that need to be changed) is a daunting endeavor at best. Following are some tips and best practices for keeping your lease up-to-date and your best interests protected on an ongoing basis. Hiring Legal CounselYes, this can be a somewhat expensive option. However, consider the fact that a water-tight lease can potentially spare you legal costs of a far more unpleasant variety in the future and additionally saves you a ton of time (as compared to reviewing and revising a lease on your own). Suddenly, the cost of hiring a legal professional to review your lease becomes a far more appealing option. If you do choose to take this route and don’t already have a trusted lawyer in your contact base, talk with real estate and property management professionals for references to proven lawyers that specialize in such matters. Professional or Association Meetings and SeminarsTaking part......
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21 Creative Ideas For Resident Renewals!

Creative Ways To Retain Residents At Renewal Time So often we focus on leasing and being creative with our marketing that we forget about Resident Retention. We think oh we don’t have to market our current residents they already live here at our community. That is the wrong thought process, marketing does not stop the moment they sign a lease, it’s a continuous thing. So let’s focus on some creative ways to market renewals and to get the current resident to stay a current resident. Especially now in these times when we are all competing for each other residents. I was reading a past issue of Rent and Retain magazine March/April 2006 and discover a fun list of 21 methods to deliver lease renewals. I tweaked some and added a little here and there! I really hope you enjoy this and have fun! There will be lots of more fun and creative ways to market current residents to stay coming your way soon! •Remember the first initial letter is to have all the information they need to renew their lease. You can still deliver it in a fun and creative way!  1)  Wanted Poster- This is great if you have a picture of your resident. Get some cream color paper to make it look aged. Scan the picture and write “WANTED-YOU to renew your lease!”  2)  “Seems Like Only Yesterday”- Do the same thing with the wanted poster but write “It Seems Like Only Yesterday that you moved in. We’ve had a......
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Are Renewal Incentives Worth It?

Are Renewal Incentives Worth It? Most landlords will agree that a vacant unit ranks right up there as one of their least favorite things. The bottom line is simple: A vacant unit is money down the drain. There are, of course, times of feast when rental units rarely remain vacant for even a few days in between one tenant and the next. But then there are the other, slimmer times, when people are saving their pennies and staying put. In this case, finding a new, quality tenant is much, much easier said then done — it can take weeks (in some cases maybe even months) to find the right tenant. And, of course, even if you are able to find a tenant, flipping a unit costs money. As discussed in our previous post, even those units that are left in good condition require some degree of re-investment — not to mention the cost of advertising and marketing available units. Which all seems to make it clear that, at least in the current economy, retaining good tenants is the best way to go. Not only will it save you the expense of turning the unit, but it will also prevent a potential lingering vacancy from sucking away at your bottom line. Sometimes, though, no matter how good of a job you’ve done taking care of your tenants and making sure that your property and their unit is in tip-top condition, a tenant just feels it’s time to move on. If a good tenant......
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Resident Retention: Quit Buggin'!

How annoying are bugs? Very! And with summer, we often see an onslaught of bug invasions. Along with the pretty appearances of butterflies and fireflies, we've got to deal with mosquitoes, gnats and worse. We don't necessarily mind them outdoors, but when they start making themselves at home in our home - well, that's a problem!  Ant invasions, spiders in every corner, swarming termites, wasp nests, and dare I even mention the bed bugs stowing away in our vacationing residents’ luggage? It should come as no surprise that when asked in our annual resident satisfaction surveys why residents don't indicate they are "Very Likely" to renew their leases, "Pests/Bugs" are in the top ten reasons!  The good news: You can do something about this! Meet with the exterminating service under contract and make sure they are made aware of the company’s and residents’ expectations.  If you have applicable survey results, they should be shared with the vendor so the issue can be put in perspective in terms of its impact on resident satisfaction. Ensure your vendor is made aware that their performance will be monitored.  In addition, have the service provider tour selected apartments and common areas with the staff to evaluate them.  An action plan to remedy any issues should be requested.  If the property has a solid, long-term relationship with the provider, then the tone of discussions should be from a “partner” perspective; if a new service provider, the tone may need to be stronger, with severe cases requiring......
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Resident Retention: Alert! Alert! That Deposit Won't Cover Your Turn Costs!

Touch up paint for the entry? The deposit will cover it. Tub needs new caulking? The deposit will cover it. The carpet is 7 years old and it's looking terrible from all that daily wear and tear. It's going to need to be replaced... the deposit... Hmm. The unit is sitting empty for 10 days, 20 days, 30 days. The deposit? It has not been that long ago that conventional wisdom said that turnover was not a bad thing. In fact, it was a good thing because more often than not, the unit could be re-rented for a higher monthly rate.  It's time to take a closer look at that "old wives' tale" and examine the facts, and not just because the economy has been challenging. It's time to take a closer look because often, I believe, our industry may not be looking at the whole picture when it comes to true turnover costs. When evaluating an individual property’s true turnover costs, one must have a clear picture of the impact each resident’s move-out decision has on the property’s financial well-being. So, how do you calculate turnover costs? Average market rent Average vacancy loss days Average wages for the leasing team to re-rent the unit Average wages for the maintenance team to turn the unit and make move-in ready Advertising and marketing costs Referral or locator fees Concessions Leasing commission Repair and replacement costs to make the unit move-in ready   Here's what it looks like on the national average: When......
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Why Tenants Love to Hate Their Property Management Company

This is a follow up to our survey of almost 3,000 reviews of property management companies on Yelp and Yahoo Local. Why is it that management companies seem to get such a bad rap in online reviews? It would be easy to dismiss these review sites as being platforms for libel by disgruntled people with an axe to grind, but the reality is rating sites are a useful tool that are widely used by consumers. 61% of people rely on user reviews for product information or research before a buying decision is made. (Razorfish, 2008) Knowing that consumers use online rating and review sites for everything from restaurants to doctors to apartments, we felt compelled to better understand why our research showed property managers were on average getting 30% lower ratings than the average for all other industries. In fact if you’re looking to be entertained by passionately negative reviews, the property management industry pretty much takes the cake: Unfortunately property management can be a thankless job, where tenants are hyper-sensitive to mistakes and often resent the enforcer aspect of the management company’ role. Obviously, not all tenant/property manager relations are like this, but as our research and the ubiquity of these glowing (as in firebrand) reviews show, it isn’t uncommon either. Here’s my breakdown of what makes this industry unique in garnering so much negativity. Spoiler alert: You’re going to be disappointed if you’re wanting me to place all the blame squarely on tenants or the management company. The single......
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Cross-Promoting with Local Businesses

In this economy, businesses of all stripes are looking for a little extra leverage when it comes to generating more sales. Despite all the gloom and doom news out there, this actually opens up a lot of new doors for property managers to not only lower their vacancy rates, but also to incorporate new business strategies that can pay off in spades over the long haul. We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about viral marketing and utilizing new technology for growing your business and marketing your properties. While this is all well and good, it’s also important to keep those perennial grassroots marketing strategies alive and well. And one of the most effective grassroots approaches for those in the property management business is partnerships with local businesses. More likely than not, businesses in close proximity to your rental units are open to strategies that will bring a steady stream of new customers into their establishment, whether it be a restaurant, grocery store,video rental store, or salon. Believe it or not, you have your finger right on the pulse of their potential client base: your tenants. Of course, this is a two-way street—those same neighborhood purveyors may well have just the tenant you’re looking for in their clientele. Capitalizing on such potentially synchronous relationships is simple. First, sit down and figure out what your ideal tenant pool looks like. Is it students? Young professionals? Families? Once you know what your target tenant demographic is, take a look at......
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Employee Retention: The First Step To A Sense Of Community

Celebrating the Third Place by Ray OldenburgI am reading a book that I believe has the power to change how our industry perceives the concept of "sense of community".  We've all talked about sense of community in our apartment communities, and intuitively we understand the benefit of the emotional connections between residents and how that affects resident retention, but often we are lost as to how to actually accomplish this!  The book I'm reading, Celebrating the Third Place*, profiles all sorts of different companies that have created this sense of community and have become a "third place" for their customers, and it is very obvious that our clubhouses and other common areas have an unbelievable potential for becoming that third place!  (Third place refers to the social location people find after home and work - think of a coffee house or a bar like Cheers)  There are a lot of different characteristics of a third place, but let me focus on one in particular:  In one profile about a restaurant that has become a third place, the owner said: Places may survive in these wildly competitive times as food and dining establishments because of reasonably good food and financial savvy, but they will not become third places if the ‘regular' clientele is bewildered when the face at the door or the face at the bar counter is constantly changing. In other words, employee consistency is the first key to establishing that sense of community required of a third place.  Throughout these stories, the common thread has been......
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Resident Retention: I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore, and Neither Should You!

On average, Leasing Consultants spend more than 50% of their time on existing residents. Leasing offices are used by and for existing residents more than half of the time. Don't fight it. Wrap your arms around the fact that the majority of your time is devoted to existing residents, and give that fact a nice, big hug. Ahh. I feel better already. Don't you? "Leasing" may be written on all your documents, name tags, business cards and offices, but "Residents" are what you are mostly about.So, now what? April seems to be all about self-improvement, 'spring cleaning,' productivity, and the like. Why not make your own resident interactions more productive by getting the team together and identifying the 5 most common things residents ask from you. They could be things like lock-outs, noise complaints, or suggestions for restaurants. What can you, as a team, do to make these interactions easier, smoother, more helpful?  Compile a list of local restaurants.  Have a specific, consistent procedure in place for noise complaints with a communication plan in place that is clear for both the person making the noise and the person making the complaint. Set up the key box and lock out process in such a way that a maintenance tech on call who gets the lock out call at 2:30 a.m. can take care of the problem and be back in bed within 30 minutes. Whatever the ideas, your team can come up with some great solutions in 10-15 minutes. Making things easier and......
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