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Fifty Shades of Crazy

I have been a student of the psychological condition since I was ten years old and discovered if you opened a Webster’s dictionary to look up the definition of crazy, you would see a picture of my family. Okay – maybe not crazy, but certainly a light shade of dysfunctional (okay, I’m exaggerating!) When I saw a quote on my Twitter feed the other day saying some version of this: “Go somewhere else. We don’t sell Crazy here!” I could only think one thing. If you’re in Property Management, chances are you have to deal with some kind of “Crazy” every day. And by crazy, I don’t mean the amount of paperwork you do everyday or the number of reports you complete on a daily, weekly, bi-monthly and monthly schedule (an insane number!) I am referring to the politically incorrect kind of crazy – the kind of people who leave you with your jaw-dropped and eyes-popping-out-of-your-head because you can’t believe what someone just said or did, either in your Office or their apartment or on the property. It is time to recognize it and learn to deal with it.   Some psychological conditions are easy to spot; however some conditions may remain completely buried until some event triggers a reaction. It is important to learn not to trigger a reaction if possible. My first on-site experience with triggers occurred in my first year on a project based Section 8 property. The receptionist noticed that “Mary Ann” was walking back and forth......
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Using Trespass Notices to Your Advantage

Managing any property requires a true commitment from the on-site team. There are so many responsibilities involved that many Managers simply burn out and try to ride it out with their heads buried in so-called busy work each day without any regard for tackling the tough management issues.   One of these tough issues is also somewhat controversial, considering what is going on with the Martin case in Florida and the Price case in Ohio. However, it is an important issue to discuss and understand. Many crime-ridden properties face the issue of trespass every day and Managers should be well versed in this subject. I feel issuing Civil and Criminal Trespass Notices can work very well for addressing unwelcome people who enter your property.   From the Dayton Daily News comes an article written by Lou Grieco and Doug Page: “Price, who did not live at ______ _____ Townhouse, just wanted to visit his girlfriend and young son, his family said. Dayton police and ______ ______ Management, said Price, who served nine months in prison on drug charges between 2005 and 2007, according to state records, had been placed on a trespassers’ list because of disruptive behavior.”   “…. placed Price on the list on September 1, 2011. But Price continued to visit the complex, reports show. Police responded twice to the complex on Dec. 4, 2011, according to police reports.”   Trespass Notices, Orders of Banishment, and other notifications must be enforced by an apartment community’s Management. The whole purpose......
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Managing a Section 8 Property

What are you supposed to do to “turn around a troubled Section 8 property?” Some people may not like my answer; however, since this is my forte, I will give you a succinct, straight forward answer – you can’t – UNLESS you are committed to doing what it takes. I feel strongly that just because you work on an income based property, there is no reason not to manage with pride and provide the best living experience for your residents. But it takes more than someone coming to work at eight o’clock each morning and running out the door at five o’clock each evening. I can tell you almost every project based Section 8 property struggles with discouraged management at one time or another. Until you can walk on that property at 8 AM ready to face whatever comes your way, then you aren’t approaching that property ready to do it justice.   My first Section 8 property (when I was hired it was because the manager  did not even know how to turn on her computer, much less master the newly installed property management accounting software program. She was an acquaintance of mine and recruited me) was rough with more than 300 police calls each month. The Manager’s office contained stacks and stacks of files in varying stages of recertification. Rent checks had not been input into Yardi for 3 months. I asked if the money had at least been taken to the bank? Some had, but not all of......
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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

Let me begin by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. For those of you who regularly read my scribbles, you are used to some pretty meaty topics. In light of the Holidays, this one will be a bit frothier. In each blog that I write there are certain themes which remain pretty consistent. One of my favorites is that real estate development is about the coolest industry on the planet. After all, our job is to make the world a better, more usable, more beautiful place.   Often my intended audience is the real estate developer (my hope is of course that there is some part of my subject matter which translates to my non-developer audience- or at least helps you better understand those temperamental developers who constantly tell you ‘We can’t afford that.’). Today, I would like to remind us all of something that is very easily glossed over as we perform our day-to-day tasks.   No matter what our role in the industry, we have a hand in something very precious. Through our daily work (whether it is building, developing, leasing, managing or maintaining) we have a definite and real effect on people’s lives. We provide the backdrop in which our residents and neighbors work, play, rest, are made safe, fall in and out of love, have babies, spend their final years, argue and make-up, worship and congregate and pursue their individual goals. And while we don’t necessarily know which combination of these that they are ex......
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How do you deal with racism when it is you being attacked by the resident?

This is going to be a touchy subject for many, but one that I realize we do not talk about enough in our industry. Today I experienced for the first time in this industry, racism towards me in front of a room full of people. I did not know how to handle it and it took all the strength I had to not cry or go off on the resident. No one ever trained me to know what to do when a resident is racist towards you!  I was trained on what to do when a co-worker or a vendor is rude or racist. What was even more embarrassing was the fact that I was the only one of my race in the room and the others were either speechless or giggling about what was being said. So what do we do when this happens to us? Do we ignore it or address the issue right away? Would it even matter to the resident? I chose to calmly ask the resident to please leave my office.  I was told that I was denying them their right of freedom of speech. They did have the right of freedom of speech but not in front potential residents. This only added fuel to the fire and after several minutes of telling them to leave, they finally did. I turn around to see the astonished looks on my leasing specialist’s and the applicant faces.  I noticed that two prospects were giggling about the whole thing.......
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Are we as an industry automatically prejudice against those on Section 8?

Are we as an industry automatically prejudice against those on Section 8? I recently participated in a Facebook discussion about how we stereotype those who receive section 8 or any type of government housing assistance. I will admit, I have been guilty of this and have to constantly remind myself that because of where I work and the person that I strive to be, that I cannot think like this.  It is very hard.  I had found myself resenting the fact that all or partial of their rent is paid while my partner and I work our butts off to support our family and are barely making it. There have been times that I let that resentment affect how I view these residents. However, no one wants to be resented no matter what their status in life is. As professionals who are working with section 8 vouchers it is not our place to judge the person who is applying for our community solely based on the fact that they are receiving state assistance. Trust me, it is hard to do when you have the young parent in your office with 6 kids and can barely write a complete sentence. However, we do not know the type of life they have had, our position is to give them a decent home. That is the bottom line. Do you offer incentives to your residents to improve themselves so that one day they may be independent of section 8?  Would you even want t......
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Is Your Apartment Community "The Voice"?

Recently NBC launched a new show called “The Voice” and it inspired me on so many levels. From the shows concept, marketing with the use of Social Media, to the coaches them selves.  While watching this fantastic show, I could not help but see how I could use this as a learning tool.  I also saw so many ways that the Multifamily Industry is similar to The Voice.  The makers of the show and NBC seriously had the formula down pat on the marketing side and knew how to keep your attention.  How does this work for our industry? ‘The Blind Audition’ - This is my favorite part—before they ever get to your community or even call, prospects judging you from your advertising.  One of the things about the Voice that really impressed me was how they used Twitter, FaceBook, Blogging, YouTube and ITunes to market their show and artists. Each media was different so it kept you going from one media to another, to read/see more about the show.  They kept it fresh and exciting all at the same time. Do you stick to what everyone else is doing or do you jump out of the box and become different?  It is very important that the way you advertise, immediately sets you apart from your competition. Can your community advertising pass the Blind Audition? ‘The Battle Round’ - Congratulations you have passed the Blind Audition now instead of 32 properties you are up against 8 other properties. How you answer the......
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Having excellent customer service skills can increase your closing ratio!

      Have you ever been excited to go shopping only to leave disappointed? That's how I felt today after leaving a department store where I was looking for a new television. From the moment I stepped into the store I was greeted by a sales associate who assured me that all of the associates had over 200 hours of product training. The problem was not with how I was greeted or how knowledgeable the sales associates were. The problem was when I went to look at all the new HD televisions.  Now picture this, you walk into the electronics section ready to drool over all the different size televisions an crystal clear picture quality of all the latest an greatest goodies that modern technology has to offer, finding only to your disappointment that all of the televisions are all showing the same Non-High Definition broadcast, Which roughly translates into the formal wear section of the Miss America pageant being down-graded to T-shirts an jeans. None of the TV's were showing off their true potential. The sales associate wasn't even interested in trying to sell, or even acknowledging the presents of anyone other than a rather affluent looking gentleman who was clearly annoyed by him. Needless to say the only thing I left with was disappointment.    This got me to thinking how can I make sure no one ever leaves my community feeling this way. Even the thought of one of my prospective residents leaving feeling as neglected an unappreciated as I did upsets me, considering we are here to provide quality homes and make our communities prosper. No one cares how knowledgeable you are......
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It’s a Bird, A Plane, no wait it's a Baby Boomer!

It's A Bird, A Plane, No Wait It's A Baby Boomer!   Marketing to seniors has to be one of the hardest markets but it can also be one of the most fun! How do we go from seniors being hard to market to, to being easy? Ooops, I’m still working on that, if you find out, PLEASE let me know! I have been working at a Senior Community since October 2010 (Not very long so I have first hand knowledge-fresh insider look at the struggles & what is working NOW). The senior community is like it's own little world in our industry! Talk about a culture shock going from Multifamily Housing to Senior Housing. So, how do you market to seniors?  Here are some tips that I have learned and what I have research in. Maybe it will help you out when marketing to seniors!   1) Do not underestimate a senior’s knowledge of the Internet! I have learned this the hard way and let me tell you after getting an ear full from my residents and my grandmother; most seniors today are not Internet and social media illiterates of the past. Today's seniors are one of the largest groups using technology to socialize and for entertainment. Some ways to tap into this market are: YouTube your seniors having fun at your community: Create a short film or series documenting what you can offer your residents. Remember you want this to be entertaining but stating your message to the viewer. YouTube videos......
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Training Idea's & Suggestions for 2011

 Why is training so important?   Training your onsite staff is extremely important especially now with 2011 coming up. This is the year for the Multi Family Housing Industry. We have already started witnessing numbers changing for the good and it will only get better from here. Now is the time to monopolize this by making sure we have well trained staff onsite. A well trained staff that knows what they are doing will make a big difference in your portfolio.   There are different ways to train your staff from using Grace Hill, The Telephone Doctor, Toni Blake, Kate Good, and The Training Factor. But those all cost money and sometimes we just don’t have it in the budget. But I will tell you if you can spring for it at least once Skype with Toni Blake for all the Leasing Specialist in your company or region. It is worth the money and your staff will walk out energized and ready to take on the world. What you have to do as an owner, regional, or corporate leader is decide what will work best for you’re on site staff when it comes to training.   One of the things that I loved and miss about my previous company was our monthly Leasing Classes that the regional’s had for us. Sometimes they would be for three hours or all day depending on what they wanted to train us on to help improve our leasing skills. We went from a region where......
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