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"And here is the apartment..." - Avoiding the Prospect Tour That Falls Flat

If you have shopped enough apartment communities, you will find some leasing consultants who take a "self service" attitude to showing the model apartment to a prospect.  They open the door, announce that "this is the apartment", and then just watch the prospect as he or she walks from room to room.  They expect the apartment to sell the prospect, not themselves, and it often leaves the tour feeling flat and uninspiring. Conversely, today I went to one of my favorite Starbucks, and saw a great example of the complete opposite of the "self service" sale!  It was just a few days removed from Hurricane Harvey, and they were running out of food, as they hadn't had a new shipment of supplies.  One of the customers came up, asked for something that they didn't have, and that's when the barista did something great.  Standing over the food case, he could have easily said that they were out of most things, and then point to the half empty case in front of him.  In fact, I would bet 90% of baristas would have just done the pointing technique and waited for the customer to decide.  But he didn't do that - he instead talked through all of the options available in front of him, taking the time to connect with the customer rather than simply waiting for the sale. That's the difference between an average salesperson and a great one - taking that extra step to make the sale, rather than waiting......
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Designing Your Model Apartment For the Senses

b2ap3_thumbnail_Scentsy-Clean-Breeze.JpgLori Snider recently put on a fantastic webinar called "Merchandising 101 – Creating Spaces that Encourage Buying", and in it she discussed the idea of examining the model apartment for each of the five senses.  I love that idea, and I wondered if we could expand upon that concept.  What if we analyzed each sense separately, rather than trying to add the elements in as a whole.  In other words, when you go into a model apartment and get an idea for how you feel in that apartment, you are examining the entire room and apartment as a cohesive whole, but what if you walked through the model apartment five different times, each time ignoring everything except for that particular sense?  You might find opportunities to expand the overall impression each room is offering. Smell:  Oftentimes, we might bake some cookies or have a pumpkin smell in the kitchen, which would check off our "smell" sense.  But is there any other smells we could introduce in the apartment?  What about a "clean" smell in the bathrooms?  One of the biggest question marks about a new community is how clean are the apartments.  This helps establish an answer to that question, without the question ever having been asked.  What about the bedrooms?  Are there any particular smells that would be synonymous with those locations? Touch:  I'm a tactile-oriented person, and when we go through the fabrics and blanket areas of a store, I will run my hand across each one to find m......
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Are your amenities just an illusion?

Jeffrey Spanke recently wrote a blog discussing model apartments and whether a too-pristine model apartment loses some authenticity of being a true living space.  In other words, would a prospect rather see a model apartment that has more realistic touches that resembles their own life, or would they like to see a model apartment that is idyllic and some sort of version of their perfect life? People often see a new apartment as a fresh start or a new beginning.  With a new apartment, they see a blank slate that they can decorate anew, and doesn’t have all the existing baggage of their current home, such as dishes in the sink, clothes on the floor, and the spaghetti sauce stain they made 8 months ago.  Even beyond that, they see their entire life as a blank slate where they now have the opportunity to break bad habits and begin positive ones, similar to setting a new year’s resolution.  It is a natural break in their life that they can use to reset and move forward with all the goals they truly want to achieve in life.  A great leasing consultant will be able to use these dreams and goals to deliver a vision of their community that ties in with that ultimate lifestyle.  They know they are not just selling an apartment – they are selling a fresh start and the ability for that prospect to take their life in whatever direction they would like.  That prospect may not have gone......
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"The Tale of the Punchbowl Rant"

So last night, my wife and I were enjoying a bit of television. It was pretty much your standard network legal drama: peppered, of course, with a hint of espionage, a dash of implausibility, and just a pinch of biting wit. But then, out of nowhere, during a moment in the episode when the main characters were at a high school dance, my wife interjects with a grunt and a rant.  Wife: Ugh! I hate that! Me: What is it, my beautiful wife? What troubles you? Wife: That stupid punch bowl! Why do they always have a punch bowl? Me: Whatever do you mean, Queen of my soul? Wife: Why is it that every time there’s a high school dance on T.V., there’s always a punch bowl in the gym? I’ve never seen a table set up, in the middle of the gym floor with paper cups and a punch bowl and a few people calmly standing around, patiently and neatly pouring themselves glasses of punch! I hate that! Why do shows do that? Me: I haven’t the foggiest clue, Sweet Cactus Flower. Would you like me to massage your feet after I clean the kitchen and do the laundry? Wife: Heavens, no. I just wish these shows would be a little more realistic, that’s all. No dance in the world has a punch bowl. If real dances had punch bowls, there’d be a big mess, someone would spike it, people would slip, janitors would be mad, the fact that I......
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Do Model Apartments Actually Help You Lease?

In what may be our most controversial survey result to date, we analyzed the role of model apartments and whether they were actually effective in the leasing process.  Several interesting results came out of the survey, such as how much apartment communities spend on decorating their model apartments, and how often they change that style.  However, the most interesting results revolved around their effectiveness as leasing tools.

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Painting Postcards; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

I toured an apartment complex the other day and was asking tons of questions of my leasing agent (who knew that I was a developer and was just shopping their product). I am always struck by the wall that goes up when you ask demographic questions (I do get that that these young folks are taught to not even address these questions for fear of being hunted down by the crazy Fair Housing police). Unfortunately, as a developer, these are about the only questions that really concern me.   When choosing whether or not to undertake a $50M investment, understanding who the prospective renter is- is actually a critical part of my job. Of course there is always the basic demographic info that we get from our consultants:   Income breakdowns. Traffic counts. Local rent comparisons. Gender breakdowns. Blah, Blah, Blah…   But to best serve the community and position my leasing team for success, it’s all demographics and psychographics:   ·         What are the racial and sexual preference demographics in the area? ·         What kind of cars do they drive? Do they require regular or premium gasoline? ·         Do they wash the car themselves or use a service? ·         Do they drink beer and wine or alcohol? Which brands? How often? ·         Do they have their shirts dry cleaned? ·         What gym do they belong to? Do they go or just pay for the membership? ·         What TV shows do they watch? ·         Do they have or want to have children......
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The Circle of (A Property’s) Life

By Linda Day Harrison, Manager Labs, Chicago, IL There are business models in all shapes and sizes. There are retail stores, medical and legal practices, cleaning companies, general contractors, grocery stores, etc. So when you think about a business, how many business models do you know of where the business owner outsources the entire business to another party? For instance, if you visit your local grocery store, is it managed by a grocery management company? How about a retail store management company? So what makes the residential real estate investment business any different? Why are there so many property management companies and outsourced service providers to the property industry? According to a colleague of mine, the answer is quite simple, “It is not easy, there is so much at stake, and there are many moving parts.” Also, when you think about properties as investments, there are often multiple partners and joint venture groups who own the assets. In those cases, the managing partner realizes they do not have enough time or expertise to do all of the functions required of them to maximize the value of the asset. That is what outsourcing offers. As a property manager outsourced by these partnerships, the responsibility of managing that asset is crucial in so many ways. First of all you have been selected by the partner on the management of the asset. All of the actions you take as the manager or management company directly reflect onto the reputation of that partner or company......
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Virtual Staging For Model Apartments

Virtual Staging For Model Apartments 1

Browsing through Google+ today, I ran across several posts by Mike Tempel of Nexus Real Estate Services showing off some great virtual transformations of a model apartment using a "virtual staging" solution.  I thought others might find them interesting, so I'm sharing them here.  (The provider of the virtual staging solution was VirtualStagingSolutions.com.)

Virtual Staging For Model Apartments 1Model Apartment using Virtual Staging 2

Apartment Leasing - Model Apartment
Virtual Staging Solution

Model Apartment Before Virtual StagingVirtual Staged Apartment

Do you think virtual staging is a good alternative to a traditional model apartment?

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A successful property tour is so much more than follow the leader

Years ago when I had the task of putting together my first leasing guide, I relied heavily on the advice of a good friend, a supervisor with years of experience and obvious selling chops. One terrific tip she shared with me was that a leasing agent needs to become adept at finding the things in each room of an apartment home that the prospect was not likely to see. She suggested that we require each leasing agent to go into all rooms of an apartment, even the baths and closets, and find at least two things that were not obvious and explain what those features meant and how they could benefit the prospect. In the years since, I have used that great idea as a cornerstone in my training. Think about it. When a somewhat less engaged leasing agent does a property tour, they usually spend a lot of time on pointing out the obvious, if they are even interacting at all. I cannot count the number of times I have walked into a furnished model with a leasing agent I was “shopping” and been lead to a room with an oval table and six chairs while the leasing agent offered “this is the dining room.” What a master of the obvious! Why do we even waste the time and energy if we are only pointing out things that are clear to just about everyone. I have had leasing agents fall this up by steering me into the kitchen and ......
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Establishing Transfer Policies for Multi-unit Properties

By Ben Holubecki, STML Realty Group, Glen Ellyn, IL Transfer policies are often a detail overlooked by landlords and property owners who own/manage multi-unit properties. A tenant requesting a move from one unit to another presents challenges and can add unnecessary and unexpected costs for property owners. Ignoring these requests or not addressing them properly can open landlords up to potential resentment from tenants and even legal liabilities if not properly documented. There are a lot of reasons why a tenant might request a transfer to another unit within the same property and there are positive and negative impacts resulting from this type of request. The most common reasons for these requests in my experience are: - Problems or issues with current neighbors - Maintenance issues within their current unit which they feel were not or will not be addressed - Lack of upgrades due to extended tenancy (newly remodeled units are obviously more desirable) - Preference regarding location within the property (different floor, closer to parking, amenities) - Moving from 1 unit type to another such as moving from a 1 bedroom apartment to a 2 bedroom Regardless of the tenant’s reason for the transfer request, there are both positive and negatives that you should consider. The positive: - Your tenant obviously likes the property enough to want to stay - You have a history with this tenant so you know what to expect regarding care for the property and rental payments. No surprises. That is always a positive. ......
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