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Are you using your blinkers?

turn signal jpg.jpgAre you using your turn signals?   As I drove through some mildly congested traffic last week, it amazed me at the lack of drivers not using their turn signals!  How much confusion and wasted time it created!  The drivers not using their blinkers, left other motorists having to guess what they were going to do; to turn or not to turn, and the many almost accidents caused by these thoughtless drivers pulling out of nowhere in front of innocent cars! So, what exactly are these blinkers, aka directional lights, turn signals for anyway?  They are there strictly for the consideration of OTHER drivers.  They do absolutely nothing for the driver of the car.  Their sole purpose is to advise other drivers of the intentions of the person behind the wheel.   And they’re fairly easy to use too, conveniently located with the ability to function with just the flip of your finger.   Good product – but not unless it’s used correctly! In property management, we have many opportunities to use our ‘blinkers’.  In our management and leasing offices, if we can use our blinkers correctly, it can offer insight, forewarn others of what’s to come, where we’re headed, let other know of our intentions, possibly the need to be accommodated and potentially avoid collisions.  That’s pretty good stuff! But do we do it?  It seems that both leasing and management seem to forget to flip on their turn directional at times.  Seemingly winding through traffic and tasks knowing exactly what they’re......
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Lead residents down a green path this Earth Day

As property owners, managers or leasing agents, you understand the need to conserve energy at your apartment community.  By installing energy-efficient appliances and windows and using eco-friendly alternatives for floors, countertops and paint, you are not only significantly reducing your carbon footprint, but also banking significant savings on energy costs.  If 10,000 owners of large apartment communities change to Energy-Star appliances, the energy saved could power each of your TVs for 1,640,625 years!  While the people on the property level are doing their part to protect the environment, we want to provide you with four sustainable tips you can share with your environmentally-friendly residents—leading up to Earth Day on April 22nd—that they can put into practice today. 1. Be a Savvy Shopper Cut down on the amount of paper or plastic consumed by bringing a reusable shopping bag to the grocery store.  If eco-friendly shoppers forget their tote, ensure those plastic grocery bags get reused to line garbage cans or when scooping kitty litter.  Additionally, fuel and distribution costs can be reduced by shopping at local farmers’ markets instead of large chain grocery stores for produce.  2. Kick the Bottled Water Habit Americans use four million plastic bottles every hour – but only one in four is recycled.  Instead of reaching for bottled water, use a water filter on the kitchen faucet and fill up a non-leaching, lined aluminum SIGG bottle with filtered tap water.  If 10,000 people gave up their daily bottled water habit for a year, they could ......
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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......
Recent Comments
Brent Williams
This is one of the things that frustrates me more than anything about Fair Housing. I don't have a problem with Fair Housing laws... Read More
Friday, 30 March 2012 10:49
Ross Blaising
You know Brent, it's funny how unfair Fair Housing has become. I agree that it started off with the intent to cure an ill that occ... Read More
Saturday, 31 March 2012 12:07
Mindy Sharp
Do you think that perhaps the on site team is not interested in providing such information because your job, as you say, is to bea... Read More
Monday, 02 April 2012 01:15
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My Promotion...NOT "All That"!

Wow, one would think that a promotion from Property Supervisor to Regional Manager on a partnership track would be the epitome of property management ladder climbing. Honestly, for the fifteen years that I have been in this profession, I have only dreamed of such a moment. All I can say is…be careful what you ambition for. I was an excellent leasing consultant because I was great with residents and prospects. I had (and still have) a talent for smooth resident relations, and I could literally anticipate the needs of the potential residents that came to my community. I can relate to people and I have been told that I have a genuine style that is seen as sincere and honest. Leasing came easy to me because that is who I am. I did not have to alter who I was in order to do my job.  Stay with me… Because I excelled at leasing, I was promoted to Assistant Manager then Property Manager and finally Property Supervisor. I enjoyed being a Property Manager and Supervisor because it was like my leasing position, less the paperwork the manager would have me do.  I had all of my previous responsibilities, but now I had decision making power! Again, I was an excellent manager and supervisor because it felt natural to me. I loved speaking with the residents and solving problems, I also loved working with and training my team, so the added management responsibility was just icing on the cake of upward mobil......
Recent Comments
Guest — C Koback
Great article and very good points made! I wish you much happiness and success!
Monday, 19 March 2012 00:20
Stephanie Graves
Love it! Right on par!
Monday, 19 March 2012 05:44
Caprice Stokes, MBA
Thank you!!
Monday, 19 March 2012 10:09
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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......
Recent Comments
Ross Blaising
I recognize that what I wrote about above might be more helpful with examples. Obviously storytelling can be verbal, written or pi... Read More
Thursday, 01 March 2012 05:16
Guest — Kent44
I need an apartment but not one that has roaches.
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 08:46
Guest — Kent44
Or mice because they have fleas.
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 08:49
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College Students Shun Traditional Advertising in Favor of Online Sources When Shopping for an Apartment

I just wanted to share with you some recent insights we gained from a nationwide survey of more than 500 college students in which we asked them about the types of information sources they use when looking for a place to live. No surprise, but Google scores highest among college students as they continue to turn away from traditional advertising – such as ads in campus newspapers – and instead go online to shop for apartments. Fifty-three percent of students we surveyed ranked Google/internet searches as most important in helping them find a place to live. Friends’ recommendations and those from parents followed at 37 percent and 27 percent, respectively. They identified Facebook, ads in the student newspaper, student activities sponsored by apartment communities and online ads/promotions as least important in helping them find an apartment.Our survey also found that 98 percent of college students use Google Search to find information online, and 71 percent of the students ranked Google as the most important website/application they use. Google was followed in order of importance by university websites and Facebook. The students said they rarely turned to Twitter or Google+, which is still relatively new. In fact, the majority of students surveyed said they never use Twitter. We also found that when looking for an apartment, few students use apartment-specific websites, such as apartments.com or apartmentguide.com. Our survey showed they prefer to simply use Internet search engines to find information about apartment communities. As expected, they also placed greater importance on digital......
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Mike Whaling
John, can you clarify the following? Our survey showed they prefer to simply use Internet search engines to find information about... Read More
Thursday, 01 March 2012 12:27
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How To Calculate a RUBS Water Bill

RUBS Billing ExplanationMany apartment owners and property managers are curious about how Ratio Utility Billing Systems  (RUBS) are used to calculate resident water and sewer bills. This article includes two videos that explain how to calculate a RUBS water/sewer bill for up to ten (10) apartment units. In the File Bank, you can download a complimentary spreadsheet used to make the calculations: http://www.multifamilyinsiders.com/apartment-forms/file/109-how-to-calculate-a-rubs-water-bill Instructions for using the spreadsheet are written below. Please note that AmCoBi assumes no liability for your utility billing operations or the calculations made with the RUBS Billing Worksheet. Contact us if you have any questions. Video - How to Calculate a RUBS Water/Sewer Bill - Part 1 http://youtu.be/cMDhAggQno4 Video - How to Calculate a RUBS Water/Sewer Bill - Part 2 http://youtu.be/ILreeJrNwD4 RUBS Water Billing Worksheet This worksheet is configured for a 2-10 unit apartment complex. Enter information about your residents and your master-meter water/sewer charges, and the spreadsheet will calculate the bills. The RUBS water/sewer calculations are based on occupancy so make sure these figures are accurate. Before you Start Billing Residents, Some Things You Need to Know The first video covers these topics but it's important to know that different states, counties, and cities have specific regulations for utility billing and submetering. You, as an owner, are responsible to know the rules before you bill your residents. In Texas as an example, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has defined regulations for how tenants can be billed, what deductions an owner must take, what billing fee can......
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Postmortem; The Apartment Developers' Dilemma

Regardless of our role within an organization, we will be asked throughout our careers to participate in, lead or evaluate various corporate initiatives. After all, most of what a company really ‘is’ is a series of interrelated initiatives.  These could range from the acts of sales, operations, marketing, and acquisitions to finding efficiencies, fixing problems launching new products, etc. Generally we would like to succeed in whatever initiatives we are involved. And hopefully we have positioned ourselves for success through our understanding and expertise, our dedication and will to succeed, and our preparation and focus. Additionally we may have benefited from multiple books, papers and degrees which exist to provide us tools or help train us to succeed at whatever task we undertake. But invariably, there will be times when success is not an option or when we fail after seemingly doing all of the ‘right’ things. In those cases what do we do?   Our next step should be to perform a postmortem. Think of the postmortem as a forensic analysis of the results of the initiative. Admittedly, the specifics of every project are going to be different. But if we were to approach each postmortem as its own totally unique situation, then it would virtually be impossible to be efficient in our analysis. Over time, we also need the ability to connect the information that we gain to make better future decisions. This is the exact same process that our minds go through as the act of learning. The probl......
Recent Comments
Emily Goodman, CPM,ARM,CAPS
I totally agree with you on this. Especially that we need to reevaluate our market strategy and the techniques associated with it ... Read More
Sunday, 05 February 2012 09:56
Guest — John M. Feeney
Over analysis of failure or success is no good either. Yes, we as business people always look to improve. For me, I focus more o... Read More
Sunday, 05 February 2012 23:07
Ross Blaising
Hey guys, I sure love it when I get challenged on the stuff I say. John, help me out a bit. What is your focus in the industry? Do... Read More
Sunday, 05 February 2012 23:15
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Who Stole My "Community?"; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

No matter what our role is within the multi-family industry, there is always one word which is used more than any other; “community.” Some of us own communities, some of us develop communities, some of us design communities and others of us lease or operate them. And chances are that many of us live in an apartment, condominium or townhome community as well. So then why is it that there is so little ‘community’ in our communities? When it comes down to this failure’s root cause, it can really only be one of two choices; a.       Either the management team does not expend their energies in a manner that creates a welcoming and vibrant atmosphere that encourages interaction, or b.      The developer did not guide the design in a manner that supports congregation. Now because I am an owner and developer by trade and not a manager, my expertise is limited when it comes to the nuance of property management. I am positive that I undervalue the challenges of those on the front lines. But where I do have some insights is on the development side of the industry. I have mentioned in multiple other essays that the developer has become effectively a highly functioning project manager. We have lost our intellectual curiosity about how folks ‘actually’ live. We have lessened our study of the ways that neighborhoods, communities and cities are formed, only to concentrate on sharpening our excel acumen and expand our address book of consultants. Instead, we generally......
Recent Comments
Mindy Sharp
I like what you have said. The only real "amenity" that Residents share is the pool. I refer to our properties as "apartment commu... Read More
Thursday, 26 January 2012 00:54
Brent Williams
I think there is a huge potential for DATA in this situation! There are many communities that have card access doors, yet I have ... Read More
Thursday, 26 January 2012 02:37
Guest — JJ Henry
What a great blog for apartment managers!
Thursday, 26 January 2012 06:07
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The Price of Engagement

And I'm not talking the married kind of engagement. (although that can be pretty pricey too)

I'm talking the price of engagement in regards to social media. I was not a bandwagon social media user. I wanted to understand how to engage and converse with our residents and potential residents before I jumped on the social media train. I also wanted to understand how to measure engagement and then translate that to value for our clients. 

For me, the  issue with social media is not the time it takes to post, blog or tweet, the issue is engagement. Are you maximizing on opportunities of engagement? Are you talking at your residents and prospects are talking with them? Having thousands of fans or followers are great but what are you doing with them?

What gives you the best engagement bang for you buck? I have included my top three.


Posting and tweeting are a marathon, not a race. If you clog up their news feed, they are sure to unfollow or unsubscribe. Studies show a post every 3-4 hours is the sweet spot.


Are you looking at your insights page? Your insights page has a wealth of information and demographics. Use that to your advantage when posting. 


Look at your most successful post (in terms of likes, comments, impressions, re-tweets, etc) and figure out your feedback score. For the posts with the highest feedback percentage, do you see a pattern of posts people engage with most... sports, fashion, decorating ideas? 

I benchmark everything. As a Director of Marketing, making sure my marketing team's time is well spent requires just that, benchmarking everything. Have we figured out the secret formula to social media, engagement and ROI.. not yet but I'm working on it. :-)

Happy posting!


Sparkle Hammond, M.Ed.  First Communities | Director of Marketing
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.century-apartments.com | www.facebook.com/centuryapartmenthomes

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