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Do You See the Land of Opportunity? by Daisy Nguyen

Have you ever noticed the people who complain about the lack of opportunities are also the ones that are the first to say they are too busy to join, have too much work to do, can't take on another project, and are the ones turning away perfectly good opportunities? Complain, complain, complain, blah, blah, blah. If I were ole "Opportunity," I would knock on another door too.(Picture provided by Dominic's Pics on Flickr through Creative Commons license.)How can you position yourself to invite more opportunity?1. Stop Complaining. Not only is this a negative, unproductive opportunity, you can't hear when opportunity DOES knock.2. Choose one of the following statements for the day:A. I make things happen!B. Things happen to me.Hopefully, you chose option A. You're one step closer to inviting more opportunity! If you have chosen B, there's no one who can help you. Go back to bed. Wake up tomorrow and choose A.3. HELP yourself. If there is a lack of opportunity in your life, stop and figure out WHY. Take some responsibility on WHY you are in this situation - and take a step to move yourself OUT of the situation. If it's because you don't have a degree, sign up for 1 class. Small step, but BOY, you'd be 1 class closer to a degree than you were yesterday. If you're looking for a job, and the only place you are looking is on monster.com - you're missing out on the majority of the job market. Most jobs never hit......
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Success in the Apartment Industry: Where do you Participate? by Daisy Nguyen

So you read my PARTICIPATE in your SUCCESS article, and your new year's resolution is to participate in your industry, your career, and your success. Where to start?

Picture provided by Baratunde on Flickr through Creative Commons (license.)

No better place than with a recommendation from your peers!

Please leave a comment on where in the industry you are participating, and any comment you feel relevent. AND, if there's a link, GREAT!

I'll start:

MN MHA -non-profit local apartment association: http://www.mmha.com - they have focus groups that are always looking for more volunteers. I have met some industry GREATS in these groups, and we have made a difference for our industry!

Aeon - Homes for Generations: http://aeonmn.org - this is a non-profit affordable housing provider in Minnesota. They have many volunteer oppotunities, AND, they are always looking for people who are interested in serving on the Board of Directors to apply.

I also attend several networking events put on my a local neighborhood association called the Uptown Minneapolis Association. I've met some AWESOME people here and now also write for the Uptown Neighborhood News through connections I made at the networking events!

It's 2010 - make it a resolution to PARTICIPATE this year!

 Don't get it? RENT SODA. GET IT!

-Daisy Nguyen in Minneapolis, Minnesota MN

Daisy Nguyen is owner and CEO of RENT SODA, a business and marketing consulting company. Become a FAN of RENTSODA, connect on LinkedIn, FOLLOW RENT SODA on Twitter, visit her website, RENT SODA, or read the blog, RENT SODA, Don't Get? GET IT! for more information and regular blog entries.


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How To Be Successful In The Apartment Industry: Participate, Participate, Participate! -by Daisy Nguyen

I've had a LOT of conversations recently, and one topic has been a recurring theme: Success. Two recurring questions: 1.) How do we make our apartment communities more successful? 2.) How do we make OURSELVES more successful?As a consultant and a writer of a popular industry blog, I meet with A LOT of people. I meet with EVERY kind of person in the industry from site personnel to vendors at every level, from to Regional Managers to directors to VP's to CEO's/COO's/CFO's, to developers, partners, investors & owners of apartment communities.My answer is ALWAYS the same: PARTICIPATE, PARTICIPATE, PARTICIPATE!Image provided by Chooyutshing on Flickr through creative commons license.1.) PARTICIPATE: Participate in something bigger and greater than your own apartment community. I KNOW you have a million things to do and there isn't another minute you can commit to someone new, but YOUR PARTICIPATION in something greater will return ten-fold to your success at your apartment community, as well as return ten-fold in your own personal successes. I'll go out on a limb here and say - I PROMISE that any participation you give will be returned to you ten fold. If not, give me a call, and I'll take you to lunch and eat my words.2.) PARTICIPATE: Don't just JOIN your local apartment association, JOIN, PARTICIPATE, ENGAGE! There is no better way to work/network with other industry professionals in your market than at your local apartment association. Chances are, they ARE looking for volunteers to participate in committees, tasks forces, surveys, focus groups, etc. Do you think that your opinion doesn't count? In an industry......
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"Professionally Managed by..." What does THAT mean? by Daisy Nguyen

Recently, a close friend of mine asked me, "what does professionalism mean to you & how does it pertain to our apartment industry? I want our company to be more 'professional' and I want to better understand what that means." THIS - from one of the smartest most professional people I know? I took the question seriously.My first attempt: Duh! Professional is... you know, someone who conducts business in a professional manner - you know - a professional!! It's one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it REALLY mean?I pondered some more and I realized it was a VERY relevant question to our apartment/property management/real estate development industry. There are numerous property management companies out there:  from the biggest of big - the HUGE REITS, to the smallest of small - the "mom & pop" duplexes managed by (you guessed it,) "mom & pop." How do we define "professional" and "professionalism" in an industry that is so wide? And, maybe more importantly, you are wondering - why would we want to? And who cares?YOU SHOULD care. It matters to your customer. It matters to your clients. It matters to your existing and prospective employees. It is your reputation. It matters to the industry as a whole, as it is those few "unprofessional" landlords that make the rest of us look like ogres. If you claim to be "Professionally managed by ABC Management Company," what exactly does THAT mean?(Image provided by Jesse Draper on Flickr through creative commons license.)The first image that popped into my mind when the word......
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Keep Beating Your Drum!


drumWhat are the first images that come to your mind with this opening title?  Hold that thought.  The drum is one of the most ancient of instruments and still has the ability to make us tap our feet, tap our desk, make us run faster, work out harder, and pretend to dance better.  The drum is a fundamental instrument at pep rallies.  Can you imagine a pep rally with all flutes?  I think you get the image.  The drum has the ability to inspire, motivate and pursue whatever goal you aspire to achieve.


At Brainstorming last week, the keynote address was presented by top executives in the multifamily industry.  The CEO of Camden Property Trust, Richard Campo, used the expression "keep beating your drum".  His message was to inspire all of us to pursue the ideas we feel will work, investigate options that will benefit our company and keep presenting them to our superiors.  He encouraged vendors to provide hard data and infomercials in order to communicate effectively with decision makers. 


So what does this all mean?  Does it mean our rhythm and beat should be the same as our multifamily company's beat?  Or do we beat our drum with a different tune?  Are we ready to stand out as different and present a different tempo because our belief is that we have something better to offer?  Are we ready to march to the beat of our own drum?


Written by Jonathan Saar - The Training Factor

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Are Landlords Increasing Occupancy: Or Are They Increasing Tenant Debt?

The poor economy has caused landlords and property managers to take drastic measures to lease units and keep them occupied. Some of the measures are understandable, considering the circumstances, but others make absolutely no sense at all.This week I reviewed approximately 80 files from previous tenants who left a large residential property in Sarasota, Florida, owing money. I sat with the manager and discussed how the residential housing market has been turned on its ear, and in some ways seems to be in a downward spiral. I noted that not only had the number of debtor accounts more than doubled, the amount of the average debt had increased by at least a third.The manager explained that the property had tried to increase its occupancy by allowing tenants to try and work out payment arrangements. As I looked at her over this mountain of files, I asked her, "How did that work out for you?" She understood my sarcasm and explained that the owners of the property had pressured her to do something to keep their residency rates up. She agreed that allowing tenants to pay late had only delayed the inevitable and increased the amount of bad debt the property must now write off.I would argue that in such cases, if closely analyzed, the cost is actually even higher. The tenants she allowed to get behind on rent grew accustomed to management's tolerance. When she finally drew the line and required payment, she was then often forced to file eviction proceedings......
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Step I: The Needs Assessment - Creating the Right Renovation Plan

  Prior to developing the renovation plan it is important to understand the goal of the renovation, which for the typical owner or management company is to:                                                                                                                 Maintain or increase market share Increase rents  Determine whether to reposition or redevelop Increase NOI  Increase ROI for  Having performed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of renovations over the years both as a contractor and as an owner; I have yet to find a company that has a rock solid development planning process in place.  I have found, that in most instances, the plan is developed by the operations, asset management or rehab group or left to the discretion of the general contractor, being told, "Do it like the last renovation you did for us". The absence of proper planning due to lack of relevant information often leads to implementing the wrong strategy, higher costs, frustration and unmet expectations of owners, residents and investors.  So what is the formula for a successful renovation?  Understand the needs and desires of the current and target resident.Build a plan to reach the goals of the company.  It's not about a faster and cheaper renovation. It is about increasing the NOI or ROI or simply delivering the right product to the right market.  Create a detailed scope of work and relevant bid documents to get accurate estimates.   Therefore, is there an understanding what your contractor needs from you to provide the most competitive bid to meet your expectations? Provide training to the onsite staff about the renovation process, i.e.,......
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Still Selling "Free Rent"?

Drive any city these days in search of an apartment home and you'll see the banners: "FREE RENT!"  or "ONE MONTH FREE" or even "2 MONTHS FREE RENT!" So I ask you, what value does 'free' have? I say it's got little to virtually no value when used as a concession in our industry. Let me try to prove my point:  As I drive down 'apartment row' I see the signs. But one property has a sign that's different. Instead of saying simply 'One Month Free Rent', it says '$1,000 FREE RENT WITH NEW LEASE". Which banner is going to catch my eye? Which property will potentially get my business? Now, this isn't a discussion on 'free rent'. The purpose of this blog entry is to make sure you stop using the word 'free' altogether, because 'free' doesn't have a dollar value. "Free" application fee? Ask ten properties what their application fee is and you'll probably get ten different answers. "Free" administrative fee? Ask ten properties and you'll probably get ten different answers there, too. If you're going to give something away, make sure you are providing your potential customers with the value of your giveaway. Stop saying 'free' and give the value. Instead of saying you'll waive an application fee, say "We can waive your application fee; you'll save $50 with that offer today." Always give a dollar value when you are offering something for 'free'.   You'll have better results - I'm sure of it. Lisa Trosien is an award winning multifamily educator, speaker and strategist.......
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Boomer Rising

In preparing for a recent trends session delivered this week, an interesting article really caught my eye and stayed with me. It's straight from USA Today and the Census Bureau, published September 18th - some excerpts below:People 54 or younger are losing ground financially at an unprecedented rate in this recession, widening a gap between young and old that had been expanding for years.While the young have lost ground, older people have grown more prosperous over the years and the decades. Older women have done best of all.The dividing line between those getting richer or poorer: the year 1955. If you were born before that, you're part of a generation enjoying a four-decade run of historic income growth. Every generation after that is now sinking economically.Household income for people in their peak earning years — between ages 45 and 54 — plunged $7,700 to $64,349 from 2000 through 2008, after adjusting for inflation. People in their 20s and 30s suffered similar drops. Older people enjoyed all the gains.The line between the haves and have-nots runs through the middle of the Baby Boom, the population explosion 1946-64.So, other than my financial life should stink, what is there to learn from this article? If you are a developer, get past your intrigue with young professionals and move on to building communities for older Americans. There are more of them, they have the most money and they are most likely to downsize in the next ten years and choose a rental lifestyle. Build ......
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Redefining the Renovation Process

As renovations have slowed due to the current state of the economy and the reduction or elimination of the renovation departments in REITs and property management companies have ensued, the time is prime to start strategizing on how the industry should approach renovations when they do come back...... and they will......, probably even stronger than before. Although the past year or so has been very painful within the industry, the slowdown offers a unique opportunity to reflect on the past, evaluate and modify the renovation process. The owner or management company that does not take the time to do this will find themselves being left behind using yesterday's more expensive  methods and technologies, resulting in  being less competitive and experiencing lower revenue than is possible because of not performing the renovations in a strategic manner. Over the past 5 years or so, companies like HD Supply, Wilmar, GE and a multitude of contractors have been desperately attempting to determine and meet the needs of their multifamily clients during the renovation process. The main challenge these vendors have had is trying to get their arms around an industry that demands immediate execution and a high quality product.   When a company performs new construction they will spend months or even years in the planning process prior to the start of a project.  Their planning usually includes demographic studies, engineering, architecture and design.  Now let's compare that to the renovation process, wherein companies will often begin a renovation project costing millions of dollars within......
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