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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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Development University; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

In the same way that we recently considered the definition of ‘Developer’ (Who Am I; The Apartment Developer’s Dilemma), we must apply the same scrutiny to the purpose of the development firm, if we ever hope to fix our broken industry. As we begin the enquiry, ask yourself the question; what is the job of the development firm? Most of us would reply with some form of answer that would refer to building buildings or investing in and developing real estate. I would posit that those answers totally miss the mark. While each of those activities do occur within the development organization, the primary responsibility of the firm is really to create developers. The job of the developer, on the other hand, is to create and invest in buildings on behalf of the firm. It is really that simple. If we, the leaders of the next generation of real estate developers, hope to repair the shambles that our industry has become, then our firms must become ‘Schools for Development.’ What that means for the developer is that their job is going to have to change. So who must they become? Regardless of your religious affiliation (if any), you are probably familiar with a story in the Bible (Matthew 4:19) where Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee, when he came across Simon and Andrew. These two brothers were fishermen by trade, and were in the process of casting their nets into the sea. When Jesus approached them, he said that......
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Search Engine Optimization for Property Managers

Title tagBy Geoff Roberts, Buildium, Boston, MA Whenever I’m asked what I do for a living, my go-to response is that “I work in marketing and public relations for a software company.” That’s a sufficient reply for most social situations, but on occasion I’m asked more specifically about my job responsibilities. Inevitably I’m stopped as soon as I mention “search engine optimization” or “SEO.” While this is a small part of what I do, I’ve found that it fascinates people – they tend to look at it as something of an enigma. “I’ve never understood search engine results” or “Google makes it all up anyways” are common responses, but the probing questions regarding SEO never stop there. Regardless of the industry you are in, search engine results are likely playing an increasingly important role in your company’s ability to be found by prospective customers and others interested in the products/services your business offers. As I’ve been receiving an increasing number of emails regarding SEO from Buildium customers, I figured I’d start by laying out some of the basic tried and true practices that can help your company rank more highly in search results. What exactly is SEO? According to Wikipedia, search engine optimization is the “process of improving the visibility of a website or web page in search engines via the ‘natural’ or unpaid search results.” In plain English, when you go to Google and run a search for anything, say “Boston Property Management,” it’s the process of improving how close ......
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Know Your Property Management Market Potential

By Jo-Anne Oliveri, ireviloution intelligence, Brisbane, Australia I see too many property management businesses either fail completely or forever fail to achieve their targets for many and varying reasons. It’s important, just like in any business, to understand and know your market. In order to create your business plan and targets you must know the market size, potential, averages, statistics and demographics. In this particular blog I’ll focus on the critical role market potential and averages play in the success of your business. Mistakes continue to be made in the property management industry because business owners focus on numbers and not income. There are many critical factors that can make or break the success and profitability of an agency. By understanding critical factors you should then understand that by focusing on the number of properties under management, rather than the income, you are creating a ‘Frankenstein’ for yourself and your team, not to mention disastrous consumer relationships. To put it simply by focusing on properties under management you are focusing on quantity only. By measuring targets on income you are focusing on quality. It’s a classic “quality versus quantity” dilemma,  and quality always beats quantity. A quality agent attracts quality teams, which tend to attract quality property owners and their quality properties, who in turn attract quality tenants. Next thing you know you have yourself a quality business and a quality brand. QUALITY PLUS! Always remember – when you are tempted to focus on numbers of properties under management, when ......
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10 Tips to Effectively Communicate with Your Landlord

By Ben Holubecki, STML Realty, Glen Ellyn, IL As a property manager, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about how I communicate with the residents of the properties that I manage. Unfortunately, most residents give little thought to how they communicate with their property manager or landlord. Considering that nearly 35% of Americans currently reside in approximately 40 million rental units throughout the country it is surprising that so few of us really understand how to communicate effectively with our landlords. Almost every one of these landlord/tenant relationships last a minimum of one year and some last many years, even decades. The relationship that you enjoy with your landlord can directly impact your lifestyle, comfort, image, and financial standing. Establishing a positive and healthy relationship with your landlord can go a long way in helping you live in the best conditions possible, getting you the fastest responses to maintenance requests, and keeping your rental rates reasonable. The following are some quick tips which can go a long way in helping to maintain and improve landlord/tenant relations: During your rental search 1) Know what your expectations are before searching for a property. If your requirements aren’t offered at a particular property, then move on. Don’t expect a landlord to add an unreasonable amount of amenities or upgrades to an existing rental. There are often other units available that will meet all of your needs. 2) Submit completely accurate rental applications regardless of your shortcomings. Do not overstate your income or......
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Dodd-Frank Bill Requires Adverse Action Letters

By Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA The property is ready to be occupied, marketing is complete, and now you are receiving multiple inquires. At the first showing you receive two applications and it looks as though you’ll fill the unit quickly but remember only one party can be offered the property and after you have evaluated both applications – pulling credit information, confirming employment status and reviewing past rental history – it is clear that only one party meets your qualifications. So is it as simple as offering the rental to the qualified party and just letting the other party know that they didn’t get the unit? Not so fast. As of July 21, 2011 the Dodd-Frank bill requires you to provide the consumer with a Score Disclosure letter or an Adverse Action letter if you decline their application or impose additional conditions (such as a higher deposit) in order to accept the application. This law was enacted toward creditors but does include “Property Managers” who deal with making decisions based on credit scores for potential tenants. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) creditors are required to issue an adverse action notice containing the name of the credit reporting agency, notice of the consumer’s right to request a free credit report, and notice of the consumer’s right to dispute the accuracy of the report’s content. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) requires creditors to provide consumers with the specific reasons for a denial, o......
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Tenants Have Legal Responsibilities Too

By Colin McCarthy, J.D., Robinson & Wood, San Jose, CA Recent posts have suggested onerous burdens and detailed obligations owed by landlords.  “What about the tenants?” you ask.  They have some responsibilities, too.  If a tenant in California does not adhere to these minimum requirements, a landlord may not be held responsible for failure to provide a tenant with a habitable residence – i.e. the bare necessities.  Let’s outline them here, ok? To successfully prosecute a claim against you for not providing those bare necessities, a tenant probably should be able to show that: He kept the unit clean and not unsanitary.  He cannot let it get dirtier than it was when he first started renting. He cannot abuse or misuse the plumbing, gas, or electric fixtures in the unit. He should prevent his guests from damaging the premises. He should make written requests of his landlord when he wants something in the unit fixed. When you come to fix it, he should not prevent you from doing so.  He should not put the chain lock on.  He should not refuse to let you come to fix it on reasonable notice. He should throw out his trash and garbage. If your standard lease agreement does not spell out some of these responsibilities, you might consult with your transactional attorney to see if such terms can or should be incorporated. Basic equity (and some statutes) provide that a tenant should inform you if he believes the premises are or have become uninhabitable.  Any ......
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Creating Soul and Personality for Your Business (Part 2)

StarbucksBy Jo-Anne Oliveri, ireviloution intelligence, Brisbane, Australia Let’s continue from my last blog.  If it’s all about the client experience, and it is (just ask your clients), then how do you create a memorable and enjoyable client experience? Remember that it has to be a “real” experience because clients can spot fakes and phoneys from a mile away. Therefore your team must internalise your business personality – it must become the natural way that they interact with clients and teammates as well as how they represent your brand and your service. Step one in creating a happy client experience; inject soul into your business by finding your personality. Don’t be another ‘Me too’ business – find out what type of personality you want to portray to your clients. It doesn’t have to be fun and zany, although fun and zany may very well suit your company. Consider personality styles like classy, funky, professional, happy, colourful…the list is endless. However, you can’t fake a personality. It has to be real, genuine, and sincere. Your company has to be you. Brainstorm with your team. What is your personality? Only then can you know it, live it and be it. Once you know what your business personality is, you have the foundation to design your business premises, uniforms, marketing and in fact anything that represents your company right down to the font you choose to use to reflect this personality. By doing this your team will by way of nature automatically begin to in......
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Creating Soul and Personality for Your Business (Part 1)

DisneyBy Jo-Anne Oliveri, ireviloution intelligence, Brisbane, Australia How do we know what service experience we want our clients to feel if we don’t know what that experience is ourselves? We don’t, so it’s no wonder our industry is mostly confused when it comes to delivering the best client experience. Have you ever experienced that feeling when you walk into a particular business and feel a culture, energy, or vibe that makes you feel good – appreciated and respected – yet you just can’t put your finger on why you feel that way? I have on many occasions. It’s what I refer to as business with soul and personality – there businesses seem to know who they are and what they are there for. It’s all about business by design. Knowing what your purpose is and what experience you want to create for your clients. Disney® knows that their purpose is to create happiness and they create a magical experience for their guests. It doesn’t matter whether their guests are visiting the parks, staying at one of their resorts, or attending a Disney® movie. If it has the name Disney® attached to it, you are assured of a magical experience. And then there is Virgin. The Virgin Group, no matter which branch of the company you are dealing with, are all about fun and laughter and crazy pranks. Every client knows that whether they are flying with Virgin, subscribing to their telephone service, or using any one of their multitudes of products and ser......
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A Property Management Revolution?

Rebuilding communitiesBy Jo-Anne Oliveri, ireviloution intelligence, Brisbane, Australia Property management… just mentioning those two words usually sets off a plethora of comments, memories and grunts. Most of them are bad memories and grunts of frustration, annoyance and mild to wild anger. Yep, this sector of the real estate industry has grown up to be like the delinquent teenage child who is hell bent on causing pain and humility, rebellious in every sense of the word. You only have to ask around to discover that this is a problem the world over… yes, that’s right, the world over. Why? There are many reasons why, but the good news is there is no need to be seen as the delinquent and rebellious child anymore. Property management is set to become the golden child of every real estate business. For those agencies that don’t provide leasing and management services it’s time to sit up and listen. It’s time to feel confident in knowing that as a business owner you can design and deliver the leasing and management service of your choice. It’s important to truly understand what we mean when we say the world is changing and so is the industry. Real estate businesses can no longer rely on commission from property sales alone. The last few years have highlighted the vulnerability each and every real estate business faces. First there was the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). The GFC should have been the wake up call to every real estate business owner needing to understand that ......
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