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Finding the Right Multi-Family Property Investment

In many ways, the current economic climate makes for a great time to purchase a multi-family investment property. The prominence of short sales and foreclosures has given way to good purchase prices in many areas of the country. Add to this the fact that there are some incredible interest rates out there right now (even for investors) and the fact that many former homeowners have now found themselves back in the rental market, and there’s a very valid argument that this is a good time to get into the multi-family market. If you are considering making a multi-family property investment of your own, following are a few things to consider before taking the leap. Know what you’re looking for Before you even begin to look at properties, have a clear idea of what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to put into a property, both financially and in terms of your time. Of course, this is always subject to change if you find just the right place, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go into the house-hunting process without a fairly narrow baseline in mind. Aside from basics like location and size, you also want to have know whether you’re looking for a “fixer-upper” or a “as-is” property. Look at the whole package Looking for a multi-family investment property is different from looking for a single-family home and requires a bit more of a discerning eye. Remember that you will be renting multiple units out to different tenants. To......
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2011 Property Management Conferences and Seminars

As we begin to look forward to closing another year out, it’s a great time to look ahead and get your ducks in a row for 2011. Aside from all of the  information and lessons you glean out on the property management field on a daily basis, incorporating continuing education into your professional program is a great way to ensure you continue growing and perfecting both your business and your personal skill sets. Though complete certifications and ongoing classes may simply be unfeasible for some of us, property management related seminars and conferences are a great time-efficient way to add to your knowledge base. 2011 NAA Education Conference and Exposition June 23-25, 2011 Las Vegas, Nevada The National Apartment Association tags this event as the opportunity to “educate, energize, and empower” yourself and your organization. This well-attended event brings together 5,000 multi-family housing professionals from across the nation and 300 service providers, not to mention a wealth of high-profile keynote speakers, including Condoleezza Rice. NPMA 2011 National Education Seminar July 25-28, 2011 Las Vegas, Nevada Hosted by the National Property Management Association, this multi-day seminar provides a wealth of practical business advice, offered from a wide variety of field experts who have an in-depth working knowledge of how property management works from the inside out. In addition to seminars, the NPMA also offers break-out groups that allow attendees to discuss special interests with colleagues and experts. 23rd Annual NARPM Convention & Trade Show October 19-21, 2011 Dallas, Texas As the largest......
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10 Property Management Pitfalls

A few weeks ago, we talked about 10 Signs of Property Management Success. This week, we’re going to take a look at the flip side of that coin, reviewing some indicators that it may be time to make some changes (after all, the time for New Years’ resolutions is just around the corner!). Following are a few red flags to keep an eye out for in your property management business. 1. Lack of referrals – This applies to both tenants and property owners. In an ideal scenario, you should be creating a web of referrals that expands year after year. If you’re not, it may mean that: 1) existing tenants and clients aren’t confident enough in your work to refer you or 2) business-building incentive programs are not in place. 2. Haphazard organizational systems – If your office doesn’t have an organizational system in place for things like accounting, rent payment tracking, and maintenance requests, your efficiency and accuracy may be taking a hit. An investment in property management software will pay off big in the long-run. 3. Sporadic maintenance schedule – Staying on top of regular maintenance (like winterizing) and repairs will keep your property value up and your tenants happy. Creating and sticking to an annual maintenance check-list is the most sure-fire way to stay on track. 4. High turn-over – This applies not only to your tenants, but also to your property management staff. While people move on for any number of reasons (both personal and professional) ,......
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TOP 3 Qualities of Successful Multi-Family Apartment Careers

Here at RENT SODA, we've been talking about success A LOT. From our recent article (Build on Your Strengths: Build Success by Jim Baumgartner) to our Profiling Your Way to MORE Success sales classes, to every day conversations with our clients ("We want our manager to be more successful,"), it seems everyone is talking about "SUCCESS." It begs the question: Do You Have What it Takes To Be Successful in the Multi-family (Apartment) Industry? or better yet: What DOES it Take To Be Successful in the Multi-Family (Apartment) Industry? We have been pondering this over the last few weeks. We've decided to do a series of articles on individual SUCCESS in the Multi-Family Apartment Industry. We've started researching and interviewing successful people - you'll want to read what they have to say - so check back weekly as we post those articles! First, we looked for individuals who were successful in the following categories: Someone who has had multiple career advancements and now holds one of the top positions in their company. (i.e. someone who started at the bottom and worked their way up to VP, CEO/COO/CFO or founder of a company in the Multi-family industry.) Someone who started in property management and has made a successful transition into a vendor role. Someone who started in a vendor role and has made a successful transition into a property management/development company. Someone who started at the corporate-side of the multi-family apartment business and has successfully transition into an on-site (at the apartment community) position. Someone who......
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Why Cost per Lease is a terrible metric and what you can do about it

Due to our more sophisticated Property Management systems, we are absolutely inundated today with reports. Some of these reports are invaluable and others are a big fat time waster.  One that is given WAY more credibility in this industry then it should is the Cost Per Lease. I can understand from a managing perspective why you want something like this.  Are we spending money on lead sources that aren't producing?  I get it. But seriously folks, measuring this is a waste of your time.  Daddy, where do leads come from?  It isn't what it used to be; not anymore.  The internet has completely changed the landscape.  Years ago when someone said they came from the Apartment Guide chances are that was where they found you.  The ONLY place.  Now a days someone might start their apartment search on Google at 11pm in their PJ's on the couch.  By midnight they've seen your property on a pile of different websites and submitted a prospect card through your internet site.  Which source really wins?  There are schools of thought on this one: First source wins.  Whichever source a prospect saw first wins.  I don't know how you track this one. Last source wins This I would think is the industry norm. Average of all sources This is great if you love staring at sources and numbers all day.  Not for the faint of heart. So we could be starting off with bad data?  Yup. In addition to figuring out which source gets the prize you......
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Implementing a Late Fee Policy

Collecting timely rent payments from tenants is essential to keeping your property finances in order and promoting responsible tenant behavior. Writing a late fee policy into your rental agreements is a good way to make sure tenants remain diligent about on-time payments throughout the course of their tenancy. Just as important is making sure you hold your tenants to this policy. Rental agreement payment policies should include the following information: The day of the month rent is due. The day the late fee kicks in. The amount of the late fee. In a standard rental agreement, landlords provide tenants a five-day “grace period” between the day rent is due and the day the late fee is applied. Late fee penalty payments generally fall around $25. However, before setting the fee, be sure to check state and local laws to find out what maximum fees are allowed by law. While some landlords charge a single flat late fee, others charge an escalating amount for each day payment is late (for example, $5 on the first day, $10 on the second day, etc.). If you do use an escalating scale, you will also need to cap the late fee at a reasonable maximum amount. Not only is it important to build late fees into your lease contracts, but it’s also important to enforce the policy. With this in mind, though, judgment and reason are called for. For example, if a tenant has lived in your unit for eleven months and consistently paid rent......
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Where are you at in Social Media? Serious blog for those seriously interested.

I don't pretend to know everything about social media. But what I do know is sound common sense for a business. So, if you're ready to listen and to learn, then please continue reading. Apartment communities, like the other 79% of corporations (Altimeter 11/04/2010 research) have attempted to deploy social media. They've enlisted social media consultants and/or "hired" internal social media strategists to help them accomplish the following:   Training of teams (and corporate heads): this covers the fundamentals of social media (networks, users, tools), social media and fair housing policies, engagement/outreach skills, development of social media editorial and marketing calendars Monitoring (cymphony, radian6, and others) to see what others were saying about their community, community beats and how that could benefit/hinder their leasing efforts (i.e. burglaries in a community, new company hiring, etc) Tools (i.e. co-tweet, hootsuite, and other similar desktop/smart phone device) to enable community teams to share the workflow involved with social media. Networks set ups (i.e. blogs, Facebook fan page, Twitter/YouTube/Flickr/Picassa etc accounts) arriving at quasi ROI benchmarks...the bottom line, did social media drive a testimonial, referral and/or new lead? Did it help to retain existing residents? So, in a nutshell, 2010 has proven to be the set-up of social media communications and learning social media strategies.  What does 2011 have in store? Well, the fundamental shift will be that we will stop focusing on monitoring and creating a communications-only program to drive social media strategies, but companies will seek to find efficient and effective tools to......
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Move over Foursquare...HELLO Facebook DEALS! (and tips on how to QUICKLY implement)

Wow. It finally arrived. Facebook Places is now offering deals which is going to be a HUGE shocker to Foursquare as it continues to recruit new users of their application. Lucky FB that they already have 500Mn to market this fun new app! So...what is deal and what can it do for your community? Here is the gist: It allows you to offer a variety of promotions to its users and user friends to enrich and engage through social networks at a far greater rate than before. You have four "deal" options through Facebook deals. This includes:   Individual Deals Friendship Deals Loyalty Deals Charity Deals Next up...how to apply each of these "deals" to your organization. Very quickly (and off the cuff as my brain thinks fast when it comes to marketing ideas) With the individual deals, you can: Offer a rent discount that must be redeemed in x-time frame. Yes, you read concession (but that is one way to get people into your door quickly). Friendship Deals When you host a community event (aka roommate party, preferred employer party), have users invite their friends/co-workers to "go together" to receive gift certificate at their neighborhood favorite pub/restaurant. Cross promote away! Loyalty Deals Have your fans check-in at the fitness center X number of times for Thursday night boot camp to receive a complimentary month of boot camp at the local fitness center. Another fun cross promotion tool. Charity Deals Nothing says community building like designing out a cause for your......
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Setting Your Property Management Fees

Setting your property management fees can be tricky business. Obviously, you’d like to obtain the greatest amount of money possible for your services. On the other hand, it’s important that your prices remain competitive in order to secure new clients. Following are some things to take into consideration when setting and evaluating your property management fees. Know Your Competition While your prices shouldn’t be totally dictated by what your competitors are doing, it is important that you have an idea of the going rate for property management services in your area. While you don’t want to undercut yourself, you will likely also have a difficult time selling your services to potential clients if your rates are significantly higher than your competitors’. If they are higher, be sure you have a compelling answer lined-up when potential clients ask why that is (for example, “We offer more automated services for you to utilize” or “We have twenty more years of industry experience than our closest competitor”). Compare Apples to Apples In that vein, when evaluating competitors’ prices, be sure that you are taking similar companies into account. For example, if you have ten years of experience and several successful properties under your belt, you should not compare your prices to those of a relatively novice, start-up property manager. Obviously, the converse of this also holds true. Account for the Local Economy How are things in your area? Are vacancy rates high? Or is business booming, bringing lots of new residents to town? Keep......
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Smart Marketing By Partnering With Corporate Housing Companies

Forming an excellent relationship with Corporate Housing Providers (CHPs) is a smart alliance because of how valuable a partner you can gain to lease up your property and keep it that way.  There are approximately 61,280 corporate housing units occupied every day paying one billion dollars in annual rent.  This is a huge revenue stream to tap into! I recently attended a meeting with other area corporate housing providers and property owners and managers.  The reason for the meeting was to encourage better communication between these two groups and some very interesting points and ideas were shared.  Here are 5 great reasons why partnering with a CHP is a smart move for those who own/rent apartment properties. 1.)      Working with corporate housing is easy!  ®      Working with corporate housing is less work.  Because CHPs are in similar businesses, they can expedite the leasing process and cut down on your workload, which means you have more time for other things.  CHPs sign leases on a daily basis and don’t require the additional time that is typically spent on walking through a lease with an individual prospective renter.   Additionally, CHPs rents are always paid on time, which means no three-day notices and chasing down rental payments. Make more money with corporate housing  ®      CHPs typically pay market rent and in many cases pay a premium for shorter term leases.  Although often asking for deposits to be waived, they do pay administrative fees, which means leasing agents still receive their commission and the leases......
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