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Multifamily Insiders “State of the Union”

As Multifamily Insiders is driven by the community, I always find it important to make sure you all know as much as possible about how the community is doing!  And as we get the end of the year, it’s fun to take a look to see how far we have come during 2013, and where we plan to go in 2014. Overall, the MFI community has become even stronger than I could have ever imagined.  I remember when we first started as a humble little LinkedIn group with 800 members, and at the time, I thought our community was taking the multifamily world by storm.  I could have never imagined that 5 years later our community would have swelled to over 325,000 unique visitors to the site over the past year.  Every year I keep thinking that our growth should taper off, and yet we still managed to grow 68% over 2012. The headliner for all of this growth in 2013 was easily our redesigned job board.  After deciding that we could really add a lot of value to those looking for all star employees, and those looking for new opportunities, we completely re-thought what a job board should be, leveraging our big community to help job seekers and employers connect.  With over 350 registered employers, 2014 should be a banner year for our jobs area. The second major break-out element of 2013 was the inclusion of the National Apartment Association Education Institute into our Webinar Wednesday series.  Suddenly attendees could r......
Recent Comments
Rommel Anacan
Brent-you and the MFI team do such a great work for everyone involved in the multifamily industry! Congratulations to you and to e... Read More
Monday, 30 December 2013 15:42
Brent Williams
Thanks, Rommel! You were a big part of 2013 with excellent blogs and webinar - can't wait for more next year!
Monday, 30 December 2013 15:46
Guest — Joanna Merritt
Great job with getting NAAEI involved with the excellent webinars!
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 22:48
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Ten Ways to Make People Feel Like They Matter

What Three ThingsWhat can you do to show you appreciate someone, your residents, your family, your friends, or the person on the street you just passed?  As we learn and use the wonderful features of technology and social media, we tend to not interrelate like we once did.  We have all emailed the person in the next cubicle or office, and texted someone when we could have called them. What three things can you do on a daily basis that makes a difference in how people connect and react to you? Everyone has three things they can do to let others know they matter.  I recently sent an email about this to my fellow teams. Incidentally, I received more replies than normal and I would like to share some of the unedited feedback. Smile and compliment them. Make them feel welcome; tell them they have been approved for their new home. Ask them “How can we help”? Tell them you appreciate them, maybe bring them a coffee and tell them one nice thing! Or just give them a big hug.  Listen, people want to be heard and know that what they have to say matters, and it shows you value them, as well as what they have to say.  Speak directly to them, look in their eyes, and be attentive.  Use their name when you talk to them, it makes them feel important and gets their  attention.  A simple acknowledgement, “Great Job”.  To a stranger driving and trying to get in your lane, “Just wave......
Recent Comments
Guest — Laura A Bruyere
Great read Alison! Funny how easy these steps are, but often forgotten I think in todays technology driven society, these kind an... Read More
Monday, 30 April 2012 22:14
Alison Voyvodich
Thank you Laura for your comment, kind and personal appreciation breeds so much more productivity in everyone. I like to always ke... Read More
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 22:37
Guest — Denise Sipe
Hi Alison! Wow! You hit the nail on the head! We are becoming more automated and less personal all of the time! Reach out and touc... Read More
Sunday, 20 May 2012 10:51
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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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What You Need to Know About Facebook Timeline

A few months ago, Facebook announced the release of Timeline, a new interface made to boost engagement and user connectivity for all pages, especially for brands and businesses. Come March 30th, all Facebook Pages will have made the transition to the Timeline format. Today, let’s focus on the aspects in Timeline that are different from your current Business Page. Mashable did a great job explaining the major changes, and we’ve added our insights to relate this to your community. 1. Updated Look and Feel: The format of Timeline for brands is quite similar to Timeline for personal profiles. A cover photo lives at the top of the Page, and the Page is separated into two main columns with a dividing line representing the passage of time. This format provides you with new options for story telling: You can outline your history with milestones (such as grand openings, resident events, etc.) to construct a narrative for your audience. 2. Reduced Tab/App Visibility: The new Timeline format does not have the left-side panel of links, which could include hundreds of different tabs. While applications still exist, they’ll display differently, in rectangular panels underneath the cover photo. The width of the Timeline and the space allocated for native apps like Photos means that only four tab panels are viewable at any given time. To see more, users must expand the tab panel by clicking a drop-down box. You have the ability to assign which tabs you want to display in the top four panels. 3. Pins: One major new feature that you as a property manager......
Recent Comments
Matthew Hartman
Thanks so much for the article on Timeline! ReferBoost just launched the first Timeline Buttons for real estate. I'd love your fee... Read More
Sunday, 01 April 2012 23:58
Stephanie Graves
Very helpful thanks!!
Thursday, 05 April 2012 10:53
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Maximize Your Property’s “Exposure”

When’s the last time you Googled your property? What did you see? Harmful reviews that you didn’t know existed? Outdated property photos? Incorrect information? Oftentimes we get so caught up in the day-to-day operations and running our apartment business that we fail to put ourselves in the perspective of the consumer (or apartment prospect), the true reason we exist and ultimately the factor that will contribute to our successes or demise. I want to offer a suggestion—er, or rather a challenge—to all on-site professional property managers and staff: Google your property. What do you see? What might be more fascinating is what you don’t see. Generally, when a potential renter finds us from a traditional ILS (i.e. apartments.com, apartmentguide.com, etc.) and expresses interest, he or she will most likely Google that property, look for reviews and other insightful information that will guide their decision. On the flipside, prospects already aware of a community’s name might bypass an ILS, and Google a property’s name to gain knowledge. This is where savvy on-site staff can truly shine by utilizing all outlets available to flood a search engine with pictures, amenities, and language that can sway a prospect to rent. So, what will you find when you do a Google search? The other day I Googled my own property for the first time and I was introduced to a plethora of advertising outlets that I didn’t even know existed. And the best part, they were all free! Here’s a few that will likely pop......
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Effective Communication is Key

Keys to the communication kingdom are sometimes hard to grasp.  Nothing in business is more important than communication.  You can have the best plans, the greatest ideas, but if you don’t have effective communication, your results won’t be stellar.  I recently received an email from a property manager sharing with me her response to a resident about an issue where the resident wasn’t clearly informed, and I quote, “I let her know (the resident) that we have a web site and a face book fan page, I also let her know we send out newsletters every month on top of crime watch meetings. She does not want a computer at home, she said that the newsletters are a waste of good paper and she doesn’t have time to attend any kind of meeting. Aside from staying after work and waiting for her to get home, I do not know how she would like us to communicate with her”. This is definitely a tough nut to crack, so, how is a property manager supposed to communicate with someone who doesn’t utilize technology? How about going low tech, a notice laminated and posted at the mail box kiosk, everyone gets mail and has to pick it up at some point, and of course there is the laundry area, there is usually always a bulletin board for postings there.  Did we ever ask the resident how she would like to be communicated with? I think in this age of new technology, we forget about......
Recent Comments
Mindy Sharp
You know what? Even when you post Notices in the Laundry Rooms and other common areas of your community, even if you MAIL the Noti... Read More
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 23:50
Alison Voyvodich
Of course Mindy, you are right, there are always going to be those who claim they didn't get the memo, sometimes because it's conv... Read More
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 00:44
Caprice Stokes, MBA
I do adore technology, but realize it is not for everyone. I am a big fan of face to face communication, as I feel that even the "... Read More
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 14:40
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Pinterest's Copyright Problem: Part I

Pinterest may have a copyright problem. With a recent infusion of venture capital and an explosion of popularity among women, the social network is poised to break into the big leagues. But Pinterest’s selling point – users ‘pinning’ online images onto personal bulletin boards – could also be a major weakness. The web is full of copyright infringement – some malicious, some accidental. Before you put your company’s name on a social media page, you should understand how that site is affected, and how they deal with the problem. Pinterest is a special case because the site’s whole premise revolves around re-using other people’s images. Many brands and individuals are happy for the exposure, as demonstrated by the profusion of ‘Pin It’ buttons across the web. But users can post any image on their computer, and not everyone wants their content re-published. Pinterest responds to infringement claims in accordance with the Digital Media Copyright Act. As you evaluate Pinterest, take time to consider your own social media practices, as well as the way your vendors treat copyright issues. Ask suppliers to verify that they post only text and images they own, or are allowed to post under digital license. This is the only way to keep on the right side of the law. Ensure that your communities provide marketers and social media vendors with text, images or videos they own or are licensed to use. If photos include residents, they must give their permission to publish the images. This can be accomplished th......
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Maggie Gormley
Thank you for bringing this topic to light, Ellen. I've been reading up on this issue as well after seeing this article: http://bl... Read More
Thursday, 08 March 2012 01:24
Ellen Thompson
Hi Brittany, Thanks for responding. Yes, it will be interesting to see what happens, though the artist community doesn't have the ... Read More
Thursday, 08 March 2012 02:01
Guest — JoelN
Most Millennials, a generation I count myself as one of the elder members of, don't see much if any difference between the digital... Read More
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 06:48
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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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