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Lessons Your Community Can Learn from Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but once again the occasion raised the question; is it a day full of love and romance, or simply an over-glamorized “Hallmark” holiday? During the week of the fourteenth, the topic of Valentine’s took over social media platforms everywhere, as an inundation of tweets and posts told the tale of two hearts, one positive and one negative. As “#HappyValentine’sDay” was a trending topic on Twitter, “#Happytobesingle” followed close behind from those who were not as enthused. Whether the array of red and pink decor, flower bouquets and chocolate heart boxes leave you feeling tickled pink or filled with anxiety and despair, Valentine’s Day still provides some informative takeaways for your business.   1. Don’t limit your gestures to special occasions, spread the love year-round.Although holidays are an appropriate opportunity to show someone you care, provide gifts to family and friends and maybe partake in the annual mingling with relatives, these kind gestures ought to become habit all year long—and your marketing efforts should follow suit. Building relationships and engaging with residents must be an ongoing occurrence, especially in your social media interactions. Share the love each day by setting aside time to interact with residents through social media.   2. Spice things up.Monotony and routine have no place on Valentine’s Day, nor should they appear in your marketing. Keep residents involved and engaged by using different communications outlets and messages. Explore new ways to attract residents while also adding value for current renters. Have you ......
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Attract New Residents with Cross-Promotions on Facebook

retail storeAdd value for your residents, while creating lasting relationships in the community. Facebook is an effective medium for local businesses trying to drive people offline to their premises and for building deeper relationships with members of their local community. Using Facebook to cross-promote in conjunction with a local merchant can gain greater exposure for your offering and should be at the top of your marketing to-do list. What is cross-promotion? Cross-promotion is where two parties, who target identical or similar markets, decide to promote each other’s services.   Picking a Cross-Promotion PartnerTo determine a partner to align with, consider the following:   1. DemographicsFirst, make sure there is alignment. If you’re a retirement community, for example, avoid partnering with a nightclub whose young audience will be off your target. Second, brand image is a consideration. Make sure it’s compatible with your partner. If your interior architecture is ultra modern, you’re probably better off partnering with a contemporary furniture store than an antiques store.   2. ReachMake sure that your cross-promotional relationship is equitable. If you have 2000 Facebook fans and you’re doing a campaign on Facebook, you want to make sure you aren’t working with merchants that have only 10 fans of their own. Though, you can mix and match marketing channels to make your relationship work. For example, if a merchant has tons of website traffic, they might still be an attractive partner.   3. VariationIdeally, you’ll launch new and different promotions over time so that you can constantly reach......
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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......
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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......
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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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Single Family to Multifamily (Apartment) Investing, Making a Successful Transition

fishmakingtransition  “If you are not getting bigger, you are getting smaller.” We’ve all heard the quote in business, but have you applied it to your real estate investing career? If you’ve been investing in real estate for awhile, this article is for you. It’s time you take the next step in your investing career. It’s time to use all the knowledge you’ve learned over the years in single family investing and apply it at the next level. It’s time to go from single family to multifamily real estate investments. It’s the logical next step. It will accelerate your wealth and grow your cash flow. There has never been a better time. Are you ready to take the next step in your real estate investing career? Are you ready to go from single family to multifamily investing? If so, there are a few things you need to know so that your jump has a smooth landing. Here are 5 key differences you must know to make a successful transition from single family to multifamily investing: How to determine value. One big difference between single family and multifamily investing is how value is determined. Single family home value is determined by looking at sales of comparable homes. Homes can also be priced per square foot. Apartments are not priced by looking at similar property sales. Multifamily property value is determined by the income it produces. How to read a financial statement. To be successful in multifamily investing you must know how to read and evaluate an investment property’s financial statements and understand the metrics ......
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Do Short-Term Rentals Make Sense for Property Managers?

Short-term rentalsA guest post by Ashley Halligan, Analyst, Property Management Software Guide Short-term rentals, of all natures, have become a hot commodity – and a controversial one at that. Short-term rentals can include vacation rentals and temporary housing, often sought by vacationers, business travelers, or people who have recently relocated while seeking long-term living arrangements. Either way, it’s become an ongoing topic of debate and an attractive investment opportunity for property owners and managers. In comparison to traditional rentals, short-term rentals can charge significantly higher rates given their nightly and weekly availabilities. Some property owners have earned as much as 25% of their mortgage in a single night. And during special events or peak rental periods in a given area, potential rental rates can be very attractive to property owners. Because of the income short-term rentals can procure, the opportunity for profit potential may be exponential – but there are several considerations that should be kept in mind. First and foremost, it’s essential to keep the added costs of maintaining a short-term rental in mind. These rentals can be subject to Hotel Occupancy Taxes in certain cities, while other cities require specific licensures and inspections not required of traditional, long-term rentals. Penalties for not abiding by short-term rental laws in your city may result in hefty fines. There can also be increased insurance costs. Additionally, the cost of regular upkeep and maintenance, including utilities, should be calculated. In order to continually attract tenants, your property must be kept in prime condition, both functionally and cosmetically. F......
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Team Building III (the final chapter); The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

In this, the third and final installment of the Team Building series, we are going to hone in on the key skills to identify and quantify when hiring a young developer. As we recall, in the first chapter we discussed the three key indicators of success; The Get-It Factor, Communication Skills and a History of Success. In the second chapter, we introduced our ‘toolbox’ and explored the difference between hard-skills and soft-skills (i.e. the tools). As we previously mentioned, between hard and soft tools, the soft ones are more critical because they are more difficult to develop. This fact doesn’t make them more important in the long run- but a young developer with a strong soft-skills base will generally be much easier to train successfully than one who relies heavily on the hard ones. The irony is that our profession most heavily respects hard-skills.   So what are the key soft-tools to hone for a developer’s toolbox?   Clearly we all possess multiple soft-skills with varying degrees of proficiency. Within the limits of an interview process, it is impossible to identify them all. That is why there are a few which are both critical and identifiable. The top three of these are:   Comportment. The way that an individual behaves and carries them self is indicative of a number of other key qualities. Do they speak clearly and concisely?  Do they maintain eye contact? Are they well groomed? Does their appearance indicate an attention to detail? Are they deferential, or aggressive,......
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Hire Me: Getting Hired for that NEXT LEVEL Position!

As an approachable leader and champion for both multifamily and my company, I’m asked almost daily how to get to the next level. They’ve taken classes, have a degree, a designation or two and yet their career with their current company is at a standstill. Professionals want to grow, to make more money, to be challenged, to feel like they’re making a contribution, to make their mark… but they’re often unsure about how to find a new position. You might be thinking this is a no-brainer; you’ll just head to an internet job board, type in the type of position you want, and search through the hundreds or thousands of results. Maybe you’ll apply to all of them, I mean… the more you apply to the better your chances, right? To quote one of my favorite plays, Death of a Salesman, “It’s who you know, and the smile on your face! It’s contacts, Ben, contacts!” Sure, applying to any and every position that even slightly resembles what you’re hoping to do, does seem to make sense, statistically. But, you’re going to burn through a lot of energy sending dozens of resumes and cover letters, why not put your time to a little better use and start networking, instead? NETWORK The multifamily housing industry affords us so many places to connect with likeminded professionals. From peers to potential supervisors, interacting has never been easier. Have great ideas? Share them… people will take notice.  Super smart firecracker? Let your personality & knowledge ......
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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

Let me begin by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. For those of you who regularly read my scribbles, you are used to some pretty meaty topics. In light of the Holidays, this one will be a bit frothier. In each blog that I write there are certain themes which remain pretty consistent. One of my favorites is that real estate development is about the coolest industry on the planet. After all, our job is to make the world a better, more usable, more beautiful place.   Often my intended audience is the real estate developer (my hope is of course that there is some part of my subject matter which translates to my non-developer audience- or at least helps you better understand those temperamental developers who constantly tell you ‘We can’t afford that.’). Today, I would like to remind us all of something that is very easily glossed over as we perform our day-to-day tasks.   No matter what our role in the industry, we have a hand in something very precious. Through our daily work (whether it is building, developing, leasing, managing or maintaining) we have a definite and real effect on people’s lives. We provide the backdrop in which our residents and neighbors work, play, rest, are made safe, fall in and out of love, have babies, spend their final years, argue and make-up, worship and congregate and pursue their individual goals. And while we don’t necessarily know which combination of these that they are ex......
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