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When Supplier Partners Speak Multifamily’s Love Language

When Supplier Partners Speak Multifamily’s Love Language
The multifamily industry used to be lampooned as being way behind the curve when it came to technology. But in recent years, it’s been exciting to see apartment owners and operators embrace new technologies. Across the country, multifamily operators are implementing cutting-edge solutions that enhance the resident experience and improve operations. The pandemic - which has compelled many operators to begin offering self guided and virtual tours - has accelerated the growth of technology in multifamily. But as operators adopt new solutions and systems, they often come to realize that working with supplier partners without strong multifamily backgrounds can be a frustrating experience. It’s Not Me, It’s You One of the challenges of working with supplier partners that don’t come from multifamily is they don’t truly understand what goes into leasing and operating apartment communities. They don’t appreciate all the nuances of the industry and the day-to-day challenges faced by onsite associates. They don’t know the multifamily workflows. Smart home technology, self-guided tours and even package management solutions demand a deep, comprehensive understanding of the industry to operate effectively.  Just as important, these supplier partners may not understand the need for integration with other solutions. The lack of integration - those actually driven by open APIs and not just parallel interfaces - among multifamily technologies and systems has long been a sore spot for operators. The inability of many multifamily solutions to “play nice” with other technologies can result in redundant data entry, data loss or duplication of effort, creating inefficiencies across the board.......
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Property Management Technology Trends for 2020

Property management technology trends are rapidly changing and 2020 promises to be full of new strategies to capture the attention of savvy renters.    More than 80 percent of prospects start their apartment search online and then spend up to three months narrowing down the list to a few properties they will visit in person before signing a lease. You want your property to stand out from the competition and nurture those leads throughout their entire online journey.    Technology can be a big-ticket item, so it pays to be sure you are investing in products that will boost business enough to pay for themselves and increase leases.     Here are some top considerations:    Does the technology attract and acquire quality leads on your website? Do the products utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to learn and adapt? Is the technology product analyzing data and adjusting? Is it converting online visitors to tours, and ultimately leases? Does the vendor partner with your multifamily team?    Attracts and Acquires Leads   You want to look for a website interface or software that identifies each consumer who visits and engages on your website, then tracks that user across multiple digital platforms. The interface should help facilitate a prospect’s research while capturing high-quality lead information on what they are looking for in an apartment. It should also prioritize leads who are ready to rent now or soon to make follow-up easier and more effective.    The software should also measure channel performance: how well your social media a......
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The IT Sweet Spot: Technologies that Support a Growing Organization

Technology resources can be difficult to come by today, especially those at a reasonable price that make a genuine impact for multifamily operators.  Multifamily organizations often grow at a rate much faster than the pace small IT teams can implement new technologies broad enough to support their expanding organization. That means IT teams have to prioritize their activities and leverage strategic solutions effectively.  Even if your organization is not tied to a particular platform, it is important to utilize technologies to their fullest extent. In order to be a nimble organization that provides real-time answers to investor and client requests and opportunities, it is important to utilize systems that enable collaboration, workflow and decision-making. Fortunately, there are some practices you can follow to make sure you’re choosing the technologies that can provide the most impact with limited IT resources.    Built-in Support. First and foremost, you should look for technologies with built-in support structures that don’t require your IT team or onsite teams to provide technical support. These technologies are becoming more common as IT resources have become more expensive. At Laramar, for example, we have recently deployed a combined helpdesk tracking solution for both IT and software support teams. We are also deploying additional functionality with Office 365, with communication platforms such as Sharepoint and Microsoft Teams.  Integration with Property Management Systems. Nothing is more inefficient than having your onsite teams work in disparate systems with different logins. Every software application you use should be integrated with your property management sys......
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Multifamily Finance Trend | Real Estate Crowdfunding: Is Technology Cutting out the Middle Man?

Multifamily Finance Trend | Real Estate Crowdfunding: Is Technology Cutting out the Middle Man?
As real estate crowdfunding builds a head of steam behind the JOBS Act, what are the benefits and initial concerns that will make or break this budding industry? “It is really this access problem.” says RealtyShares co-founder Nav Athwal and his partner Trey Clark. “The fact of the matter is, there is no easy-to-access marketplace for even investors to access a reliable source of quality private real estate investments and thus investors have traditionally invested in what is readily available – stocks, bonds and mutual funds.” When President Obama signed the JOBS Act in April of 2012, the crowdfunding industry achieved what has been identified in the industry as having “potential to be a game changer” for future private equity fundraising efforts. According to RealtyShares, the JOBS Act brought about for the first time since the great depression and the enactment of the Securities Act of 1933, the opportunity for unaccredited investors to be able to participate in a private equity deal. This is a huge step for investors looking to take advantage of the fact that private equity investments in the U.S. have traditionally outperformed the stock market. Up until the signing of the JOBS Act, these private equity deals were reserved for only for the wealthiest investors, while the average investor was left to invest in the public markets. And while the JOBS Act is considered by most to be a step towards balancing this inequality, it does have its limits. For both investors and fundraisers, understanding these limits is crucial.  For starters, som......
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What to Expect When You’re Expecting Software Support

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Software Support
Like any other multifamily professional, you have dreams and aspirations. You have places to go and things to see. But before you “go and see,” you have a job, and to complete your job, it's not uncommon that you're calling for software support with multifamily tech providers. It shouldn’t take long, right?  You don’t need to plan your day around this interaction, do you?...  Do you? Well, much like your teenage daughter's long-standing Facebook relationship status, it’s complicated. It all depends on how you look at it. Expectations change by contact type and by level of urgency. Just as you can expect to hear back from someone quicker when you are talking face to face than when you send them a postcard, you can also expect a quicker response from 911 than from the Better Business Bureau. So when evaluating the aptitude of your property management software's support department, it's important to first evaluate the nature of your support needs in terms of (1) Contact Method and (2) Urgency.   Contact Method: According to recent surveys, about 75% of clients expect their service provider to offer at least four different methods of contact. The primary methods are listed in the table below, along with the expected wait times:   Contact Method Industry-leading Average Expected Wait Maximum Expected Wait Phone <30 seconds 60 seconds 5 minutes Chat <30 seconds 60 seconds 15 minutes In person/ Storefront <30 seconds 5 minutes 15 minutes Social Media <30 minutes 4 hours 8 hours Task or Ticket System <30 minutes 4 hours 24 h......
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Multifamily Tech Trend | Top 7 Mobile Apps for Going Truly Paperless

Multifamily Tech Trend | Top 7 Mobile Apps for Going Truly Paperless
As today’s multifamily business professionals continue to look for new ways to evolve their companies overall functionality while also reducing paper use, we offer up a short list of the top seven mobile apps available. This diverse list of tools was designed to improve everything from note taking and data storage to mobile document scanning, faxing, and signatures. Paperless Notes Evernote is a utility app that allows you to make lists, take handwritten notes, create snapshots of receipts on-the-go, or save clips from the web and then sync that data into a cloud setting. This then gives you, and everyone on your team, access to this live information anytime and anywhere. Shift into “Drive” When it comes to collaborating and accessing a variety of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online from anywhere with an internet connection, Google Drive is likely your best solution. Drive is an essential paperless solution that will not only boost productivity, but eliminate the need to shuffle printed drafts between team members. No More Searching for a Fax Machine What happens when you’re out in the field and need to send a fax? Typically you’d need to either travel all the way back to the office or seek out the nearest available fax machine. With iFax installed on your mobile device, you can now use your device’s camera to scan and fax that paperwork via your existing mobile network. Want to receive faxes on the go? It does that too. Stack of Business Cards = Profitable Contact list From conventions to casual meetings, that stack of business......
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The 4 Types of Bad Data Getting in the Way of Multifamily Business Intelligence

The 4 Types of Bad Data Getting in the Way of Multifamily Business  Intelligence
So what’s all the buzz about business intelligence (BI), and just what does BI mean for apartment operators and managers, anyway? “Put simply, business intelligence is all of the things that enable you to make good, data-based decisions to improve business performance,” explained Glenn Thomas, Lead Software Development Manager, Business Intelligence at Property Solutions during an industry technology event last fall. With the multifamily industry increasingly looking toward the freedom provided by open, agile systems able to capitalize on the competitive opportunities revealed in strong data and reporting, Thomas outlined the four most common data challenges with multifamily software systems that traditionally have inhibited the ability to cultivate actionable BI: 1)                 Bad Data: Bad data includes duplicate files and data sets, corrupted files, and non-tied data sets that should logically be connected or relational. 2)                 Old Data: This is yesterday’s news, or worse, even older legacy data from systems, products, properties, and people no longer relevant (and therefore antagonistic) to your enterprise and your data management. 3)                 “Can’t Get There From Here” Data: Fixed reports and data sets that are not malleable enough for analysis and interaction offer little promise for efficient and actionable data analysis for multifamily strategists. 4)                  “Can’t Get There Quick Enough” Data: The red-headed step child of “Can’t Get There from Here” data is data that might be malleable or interactive, but is for a variety of reasons held captive from the data analyst, including data sets dependent on participation from other partners, vendors, or housed in disparate systems.  ......
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Top Multifamily Executives Weigh-in on Change Management

Top Multifamily Executives Weigh-in on Change Management
Multifamily leaders share their keys to empowering property staff when launching new systems and technology  By some estimates, 70% of change initiatives fail to meet their objectives. According to Multifamily Solutions president Dennis Smillie, it’s a staggering figure illustrating common barriers when launching any sort of change at an apartment organization. “Change management starts long before implementation begins,” says Smillie, “And effective change management survives and thrives long after implementation is done.” Beyond the standpoint of multifamily software, he explains that change confronts all departmental areas and disciplines. “It can be something as simple as asking your offices to stay open an extra half hour during the summer to capture more opportunities in the leasing center,” Smilie says. “Whether it’s technology, or whether it’s simple business processes, change is change.” “You need a good change management plan. That’s the key component,” agrees Scott Pechersky, Vice President of Technology and Ancillary Services at Alliance Residential, who outlines four specific questions his team asks right from the get-go when implementing change: 1) What are the behaviors we want to get out of our staff? 2) Which employee positions will we primarily use to communicate the change? 3) How will we communicate that message? 4) What new costs or budgeting measures will be impacted?   “Success is important,” explains Smillie. “But failure is even more important because failure creates barriers to future change. Every time a change effort fails it generates greater resistance to any subsequent new initiatives, related or unrelated.” To help ward off those unintended consequences, Wate......
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Real Estate Technology | The Rise of BYOD In Multifamily: What You Need to Know

Real Estate Technology | The Rise of BYOD In Multifamily: What You Need to Know
After sifting through another stack of resumes and sitting through another round of interviews, you offer to hire a fresh college student to fill an open marketing position with the hopes that they’ll bring a new prospective on technology to your firm. Your day ends and you go home happy and somewhat relieved. The next day, as you prepare all the information that will be needed to properly  orientate your new “tech-xpert”, your presented with a request from your new hire. They wish to bring their own mobile device to work, as it’s the tool they feel most comfortable using. This is now commonly becoming known as “BYOD” or “bring your own device.” Your initial reaction might be that this could be an inexpensive alternative to supplying your new associate with company equipment. On one hand, it is cheaper if the employee supply’s their own expensive tech tools and the fact that the learning curve for the associate is reduced or eliminated means that the individual will become productive much sooner. Unfortunately, while BYOD might initially look like the perfect solution, there are several elements that need to be taken into consideration, and additional policies put in place, before committing to allow any associate to bring their own device to work for your multifamily real estate investment firm. After all, while IT departments these days are busy building business apps that solve problems and prove useful to the firm in general, one of the biggest fears IT professionals have with BYOD is the possible gaping h......
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Where has all the Data Gone? | Google Increases Keyword Encryption

Where has all the Data Gone? | Google Increases Keyword Encryption
Google is at it again! Last month they released their brand-new ‘Hummingbird’ algorithm which is set to (again) further improve the accuracy and relevance of search results. Updates to Google’s algorithm are nothing new (remember all the buzz surrounding the Panda and Penguin updates?) but this one is a little different. If panda and penguin can be compared to replacing a ceiling fan or window in a rental unit, Hummingbird is more akin to a full blown remodel. Sure, the supporting walls remain but the paint, carpet, plumbing and electrical systems have been completely removed and replaced with more technologically advanced and effective alternatives. So too is the same with the Hummingbird algorithm. The look of Google search will largely remain the same but many of the nuts and bolts have been replaced allowing for what Google says will be “better [search] results.”   So what’s different about Hummingbird? Google, in typical fashion, hasn’t gone into a lot of detail about the specifics of the new algorithm but they did reveal two main points of interest:   Conversational Search Spoken language queries are becoming increasingly common with the prevalence of technology like Apple’s Siri.   In response to the ever increasing prevalence of smart phones with voice recognition like Apple’s Siri, Google has been focusing on expanding their conversational search technology. This refers to queries like, ‘where is the nearest ATM to my house?’ Here Google looks at each word contained in the query as well as the way they relate to one another. ......
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