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Lessons Learned From 2020: Must-Have Tech in 2021

Lessons Learned From 2020: Must-Have Tech in 2021
If we learned one thing from 2020, it is that technology is a vital piece to an apartment company’s business strategy. Prior to 2020, technology adoption and buy-in were slow for most multifamily firms. We know that nothing can replace a person-to-person experience, but when this wasn’t an option, operators were forced to accelerate their adoption timelines. Companies needed to find ways to replicate that personal touch through digital connections.  If your company was one that had the foresight to build a tech stack that had dynamic solutions to operate efficiently both on and offline, then 2020 was a walk in the park. For those that hadn’t adopted a full online/offline strategy, then every day probably felt like a human pinball trying to roll out tech solutions to fill in the gaps. We were living in a reactionary world where all traditional processes of onboarding tech were thrown out the window. It was the precipice of a technology revolution.  We wanted to get information to the users as quickly as possible. Some solutions executed seamlessly while the industry was forced to innovate on the fly in other instances. All were game changers in a fully digital world. What did we learn? We learned that consumers need and expect information to be easily accessible and available multiple ways online. As consumers, we learned that it’s a frustrating user experience when websites have multiple pop-ups on the homepage. As operators, we learned that we need technology more than ever before, that it isn’t a one-siz......
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The Impact of COVID-19 on Multifamily Employees

The COVID-19 pandemic brought schools, commerce, commuting, travel, and more to a halt, and it changed A LOT of how we operate apartment communities - nearly overnight! And yet, while many things changed for most of the U.S., multifamily employees had the challenge of figuring out how to continue to provide service and support for residents who were now home 24/7 for months on end. In our Swift Bunny COVID-19 Employee Impact Study, we explored how multifamily employees were feeling and faring during so much change. Here are some of the highlights we found: Employees feel well-informed More than 85% of multifamily employees agree they feel well-informed, and nearly as many feel they are getting the information they need that is relevant to their jobs.  WARNING! Many executives, upon hearing this great feedback, shared they were considering pulling back on the volume and frequency of communication. The theme we heard from employees loud and clear was that they still need and want that level of communication. As different cities and states consider re-opening, re-closing, or limiting amenities, services, events, and more, there is still a lot of information to share. Keep talking! Employees are listening.  Companies are taking care of their residents Employees overwhelmingly agreed that they were confident in the support provided to residents. While there were - and are - logistical challenges, such as office closures and emergency work orders only, employees felt companies were providing information and creative options to keep residents comfortable in their homes. New ......
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Dear Gabby: Average Rent in Major US Cities

Dear Gabby: Average Rent in Major US Cities
Dear Gabby,  I’m thinking about making big changes in my life. My friends all think I’m going through a quarter-life crisis, but I just want a change of scenery. I live in the country currently, and I’m ready for hustle and bustle of a more metropolitan area. I know apartment rent can be pricier in the city, so I’m hoping you can give me an idea of what I can expect. - #CountryBoyMovingToTheBigCity Hey #CountryBoyMovingToTheBigCity, Last year I got really excited when my son joined the cross-country team. But then I learned they don't cross the country and are back home in a few hours. I was hoping for something a bit more permanent.  Kidding (kind of)...but moving to the city is a great idea. I’m a city girl myself and can’t talk it up enough. I mean, living a three minute walk from five different coffee shops is truly a dream come for a coffee addict like me.  Considering the cost of rent is important if you’re seriously thinking about moving, especially since the price varies so much throughout the United States. Lucky for you, a study conducted by GoBankingRates has revealed what the average person pays in rent for a one-bedroom apartment in cities across the country.  The data reveals some predictable insights, but you also might be surprised by some of the findings. It’s fairly well-known that San Francisco and New York City are pricier cities, given high demand for housing but low supply. You may want to remove those fr......
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Dear Gabby: Fall Resident Events?

Dear Gabby: Fall Resident Events?
  Dear Gabby,   I’ve never hosted activities and community events at my multifamily apartment building. I really want my residents to feel like this is more than just a home, but also a community where they can get to know their neighbors.   What kind of fun things can I do to get them excited about living here this fall? My community includes a wide range of demographics. How can I plan an event that everyone will like?   Sincerely,   #NoviceEventPlanner     Dear #NoviceEventPlanner,   Feel that chill in the air? Fall is definitely here. And while it’s always a little sad to say goodbye to summer and pack up your warm weather clothing, fall is my favorite time of the year. Since your residents are no longer away on vacations or busy taking their kids to summer camp, it’s a great time to plan a resident event in your apartment community.   Keep in mind, the event theme should be as welcoming as possible. Here are a few suggestions for the fall season.   Football Game Viewing Party For many of your residents, watching football is one of the best parts about fall. Nothing brings people together quite like rooting for their favorite team, so invite your residents to come cheer on the local college or professional team. If you don’t have a large TV in your lobby/community room, consider renting one for a few hours.   Make things interesting by encouraging your residents to wear their favorit......
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Millennials Influence CRE Design

Millennials Influence CRE Design
Perhaps more than any other generation, millennials are having a profound influence on CRE design. The real estate industry has taken notice and certain trends catered to millennials are starting to become the industry norm. According to the most recent population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials have overtaken baby boomers as the largest living generation. The office, multifamily, and retail sectors are all changing to adapt to this emerging generation. Office Goes Collaborative Of all of the CRE design trends influenced by millennials, changes in the office sector may be the most apparent. Long gone are the days of expecting college graduates to jump at any job opportunity that provides them with a cubicle and a company computer. The wants and needs of this generation are much different from their predecessors. For instance, millennials are more inclined to pass up good job offers for opportunities that they find more comfortable. One company who recognized this trend and was quick to act upon it is WeWork. WeWork provides custom built-out office space for companies ranging anywhere from 1-100 employees. This offers employers optimal office space flexibility. The beauty of WeWork is that most of their workspaces are large and open such that more than one company can occupy the space at a given time. Aside from WeWork and other collaborative workspace providers, some employers are doing custom build-outs of their own offices to attract younger employees. These new offices offer perks rarely seen before in this industry. Some examples are: Free Food......
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Downtown Fort Lauderdale Multifamily Evolution

Downtown Fort Lauderdale Multifamily Evolution
Recent and ongoing rental apartment development activity is changing the living experience in downtown Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding neighborhoods.  An estimated 2,723 luxury rental units in 10 projects have been delivered here since 2004.  As of May 2016, we are aware of over 3,000 luxury rental apartments that are either actively being developed or are in the near- to mid-term construction queue.  Additional projects have been announced but have unknown development timetables. Upscale Rental Lifestyle The unit and community amenities offered at these developments approach luxury condo quality, setting a new standard for rental apartment living.  Today, unit features such as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and wood floors are commonplace in these “Next Generation” apartments. Performance & Other Trends The existing communities in the downtown Fort Lauderdale multifamily market report average rental rates revolving around $2.25 per square foot and recent, year-over-year rent growth in the 6% to 8% range.  Occupancy rates for stabilized properties average approximately 95%. Apartment unit sizes average around 1,000 to 1,100 square feet but are trending smaller due to rising construction costs.   Three-bedroom units are very limited in new urban projects, typically comprising less than 5% of the total unit mix. Interestingly, rental managers cite the increasing popularity of studio apartments in the 500 to 700 square foot range.  These small units carry a lower monthly rent which is appealing to many urban residents who do not require much living space. Ft. Lauderdale’s Urban Apartment Dwellers So who’s living in these high-end apartments?  Similar to tren......
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Is Multifamily Finally Saying Goodbye to Checks?

Is Multifamily Finally Saying Goodbye to Checks?
The multifamily industry has a reputation of being slow pokes when it comes to adopting technology. Between rent checks, applications and leases, there are a lot of paper documents circulating around your typical leasing office. But according to PayLease’s 2014 Market Survey, many multifamily firms are finally bringing their online technology to this century's standards, especially when it comes to online rent payments. The survey is conducted by New Heights Research and polls hundreds of multifamily and HOA firms about their usage of online payments. The results are analyzed by the property management industry overall, and also dissected by portfolio type and company size. This year’s survey revealed some promising trends for multifamily. Some of the highlights: 62% of multifamily firms now accept online rent payments, up 8% from 2013.  For the first time in the survey’s history, multifamily firms outpaced HOAs in the rate they added online payments.  32% of companies who made a change to their payment collection process added online payments for the first time. 14% of firms who made a change to their online payment solution in 2014 increased the number of online payment solutions they offer. A big round of applause for multifamily firms for finally jumping on the online payment bandwagon! With fewer rent checks to process, community managers have more time on their hands to focus on bigger priorities, like fulfilling vacancies (which, by the way, happened to be at a record-low in 2014). Offering online payment options and seeing traction from residents actuall......
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What Does the Multifamily Forecast Look Like Leading Up to 2020?

b2ap3_thumbnail_What-is-the-Multifamily-Forecast-Leading-Up-to-2020.jpgWith all the popularity that multifamily has seen in the last few years and the recent news that construction of multifamily buildings with five or more units has seen a 10% boost this year to now total 35% of the U.S. market’s total units constructed, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at this current trend and what it means for the multifamily industry in the next half decade and beyond. When looking forward at what we see coming to the multifamily industry in 2020, we first take inventory of the changing events that have brought us to where we are today. For example, after the struggles that came about by way of the housing crisis, many long-time and would-be owners saw their attitude towards the dream of homeownership change. For many young and near-retirement aged adults, the upheaval of the housing market left a lasting impression that has many of them questioning the real value of homeownership, especially at this stage of their lives. The sudden and total collapse of the market pulled the rug out from underneath those that dreamed homeownership to be a guaranteed stepping stone to a wealthy existence and ended up costing them everything that they had worked for their whole lives. Demographically speaking, young adults between the ages of 20 and 34 and the older adults who are now over 60 are seeing a rapid growth in their populations. These two groups are showing more and more signs that they prefer the simple val......
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Multifamily Renters Trend | How Today’s Moving Trends Will Affect Multifamily in 2014

Multifamily Renters Trend | How Today’s Moving Trends Will Affect Multifamily in 2014
According to a press release that the U.S. Census Bureau shared late last month, 11.7% or 35.9 million U.S. residents moved their primary residence in the 2012-2013 year. This translates to a drop of about 12% compared to this same time period from the year prior. When comparing the data found in the Geographical Mobility report published in 2013, these statistics show 2013’s numbers to be very similar to the 11.6% reported in 2011. Researchers found that 48% of Americans claimed that the move was housing-related, 30.2% was a result of family, and 19.4% said their move was fueled by employment-related reasons. What do these moving trends mean for multifamily? We have three solid years in which moving trends have remained steady or improved nationally, with certain specific metropolitan areas seeing enough growth to maintain the averages for their whole region. At 13.4%, the Western region of the United States has actually seen the highest percentage of all movers. This is followed by the South, who received 12.8% of our nation’s movers, and the Midwest who turned in an even 11%. The region with the lowest mover rate is the Northeast, who had 7.8% in the last year. According to these trends, industry professionals can expect to see at least these same percentages with a slight improvement being the most likely result of all the new activity planned for 2014. Multifamily News identified that two-thirds of today’s movers are staying within their same county of origin. In addition, 40% of these movers are staying within 50 miles......
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Multifamily Project Management Trend | 5 Cloud-Base Project Management Software Programs for 2014

Multifamily Project Management Trend | 5 Cloud-Base Project Management Software Programs for 2014
In the post-recession business world of today, it’s more important than ever for multifamily C-level executives and property owners to manage their resources efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately, the more multifamily properties you own or manage,it becomes increasingly difficult to manage multiple projects, remain on task and on target, and either generate revenue or save money on pesky expenses. For many multi-unit executives, there is a solution though. Cloud-based project management tools, like those below, can help you monitor expenses and track progress at the same time in order to operate the most lean apartment rental business possible. 1) WorkZone WorkZone is beautiful because it’s so simple to use. Unlike other project management systems that are overly complex, WorkZone is simple enough for people of all technical proficiencies to use effectively. At the same time, cloud-based project management software WorkZone packs a powerful punch when it comes to features that are easily adaptable across many industries. For instance, multifamily owners are able to create templates for similar projects in multiple apartment complexes and buildings. This not only saves time, but also keeps all the pertinent expense and tracking reports with a similar format. This makes it easier to spot potential problems or discrepancies and correct them early,  in order to save cash. 2) ProWorkflow The built-in invoice and time tracking tools alone make ProWorkflow a powerful tool for multifamily apartment owners to utilize in their businesses. The time tracking tools help you track the efficiency of people on particular projects as well as the cost-effectiveness of ......
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