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3 Great Ways to Improve Your Occupancy

As the renting population continues to increase, so does the competition between properties looking to attract new tenants.  While there are still tenants just looking for a place to live, there is also a demographic searching for the best property that will satisfy all of their needs.  Here are some tips on how to broaden your properties appeal to a larger group of apartment seekers: Be Dynamic: Not all renters are the same!  Simply by rearranging your standard list of amenities to be ordered based on what different renters might be looking for you can push yourself higher on their list of ideal locations.  For an applicant that has children, have a list that highlights features such as a playground or movie rental area.  When being considered, these points might separate you from the pack.  Be Accessible: Half of U.S. cell phone users have a smart phone! If your property doesn’t allow tenants methods of contacting you quickly through their smart phone, then you might be losing out on a huge section of the renting population.  Have a mobile friendly site, or at the very least an easily accessible link on your site for people to email, call, or connect to you via social media. Be Quick: Telling an applicant they need to wait 24-48 hours for approval is more than enough time for them to sign a lease elsewhere.  Once you have them interested enough to fill out the application, make sure your screening process can not only be c......
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Do Model Apartments Actually Help You Lease?

In what may be our most controversial survey result to date, we analyzed the role of model apartments and whether they were actually effective in the leasing process.  Several interesting results came out of the survey, such as how much apartment communities spend on decorating their model apartments, and how often they change that style.  However, the most interesting results revolved around their effectiveness as leasing tools.

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Leasing Rewards

In the early days of my leasing career, I was fortunate enough to work for a company that realized the benefits of offering a ‘hefty’ reward for perfect leasing of the property. The goal – 100% leased.  The reward – dinner.  Not just any dinner, but dinner for the entire leasing team, anywhere in St. Louis we selected and we could order anything we wanted.  Shazaam!!  This was a big deal.  Such a big deal that we pushed daily to achieve this goal.  Often the 100% leased status only last a day or two, due to applicants being denied or the inevitable cancellation, but we were still maintaining incredible leasing percentages and occupancy; all on a property with harvest gold appliances and chocolate brown carpet!  The entire team would be talking about where we would go, what we would wear and what we would order and cheering each other on to reach that goal on a daily basis.  The cost to the owners of this extravaganza?  For a staff of 5-6 team members, at most $1,000.00 and that’s probably on the high end.  Heck, we were dining at places without prices on the menus! The payoff for owners?  Thousands and thousands of dollars, for years to come.  At an average rent of $500.00 per month on a 400 unit property maintaining an average of 97% occupancy, tip to 100% leased, that’s a lot of revenue. But just for old times’ sake, let’s do the math.  400 units leased/390 units occupied x $500 rent per month......
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What's love got to do with it?

"Ohhhh…what’s love got to do, got to do with it?" You’re probably singing that iconic Tina Turner song in your head right now, aren’t you?  I am!  I just love that song!  And what exactly does love “got to do, got to do, with it”?  If you’re talking about great apartment leasing…just about everything, ’bout everything, to do with it! As a professional leasing agent, we do so much more than ‘just’ leasing.  Resident services, market surveys, marketing, walking apartments, traffic reports, and so much more.  But it’s all related to leasing – and you either love it or leave it.  I’ve had the pleasure working with, hiring and training many leasing agents over the years.  And there’s one basic fundamental that the agents that stay and succeed in the industry all have in common – they love leasing!  Yes, I said love.  Love the craziness, the variety of tasks; love the residents, prospects, the weird and wonderful stories; the whole kit and caboodle of leasing.  If you don’t love it, it shows.  Eventually it shows in your performance, in your closing ratio, the property occupancy and may lead to an alternate career path - even if not your choice. Like a great love affair, there are ups and downs, better days than others, but at the heart and soul of it, there is love.   Is it work to keep the love alive?  Absolutely.  Empower yourself to stay fresh and enthused with your leasing.  Do simple things like driving to the property......
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Do You Really Please Your Customers?

By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL In the history of property ownership and property management, as far back as the Stone Age (maybe not that far back), we have always called our customers “tenants” and for some reason it just stuck like glue. We can try to shake the term, but no matter how we spin it, turn it, or twist it the relationship comes back full circle to calling them “tenants” and not customers. It is rather maddening to say the least. Even though I preach this and believe it, I catch myself using the term because nobody understands who I am speaking about when I say “customer!” What drives me batty is that when you consider all of the blood, sweat, and tears we put into marketing, promotions, “tenant” retention, newsletters, “tenant” parties, and “tenant” appreciation, why do we not refer to our “tenants” as customers? It just does not make logical sense. If you go to Disney World, the tourists are called “guests” NOT “tourists”! Disney had a good idea and they pushed that idea so hard that it is ingrained in everybody, including the “guests!” If you have ever been to Disney World or Disney Land you know what I mean. The point is Disney believed that each person who entered “the property” was a guest and NOT a tourist or even a customer. Disney wants everyone to feel special and privileged, just like a guest. So back to my original point, why in our industry......
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Are Renters Flocking to Buy Homes? [VIDEO]

Small shifts in data tend to quickly make headlines and dominate conversations. Most recently, it’s the uptick in single-family home sales creating some news about apartment renters leaving to buy homes. But it’s not a big spike – and even if it was, that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for the U.S. apartment industry. Greg Willett and Jay Parsons from MPF Research explain why in this video edition of Apartment Market Dynamics.

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD7QPR5O1KY&list=UUyoXp1Vnx1d1sw1ZzzT2AJw&index=2&feature=plcp 433x300]

 

Michael Cunningham is the Managing Editor for Property Management Insider.

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Help! My Tenant Needs to Break Their Lease

By Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA It was just a few months ago when the tenants were in the office signing the one year lease agreement. The leasing agent followed the office procedures and made sure to review the lease terms and obligations prior to asking for binding signatures. Then with the swipe of a pen the property was considered off the market and occupied for the year. So, it can be somewhat frustrating when two months later you receive the dreaded call from the tenants stating that for some unforeseen reason they need to move out of the property earlier than expected, consequently breaking their lease agreement. As a property management expert, and owner of San Diego Premier Property Management, I’ve had the opportunity to prepare, execute, and negotiate lease agreements for the better part of a decade, and I can say with all honesty that this scenario happens on a regular basis to the most qualified of tenants. Whether the breach occurs one month or six months into the one year lease agreement it is important to understand that the lease agreement, and the terms agreed upon and signed by both parties constitute a legally binding contract that when breached can carry monetary and legal consequences toward the tenant. With that said, the situation doesn’t have to escalate to a legal issue since it can be mitigated to the benefit of both parties. If the lease has an opt out clause then advise the......
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Can Your Rental Property Become a Day Care?

By Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA In a recent notice received by our legal counsel addressing this very issue, apparently if you own rental property in California the scary answer is yes! The great state of California is widely known as a pro-tenant state when it comes to tenant-landlord related issues. Many cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles are saddled with pockets of rent controlled areas making investment opportunities less attractive. They also have unfavorable statewide eviction laws that allow deadbeat tenants to continue residing in properties months after defaulting on rental payments. So this should come as no surprise that according to state law if the tenant is licensed by the California State Department of Social Services (DSS) it only takes a thirty day written notice of their intent to legally start and operate a day care center without the permission of the landlord if the total number of children under care, including the children of the tenant, is limited to six. In fact, permission from the landlord is only necessary if the tenant chooses to increase the total number of children under care to eight. The licensed provider does need to have adequate insurance or be bonded. They must simply provide each parent, in writing, a notice that states the landlord’s insurance will not cover any issues should they arise – how reassuring. In fact, the landlord’s only recourse is that they can require the tenant to increase the security deposit to......
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How To Handle An Abandoned Property

By Carla Toebe, New Century Realty, Kennewick, WA They say that abandonment is a landlord’s or property manager's worst nightmare when dealing with a tenant. How do you know it is really abandonment? Sometimes it’s obvious when everything is gone, the place seems perfectly empty, and the tenant's keys are lying on the counter. But what if the place is full of furniture, the food is still in the cupboard, and you can't get a hold of them? They haven't paid their rent, they haven't returned your phone calls, no one has seen them, and you can't get a hold of anyone on the emergency contact form you had them complete when they moved in. Surely this means they must have abandoned the place. So you change the locks, and uh-oh! There they are coming back claiming you have now burglarized their place. Oh no! This can't be, they clearly abandoned the place and you took all the steps you had to take that were required by law. Maybe it isn't that clear cut. Maybe a tenant still has some rights. Now you are facing penalties, a criminal investigation, and a whole slew of troubles you never knew you had. Let's back up and figure out how to determine that this is really abandonment and you have the right to take possession of your unit. You spelled out what abandonment was with your tenant and you had it written in the lease, right? Good, well at least you tried to get......
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The Circle of (A Property’s) Life

By Linda Day Harrison, Manager Labs, Chicago, IL There are business models in all shapes and sizes. There are retail stores, medical and legal practices, cleaning companies, general contractors, grocery stores, etc. So when you think about a business, how many business models do you know of where the business owner outsources the entire business to another party? For instance, if you visit your local grocery store, is it managed by a grocery management company? How about a retail store management company? So what makes the residential real estate investment business any different? Why are there so many property management companies and outsourced service providers to the property industry? According to a colleague of mine, the answer is quite simple, “It is not easy, there is so much at stake, and there are many moving parts.” Also, when you think about properties as investments, there are often multiple partners and joint venture groups who own the assets. In those cases, the managing partner realizes they do not have enough time or expertise to do all of the functions required of them to maximize the value of the asset. That is what outsourcing offers. As a property manager outsourced by these partnerships, the responsibility of managing that asset is crucial in so many ways. First of all you have been selected by the partner on the management of the asset. All of the actions you take as the manager or management company directly reflect onto the reputation of that partner or company......
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