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Do Mystery Shops Need to Just Go Away? (part 1 in a 2 part series)

I've had clients asking me  this very question for years. Are shops really valuable to a company? Is there a better way? Let me give you some reasons why  mystery shops just might not be the answer you're looking for at your company. For the sake of this discussion, we're limiting this to phone and in-person shops. 1. Shoppers have bad days. Just like Leasing Professionals, shoppers have 'off' days, too. And this is reflected in the shopping report  that describes the Leasing Professionals' behavior. I once worked for a company who so strongly believed in this that they made sure their employees were shopped TWICE on the same day. That way, if one shop was horrible and one was good, they could throw the bad shop out (chalking it up to a bad day for the shopper).  2. Shoppers have to remember how you behaved on the tour. Having been shopped numerous times in my career, I can tell you that sometimes shoppers get their facts confused. I have had shopping reports that accused me of failing to show all of the amenities on the property to the shopper - and they listed the ones I left out. The  problem? The property didn't HAVE the amenities I supposedly overlooked.  3. Perception is skewed. How I view something can be completely different than how you view the very same thing. While I may think a Leasing Professional is fabulous, you might think that person needs some work. The same holds true......
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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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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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The True Value of a Property Management Company

Rental agreement and a houseA guest post by Andrew Payne, Louisville Property Management, Louisville, KY Before doing business with a property management service, a property owner must feel that the company’s 8-10% management fee is valid and deserved. When you take a call from a prospective client, you must sell yourself based on what you truly offer. This article covers some key areas to explain when discussing your company’s role in the business. Responsive service. If a manager doesn’t handle all incoming rental leads quickly, you can believe that they’ll move on to the next listing. In a market where the competition for renters is stiff, you need to jump on every opportunity. Also, responding quickly to maintenance or payment issues is of utmost importance. Ability to deal with all types of tenants. Being a landlord sometimes requires less-than comfortable interactions with tenants. Your role is to serve as their liason in all dealings no matter what. At the same time, understanding and compassion is a key trait. Your company must react to each situation in a way that best reflects the interests of the property owner. Experience in marketing and applicant screening (judging the good from the bad). One bad tenant can turn a profitable venture into a money pit. Owners benefit from an established procedure that a property manager uses. Appropriate market analysis, tenant screening, and statement accounting will ensure that the property is well-managed. In most states, a property manager must be a licensed real estate agent, which means we understand the laws and duti......
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It's Hard to Say No to New Property Management Accounts

Dilapidated apartment buildingBy Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA Property management is all the buzz these days, as it is becoming the saving grace of the real estate industry. Across the country, real estate agents and realtors who are unable to maintain consistent listings and sales have turned to property management as a steady income stream until the market “picks up” again. This increase in competition for property management accounts by quasi real estate agents/managers has lead many who want to build their property management portfolio to take on any and all assets. Many new to the industry agree to manage dilapidated properties from slumlords at management rates sometimes as low as three or four percent, and welcome the unrealistic rental rate demands from new investors trying to cash flow on properties that never will. However, by far the most common mistake made by these new entries into the business is taking on accounts that are located just too far away from their own area of operation or expertise. We have all seen the marketing signs before – “Countywide,” “Citywide,” or “We service all areas.” Now, please understand that many well-structured property management companies large and small can accurately market this way, as they have the means, systems, and staff available to handle distant accounts across larger serviceable areas, and do so in a professional manner. That’s not always the case for single parties handling a few accounts here and there. Saying “no” to a potential account, or offering to ......
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Bonuses and Incentives in the Real Estate Industry: Striking Accord

BonusBy Jo-Anne Oliveri, ireviloution intelligence, Brisbane, Australia Are you in a position to create your own bonus and incentive plan that strategically builds your business, not just your property manager’s pocket? Successful bonus and incentive plans are all about understanding your team at an individual level, your agency’s business plan, and your market area. So, this week, let’s take a look at how understanding these critical factors converts to a bonus and incentive plan where all parties- the team member, property owner and you, the business owner- win now and win in the long-term. What happens if, for instance, the average weekly rent in your market area is $300 and the property manager has a target of five new managements per month? The property manager could in fact reach the target of five new managements, but the five properties average only $200 per week. The problem – the property manager’s focus is on numbers and not quality. What happens if the agency then increases its weekly rent on leased properties to $1000? On management fees of eight percent, this would equate to $80 per week extra income for the agency. If the incentive is a bonus equivalent to one week’s rent for each new management (which seems to be the norm bonus in most businesses), the business owner will pay $1000 as a bonus to the property manager or business development manager. Rewarding the property manager for every management, regardless of the target, only encourages the property manager to secure whatever business th......
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Increase Occupancy via Twitter Mind Control

TwitterWhen I first created my Twitter account, I hated it.  The posts were too frequent, too confusing and there was way too much junk floating around my news feed.  For months, it sat with that infamous egg as a profile picture.  My home page would have jumped for joy at the sound of a cricket.  Just when I thought I’d never log in again, a friend planted a seed that wouldn’t stop growing.  I started out simple at first, but it soon turned into a full blown obsession.  I was determined to lease my first apartment via Twitter!  It was that obsession that now allows me to share how to effectively increase occupancy via Twitter Mind Control. Did you know that you can search for people hunting for apartments in the city of your choosing?  You can find people who might be looking for apartments but they don’t even know it yet, they’re just putting signals out there to their friends, family and anyone else who may be reading their post at that particular moment in time.  Are they looking for someone to comment and say hey I love where I live, go there?  No.  They’re looking for some kind of engagement (as any person is on any social platform) and most times, if you look at the post, they really don’t get it!  Now this doesn’t mean that you should only search apartment hunting or looking for apartments. Create a list of keywords to search daily.  The key here is not only to find those ......
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Slow or No Reaction Time… Costs Your Business!

For those of you who’ve met me or taken one of my classes, you know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I talk the talk and I walk the walk. I tell it like it is (professionally and with care, of course) but If it has to do with not sugar coating things, I’m your girl (of course, I’m not referring to using “visit us” or “live here” words during leasing… then a little fluff is just fine). But in normal every day dealings onsite and at the corporate office… I don’t see the point in wasting time beating around the bush, because TIME is MONEY! There have been numerous occasions that I am aware of, sadly, that a property manager has not filed an eviction on a resident who hasn’t paid rent by the time it’s due. Despite the action being spelled out, very clearly, in our policy and procedures manual (and common sense if you’ve spent any time in the business). The manager will have a wide range of reasons as to why they won’t… but the last time I heard the excuse, I nearly fell out of my chair (seriously). She said “Well… I needed the occupancy numbers”. WHAT? What good is a high occupancy percentage if you’re not collecting any rent? She didn’t know the answer. Turns out, this person was a habitual late-rent payer and eventually ended up skipping out… owning an absurd amount of money to the community. ......
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How to Navigate a Short Sale as a Tenant

Moving boxesBy Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA You don’t have to be a homeowner to have heard the term “short sale”. It’s one of the most widely used terms in the real estate industry these days, and unfortunately, it’s also a term that many renters are starting to hear more of as well. The prolonged economic downturn that engulfed the real estate industry, starting with the subprime loan debacle, which rapidly resulted in mass foreclosures of adjustable rate home loans, has now inevitably morphed into the “short sale” frenzy of the 20% down conventional homeowner. Unfortunately, many of the affected properties are the homes of renters who abruptly find themselves caught in between the bank and the landlord’s hardships. The typical scenario is as follows: An owner/landlord carrying an upside-down mortgage on a rental property finds himself under financial distress due to the economy. The landlord tries to hold onto the property for as long as he can only to realize that it’s either too far underwater or the loan modification offered by the bank isn’t going to reduce the monthly mortgage payment enough to help him through his current financial situation. At this point, it’s either foreclosure or short sale, and currently, most banks are starting to favor short sales. Either way, the unaware tenant is typically left with minimal notice to relocate. So, what can you do if you find yourself in this situation? Tenants do have rights, and even though you may not be ab......
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89% to 96% occupied in less than a month using Social Media

Social media marketing is all the buzz right now.  Marketing companies are popping up left and right telling you to get on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, “now before it’s too late!”  Many of them of course are trying to scare you into using their services. Quoting statistics like 97% of all consumers now begin their searches online.  That is NOT a good reason to start an online marketing campaign! While it’s true that you need to have a significant online presence, and that social media is a huge part of that, nobody tells you why or how.  My suspicion is that they don’t know, and you can tell because they aren’t producing the results they promise. Prior to going full time as a marketing consultant, I worked at a community as part of a team that grew occupancy from 89% to 96% in less than a month.  Previous to that I worked at another community with another team that grew occupancy from 91% to 98% in less than 2 months. I would love to take credit for this awesome growth, but something else was at work. Something many of us didn’t even realize, and probably couldn’t duplicate because we didn’t take notice. In the first scenario above something amazing happened. Word of mouth marketing, fueled by social media took over. The community had done what it had always done and offered a preferred employer discount to a certain employer. That employer had hired a large quantity of new employees all needing a new place to live. Easy......
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