Enter your email address for weekly access to top multifamily blogs!

Multifamily Blogs

This is some blog description about this site

QR Codes for Property Management

By Peter Lamandre, Better By Design Real Estate, Scranton, PA I was out and about this week and while on the interstate I pulled behind a contractor that had a QR code on the back of their tow trailer. While I applaud them for embracing an emerging technology, it occurred to me that that may not be the best application of a QR Code. Some of you are probably wondering, “What the heck is a QR Code?” QR code is an acronym meaning Quick Response code. It seems as though QR codes are the latest rage in advertising. But what are they? Without getting into the computer advantages of using QR codes versus standard bar codes; they are in essence a 2D bar code allowing you to pack a large amount of information in a small space. The QR code was invented by a subsidiary of Toyota in the mid 1990s for tracking parts during shipment. The format of the code allowed machines to quickly scan and track parts on a conveyor belt and route their destination accordingly. Fast forward 20+ years and with the proliferation of smartphones with cameras what was once a way to track machine parts is now the hottest new way to pack more advertising into smaller spaces. Would you rather see this… FOR RENT 3 BR, 1BA ½ double $xxx/mo plus utils call for details XYZ Management, Inc maybe with a picture, a phone number perhaps a website, etc. or A single image that when scanned......
Continue reading
3077 Hits
0 Comments

Should I Allow Tenants to Make Unit Upgrades?

Every now and then, a tenant offers to make repairs to the unit he’s living in. Often, such offers are made in exchange for rent (in other words, the cost of the repairs is deducted from the monthly rental rate). In other instances, the tenant simply wants certain upgrades in his unit (a new paint job, removed carpet, etc.) and offers to do them himself. The argument for this is that the tenant can enjoy a place that “feels like home” and you reap the rewards of these upgrades once the tenant vacates the unit. Clearly, there can be benefits to this sort of situation: You receive property upgrades at a reduced (or negated) cost, and your tenant gets to customize the unit to his own preferences. Unfortunately, though, there can also be some pitfalls. All too often in these scenarios, tenants are not qualified to complete these upgrades or updates up to par. The result is unfinished or sub par work that ultimately becomes your responsibility to rectify. Not only this, but such deals can also result in sticky financial situations and—in extreme situations—legal problems. Let’s say that one of your long-time tenants wants to repaint his living room from the standard white all of your units are painted in to a more colorful rustic red. You agree that the color would suit the space well and tell your tenant can deduct the price of paint and labor from his next rent payment. When the first of the next month......
Continue reading
3302 Hits
3 Comments

Using Smartphones for Property Management

As smartphones rapidly flood the market, businesses are increasingly looking for ways to bring their companies and processes mobile. Androids, iPhones, and Blackberries all allow users to perform a variety of processes straight from their mobile phones by incorporating functionality that was primarily limited to PCs just a few years ago. Though there is conflicting information out there regarding the degree to which smartphones have permeated the market (Nielson estimates that one out of every two Americans will own a smartphone by the end of 2011 while Forrester Research estimated that only 17 percent of Americans had smartphones in September 2010), there’s still no denying that mobile is the wave of the future. It’s important to at least begin thinking about how this technology will ultimately fit into your business plan. When it comes to apps, the sky’s the limit. You can build an app that will allow potential tenants to search your rental listings. Or, alternatively, you can build an app for tenants (this makes more sense for larger property management companies) to communicate with you, find information, file requests, or even make payments. According to BusinessInsider.com, when deciding to build an app, it’s important to consider three main questions: What is the key benefit I want users to get from using this app? What other apps exist that are competitive and why will mine be different? What is this app going to do for my business? For some ideas on how property managers are already using apps, be sure......
Continue reading
2527 Hits
0 Comments

Can you hear me now? Will you hear me later?

So often, we take for granted the very people who pay our paycheck.  Truth is, it’s not the owner of the company or the head of your payroll department you should be brown-nosing, it’s your customer.  Without them you would have no paycheck.  It is important to take time for yourself so I’m not saying you should become a workaholic robot, but you should consider taking your level of customer service up a notch. Jen Piccotti’s recent blog got me thinking.  As a paying resident, what do I expect? Some people believe that having emergency maintenance is enough.  I don’t think that’s the case.  Instant gratification is no longer a luxury, it’s an expectation.  When I have a question, I want an answer! On site professionals know that being available isn’t always the bees knees.  Residents know where you live and some don’t hesitate to impose.  What if they could just send you an e-mail knowing you’ll respond?  They would probably rather do that anyway, but they have been trained to believe that office hours and email responses end simultaneously so they seek out other methods for a faster response. If your community has a Facebook page, you may have noticed this already.  Residents don’t get an instant response from sending you an e-mail so they make their complaint public.  The Apartment Expert - Lisa Trosien posed the question "Do you think people use Facebook while browsing and shopping for an apartment?"  -  Probably not intentionally, but word of mouth marketing is huge. People retain ......
Continue reading
2204 Hits
2 Comments

Building Revenue: 10 Tips to Decreasing Apartment Vacancy Time

The market is firming up in many markets across the United States. After three dismal years this is a great thing!  Many owners are looking for ways to gain back some of the revenue they have lost over the past three years.  When inventory is leasing quickly, there are only a few ways to do this:  Increase rents and drop specials Decrease expenses Reduce down time between vacate and the new move-in Increase rents & drop specials When a market improves, most site managers want to bask in the glory and comfort of a solid 100% occupancy.  It is possible; however, despite the emotional gratification, it is not profitable.  Whenever your site is over 95%, it is time to kick the rents up a notch.  You can even analyze this by unit type.  This is your opportunity to get your largest revenue boost. (More on this at a later date.) Decrease expenses Most of us have spent countless hours renegotiating contracts, looking at utility savings and eliminating the nice-to-have vs. the need-to-have items on our sites.  In a recent blog, Amy Kosnikowski wrote, “Let’s face it – Frugality is now cool.”  While we should always be reviewing this, most of us have beat this up pretty well. Reduce down time between vacate & the new move-in The time a rental unit sits vacant between the previous resident moving out and the new one moving in is becoming an area of increased focus.  When the market is good, the vast majority of......
Continue reading
1501 Hits
0 Comments

Staff Versus Software for Property Management

There’s no doubt about it—of all the business problems you could potentially have, being too busy is certainly not a bad option. However, being too busy can become a problem if you lack the bandwidth to stay on top of things. If you consistently find yourself putting off certain tasks or letting them fall through the cracks altogether, it’s time to make some changes. Being overloaded can result in a slip in the quality of the service you provide or oversights, both of which may guarantee you’re not so busy for long. The obvious answer to too much work is bringing more hands on deck. But, of course, just because you’re busy doesn’t necessarily mean you have the budget to hire additional employees. Property management software may give you the extra help you need at a lower cost than an additional salary. Multi-tasking Functionality One of the great benefits of property management software is that it essentially acts as an office generalist. For example, hiring extra staff to take care of accounting work may alleviate that workload, but that same person can’t necessarily take on other tasks such as advertising. Modern property management software, on the other hand, handles a diverse variety of functions. It does accounting, allows tenants to make rent payments online, provides an advertising platform, runs credit and criminal checks, creates reports, and keeps records. Cost-effective Investment Property management software requires only a nominal investment when compared to hiring new staff and adding an additional salary to your......
Continue reading
1537 Hits
0 Comments

Overcoming Objections that are really not Objections at all.

Training directors, leasing experts, property managers and even owners ask me how they can overcome a particular objection on their community.  I want to say this up front though, I do not try and jam a circle prospect into a square apartment.  Yes, you may close them, but many of them cancel and many more will be unhappy after they move in, as they have been sold not guided.  On the other hand, let’s say a prospect said she needs a balcony and you do not have one.  Ask a qualifying question.  For example, I was doing a lease up at a community that did not have balconies, and everyone told me they lost a ton of leases because of this.  I said, really?  At the end of the lease up I only lost one because of this.   Many people are in love with the idea of having this or that, but let’s be honest, many times we never use it.  I had personally rented a 7th floor apartment south west exposure with a huge balcony in brand new luxury high rise located in Atlanta, GA.  I rented that particular apartment because of this balcony and in the two years I lived there I walked out on the balcony a couple of times for a few minutes, never put any furniture out there either.    So when the lack of a balcony at our lease-up came up as an objection, I asked them if they were in love with the idea......
Continue reading
2919 Hits
3 Comments

Having excellent customer service skills can increase your closing ratio!

      Have you ever been excited to go shopping only to leave disappointed? That's how I felt today after leaving a department store where I was looking for a new television. From the moment I stepped into the store I was greeted by a sales associate who assured me that all of the associates had over 200 hours of product training. The problem was not with how I was greeted or how knowledgeable the sales associates were. The problem was when I went to look at all the new HD televisions.  Now picture this, you walk into the electronics section ready to drool over all the different size televisions an crystal clear picture quality of all the latest an greatest goodies that modern technology has to offer, finding only to your disappointment that all of the televisions are all showing the same Non-High Definition broadcast, Which roughly translates into the formal wear section of the Miss America pageant being down-graded to T-shirts an jeans. None of the TV's were showing off their true potential. The sales associate wasn't even interested in trying to sell, or even acknowledging the presents of anyone other than a rather affluent looking gentleman who was clearly annoyed by him. Needless to say the only thing I left with was disappointment.    This got me to thinking how can I make sure no one ever leaves my community feeling this way. Even the thought of one of my prospective residents leaving feeling as neglected an unappreciated as I did upsets me, considering we are here to provide quality homes and make our communities prosper. No one cares how knowledgeable you are......
Continue reading
2634 Hits
0 Comments

The Value of Tenant Forums

As a property manager, you have a great resource that shouldn’t go untapped right at your fingertips: your tenants. For as well as you know your property, most property managers don’t actually live on-site. Because of this, your tenants are more qualified than anyone else to provide insights into potentially beneficial changes, improvements, and upgrades that can make your property more appealing—and perhaps even more valuable. You can solicit information from tenants in a number of ways: through an old-fashioned suggestion box either on-site or at your property management office, through an online form, or through a questionnaire for tenants to fill out upon move-out (or at any other point during their residency at your property, for that matter). In addition to all this, when it comes to encouraging tenants to share their thoughts and suggestions, property managers may want to consider taking a cue from condo associations. Hosting forums on an annual or bi-annual basis for tenants to submit ideas for changes and/or to vote on potential changes you are considering rolling out at your property is a great way to not only receive important feedback, but also to bring tenants together to brainstorm and share ideas that you may have never even considered. Though you have the ultimate say about what does or does not happen at your rental property, receiving this sort of organic feedback can lead you in the right direction, providing a lot of insight into what tenants do and do not want to see happen......
Continue reading
2528 Hits
1 Comment

How Bright is the Light at the End of the Tunnel?

“Area Rents Up, Vacancies Down” can be heard across the land as the new census statistics come out. Vacancies are down and rents are on the rise HOORAY! For a moment the excitement is heard across our industry as the communities that have suffered immensely from the recession see a light at the end of their long journey. Suffice it to say, rents are up and vacancies are probably down, but what have we all sacrificed in the past few years to get us through the dark days. During this time of struggle our industry strengthened a trend that we were hoping to make extinct which were the rent concessions, the lavish giveaways, and in some cases lower rents. Our industry as a whole has opened a door that cannot be easily shut. Due to the fear of high vacancies we have allowed the prospective residents to take control of an industry that was once controlled by quality apartments, great curb appeal, and luxurious amenities and turned it upside down to an industry that thinks it needs to survive by "outgiving" other communities. We have all seen the enticing ads in the newspapers, Craigslist, or Apartment Guide, “First Month Free Rent” or “Rent today and receive a $100.00 off your rent”. The oversaturation of these deals has changed the way prospective renters think about leasing. Five years ago, it was highly uncommon for a prospect to call an apartment community and ask for something free but today it is the norm.......
Continue reading
2957 Hits
3 Comments