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Online Rent Collection: Here Are Your Options

Online Rent Collection: Here Are Your Options
Think about the last time you paid a bill manually. That is, with a written check, mailed or hand-delivered directly to the recipient. Can’t recall? Perhaps because the old-fashioned way of doing business is far past “on its way out” and headed into the obsolete. According to a recent study by TSYS of 1,000 Americans, 75% of individuals prefer to pay by card versus cash or check. What’s more, additional research by ACI Worldwide shows that Americans are paying 56% of all their bills online. And why wouldn’t they? With the speed, accuracy, and convenience of digital, it’s hard to see why anyone wouldn’t make the switch. Unfortunately, despite the fact that consumers clearly prefer an online option, not all businesses are offering it. This goes especially for landlords. Many of them are fearful of making the jump to digital, believing all the half-baked myths and misinformation they’ve heard through the grapevine. If this sounds familiar, don’t fret. Making a change like this one to your business can feel overwhelming, with so much to learn and so many options available. Below we break down the most common methods for online rent payment as well as the pros and cons to each avenue for rent collection. Read on to find out which option is right for you. What Payment Methods to Collect There is a multitude of ways to transfer money online. Here we go into detail on some of the most common methods of online payment. ACH Payments The ACH, or Automated Clearing House, is a network that......
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Dear Commercial Real Estate: Take my Online Payment!

Dear Commercial Real Estate: Take my Online Payment!
The world as we know it has gone digital. From the doctor’s office to your utility bill, nearly every industry has hopped on board the online payment train. But why is it that commercial real estate lags behind? While more and more residential landlords are making online rental payments a reality, it seems that just as many commercial property managers are getting left in the dust. As a property owner, there are significant advantages to offering a digital payment option for your tenants. Read on to understand just how important this service is and how it can greatly influence your business. Why Make the Switch? According to Forbes magazine, on average people make payments 8 days sooner when they have the ability to pay online. If that isn’t reason enough to start rolling out a digital payment option, we don’t know what is. Imagine greatly reducing, or even eliminating late payments altogether. Not to mention the move would be a stellar upgrade in your customer service and much appreciated by your tenants. The convenience and improved accountability are as much a win for them as they are for you. Charge it! With the world of ecommerce growing at an incredible rate, it should come as no surprise that cash transactions and paper checks are quickly becoming a thing of the past. In a recent survey conducted by payment processor TSYS, 1,000 Americans were asked how they prefer to pay. Between cash, check, debit and credit card, the majority went paperless. 75% of people interviewed state......
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Clear and Transparent: Peace of Mind Through Online Payment Processing

Clear and Transparent: Peace of Mind Through Online Payment Processing
Maybe you’ve been there. Sifting through your mail for the 30th time, searching for that rental payment your tenant just swears they sent to you weeks ago. Except it isn’t there. No envelope, no letter, and, most importantly, no check. But they tell a different story, and you find yourselves at an impasse. All too often, and in many different fashions, this is the experience of landlords still collecting rental payments the old-fashioned way. When things go awry, as they are wont to do when the process is completely manual, it’s ultimately the word of one party versus another. And if you’ve been here before, you know that it also often doesn’t end well for the landlord. Lucky for you, it is the 21st century and technology has come a long way from the time when kids were taught in grade school how to properly write checks. These days, the majority of our bills are paid online, and rental dues are no exception. There is a myriad of options available to landlords when it comes to making the jump from manual to digital payment processing, but before you get in the weeds with alternatives, it’s important to understand why making that change will be beneficial to your business. One of the best parts about going green and eliminating the physical paper trail is that it gets replaced with a digital one. This moves your business from one of maybe’s and could-be's to one of absolute certainty, and takes care of your pesky “he said, she said” issue......
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Why You Need a High Risk Merchant Account for Your Real Estate Agency

Accepting payments, when you're in the real estate industry, it can be difficult. Why you ask? It's due to risk. Since a large portion of the real estate industry deal with trades and e-payments, being able to set up a high risk merchant account to accept online credit card payments is tantamount for day-to-day operations. So what happens when you set up a merchant account with the popular payment aggregators like PayPal, Stripe, or Square? Your business may be running smoothly for a little while, but one day you might wake up to find your payment processor has frozen or completely shut down your merchant account.  Why does that happen? It's because services like PayPal and Stripe process payments in aggregate merchant accounts that are comprised of many different businesses in a variety of industries with alternating levels of risk. Many in the real estate industry set up their merchant account with these payment aggregators because they offer instant approval. But, things change after the underwriting process is over or a customer has filed for a credit card chargeback. For real estate companies, aggregate merchant accounts can only lead to aggravation. What you need is a dedicated high risk merchant account for your real estate business. A dedicated merchant account is basically a bank account for your business. When a client sends a payment through your online payment portal, the transaction gets approved through a payment gateway provided by your eCommerce platform, and then the funds eventually end up in your......
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Payments & Billing: A Property Manager’s Peanut Butter and Jelly

Payments & Billing: A Property Manager’s Peanut Butter and Jelly
Some things are meant to go together. Peanut butter and jelly. Cookies and milk. In the property management world, having online payment options for your residents is a good thing. But when paired with other services, like resident billing, the results can go from good to great. Not to mention that if you only offer online payments, you are (literally) leaving money on the table. Why? Because rent is only one of the expenses that residents are responsible for paying. What if you could create a single bill for your residents that in addition to rent, included their portion of the shared utility bills? Pet fees? Parking charges? The bill could be delivered to your residents either by paper, or more likely, electronically, with a quick link for them to go ahead and pay online. This is what the industry calls resident billing, a.k.a. NOI Heaven. Offering online payments without billing is like having peanut butter without jelly. Or movies without popcorn. Payments alone are good; but when combined with resident billing, the results are so much sweeter. Why wouldn’t you pursue resident billing? Here are the most common responses from property managers: Utilities are built into our rent. This is a common response. The problem is, in this age of conservation, consumption-based billing is better for you, better for your residents, and better for the environment. We don’t have submeters. No problem. By using a Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBs), you can bill back residents in a fair and defen......
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Rising Above the Giants

Rising Above the Giants
Do you remember where you were at 3:50am on Wednesday, September 27, 20001? Like me, you were probably in bed fast asleep. Yet at that exact moment, history was being made on the other side of the world in the Sydney Summer Olympics. Rulon Gardner had just defeated the invincible Alexander Karelin of Russia to take home gold in the Greco-Roman super heavyweight division. Prior to that match, Karelin had never lost in his 15 years of international competition. He had won three consecutive Olympic gold medals and seven consecutive world titles. By all accounts, this giant of a man was the crème de la crème in the sport of wrestling. So how did Gardner, a farm boy from Afton, Wyoming who never even captured a NCAA title, who had sustained a broken neck from the same foe in a contest years before, pull off the impossible that September day? When asked that same question, Gardner said, “ I knew I was strong enough and quick enough to stop his lift...when you work the farm, you never stop to take a break." So in a nutshell, there’s the secret sauce to his success: strength, speed, and stamina. Now let’s flash forward to the year 2012. I had just started my first job out of college, working for the leading partner of a prolific ERP software company. On the daily, I had the opportunity to work closely with this figurative giant, witnessing as it regularly trounced its smaller opponents in the sales arena. In terms of history and size, i......
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Payment Technology - You’re Not Asking For Enough

Payment Technology - You’re Not Asking For Enough
Let’s admit it - when it comes to payments in the multifamily housing industry, evolution seems to have stopped a decade ago. In the age of ApplePay, Venmo, or Square, you are still spending an inordinate amount of time processing personal checks and money orders. Deep down, everyone knows rent week costs real money, and a lot if it. In personnel time, mistakes, fraud… you name it.  No one likes to admit out loud that manual payment processing is nothing more than wasted time, that clerical errors happen with what could be considered an alarming frequency, or that blank money orders in high denominations are an inevitable temptation to give in to. In this day and age, technology should serve you better. It does everyone else. What’s worse, in this process of standing still, you are also alienating your own residents. According to the US Census, two thirds of adults in rental housing are less than 45 years old. This demographic is extremely reliant on technology and always connected. Pew Research reports that 82% of adults less than 50 years old own a smartphone. 19% of these smartphone owners rely on this device for internet access. Both property managers and payment providers say they accept ACH payments, or online credit card payments, but are still not doing enough to address a glaring market need. If anything, most currently available solutions are increasingly disconnected from the market need. How do you bridge this gap? How do you get ahead? First, work within your own organization. The best ......
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Lose the Drama: 4 Online Payment Options for Residents

Lose the Drama: 4 Online Payment Options for Residents
There are people that love drama. There are people that create drama. There are people that feed on watching other people’s drama. Just tune into some reality television if you need a dose of drama. You may not know it, but Property Managers play a critical role in the universe by reducing drama. Let’s walk through some examples. “Where am I going to live? This is the most important thing in my life right now! I want the right floor plan in the right neighborhood with the right amenities at the right price.” Property Managers can slice through that drama and provide their residents with a wonderful place to call home. “How am I going to pay my rent? I am a busy person, always on the go and I don’t have time to get to the office to drop off my check. I can’t deal with the stress of making this payment!” Property Managers can provide online payment options. Click, click and you are done – your rent can be paid from any computer or device at a time that is convenient for you. “How can I remember to pay my rent? I am working long hours at my job and I am juggling all kinds of personal commitments. What if I lose track of time and forget that it is the first of the month?” Property Managers can offer the ability for you to ‘set it and forget it’ with Auto-Pay. That way, the rent payment is charged to your credit card or pulle......
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The Mobile Checkbook for Tech Savvy Renters

The Mobile Checkbook for Tech Savvy Renters

Paying bills, particularly rent, has evolved tremendously over the past few years. And depending on if your renter prefers a digital or paper process, the way they pay can be vastly different. Let’s take a look: Scene 1: A stack of bills that came in the mail, a kitchen table, a checkbook, a book of stamps. Your resident sits at their kitchen table with a checkbook, a roll of stamps and a stack of bills. He/she writes checks, inserts coupons and checks into envelopes, puts stamps on the envelopes and walks to mailbox. Bills are paid, but only in the resident’s mind. For the property manager, rent isn’t actually paid until several days later when the check arrives and it is deposited in the bank. Scene 2: Your resident is at Happy Hour with friends getting ready for a night out. Beers and apps are just being served when someone mentions that tomorrow is the first of the month. Renter grabs their smart phone and follows a few prompts. Just like that, rent is paid they go back to the conversation. The difference is more than generational. The technological advancements that allow us to essentially carry a fully functional computer in our pocket has revolutionized – and simplified – so many aspects of our life and mobile bill payment is just another example. How do you ensure that you are riding this wave of technology and convenience? By having a robust mobile payment option. The advantages to you, the Property Manager, ar......
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Please Tell Me That You Accept Online Payments

“Please tell me that you accept online payments” she said, barely stepping into the lobby, keeping the door half open. “We’ve been to 4 places already today that won’t let you pay rent online.” We’re finding out that renters aren’t as impressed with pools and fitness centers as they are the ease and ability to handle their monthly rent from anywhere, anytime.  And our 9-6 office hours aren’t as convenient as we’d  like to think.  Nowadays, it’s the convenience amenities that top the search list.  Everyone’s got a pool.  Everyone’s gated.  Everyone’s rattling off their lists, thinking the prospect is oh-so-impressed.  But do we bother to listen to what they need? Let’s go back to leasing 101:  sell the lifestyle.   I may not use your gym.  I may never attend your wine and cheese event.  But I’ll smile when you tell me I don’t have to write a check and bring it in when it’s convenient for the leasing office. Paying online isn’t a ‘thing of the future’.  It’s not even a thing of the ‘now’.  It’s a thing of the past, and our industry needs to catch up.  We seem to always be just a tad bit behind the times, don’t we? Your residents pay most of their bills online: the car, the credit card, the utilities.  And somehow, the largest item they pay each month must be done with pen and paper, and hand delivered, no less.  And heaven forbid they are out of town when rent comes due. With dropbox theft a rising trend, and hours (read......
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