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The Rent-to-Income Revolution: Multifamily Must Flexibly Adapt

The Rent-to-Income Revolution: Multifamily Must Flexibly Adapt
The rent-to-income ratio, one of the primary underwriting measures of a renter's ability to succeed in a home, is being challenged. Modern renters’ income is dynamic and volatile. As a renter’s income evolves, so must our tools that enable property managers to best understand, work with and empower renters to succeed in the home. Today’s income reality consists of renters with income volatility split across multiple types: Income volatility - Most renters (53%) live paycheck to paycheck. Oftentimes, their paychecks have 20% monthly variability to them due to hourly jobs, bonuses or overtime, and sometimes renters will change jobs during their lease.  Gig & creator economy - Gig workers earn around 58% of what full-time employees earn. According to research from Statista, more than 59 million Americans freelanced in the U.S. in 2020. Gig-economy workers typically get paid daily or weekly and use their freelance jobs to supplement income or replace income in between jobs. Gig work is powerful because any consumer can begin earning income immediately and it can save renters from eviction when they lose their jobs.    W2 changes - Fewer workers are using W-2 tax forms for tracking employee wages and withholding. More companies have classified remote workers as independent contractors. The IRS projected about 37.2 million fewer employee-classified jobs in 2021, and W-2 filings are expected to continue dropping through 2027.  Peer-to-peer cash transfers - Many people use peer-to-peer cash transfers on apps like Venmo, PayPal and Cash App. Some leverage these apps for independent contract work,......
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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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6 Things from 2020 that Will Stick Around for Multifamily (And That's Actually a Good Thing)

Goodbye, 2020! See you never.

I know we're all eager to drop this year like a failed sourdough starter. But if you look back (you might have to squint a little) there were actually some positive trends for multifamily that came about.

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Doubling Down on Digital: Tools We Can't Live Without

Doubling Down on Digital  A few weeks ago I got to host a lively chat about digital tools — not only for marketing, but also for personal productivity, well-being, managing leads and enabling teams. Guests Dalia Kalgreen, Director of Marketing for Unified Residential Management, and Katrina Greene, CAM, NALP Trainer, and Senior Regional Property Manager at Sheehan Property Management, shared what works for them personally and professionally with regard to favorite tools, digital or not. You can see the full chat over on YouTube but I wanted to also share a quick recap here, starting with a list of our favorite tools:   Notes app Daylio - a mood journaling app Snip and Sketch - a tool to quickly markup screenshots Peloton - The wildly popular fitness bikes & classes Text - a simple way to stay in touch Calm - One of the best guided meditation app we never knew we needed Chat - A simple and easy way to manage prospects onsite… especially when paired with A.I. Virtual Tours  - The boom of tools available for multifamily sites has been a lifesaver QR Codes - They are making a comeback, especially for self-guided tours! iPhone - Easy to use for quick, high quality, video shoots.    Tools exist to help people do their jobs more effectively or more efficiently. Well-being impacts productivity and the group agreed that during this unexpected period of a pandemic, tools can help alleviate the stress that accompanies the unexpected and better enable team members operating outside the ......
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Are Your Self-Guided Tours Up to Par?

Are Your Self-Guided Tours Up to Par?
Consumers want options. The way we shop, do our research online and who we choose to do business with all comes down to each individual person. There’s no difference when it comes to touring your property. While the majority of prospects will start their research online, the next steps they take depends on their comfort level of interacting with your team during this pandemic and how soon they’re ready to rent. Giving consumers options online for how they can tour your property on their own terms is no different, whether that’s a video, virtual tour, self-guided tour or in-person tour.  During our recent webinar, we talked to Karen Gladney, co-founder of Power Pro Leasing, about touring options, while focusing more specifically on self-guided tours. She visited 100 properties in 100 days and says the results were alarming. “Forty-six precent of the time, I had to wait or was sent away. Just think if I had been offered a self-guided tour experience and how I could have been taken care of in that moment,” Gladney says.  When they started their “Tour Your Own Way” campaign eight months ago, Gladney says the studies were showing 95% consumers prefer to shop alone while going through a buying decision and 90% want to speak to a human being during that time. “How do you blend those?,” she asks. “You don’t operate in two different silos.”   Make Self-Guided Tour Improvements Self-guided tours aren’t new. Look at hotels, for example. We’re able to check in at a desk, grab the key card a......
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How to Use Technology to Make Renters Feel at Home From Day One

How to Use Technology to Make Renters Feel at Home From Day One
For apartment owners and property managers, resident turnover is a constant challenge. Residents leave for a variety of factors, and every month a unit sits unoccupied means missed profits for owners and operators.   Sometimes, a new job takes them out of town. Other times, a change to their family dynamic means their current living situation doesn't work. While you can't control these factors, there are certain steps managers can take to provide safe, comfortable, and welcoming environments that will appeal to both existing and new residents. Exploring smart home accessories is a great place to start.   Smart technology not only helps landlords and asset owners manage their properties better, but it also delivers an amenity that attracts residents and — most importantly — keeps them there. Everyone wants to feel safe at home, and devices such as key-free connected locks, connected access control systems, and video doorbells can help residents keep an eye on their loved ones and feel secure in their surroundings. Other popular devices such as smart thermostats, meanwhile, can save renters up to nearly 25% on heating and cooling bills.   Industry research shows that about one-third of all households have smart-home connected devices in them today, while half of households currently lacking those devices plan to purchase them within a year. There’s also no reason to believe the trend will slow anytime soon.   With that in mind, here are three ways to use smart home tech to ensure your renters see the value of your property from the moment they turn the key: ......
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The IT Sweet Spot: Technologies that Support a Growing Organization

Technology resources can be difficult to come by today, especially those at a reasonable price that make a genuine impact for multifamily operators.  Multifamily organizations often grow at a rate much faster than the pace small IT teams can implement new technologies broad enough to support their expanding organization. That means IT teams have to prioritize their activities and leverage strategic solutions effectively.  Even if your organization is not tied to a particular platform, it is important to utilize technologies to their fullest extent. In order to be a nimble organization that provides real-time answers to investor and client requests and opportunities, it is important to utilize systems that enable collaboration, workflow and decision-making. Fortunately, there are some practices you can follow to make sure you’re choosing the technologies that can provide the most impact with limited IT resources.    Built-in Support. First and foremost, you should look for technologies with built-in support structures that don’t require your IT team or onsite teams to provide technical support. These technologies are becoming more common as IT resources have become more expensive. At Laramar, for example, we have recently deployed a combined helpdesk tracking solution for both IT and software support teams. We are also deploying additional functionality with Office 365, with communication platforms such as Sharepoint and Microsoft Teams.  Integration with Property Management Systems. Nothing is more inefficient than having your onsite teams work in disparate systems with different logins. Every software application you use should be integrated with your property management sys......
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Technology Can Play Nice with Each Other

Technology Can Play Nice with Each Other
To keep their properties running smoothly and to provide residents with the services they desire, apartment operators today use a variety of different technology solutions.Property management software. Revenue management software. Package locker systems. Smart-home technology. The list goes on and on and continues to grow.With all of these systems at work, it's more important than ever that technology providers enable their solutions to integrate and "talk" with each other. The apartment industry hasn't exactly been known for this over the years, but the time has arrived for suppliers to play nice. Doing so can make day-to-day life so much easier for both operators and their residents. Quick Primer on API You may have heard of the acronym API. It stands for "Application Programming Interface."But how about something a little easier to understand: Long story short, when a solution has an API, it allows the solution's servers to communicate openly and freely with another solution's servers. In other words, the two technologies can exchange information back and forth and in real-time. It's critical that multifamily vendors build their solutions with APIs. Doing so not only allows two different technologies to communicate, it also enables solutions like mobile apps to provide both operators and residents with a single interface to access the multiple solutions supporting a community.   Mobile Deep Linking Similarly, you may be familiar with the phrase "deep linking" within mobile apps. When an API is not available, deep links bridge the gap between apps working together in tandem, using a......
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Futurecasting: How Advanced Technologies Will Impact Apartment Operations

"The robots are coming!" For years, this line, or some variation of it, has been a quick and easy joke about how – one day far in the future – technology may take over our lives and throw many of us out of work. But the age of automated technologies and artificial intelligence truly appears to be at hand – and that's making many people nervous, including onsite associates in the apartment industry. However, their worries are unfounded, as there are ample reasons to be optimistic about the impact of AI and automation in multifamily.  In fact, according to an Anyone Home study of more than 70,000 leases that were signed over the past 12 months, 52 percent of prospects used a phone call to initially reach out to a community, indicating that human interaction still matters. Furthermore, a World Economic Forum study in 2018 found that the growth of AI could create 58 million net new jobs by 2022. The report doesn't shy away from acknowledging the challenges posed by the rise of technology and machines in the workplace but it also notes "these transformations, if managed wisely, could lead to a new age of good work, good jobs and improved quality of life for all." In the apartment industry, the implementation of automation and artificial intelligence will enhance the work of leasing agents by freeing them from mundane responsibilities and giving them the bandwidth to concentrate on tasks that drive the financial performance of a community. But the benefits......
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3 Digital Marketing Trends for Apartment Marketers in 2019

3 Digital Marketing Trends for Apartment Marketers in 2019
Marketing is one of those things that is always evolving. Much like technology, marketing teams need to be consistently looking at future marketing trends, considering what might be applicable to their industry and budgeting for effective testing each and every year. In the world of marketing, there are a lot of platforms and technologies that marketing experts have identified to be major players in 2019. This is a great article about impactful marketing trends to watch this year. As far as multifamily goes, there are a few I think will prove to be impactful in our industry:     Chatbots As referenced in a couple of online articles, chatbots are going to play a major role in the process of nurturing a lead through the marketing funnel. We know our residents want information immediately, and they often do research on apartments at home, after work, late at night or even secretly in their cubicle. At any rate, a phone call or email is just too slow of a communication platform to give them the information they need when they are looking. Chatbots have the ability to answer quick and easy questions, free up the time of the leasing associates and put information in the hands of our prospective renters quickly and without little effort.   Content is Still King There was a time when content really only served the purpose of an increase in SEO value. But times have changed. Content not only carries the SEO benefits of past but can......
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