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The one thing about your residents you probably forgot today


It was in the way she held her 4 year old son tightly against her chest, a crack of hallway light drifting into his dark bedroom. He was sobbing softly. She could feel his warm body through his Cars footy pajamas.

“Honey, you are burning up. Let your mommy take your temperature.”

It was in the way three generations of men lounged on the couch with the television blaring the football game. The moms and wives were sitting around the table in the other room talking and laughing and sharing. The fragrance from their open bottle of wine was filling their noses.

It was in the way the newlyweds poured over their parsimonious bank statements in the dining room, his brow furrowed and her hand lightly grasping her belly. Two little red lines told the story of their future.

It was in the way a group of young kids from different parts of the country were forced to live together and form a bond which would last for the rest of their lives.

It was in the way a new couple fumbled for each other in the dark hallway and found love.

When the computers go silent and the leasing manager flips the lights out and closes the leasing doors, they go home to make their own memories. The most touching thing about multifamily is that we don’t “sell” a product that people throw away. We aren’t a bottle of Coke, or a t-shirt, or a pair of white high-heeled shoes. Shoes fade. Heels break. T-shirts get moth eaten. The Coke goes flat. You discard it. Years from now, I’d be willing to bet that we will have forgotten all about the Coke or the shoes or the T-shirt.

People will remember what they did when they lived here. Everyday as Marketers, and IT, and operations, and administrators, and maintenance, and construction, we try to find new or old ways to rent, fix, build, sell, and manage. Residents eventually just become maintenance tickets, rent payments, cranky calls, punchlines. What we provide to our residents is in the way they live. Live. Their lives. Everyday. Building memories. Playing with their kids. Family time. Loving. They are doing it – in ours.

It is in the way they live in our apartments that you probably forgot about today.

P.S. I asked my wife to marry me in an apartment. There’s no way I could ever forget that.

Happy renting everyone.

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  • I love this blog. So easy to forget how much we are a part of people's lives, both the every day struggles and the big life changing events.

  • How often do we, as people, get to provide a service to someone that is wrapped up so tightly into someone's life? That everything we do has an effect on them? It's what makes this industry so awesome, I think.

  • I've worked in Multifamily housing for 16 years. There are people that I will never, ever forget. I have even run into a few years after the fact and remembered names, old addresses and different life situations.

    Great article. :) The human aspect of what we do is not to be forgotten and not to be taken lightly.

  • Thanks for sharing your perspective Kristi.

  • Beautifully written, Bill. Thanks for the reminder of what an important career choice we've chosen: helping others live their lives better.

  • Considering your writing pedigree, your words mean a lot Jen. I wouldn't trade this industry for any other.

  • Jules Carney, Managing Partner of GoToMetrix

    My team and I have been thinking about this issue for a while as we try to help owners with creating experiences that have a meaningful impact. You may be able to reduce CAP rates and occupancy down to a spreadsheet, but it is the story.. the human story that makes a community alive, well and profitable. You impact that, and the numbers will follow.

  • Christian Lauter

    I am a senior in the Residential Property Management program at Ball Stte University. In class today we discussed how we are selling a lifestyle not a product. Our business affects people at the most personal level and it is our responsibility to create an environment of exceeded expectations which encourages them to continue to renew that lifestyle year over year. Very good points in this article, thank you.

  • "A home is having somewhere to go." It doesn't matter if you own it or rent it. What matters is that at the end of the day, good day or bad, happy or sad, you can insert key and unlock the peace, serenity and comfort of the place where you lay your head and place your heart.

    This is a profound piece and I thank you for expressing something everyone should contemplate.

    Because I grew up in the most meager, impoverished, violent place to call home, I cannot help but appreciate the concept that the word home conjures up in my imagination. I think that is why this past Christmas, when I opened up several place settings of a new china set, I could feel that emotion well within. Dishes represent dinner and the food that nourishes the body: breakfasts for two, the romance of life, quick snacks sneaked into bed after dark with your friends at a slumber party, family gatherings for celebrations of life and living it to the fullest. Yes, providing the "box" in which one's life exists is the best career path! Great article!

  • This is so true....really enjoyed this blog. Helps to remember this when we have a hard day......

  • Shirley Register

    What a wonderful and warm reminder of the impact we have on SO MANY people. It's true, we need those reminders sometimes.
    Well done.

  • Meg Robbins

    Never thought of it that way! Thanks for sharing....hopefully all of our residents are making great memories at our communities! We work hard to see that they do with our parties for their kids, the gatherings where two lonely residents find each other and love blooms, and the making of good friends while they relax poolside.

    Prime example: We were recently doing some sidewalk repairs and a resident came in and asked for a piece of the sidewalk that we had marked with an X for demolition....it was the very spot where he kneeled and proposed to his wife!

    Thanks again for reminding us what an important part we can play in the lives of our residents!

  • Great reminder! Thank you!