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Spotlight Interview: Linda Early on Landing Her First Job And The Future Of The Multifamily Industry

Linda Early Head shotSuccess equals talent plus luck. No one knows this more than Linda Early. Linda got her first gig in the multifamily industry by chance (otherwise known as sisterly persuasion) after graduating with a Biology degree from James Madison University. Years later, she established herself as a vice president for Archstone. Then, came AvalonBay Communities. Today, Linda is a vice president with Brookfield Properties Corporation - and she has a lot to say on not just where she’s been, but where she - and the industry - are going.    How long have you been working in the multifamily industry?  I’ve worked in the multifamily industry since 1994. After I graduated from college, I stayed with my sister before figuring out whether or not I wanted to go to grad school. But at one point, my sister had enough of me sitting on the couch and told me, “Hey, they need somebody in the office of this complex. You should check this out and get a job.”   What happened next?  I started as a leasing consultant at a 1000-unit property with Charles E. Smith Residential. It was something I really didn’t even know you could have a career in. Even though data and research was something that I was interested in, I’m more of a people person and I liked working with teams. So, I just kind of started and never really looked back.    You worked at Archstone for nearly two decades. Why did you stay so long?  The customers were the focus of the decision-making. The company truly focused on making things better for them. But also, you were able to try things at Archstone - and you were able to f......
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5 Smart Strategies To Attract New Tenants

image7.jpgWhen you decide to put your property up for rent, you have to be super smart about who you are renting the unit to, and for how long. Even so, the market today is tough, and the competition pretty strong. So, what are you to do when you want to avoid problem renters, attract new, great tenants and encourage them to rent your property? There may be a few things you should consider: Neat as a New Pin Tenants will be attracted to a well-kept property that looks great and appears easy to maintain. Your property doesn’t have to be the best and most luxurious house on the block or in the street, but – as long as it’s well presented and has potential – you are good to go. How so? Because tenants don’t always look for never-before-lived-in apartments; usually, they’d go for units that merely “feel” right, look fresh and clean, and give them an impression of a home. So, before you put up your property for rent, organize an open house or bring in a professional photographer to snap photos of it, consider booking a cleaning agency to spruce up your place and make it sparkle! Don’t Force Your Tastes on Anyone There are plenty of positives and negatives of renting a property, and you want to be on top of your game. Renters don’t want anyone’s style imposed on them, so make sure your property features neutral colors, plain décor, and not too much furniture. You want the tenants to env......
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What Apartment Shoppers Want: 6 Expectations Your Property Website Should Meet

What Apartment Shoppers Want: 6 Expectations Your Property Website Should Meet
Are you in the process of developing or redesigning a new apartment website? Are you researching new tools to apply to an existing multifamily website? Regardless of where you are in the process, it’s critical to consider what apartment shoppers actually need from your digital leasing office.   Today, renters have lofty expectations when it comes to shopping for an apartment online. Gone are the days when property websites are simply being compared to other property websites. Instead, they are being compared to non-multifamily brands like Nordstrom and Amazon. These brands have mastered the online shopping experience, and they’ve done so by paying close attention to the behaviors their customers exhibit when searching, researching, deciding upon, engaging with, and ultimately initiating a transaction online. There is an art to crafting successful online customer interactions, and they’re the master painters.      When apartment shopping, the decision-making process is certainly more drawn out than it is when making lower cost, less risky online purchases. Prospective residents will likely visit more than just the apartment website when researching a property online. In fact, Google reports that, on average, a shopper uses 19.2 sources of information to make a real estate buying decision. Prospects will read online reviews, browse social media pages, and comb through the property’s Google My Business listing for key information. They’ll land on ILSs and paid advertisements. They may even land on the management company’s corporate website  - especially if you’re applying a portfolio leasing approach to search marketing.   However, a longer purchasing process means there is even more opportunity......
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Working Your Business Strategy

Working Your Business Strategy
In my blog post "What Is Your Business Strategy?" I mentioned that there are three basic elements of business: price, service and quality. In my experience businesses that succeed compete well in two of the three categories. You may be wondering, "Shouldn't successful businesses compete on all three?" While I think that would be great, it's often not economically sustainable to try and have the lowest pricing and high quality and amazing service.  How this worksOne of the communities I worked at was ultra high-end luxury apartments with stunning ocean views in a very affluent area. When I started at the community we offered great service (we had a lot of staff on-site to cater to our residents) but we were undergoing a massive renovation at the time which meant that the majority of our amenities (a huge reason to rent there) were not able to be used for a while and we were doing renovation work in our apartments as well. All of this work affected the quality of what we offered to our residents and made our community less attractive to potential renters and to our current residents. We marketed this community as ultra-luxury but that was not the reality of the experience during this season. However we did NOT compensate for the temporary drop in quality with a decrease in our overall pricing strategy. There was a disconnect between what we offered and what we delivered. We were only competing in one of the three main areas and we suffered......
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What Would You Do? Tips to Reduce Staff Turnover

iStock-545982614In our new series, we’ll be tackling common and frequently asked questions from operators and operator executives in the multi-family housing industry.   Ask a multifamily operations-focused executive what their biggest concerns are, and it likely won’t take long for the topic of staffing—and by extension, turnover—to  come up. High turnover rates have a number of negative implications for operators, including hiring costs, lost productivity, lower sales results and more.  While turnover is a fact-of-life in multifamily, there are things you can do to manage and mitigate the problem. In today’s installment of the new What Would You Do? series, we’re tackling employee turnover.   Here is a common scenario we encounter:  “I’m the head of operations for a Midwest regional operator. We own 2/3rds of our portfolio and 1/3rd is owned by others. We’ve got 21,000 units with 65 properties. Turnover for our onsite personnel is running at 37-46% and has been increasing over the last several years. What’s more, with lower unemployment, we’re finding it harder to fill positions and the expectations from applicants is increasing. This is impacting our ability to fully cover properties and while our performance is still strong, we’re worried about how this is going to impact us into the future. What would you do?”  This question deals with two important considerations for every employer: how do you get quality employees on your team, and (even more importantly) how do you keep them?  High employee turnover can be a stressful situation, but it’s a solvable problem. Let’s look at ways to address it step by step.  Why Are Em......
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Customizing Your Customer Journeys

Introduction Nike is always at the forefront of of marketing innovation. For years, Nike has allowed everyday customers to customize their new kicks.     This idea of mass customization has transcended into almost every industry. Think about your last trip to Moe’s. Did you go with the standard ‘Earmuff Bowl’…or did you Build-Your-Own (B-Y-O)? If you’re like us, you went down the line and cherry-picked the ingredients you like the most. The best part, you still pay a comparable price… assuming you did go too crazy with the queso. In our last several posts, we have discussed how you can customize your communications for prospects and residents. We recommend email sets to enhance each customer’s journey. Today, we are going to talk about how you can customize your communications to fit your individual property’s needs, because one size doesn’t fit all… no matter what the tag says.     Campaign Customization Let’s imagine a property management company has two properties in the Boston area. Property A has an amazing location in the heart of Boston, however, it doesn’t have room for a lot of standard amenities like a pool, gym or clubhouse. On the flipside, Property B has luxury amenities, but is located about 25 minutes outside of the city. The standard Pre-Tour emails (showcase amenities, features, and neighborhood) doesn’t work well for either of these properties.     That’s why you should customize your customer journeys to highlight your property’s strengths.   For Property A, you may want to forgo the ‘Showcase Amenity’ email ......
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4 Ways to Determine the Rental Fee of Your Property

image3.jpgTrying to make a profit on your investment property is one thing; setting the price for it is another. With the competition as strong as it is, you need to make yours stand out and make it a desirable option for the tenants. It means pairing a high-quality offer with the right rental price. With a little market know-how, research and math, you can determine the suitable rental amount for your investment property. Take these four tips into consideration when determining the rental fee of your property: Consider the Market Depending on the market where your property is located, the formula to figuring out a proper rental price is pretty simple: the higher the competition, the lower is the price. However, if you want to have the advantage compared to other properties, survey the market, see what the general prices of those properties are, then find the middle ground that appears ideal for your property. Research Rental Prices for Units Similar to Yours It may be a little hard to find this out yourself, as all information of this type usually is confidential (unless you are a buyer.) You can always try to find out how much rent others are charging for their units to determine the starting point of yours. You can also consult sites like Zillow, Craigslist and Trulia. Start with practical things a rental unit should have: those that resemble yours by age, square footage, amenities, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location, etc. Make a list of ......
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NMHC OPTECH 2019 In Review: Disruption and the Hype Cycle

NMHC OPTECH Genera SessionNMHC OPTECH 2018 is in the books, and once again this year the mix of fresh ideas and great minds to discuss them with made for a great conversation. Those who made the trip to Orlando got to consider which emerging technologies will own tomorrow, and which - in the home of Disneyland - will be consigned to the realms of fantasy. Below are some highlights from the show. How Smart is Smart Home Technology for Multifamily? Smart home technology has a high profile in the industry right now, and there was no shortage of exciting new technology on show. Keyless entry is gaining popularity, and a group of vendors discussed the opportunity on Thursday morning. During the panel, Vivint presented some research into the impact of the technology on residents’ appetite for other services. The services in the survey were: House cleaning, Dog walking, Grocery Delivery, Laundry/Dry Cleaning, and Babysitting. The results compared the attitudes to each of residents with smart access and residents without it. The levels of comfort were high and positive in keyless entry environments and low and mostly negative in properties without – clear findings at first glance. It’s appropriate, however, to be skeptical of survey-based research like this. House cleaning and babysitting services tend to be performed by people familiar to the resident, so it’s hard to see how smart locks have such an impact (I am an enthusiastic consumer of both services, and my door locks are not a factor in my consumption). However,......
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Are Your Amenities Running Blind?

Are Your Amenities Running Blind?
Mary the resident moved in 10 months ago and was absolutely wowed by the fitness center.  The leasing consultant, Jeff, smartly keyed in on this being one of the primary deciding factors in her new home, and was able to leverage that incredible fitness center reaction into a lease.  Congrats!  Fast forward to today:  Did Mary begin her enthusiastic plan to start using the gym?  Did she even step foot into it once since she moved in?  We have absolutely no idea, and because  of our complete lack of knowledge, Mary slipped through our fingers on the renewal. This is the fundamental problem so common with community amenities – according to our latest research, only 15% tracked amenity usage, and of those, some responded by only tracking visually, which is an extremely inaccurate way to keep record.  I realize that implementing a system to track usage would cost money – no debate there.  However, consider the data that could be obtained!  Consider these three enormous benefits of tracking your amenity usage: 1)      Your renewal process can be custom tailored to exactly how the resident actually used the property.  Imagine how much more effective the sales approach could be if you knew that Mary the resident used the fitness center every day, OR how much information could be gleaned by the fact that she didn’t use the fitness center.  If we remain ignorant about our residents actions with our community, then our ability to renew our residents is dramatically reduced.   2)      Beyon......
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The First 5 Steps To Become The Warren Buffet of Real Estate

maxresdefault.jpgIf you’re considering being the Warren Buffet of real estate you’re going to need a few profitable ideas.  Here’s 5 initial steps you need to consider to start you on your way to success. 1)      Have a Complete Understanding of Your Market Educate yourself by talking to as many real estate agents, lenders, title reps, and other investors. Keep track of market trends and what other investors are doing in the area, as they may impact your investment. Watch/listen to as many videos or podcasts that you can stand and read as many blog post as possible…NEVER stop doing this in your investing career. 2)      Choose The Asset Class You’re Most Comfortable With Many beginning investors like multifamily because at some point they’ve likely rented an apartment and that makes it somewhat more relatable. Don’t be afraid to take a look at office, retail, or light industrial investments.  Try to match your investment goals with the type of asset class you’re most comfortable with. Don’t Make Unnecessary Errors When Leasing Office Space 3)      Choose Your Strategy Are you going to buy and hold, flip or reposition? Choose the strategy that best aligns with your investment goals. Determine what your investment horizon is. Even if you plan on keeping the investment forever, you should still have an exit strategy.  4)      Funding Your Investment Know where your money is going to come from, investors (if you have investor friends and family or professionals that know the investment vehicle LLC or Corp), cash, or bank financing.......
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