‘Us’ vs ‘Them’: Rent Issues Are Heating Up. We Need to Deescalate

Now is an unprecedented time.

Saying this is not only an understatement, but at this point, it’s cliche.

According to the most recent data when this was written, 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment now, which, according to CNN, equals about one in four people, nationally. 

Because of this, some renters are calling for rent strikes.

“Greedy landlords! Demanding money when we have no way to make income!” is their rallying cry.

How Covid-19 is Affecting Apartment Turns’ Timetables and PPE Maintenance Supply Inventories

How Covid-19 is Affecting Apartment Turns' Timetables and PPE Maintenance Supply Inventories

The lines were blurring for some apartment communities when it came to defining “emergency” maintenance work orders based on Covid-19 safety protocols. But with more and more states relaxing some of their rules, apartment communities have expanded their own policies.
“Initially, we only performed emergency work orders based on the definition in our emergency SOPs, but those SOPs are being adjusted,” says Chris Lincoln, Regional Maintenance Manager, Greystar, East. “Given that our residents are pretty much staying home all day, every day, things like the clogged toilet in the second bathroom now rises in the level of importance.
“We’ve expanded our definition to include all bathrooms — regardless of how many there are — as well as clogged sinks, etc. We’ve established procedures for providing residents with routine replacement items such as air filters, water filters, light bulbs, etc., and will walk them through replacement over a voice phone call or Facetime. We’ve created a number of resident-facing YouTube-style videos for basic repairs such as breaker reset and drain clearing through use of a ‘Zip-it’-type tool.”
Pinnacle’s COO Larry Goodman says, at Covid-19’s onset and the constantly evolving information, his vacancy turn policy was to wait six days prior to entering an apartment home, given the limited PPEs available and our team members’ well-being.
“Without knowing the health status of residents vacating the units, we created a metric wherein we multiplied three days by a 2x safety factor to arrive at six days prior to entering. If the virus has been present in the unit, it should ……

4 Reasons Your Employees Need Automation

Technology at work can be complicated. As business executives mull over the advantages and disadvantages of installing specialized software, various factors are considered in the cost-benefit analysis. Arguably, the most important effect to consider is how technology supports your team. PWC research found that 90% of C-Suite executives felt like they were making decisions related technology that reflected their staff’s needs but only about 53% of staff agreed.
Here are 4 reasons automation benefits staff.
The upfront costs of technology can deter businesses from implementing software and other technology. However, automation enables organizations to access instant time savings which turns into long lasting cost savings. Automation enables employees to capture time that would be spent on a task that is now streamlined and repurpose it on more meaningful work. Automation eliminates errors, redundancies, and speed of completion, which decreases the overall turnaround time. On a global basis, McKinsey research estimates that automation will lead to a 1.4% growth in productivity annually.
Job Satisfaction
The 2019 Kofax Intelligent Automation Study reported that 92% of executives reported a 25% or more increase in employee satisfaction as a result of implementing automated processes. Automation helps to reduce manual and repetitive tasks which makes day to day work less tedious and more convenient.
Overall 43% of American office workers said they were bored at work in 2016 and bored employees were 2x more likely to leave their job. 44% of people sited their reason for being disengaged at work as having to do unchallenging work that didn’t use their higher-level abilities. Automation eliminates those basic level tasks that are time intensive and gives staff the ability t……

How Technology Is Reshaping The Leasing Process

How Technology Is Reshaping The Leasing Process

Piece by piece, tech innovations have transformed the art of leasing. It has gone from a highly manual, labor-intensive process to a streamlined, efficient procedure with numerous forward-thinking ways to attract and convert apartment hunters. 
Traditional leasing methods were already rapidly evolving prior to 2020, but times of change have accelerated the need for intuitive solutions. Renters have been steadily morphing toward an offsite approach in which they seek to gather as much information about an apartment community as they can before visiting in person. The social distancing measures brought on by the pandemic will persist in some form for the foreseeable future, which exacerbates that trend and underscores the need to effectively reach renters from afar.
Developed effectively, tech-based leasing solutions should be mutually beneficial for prospects and the apartment operator. The prospect can gain quicker visibility into a property and have their questions answered more rapidly, while operators can expend less energy in reaching prospects and avoid tedious manual tracking and follow-up measures.
Here are a few of the ways that leasing-centric tech tools such as interactive maps, data visualization, virtual tours, remote leasing, automation and integration can further impact the leasing process: 
Augmented Service Levels
Concepts such as self-guided touring, virtual tours and map visualization should not translate to a lack of customer service. These technologies exist to complement the traditional tour experience and make for an interactive leasing experience. Onsite teams should not utilize this type of tech to distance themselves from prospects, but as a way……

Keep Talking. Employees are Listening

As we look toward entering a new phase of management during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued to survey multifamily employees to see how they are feeling about the ever-evolving situation. Data from the Swift Bunny COVID-19 Employee Check-In Survey shows that employees’ feeling of safety in carrying out their responsibilities tracks with the level of communication and leadership visibility they are experiencing. In other words, the more leaders communicate directly with their teams, the greater the employees’ feeling of safety in completing their work. 

In speaking with leaders of 30 property management companies, there is a universal perception that it’s time to take the foot off the gas pedal regarding company communication, now that we’re through the initial tidal wave of change that arose due to the pandemic.  “We’re turning into Zoombies!” commented one employee, which perfectly represents the fatigue many team members are feeling in regard to the volume of meetings we all seem to be having. However, while I may agree that the quantity of meetings may need to be toned down, the quality of communication is still critically important.

Polling conducted with hundreds of multifamily employees during webinars over the past few weeks shows a shift from general feelings of uncertainty to concerns about how their communities are addressing or planning to address re-opening. In addition, beginning on May 18th, the data from the Swift Bunny COVID-19 Employee Check-In Survey has shown the rating trending downward on the topic of, “I feel well-informed about updates to ……

Productivity Tools to Help Your Multifamily Property Staff Be More Efficient

At a time where businesses in the multifamily industry are striving to minimize costs, productivity among your staff is a chief concern. 
It’s no secret that decreased productivity can cost your property, but with the internet inundated with “helpful content” and an endless stream of advertisements, you might feel like the right productivity tools for your team are, in fact, a secret from you. 
Let’s pull back the curtain and chat about productivity tools that will actually make a difference in the efficiency of your staff. 
Task Management Tools for Multifamily Properties
Implementing a task management tool for your staff to use on a daily basis can help keep them focused and productive — whether your team is working from home or not. 
As with the nature of a multifamily business, whether your in-office or not, your team is likely distributed. Task management allows regional managers who are out of the office or in a different location to keep tabs on the progress of their individual property managers. On the flip side, it allows property managers to communicate with regional managers if their workload is too high and priorities need to be shifted.  
The major changes happening in the multifamily industry may be highlighting inefficiencies within your team — pushing you to become more efficient. This is not a time to place blame on others or dwell on past mistakes, but a time to make improvements to how your team makes progress and completes tasks. 
If you’ve tried a task management tool before a……

Up from the Pandemic Low: Leading Indicators Show More WoW Improvement

Up from the Pandemic Low: Leading Indicators Show More WoW Improvement

While coronavirus lockdowns are not over yet, as of May 20, all 50 states were starting to re-open to some degree, according to The Wall Street Journal. The East and West Coasts are re-opening more gradually.As I mentioned in my last blog, the openings were already having a positive impact on our industry. During the week ending on May 20, all the major national performance metrics except for Net Effective Rent (NER) moved in the right direction on a week-over-week basis, according to Radix. That marked the first time that has happened since the pandemic began.We seem to have bottomed out as far as declines in occupancy and leased percentage rates, and traffic and leases are gaining ground as well. NER, while still declining, experienced a smaller dip than it did during the preceding week.If traffic and leases continue to improve, the impetus for rapid rent discounts and concessions might slow down as well.Here are the notable takeaways from the week ending on May 20:•    Nationally, traffic and leases were up 13.8% and 13.3%, respectively, WoW. Those figures represent an accelerating improvement (during the week ending on May 13, the metrics increased by 8.7% and 6.6% WoW). On a year-over-year basis, leases were down only 11.6%, which is a major improvement from earlier in the pandemic, especially when considering these gains were made almost entirely while a majority of the markets were still in lockdown. Traffic was down 35.8 percent YoY.•    The national occupancy (92.90%) and leased percentage (94.56%) rates were up ……

What You Should Be Paying for Apt Search Keywords and Other Covid Marketing Tips

What You Should Be Paying for Apt Search Keywords and Other Covid Marketing Tips

Virginia Love shares a flurry of Covid-period tips such as YouTube ads’ value, why it’s important not to have furniture in your self-guided tour homes, and explains why some prospects never finish filling out their online applications.
After two or three months of shelter-in-place, the apartment industry is seeing that people can’t just sit around and wait (to shop for an apartment).
While they originally put their plans on hold, now they are ready to move and have limited time to find a new home. The evidence is in the traffic and the cost-per-click rates.
We spoke to Entrata’s Virginia Love – who brings more than 20 years’ onsite leasing experience — about trends she is seeing this month, based on a Speedy Session webinar she conducted through the Apartment Association of Central Oklahoma.
Cost-Per-Click on the Rise
Pre-Covid, the “Apartments for Rent’ cost-per-click (CPC) was approximately $2.70 on Google Ads. That price fell, but now we’re seeing it recover to around $2.60 (Week of May 25).
The same “Apartments for Rent” search CPC on Microsoft Ads (Bing) is $1.49. Communities choosing to advertise on Bing can reach more audience for less money.
On social media, Facebook Ads has found a very cost-effective way to promote their brand at around 30 cents CPC.
Advertisers should make sure to control the frequency of price caps so they don’t flood their audience with ads that will just be turned off, and retarget those who have visited their websites but not converted or returned.
YouTube Ads’ Value Play……

Multifamily Tours Best Practices – Keeping Staff, Residents, and Prospects Safe

Touring is an essential part of the leasing process for every arena of real estate, but it’s especially vital for multifamily. 
Since multifamily properties are a community of units and residents, the property’s ultimate success lies not in one lead-to-closing conversion, but in many conversions to keep vacancy low. Because of this, tours and property showings play an essential role in a healthy multifamily asset’s toolbox. When the tours stop, the sales funnel goes stagnant. Conducting tours is a requirement for filling vacancies and actualizing the asset’s full ROI potentials. 
However, the current global climate is putting a halt on traditional touring protocols and forcing industry professionals to find new alternatives that better align with the times. 
COVID-19, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders are sparking widespread concerns for the health and safety of the leasing staff, residents, and prospective residents. Needless to say, conducting tours is now a challenge… and one that needs to be conquered immediately if multifamily professionals want to keep up their momentum. 
Overcoming the Obstacles
Fortunately, it is possible for multifamily property managers to conduct tours safely while accommodating all of society’s ‘new normals’. 
By combining cutting-edge technologies with strategic best-practices, you’ll be able to conduct tours with confidence and provide an extraordinary customer experience for prospective residents. 
Explore Modern Touring Options
Optimize your multifamily tour procedures according to the moment with these 4 creative ideas: 
Pre-Made Video Tours
Being exactly what the name suggests, this tour option allows multifamily managers to compile a ready-made vide……

How One Apartment Community Hosted an ‘Open House’ Virtual Tour. It was a Huge Success.

How One Apartment Community Hosted an 'Open House' Virtual Tour. It was a Huge Success.

Open House. No, that’s not a Covid-19-induced oxymoron. It’s a new and effective method for conducting virtual apartment tours.
Shelter-in-place policies, social distancing and staggered timetables for gradual re-openings of state economies combined with Americans’ hesitancy to join the “current normal” lifestyle have created booming popularity for virtual apartment touring.
The Remy, a LIVEbe community in Lanham, Md., came up with a new way to conduct an ol’ real estate standby: The Open House
The 278-unit, eight-story property welcomed 51 participants at noon last Saturday for its 16-minute recorded tour and had nine applications submitted by 4 p.m. It’s had four more since, says Jaymie Martin, Community Director.
“We recognized during our open house – with so many people participating – that it created a sense of urgency to lease in some of the prospects,” Martin says. “The interaction of the group and our staff created kind of a buzz.
“For some, when they saw the property for the first time and learned that there might be only a few units of a specific floor plan and sensed the enthusiasm from others on the call – it made our property even more enticing.
Martin says the tour, overall, felt comfortable. “It was more like a group conversation – which was good – rather than one-on-one conversations with staff and prospects.”
The Remy had contracted with Realync to do video tours and had been through the production process often, finding it an easy and convenient fit for its overall marketing strategies. Martin pleasantly pointed out that Saturda……