After 18 Years, My Time at NAA Ends in Dec 2019

December 2019 marks my final issue as Editor-in-Chief at units magazine. I was hired to produce this magazine in 2002 and have published well over 200 editions. It has truly been a pleasure learning about and reporting on the apartment industry for all these years – from the economic cycles to the technological advances. Here are 10 Things I wrote about that personally were memorable and hopefully impacted your day-to-day operations.This column appears in the Dec issue of UNITS. If you’d like a link or copy of it or any of these 10 articles below, let me know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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with everyone in the multifamily network has been truly rewarding. I will miss it more than you know! 1. Airbnb: Here to Stay (Dec 2015)Earlier that year at an apartment industry conference, I asked several apartment operations and technology veterans if they thought Airbnb would be a big deal for our industry. They said, “What’s Airbnb?”2. Hurricane Katrina (Oct 2005)Our industry really is at its best during awful situations such as the flooding in New Orleans. This event unfolding on TV over Labor Day was heartbreaking. However, apartment professionals throughout the country banded together to bring relief and comfort to so many. The industry continues to deliver during the many times of emergency ever since. 3. “Do You Still Like Facebook” (March 2012)Admittedly, I was not a fan of social media back in 2012. While clearly not just a short-term fad, reporting on what many apartment marketers had to say back then was fascinating……

You are responsible for your life and work happiness


You are responsible for your life and work happiness

This is the foundational principle you must embrace if you plan for happiness and success in your life and work. For many people, everything is someone else’s fault. Every problem can be explained away with reasons why they can’t affect the situation or the outcome, especially at work where it is easy to find excuses because people are so closely intertwined.
 
Every failure has a scapegoat that they can use to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions—failure is never the result of the choices they made.
 
But without taking responsibility, you’re all the more likely to look at your career as a failure because you allowed any passing wind to blow you around, all the while blaming the wind for how things turned out. When you fail to responsibly guide your direction and outcomes, you set the stage for creating a miserable life—a life that fulfills none of your dreams and aspirations.
 
Making excuses instead of taking one hundred percent responsibility for your actions, your thoughts, and your goals are the hallmark of people who fail to succeed both in their professional lives and personal lives.
 
Part of the power of taking responsibility for your actions is that you silence the negative, unhelpful voice in your head. When you spend your thinking time on success and goal accomplishment, instead of on making excuses, you free up the emotional space formerly inhabited by negativity.
 
This is especially true as that negative voice in your head will run end……

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……

Generating Submarket Data the Right Way


Generating Submarket Data the Right Way

When apartment operators are evaluating the performance of their communities, data about the surrounding submarket is absolutely critical. But not all submarket data is created equally. Although metro market reports produced by research organizations have an undeniable value in the assessment of a market’s performance, it would be a mistake for operators to rely on the submarket information presented in these reports to compare against their own property (we will get to why in just a moment).     Ultimately, the best way to understand what’s going on in your submarkets is to understand what’s going on with your comps. And to understand what’s going on with your comps, you need to do market surveys (comp benchmarking).     Beware of Regression AnalysisMetro reports from third-party organizations can provide a great sense of the overall economic and rental trends in a metro area, such as Phoenix. This is extremely valuable information for an operator to have when evaluating the current performance of the market and when making projections about the future. This is valuable information when making strategic market-wide decisions, such as do we want to acquire/build in this market or is disposition and exit a better option. Recall how some of the public REITs years ago decided to exit all other markets and focus solely on East and West coasts. However, the most relevant data for most operators is submarket data. And, unfortunately, the submarket stats in these reports can be flawed.Here’s why: the surveys used to produce these reports are conducted at the b……

Appeasing the Anti-Pet and Pet-Free Resident

Admittedly, pet owners can sometimes look through a narrow lens. Their pets are everything to them, and they often can’t fathom how anyone could see it differently. 
But at a rental property, some residents are between pets, some choose not to own them and others simply don’t like them. Perhaps they experienced a dog bite when they were younger, have allergies to certain animals or have other reasons as to why they’d rather avoid them. 
While pet enthusiasts might not be overwhelmingly sympathetic to these individuals, they are not vastly unlike any other resident. Like anyone else, they want a comfortable home, but finding one that doesn’t allow pets is becoming more challenging. After all, 60 to 65 percent of residents own a pet and there are an average of 1.3 pets per household. 
As a property manager, ways exist to strike a balance. Although you probably allow pets at your community, it doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to create harmony between your pet residents and those who would rather not interact with them. 
You have to screen each pet and its owner to make sure it complies with your community regulations. Additionally, you should consistently enforce your pet policies to ensure an undisruptive living experience for all residents, pet owners or otherwise.  
Part of creating a welcoming environment for anti-pet or pet-free residents involves understanding the factors most important to them. PetScreening data has confirmed the top three apartment-related concerns from non-pet owners. Here’s a look at each and what can ……

Understanding Your Audience – Marketing to Different Generations


Understanding Your Audience - Marketing to Different Generations

 
There are many differences between the generations, both in their values and expectations as well as in the lifestyles that they prefer to live. This can be a challenge when you are attempting to sell a product or service to a diverse audience. You may need to cater your sales and marketing message to many different generations at the same time, or you may realize that your sales team represents a different generation than the one you are marketing to. These situations represent some of the challenges that organizations face when it comes to selling to a multigenerational customer base. However, by understanding what the different generations value, you can more effectively connect with your audience and improve sales.
 
Knowing your market and taking the time to understand how the different generations think and feel about your product, service or brand will give you crucial information that can be helpful to the improving the sales process.  For example, does your community have a long standing history of being best in class and is well trusted?  Traditionalists, will want to hear about this before the latest technology you are using.  Does your service solve a problem for other influential clients? Your Baby Boomers will be interested in how you are helping other large clients as well.  Each generation will respond and connect with different parts of your sales messaging and process.  By tailoring your approach you can best target your audience.
 
There are five distinct American customer demographics.
 
Generation Z (Born between 1996……

Major Retailers Taking on Package Delivery


Major Retailers Taking on Package Delivery

They’re Coming from Everywhere – Deliveries That Is 
 
We all know it; we all feel it; we all see it. There is a massive influx of packages coming to our communities on a daily basis. No longer just Monday through Friday but on Saturdays and Sundays, too. 
All the major carriers – UPS, FedEX and USPS – are now on a seven-day delivery schedule or are getting ready to launch a 24/7/365 delivery program, just to keep up with the likes of Amazon. But where else are these packages coming from? 
Let’s examine what could be driving the ever-growing number of deliveries coming to your properties day-in and day-out: 
Major Retailers are Taking on Amazon 
Walmart, Target, Kroger and other retailers already offer direct-to-home delivery services, but due to increased demand and huge success, they are expanding their services. 
In September, Walmart announced the launch of its Unlimited Delivery Membership. For a low monthly or yearly subscription fee, consumers have access to unlimited grocery deliveries. Think Amazon Prime Pantry but for more affordable fruits and vegetables. 
After a successful pilot in four markets earlier this year – Houston, Miami, Salt Lake City and Tampa, the retailer is expanding the program to all 200 metro areas where it already has established Grocery Delivery service. The company shares that the service will be available in more than 1,600 stores and more than 50 percent of the country by the end of the year. 
Further easing shopping for consumers, Target’s Restock program aims to fulfill ……

The Holiday Package Rush


The Holiday Package Rush

Ready or Not – Here Come the Holidays (and a Flood of Package Deliveries)
Ask an onsite associate about package management, and you’re likely to see them break into a cold sweat. They might start rocking back and forth and mumbling to themselves.
 
I’m joking, of course, but there’s no denying how burdensome handling residents’ package deliveries can be for apartment communities. These days, parcels are arriving seven days a week, and they come in all shapes and sizes. And online retailers often aren’t exactly models of efficiency: surely you’ve placed an online order only to watch each of the purchased items – no matter how small – arrive in their own individual box.
 
Stats provide powerful testimony to the scope of the problem that today’s multifamily properties face.
 
For instance, total e-commerce sales in the U.S. totaled $513.6 billion in 2018, according to the Commerce Department. That represents an increase of 14.2 percent from 2017.
 
Also consider the fact that, in 2019, global sales for Amazon Prime Day – an event so hyped and anticipated it seems as though it’s become another national holiday – reached $7.2 billion, according to an Internet Retailer estimate. That’s a 71 percent increase from the preceding year.
 
Well, here’s some sobering news for apartment communities: the holidays are coming – and that means package management is certain to be more chaotic than ever.
 
The Holiday Forecast
Online retail sales in the U.S. are expected to reach $143.7 billion during November and December, a……

Mobile-Optimized Sites Versus Mobile Apps


Mobile-Optimized Sites Versus Mobile Apps

Let’s face it: it’s a mobile app world, and we’re just living in it. According to eMarketer, smartphone users spend 90 percent of their time online in apps. One study showed that the total sessions in travel/navigation apps increased 50 percent worldwide between 2016 and 2018, while another one indicated that more than half of consumers (57 percent) have used a retailer’s mobile app while in-store. Yet another one demonstrated that consumers are expected to download 258.2 billion mobile apps in 2022, up from 178.1 billion in 2017.These numbers provide powerful evidence that mobile apps play a fundamental, indispensable role in people’s lives. And they should remain top of mind when apartment communities consider whether to offer residents a mobile app or a mobile-optimized portal.What’s the Design Difference?We all know that the main difference is that apps must be downloaded by the user for use on a mobile device through an app store like Apple or Google Play. Unlike mobile-optimized sites, apps allow businesses to send out push and in-app notifications to the user. Generally speaking, apps can provide users with a more nimble and responsive experience than mobile websites can. Mobile-optimized websites are designed to easily accommodate different screen sizes. Users can access them through their phone browsers without downloading anything to their mobile devices. When contemplating whether to implement a mobile-optimized resident portal to allow residents to do things like make rent payments or file service requests, multifamily operators should bear in mind that users have different communication and……