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Sit down, relax, and browse through The Café Blog—your source for apartment industry news.

We're constantly scouring the Internet for the most relevant, informative multifamily industry articles and tips we can find to share with our readers. In addition, we're home to exclusive essays and helpful hints from our own Leasing Cafe baristas.

Got an article you think we should post or a topic you think we should cover? We'd love to hear from you! Just click the "CONTACT" link at the top right corner of the page and send us your ideas. And don't forget the Coffee Talk Forum -- post your thoughts and get the discussion flowing with other apartment professionals!


"Driving Action and Innovation at the Seriously Easy-Going Community" by Maria Lawson of Ellis Partners

4/14/2014

In the past, many apartment communities have been able to survive even with very limited amounts of innovation. They focused on providing quality products and services, and simply updated them to a level that maintained their competitiveness in the market.

Today, customer expectations are placing more demands on company innovation. They are used to products that continually advance and make their life easier and they don’t expect any less from your team and community. If you are not up for the challenge, they can always go somewhere else.

Innovation is one of the main ways to distinguish your product and services from the competition. If you can’t compete on price, you’ll need innovative products and ideas to make your community stand out from the crowd. READ ARTICLE

"50 Social Media Habits You Can Stop Doing Now" by Ann Handley

2/25/2014
"Google doesn't really have an algorithm to degrade content when it's no longer good advice," says David Spark, the founder of Spark Media Solutions, a writer, and a podcaster.

That means lots of bad advice continues to rank on Google search results.

A few years ago, for example, I advocated following back everyone who followed you or your brand on Twitter. Given the growth of spambots and proliferation of robo-DMs and increasing decibel of noise on social media, I now take a more nuanced approach.

Similarly, three years ago David wrote a white paper, "How to #Trend on Twitter," in which he suggested repeatedly asking followers for retweets. "This is now officially horrible advice," he said recently in a Q&A. "While we want to help our friends out, doing so repeatedly, like asking your friends to help you move, becomes a nuisance and is in no way a form of engagement."

The realization that bad advice continues to badly influence online behavior inspired David to publish the ebook Hazardous to Your Social Media Health: 50 Previously Condoned Behaviors We No Longer Recommend." He surveyed 56 social media industry influencers (including me) and asked us one question: READ ARTICLE

YELP critics must be identified, court rules in online landscape altering decision

1/21/2014
In a decision that could reshape the rules for online consumer reviews, a Virginia court has ruled that the popular website Yelp must turn over the names of seven reviewers who anonymously criticized a prominent local carpet cleaning business. READ ARTICLE

Incandescent Bulb Phase-Out Myths Debunked

1/15/2014
The New Year is bringing big changes to the lighting industry. The final step of the Energy Independence and Security Act takes effect January 1, 2014, which means that incandescent 40- and 60-watt bulbs can no longer be manufactured. According to Osram Sylvania’s Socket Survey, only four out of ten Americans are aware of these changes. Facility managers have dealt with light phase-outs before, with 100-watt (2012) and 75-watt (2013) bulbs in the past. See tips for dealing with lighting phase outs. READ ARTICLE

How to Read Credit Reports from Each of the Three Bureaus

1/14/2014

by The Rent Rite Directory

Can you say you’re completely confident reading each of the different credit reports with their key codes? If you are, this article can serve as a good training guide for your staff on the differences of each of the three credit bureau’s credit reports. Or in case your tenant screening company says they provide you with credit reports, when in reality they only provide you with credit summaries, these guides and codes will come in handy.  READ ARTICLE

"How To Read A Rent Roll" by John Wilhoit JR

12/2/2013
This book is a great overview for anyone investing, managing or owning multi-family real estate.  The book introduces readers to the elements of a rent roll and essential actions required to validate revenue.  We have noticed some mathematical errors in the book, so please work through your numbers carefully. Overall, it is informative and helpful in learning how to read a rent roll.  Available at AMAZON.

NAA Names Leadership Scholarship, Honors Outgoing Chairman Alexandra Jackiw

11/13/2013

NAA Names Leadership Scholarship, Honors Outgoing Chairman Alexandra Jackiw
The National Apartment Association (NAA) has created a scholarship program for apartment industry minority employees as its way of honoring McKinley managing director of residential client services Alex Jackiw, CAPS, CPM, who is a leader in apartment industry education and career promotion. For More Information Click ALEXANDRA JACKIW SCHOLARSHIP.

 

Don’t Fall Victim to the Fake Apartment Reviews Game from EPMSonline

11/7/2013
In this day and age of social media and online reviews, the temptation to defend your brand - including your apartment community and management group - reputation by posting anonymous (and particularly self-serving) reviews has increased.  Garnter, an independent research firm, estimates up to 15% of online reviews will be fake or paid for by 2014. READ ARTICLE.

Builders Begin Work on More Apartments, Plan Fewer Single Homes

10/21/2013

U.S. developers broke ground on new homes at a faster pace in July. But the rise was all due to apartment construction, which is typically volatile. By contrast, builders began work on fewer single-family homes - the bulk of the market - and sought fewer permits to build them.

Friday's report from the Commerce Department suggests that home building is maintaining its recovery but might be starting to feel the effects of higher mortgage rates. Click HERE to read article.

Ellis Shopping Report Multifamily Industry Benchmark 3rd Quarter 2013

10/18/2013
"Welcome to our Third Quarter 2013 Ellis Shopping Report Multifamily Industry Benchmark. We pride ourselves in providing the most current tools to help you monitor and evaluate on-site sales and marketing effectiveness, as well as to be able to compare your team's performance against others in the multifamily industry. Our goal is to help our customers better understand and manage the lead conversion and resident retention processes - both of which are impacted significantly by the customer's perception of their experience." SEE THE REPORT BY CLICKING HERE.

Why Homeownership Is the Greatest Lie Ever Sold

10/8/2013
About 32% of the overall population live in apartments compared to 67% who own their home, according to the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC).
"The real estate industry has done a great job of persuading us that the American dream starts with homeownership--it's the greatest lie ever sold," said Patrick Bet-David, author of Doing the Impossible (Tico, 2012). "Hundreds of thousands of families are going through the pain and struggle of trying to not miss their next mortgage payment simply, because they purchased a home prematurely." READ MORE

20 Easy Ways to Ask For Your Customer's Email Address

9/27/2013
Putting together the greatest email campaign ever doesn’t do you any good unless your emails are being seen by the right people. Building an email list is critical to your marketing efforts, but not every customer – or prospect – is always thrilled to give out their email address...For the 20 Ways, CLICK HERE!

Stay connected to your rental community with ResidentBuddy.com.

9/23/2013

Resident Buddy is the simplest way to stay connected to your rental community.

(Press the monitor to watch the tour.)

5 Keys to Unlock Effective Leasing Conversations

9/18/2013

Are your leasing professionals drowning potential residents with facts, figures, and product information? So much so that your customers feel like they need to carry a can of “leasing professional repellent”? Then you want to learn these five keys to unlock effective leasing conversations.

Pretty much anyone can memorize sales techniques and strategies, and if you focus on doing only that, then you’ll quickly get lost in the crowd. There are a lot of leasing professionals out there doing the same thing—dancing together to the same music: “check off the list and close the sale”...READ FULL ARTICLE

5 Ways to Keep Your 5-Star Leasing Consultant

8/23/2013

By EPMSonline

When a company is fortunate enough to add a super star leasing consultant to their team, they need to make sure they keep that stellar employee for many years to come! With new communities popping up all over town and a plethora of management companies they can choose to work for, you need to make sure that YOUR company stands out in order to retain the best leasing staff.

One of the largest unknown costs to a company is employee turnover. The Center for American Progress estimated in 2012 that it costs on average $4,500 – $10,000 to replace an employee once recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, and reduced productivity were all considered.

So how does a company go about retaining their Super Star leasing consultants?

Here are 5 ways to keep your 5-star leasing consultant...READ MORE

How To Use Google Forms To Create Your Own Self-Grading Quiz

8/14/2013
Are you a teacher or trainer? Someone involved in a hiring process? Do you need to check somehow that other people have the skills or knowledge that you expect them to? Well, you're going to love what you can do using Google Forms. You can create a self-grading test for whatever your purposes are. That's powerful!  Click HERE to find out more.

7 Thoughtful and Creative Ways to Say Thank You

8/9/2013

by EPMSonline

When a customer visits your apartment, reviews your community online, or recommends you to a friend, these occasions all call for a remarkable thank you. No one wants to send that boring follow-up email that is so bland it could potentially discredit the sincere gratitude you intended.

And if you don’t want to send it, I promise you the recipient doesn’t want to read it.  Don’t spoil your customer’s “You’ve Got Mail” moment with a snoozefest of a message...toRead More, CLICK HERE

U.S. Adults Now Spending More Time on Digital Devices Than Watching TV

8/5/2013
By Cotton Delo

American adults this year will for the first time spend more time each day using digital media than watching TV, according to a new report by eMarketer.

Adults in the U.S. are averaging five hours and nine minutes daily with digital media, up from four hours and 31 minutes last year and three hours and 50 minutes in 2011. The amount of time they spend watching TV has essentially stayed flat in that time period. It was pegged at four hours and 31 minutes this year, down slightly from four hours and 38 minutes in 2012...to Read More, CLICK HERE

Cracking Today's Digital Natives: 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Marketing to Millennials

8/1/2013
By Allison Jordan, Intern, Zócalo Group

Millennials have presented marketers with an interesting challenge. Generation Y operates in a completely new way, in part because of the highly digital world we grew up in. Millennials not only purchase goods differently, but consume media, advertisements, and WOM recommendations differently as well. We value self-expression and creativity while being tech-savvy and open minded. Millennials possess an optimistic outlook and truly believe that we can change the world.

In a media-filled world where there are promotional materials bombarding an already desensitized generation, how does a company break through? By listening and really getting to know their target audience. More than any other generation, millennials value relationships with brands that are authentic and have a one-on-one feel. Here are five key insights to remember before ever entering a strategy meeting...CLICK HERE

Facebook Is Going To Let You Embed Your Posts Across The Internet, But There's A Catch

8/1/2013

By Kevin Smith

Facebook announced today that you'll be allowed to embed posts — like status updates, posts with hashtags, and videos— to other sites on the Internet.

AllThingsD's Mike Issac offers this interesting perspective explaining the purpose behind Facebook's new embedded posts:

The point is this: Having the world’s largest “private” social network is certainly a powerful thing. But Facebook wants to edge in on the real-time nature of Twitter’s network, pushing Facebook content out to other sites and thereby increasing distribution and the reach of a global conversation...READ ARTICLE

The One Thing Successful People Never Do

7/18/2013

By Bernard Marr

Success comes in all shapes and colours. You can be successful in your job and career but you can equally be successful in your marriage, at sports or a hobby. Whatever success you are after there is one thing all radically successful people have in common: Their ferocious drive and hunger for success makes them never give up.

Successful people (or the people talking or writing about them) often paint a picture of the perfect ascent to success. In fact, some of the most successful people in business, entertainment and sport have failed. Many have failed numerous times but they have never given up. Successful people are able to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and carry on trying...to Read more, CLICK HERE

Study warns Gen Xers frustrated with traditional corporate roles

7/17/2013
Gen Xers have long been jaded with the traditional corporate structure – hierarchies don’t sit well with this group that gives respect via personal interactions rather than at the command of an org chart. Still, the corporate world has its perks and Gen Xers were known to negotiate for them – flex time, company cell phones, telecommuting – these were the hallmarks of the generation. Today, studies indicate these perks may not be enough...Read the FULL ARTICLE

Ellis Shopping Report Multifamily Industry Benchmark 2nd Quarter 2013

7/16/2013

Welcome to our Second Quarter 2013 Ellis Shopping Report Multifamily Benchmark. In January 2014, Ellis will celebrate our 30th year as a feedback company and multifamily partner. We pride ourselves in providing the most current tools to help you monitor and evaluate on-site sales and marketing effectiveness, as well as to be able to compare your team’s performance against others in the industry. The buying decision of today’s renter – in fact, any customer – is impacted significantly by the customer experience. The value of the customer’s perception of their experience is something we cannot ignore as we continue to help our customers better understand and manage the lead conversion and resident retention processes...To Read Full Report, CLICK HERE!

Multifamily Insiders Webinar Wednesdays: Reinvent the Resident Event

7/3/2013

Presented by Heather Blume
July 10, 2013
2:00 PM (EST)
$29.99 each

It's time to reinvent the resident event! In this webinar, Behind the Leasing Desk's Heather Blume will share some of the most innovative resident events she's seen in the last year, as well as a few untested ideas. Going beyond just a list of good ideas, Heather will then take you through the steps to write an execution plan and timeline for your event to help produce a resident gathering that will be interesting, interactive, and draw your community in, while creating an excellent marketing and retention opportunity for your property!

(To Register, click the image.)

**This webinar is eligible for Continuing Education Credits!

MHN's Utility and Energy Management: Legislative & Regulatory Trends

7/2/2013

Free Live Webcast, sponsored by NWP Services Corporation
July 9, 2013, 2:00 PM (EST)

What you need to know and how it can impact your bottom line

Legislation on the federal, state, municipal or utility levels has the capacity to significantly disrupt utility billing and expense management programs of multifamily owners and managers. These disruptions or modifications, in turn, can significantly affect the bottom line of owners and managers. This webinar will detail distinct pieces of legislation in the utility and energy management sectors, as well as larger legislative and regulatory trends which may be coming soon to your jurisdiction.

To Register, CLICK HERE!*

ApartmentRatings.com: Critical for Marketing? by Donald Davidoff

6/27/2013

There are many different opinions about the value of social media in multi-family housing. Readers of this blog should be pretty aware of mine. But the one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that ratings sites are important. There's a lot of debate about what to do with ratings sites, but everyone seems to agree there's some "there" there. READ ARTICLE

3 keys for marketing to millennials

6/23/2013

By Annlee Ellingson

With 76 million members, generation Y is “the most talked-about, researched, marketed-to generation ever,” according to Melissa Lavigne-Delville, vice president of strategic insights and culture education at NBCUniversal.
That’s a mouthful of a title; what it means is Lavigne-Delville analyzes demographic data to help the media conglomerate’s sales executives sell commercials and ad space throughout its portfolio. Among the division’s projects is “Y Now,” a comprehensive report/film on millennials and how to reach them.
What Lavigne-Delville and her team found might surprise you: To read more, CLICK MORE

2013 NAA Military Career Fair

6/19/2013

Consider hiring a veteran - disciplined, loyal, resilient, to name just a few traits. The National Apartment Association will be holding a Military Career Fair in conjunction with the NAA Education Conference in San Diego this month. The career fair will be held at the San Diego Convention Center on Wednesday, June 19, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Is your company registered?

For more information about hiring U.S. Veterans, CLICK HERE!

Managing the Perception of Your Community Through Your Apartment Reviews

6/19/2013
By  Misty Sanford

Do you know that consumer reviews are trusted nearly 12 times more than product descriptions that come from companies?  That is huge!  Your prospects don’t trust your traditional marketing tools – including the information on your website.  They want to know what other residents think of you. To read more, CLICK HERE

National Landlord Bans Smoking in Properties Nationwide

6/13/2013

By C. J. HUGHES

In a move that may enrage those who enjoy a cigarette on their couch after work, but delight air-freshener-wielding neighbors, a major landlord has banned smoking in all of its apartments across the country.

As of this month, the Related Companies has decided that tenants can no longer light up in the 40,000 rental units it owns or manages. The edict, which builds on an effort that began for Related with a handful of its New York buildings in 2009, is meant to create healthier living conditions, company officials said. READ FULL ARTICLE

Get the Most out of Shopping Your Competition

6/10/2013

By: Maria Lawson

The 3 O's of Shopping Your Competition...

I still remember my first day as a leasing consultant as if it were yesterday. My new boss greeted me at the clubhouse entry with the Apartment Guide and a yellow notepad. She said, “Go shop your competition!” I was nervous and excited.

I have shopped thousands of apartment communities since then, and I have learned there are three distinct levels of shopping your competition and that the best results come from using all of them.  READ FULL ARTICLE

10 essential tips for your company’s web design project

6/7/2013

Joe Griffin, co-founder & CEO at iAcquire

Re-launching a website is a massive, multi-layered task for any business.

You have to make decisions not only about design and branding — a re-launch requires a seemingly endless checklist of tasks: benchmarking, content strategy, audience research, SEO, back-end hosting … the list goes on. Plus, as a business every decision is hinged on ROI: What impact will the remodeled website have on your business’ traffic, engagement, and conversion?...



These tips can serve as a blueprint, checklist, and guide for your enterprise’s future website remodeling plans. FULL ARTICLE

NAA/NMHC Launch New "Apartments.

5/15/2013

NAA/NMHC today unveiled a new integrated public relations campaign titled "Apartments. We Live Here." This first-ever pro-apartment PR campaign reflects 18 months of work and is designed tell policymakers the story about how in communities across the country, apartments work-helping people live in a home that's right for them. READ ARTICLE

To Shop or Not to Shop?

5/10/2013

Mystery Shopping: The Great Debate By Lisa Iannucci, Contributing Editor Multi-Housing News

Mystery shoppers are paid to visit a property and act like a potential resident. After the shoppers are done, they complete a questionnaire about how they were treated. The multifamily industry has been using mystery shoppers for quite a few years to make certain their employees were doing a good job, but lately the debate over whether or not the program actually works has heated up. READ ARTICLE

 

4 Ways Your Community Could Help the Boston Marathon Bombing Victims or Show Support

4/18/2013

By Jessica Fiur, News Editor

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, many are still in shock and want to do anything in our power to help out. In your apartment community, there are several different ways for you and your residents to help the victims of this tragedy and others, to show support, or to help other people in need...For the full article, CLICK HERE

"How to Get Employees to Care as Much as You Do" by John Warrillow

4/7/2014

Outstanding information on how to grow your business and success.

"To build a valuable company you can walk away from—whether by selling it or just to leave for a vacation—requires that you figure out how to get your employees to care as much as you do.

For advice on the matter, I spoke with Ken Blanchard, whose books, including Raving Fans and The One Minute Manager, have sold more than 13 million copies worldwide.

Blanchard, who is about to release a book about Southwest Airlines with president emeritus Colleen Barrett, started our conversation by explaining how Southwest gets employees to care:

Blanchard: Southwest has posted a profit in each of the last 37 years—a time when the entire airline industry in the United States has posted a net loss. They have a truly special culture." READ ARTICLE

 

 

 

 

"Make The Appointment So You Can Make the Sale" by Lori Hammond

2/18/2014

You’re finishing up the notes on a guest card. Your manager asks, “Was that a successful leasing call?” As a trained leasing professional, you start your mental checklist:

You didn’t give a price the first time the prospect asked, “How much is a two bedroom?” You took control of the conversation. You were able to answer all of the prospects questions, using descriptive phrases, and incorporating open ended questions of your own. Your guest card is complete with the prospects contact information. You know how the prospect heard about your property.READ ARTICLE

All Facebook Image Dimensions: Timeline, Posts, Ads by Jon Loomer

1/23/2014
Very helpful info graphic for posting in various places on Facebook.  READ ARTICLE

How to Have a Banner Career in Apartment Operations by Steve Matre

1/22/2014
Apartment property management is becoming an increasingly demanding profession, and those who look to make it a career are being called on to broaden their skill sets considerably. Those who are rising to the top not only are well-versed in operations, maintenance, and leasing, but also have customer service skills, business acumen, and technology expertise. No one knows this better than Steve Matre, Director of Education, Marketing, and Development at Banner Property Management LLC, who sat down with us recently. What follows is our chat: - See more at BANNER.

Ellis Fourth Quarter 2013 Benchmark Report

1/16/2014
"Welcome to the Fourth Quarter 2013 Ellis Shopping Report Multifamily Industry Benchmark. We are proud to be your partner and strive to help you better understand and manage the lead conversion and resident retention processes. Our team continues to  provide you with the most current and effective tools to help you monitor and evaluate on-site sales and marketing effectiveness, as well as to be able to compare your team’s performance against others in the industry. The importance of the customer’s perception of their experience with your team and product cannot be ignored. This perception determines the true value to the customer related to the problem he needs to solve or aspirations she wants to fulfill." READ SURVEY

Fewer single people are buying their own home

1/9/2014

When it comes to home buying, fewer people are going it alone.

The percentage of homes purchased by single buyers across the country has fallen 10 percentage points since 2006, according to Redfin, a national real estate company. The drop comes despite an increase in the number of people who live alone. READ ARTICLE

 

 

8 Threats to Apartment Owners in 2014 by Les Shaver

1/6/2014

As the rest of the economy has foundered, apartment owners have surged coming out of the recession. But the good times might not last forever. Here are eight things that could wreck their joyride.

1. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac


It’s been more than five years since the speculation about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac started, yet they remain a vital source of liquidity in the sector, especially in secondary and tertiary markets (where other lenders are less likely to go). “Fannie and Freddie are the most dominant lending sources in our industry,” says John Sebree, director of Calabasas, Calif.–based Marcus & Millichap’s National Multi-Housing Group. “If that is changed, it will have an effect on our values and our ability to finance properties.”

2. Unemployment


The apartment sector has seen great rent growth over the past few years without its customers enjoying real income growth. If the sector wants to continue to grow, employment, and wages, must increase. And, if things regress, the industry will suffer. “You put unemployment and the economy in the macro bucket,” says Dan Fasulo, managing director at New York–based Real Capital Analytics. “They’ll be hovering above everything we do and directly impacting values.”  CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE.

Sales Strengthening in US Multifamily

11/5/2013
Sales volumes for multifamily properties in the U.S. jumped 47 percent during the third quarter after a relatively slow second quarter, led by activity in western markets.

Third quarter, national sales volumes for multifamily property reached $25 billion, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. 

"Several factors -- such as the 'housing hangover,' the rise in household formation and population growth within two key renter demographics (Echo Boomers and empty nesters) -- continue to support robust demand for rental apartments," Brady Titcomb, research manager, multifamily, for JLL, said in the report...FULL ARTICLE HERE

Visit www.theGatesNotes.com

5/28/2013

The official website of Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft.

 

(To visit this site, click the image...)

Have a Great Memorial Day Weekend!

5/24/2013

Using Consumer Reports: What Landlords Need to Know

5/20/2013
If you're a landlord, you may use consumer reports to evaluate rental applications - as long as you follow the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is designed to protect the privacy of consumer report information and to guarantee that the information supplied by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) is as accurate as possible. The FCRA requires landlords who deny a lease based on information in the applicant's consumer report to provide the applicant with an "adverse action notice."  To Read Full Article, CLICK HERE!

Blackstone to Hire 50,000 Vets Over Next 5 Years

4/30/2013
Blackstone (NYSE:BX) announced it has partnered with The White House to support veterans and military families. Led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, “Joining Forces” is a national initiative to encourage private sector hiring of America’s veterans. Blackstone plans to hire 50,000 veterans across its portfolio of companies over the next five years.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE...

SatisFacts Announces First-Ever Benchmark Properties

4/24/2013

Highest Property Scores for Priority Annual Resident Satisfaction Survey Questions Recognized

SatisFacts is thrilled to announce the inaugural recognition of properties who achieved Benchmark Status on priority satisfaction topics on their Annual Resident Satisfaction Surveys. To be eligible for Benchmark Status, the community had to meet the following criteria: CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Ellis First Quarter 2013 Benchmark Report

4/17/2013

The flowers are blooming, trees are budding, and people in general are happier. Yes, it is spring – a time of growth, renewal, and rebirth. We thought it would be the perfect time to change the look and approach of the Ellis Shopping Report Multifamily Industry Benchmark – so we did. Each change we make supports our vision and commitment to the growing needs of our customers. We hope that you will find our new report fresh, inviting, and full of valuable content.

The Treasure Hunt: Understanding the Customer Experience Journey through Their Eyes

The 1849 California Gold Rush was sparked by the discovery of gold nuggets in the Sacramento Valley area. This was arguably one of the most significant events to shape American history during the first half of the 19th century. Flash forward 165 years, and we have a new kind of ‘gold rush’...For full article, CLICK HERE