Posts Tagged ‘AppFolio’

Will Affordability Constrain Rents?

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

calculators

In recent years, the number of renters increased as homeownership declined. According to the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard, this country is enjoying the highest proportional rental demand in half of a century. As demand has grown, rental rates have spiked across most large markets in the United States. Average total rates have increased, and they have also grown as a percentage of the average renter’s income.

Of course, property owners and managers benefit from high rental demand and increasing rental prices. Still, rental affordability has become a serious concern with urban planners and housing departments. Rental demand is expected to keep growing during the next decade and maybe even after that. There might be some concerns that both the issue of affordability and an increased inventory supply will put a cap on that growth in the future; however, that doesn’t mean that demand is expected to decline.

Why Affordability Might Constrain Rental Prices

Despite recent growth in rental prices, according to the Urban Land Institute, these are some signs that affordability may start putting the lid on increasing prices soon:

Millennials: One of the major populations to favor renting over buying more than they used to has been 25- to 34-year old adults. Getting married and having kids tend to be the kind of life events that are associated with purchasing a home. These events were also declining, but that trend seems to be reversing. An increase in homeownership is expected to follow.

Interest rates for mortgages: Interest rates did increase a little, but they rose only slightly from historically low levels. If borrowers can obtain low-interest mortgages, homeownership might seem cheaper than renting for some individuals and families. This may be particularly true for the high-end rental markets where most renters do have a choice.

Rental inventories: Right now, many U.S. markets enjoy occupancy rates of 95 percent or more. However, these occupancy rates have attracted more investors into the market. As more apartments get built or single-family homes get converted to rentals, supply will increase. If supplies begin to overtake demand, rental rates could soften.

Renter incomes: In addition, about 46 percent of renters paid more than 30 percent of their household rents in 2014. Typically, rent between 25 to 30 percent of income is considered affordable. This is an increase in rent as a percentage of income from about 40 percent for renters in 2004. At some point, unaffordable rents could force people to find some other housing alternative, and this could decrease demand.

There is Still Plenty of Room for the Rental Market to Grow

Despite these concerns, there’s no reason to feel pessimistic about the U.S. rental market. Officially, rents have increased by about three percent a year, but that calculation includes some rent-controlled areas. According to investment trusts, the true rate of increases has been approaching five percent. In 2009, there were only a little over 100,000 multifamily starts in the entire country. That number should increase to over 400,000 this year and approach 460,000 in the next couple of years.

The demand for rental properties is still expected to increase over the next decade. The Urban Land Institute’s report was very optimistic about the rental market as a whole. Concerns that were expressed centered mostly about the issue of affordability, particularly in some parts of the country. Even though the market for more expensive rentals for high-income families and individuals is expected to increase, it may be more limited than the market for middle-class and working-class housing. The caution was to make sure that the particular market for each type of property was really as large as anticipated.

The post Will Affordability Constrain Rents? appeared first on The Official AppFolio Blog.

A Quick Check Up on the 2016 Property Management Industry

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

It’s always smart to prepare for changes in the real estate market, but busy property managers may find that keeping up with the demands of their rental units leaves them with little time to follow industry trends. Take a few minutes to check in with regional and national forecasts for 2016 to make the right decisions and keep your property full all year long.

2016 National and Regional Vacancy Rates

2015 was a good year for real estate, and 2016 is poised to be another. Expect to see vacancy rates dip even lower nationwide, with rents remaining strong. This is good news for property managers in much of the U.S. and tough news for renters. Tenants looking for a good deal will have a difficult time. Compared to 2008, when there was a supply of vacant new construction apartments in need of filling, there are far fewer vacancies to drive rent prices down.

While vacancy rates are low nationwide, some cities may have higher vacancy rates at present. New York City, for example, is seeing an increase in new construction that is driving the city’s vacancy rate up. To stay competitive amidst the wider stock of open units, landlords in the five boroughs area will need to put the brakes on rent increases. If this trend spills over into other metro markets, it could cool the rental market nationwide.

Low oil prices can also have a negative effect on some markets, namely Houston. As oil prices remains stagnant and drilling is on hold in oil-rich states, many who worked in the industry face job cuts that threaten their livelihood. Property managers in affected metro markets may need to keep rents stable or be extra attentive to renters to keep units occupied despite the sector slump.

Urban vs. Suburban Rental Stock

Along with Millennials, who are committed to renting either by personal preference or an inability to quality for a mortgage of their own, expect Boomers to sell off the suburban empty nest and seek to move closer to the city for the full live/work/play experience.

While the suburbs do have a higher vacancy rate, reduced rental unit supply in urban areas along with high costs of rent will help drive some renters out to the suburbs. Look for renewed interest in suburban homes among renters who want more value for their dollar. If you manage units in the city as well as in the suburbs just outside, this renewed interest in the suburbs is good news.

Expect these rental patterns to hold through 2016. Savvy property managers can add value to their rental units and incentivize tenants to continue to pay premium rents by creating an attractive and elegant common area that creates community in the apartment complex.

How Property Managers Can Stay Ahead in 2016

Busy property managers who are still doing things by hand should consider 2016 the year to invest in effective property management software. Such software can help property managers save time, stay on top of vacancies, easily advertise units, quickly screen tenants, and handle tenant applications.

Since low vacancies mean that maximum profit is gleaned from every rental unit, 2016 is a good year to invest in infrastructure and maintenance. If property owners have been putting off needed repairs to common areas, or you know that the building’s HVAC systems are old and inefficient, suggest spending money modernizing the apartment. These improvements are easily offset by the income from rental units, and help to make the apartment or condo complex more attractive in down cycles as well.

Owner-managers who seek additional real estate holdings should invest in multifamily units, which offer a greater return on investment than single family homes. In the second half of 2015, demand for multifamily units was strong and Freddie Mac forecasts that this demand will remain strong into the foreseeable future.

We always want you to stay up on the trends, so don’t miss our upcoming webinar (3/24) with Axiometrics. Register Today.

What other regional or national trends are you watching for 2016? Let us know in the comments!

The post A Quick Check Up on the 2016 Property Management Industry appeared first on The Official AppFolio Blog.

How Not to Get Sued (Part 2)

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

lawsuit

We had such an overwhelming number of great questions during a recent webinar with Puneet Singh on How Not to Get Sued. So here you go! Your questions, answered by various attorneys at the Law Offices of Kimball, Tirey, and St. John LLC.

Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP specializes in business and real estate law, landlord/tenant, and collections with offices throughout California. This article is informational only and should not be used as legal advice. Check with your attorney before acting. If you have any questions regarding the answers provided below please call (800) 525-1690.

Service Animals

Q. Can you ask for paperwork showing that a pet is an assistance animal? May we ask for proof on assisted animals and not take the word of the applicant? What type of proof will do?

A. You are entitled to verification that the resident has a disability and needs the animal due to the disability, unless the disability and need are apparent. The verification does not need to be in any particular form or format and can come from a health care provider or a non-health care provider source such as a credible third party in a position to know about the person’s disability and needs, a peer support group, or a non-medical service agency.

Q. The TAA conference says even if it’s an ADA pet, it’s a good idea they sign the TAA pet addendum. Do they need to or not?

A. Since pet addenda often contain things that are not appropriate for assistive animals (such as pet deposits, pet rent, restrictions on size, type, breed or numbers of pets and restrictions on where the resident can take the animal in the community) we recommend utilizing a separate addendum of rules of conduct for assistive animals that covers behavior issues such as keeping the animal leashed, cleaning up after it, making sure it doesn’t create a nuisance or act aggressively, etc.

Q. I’ve seen online that people can buy an emotional distress animal form for $150. Is that something that can be used or do the pet owners have to have a form from a medical professional?

A. The HUD and Department of Justice Joint Statements on Reasonable Accommodations and Assistance Animals state that verification can come from a medical professional or other sources: a credible third party in a position to know about the person’s disability and needs, a non-medical service agency, a peer support group or a self-statement such as proof that a person under 65 is receiving SSI or SSDI (which would prove the disability itself, but you would still be entitled to verification of the disability-related need for an animal). A certificate or card showing that the animal is registered as an emotional support animal does not meet the verification test as those certificates and cards can be purchased without any proof of disability and disability-related need.

Q. Do accommodation pets still have to follow community policies?

A. Landlords may establish reasonable rules of conduct for assistive animals. Since pet addenda often contain things that are not appropriate for assistive animals (such as pet deposits, pet rent, restrictions on size, type, breed or numbers of pets and restrictions on where the resident can take the animal in the community) we recommend utilizing a separate addendum of rules of conduct for assistive animals that covers behavior issues such as keeping the animal leashed, cleaning up after it, making sure it doesn’t create a nuisance or act aggressively, etc.

Q. Are we able to charge a Pet Deposit for Service Animals?

A. No, you cannot charge a pet deposit or an increased security deposit for an assistive animal.

Q. If I charge two times the rent for an unfurnished property can I also add a pet deposit?

A. It depends on the laws of your state regarding security deposit. In California, you would not be able to charge an additional pet deposit because the maximum total security deposit allowed by CA law is 2x the rent for an unfurnished unit. You can never charge a pet deposit for an assistive animal, regardless of what state you are in.

Security Deposits

Q. Does a tenant lose the right to dispute the deposit if the payment was made electronically? Do you need to have them accept the amount of the deposit before transferring?

A. No, the tenant does not lose the right to dispute the deposit if the payment was made electronically. The second part of the question is unclear so more information is needed before an answer can be provided.

Harassment/Discrimination

Q. What is the landlord’s obligation to address harassment of protected classes by other tenants?

Landlords should have a zero tolerance policy towards harassment of any kind. When tenants are harassing others based on their protected class, the landlord can be held liable for discrimination if the landlord does not take affirmative action to stop the harassment. The harassers should be warned in writing that the behavior is unacceptable, that it constitutes discrimination (which the landlord does not tolerate from anyone) and that if it continues, the landlord may have to terminate the tenancy. If the harassment doesn’t stop, the landlord should take steps to terminate the tenancy in accordance with relevant state landlord-tenant law.

Disabilities

Q. I have a senior apartment building and I only have room for 3 handicapped parking spaces. What can I do if I have more than 3 tenants with handicapped tags?

A. The first thing you should do is have the property evaluated by a Certified Access Specialist (CAsP) to make sure that the current parking configuration complies with all applicable accessibility laws. Assuming the parking configuration is in compliance, then your only obligation would be to try and accommodate any resident that asked for a parking accommodation. This can include things like giving a resident an assigned space if parking is not normally assigned; giving the resident a different assigned space (if one is available); putting the resident at the top of any wait list for the next available space that meets his/her needs (behind anyone on the list that does not have a disability-related parking request, but ahead of any other parking accommodation requests already on the list); or offering to let the person out of their lease without penalty if you cannot meet their disability-related parking needs.

Q. If we were built in 1988, then we do not need handicap parking, correct?

A. Not necessarily. If you have any public parking (for example, future resident parking) the property must have disabled parking in order to comply with the ADA, which does not grandfather-in older properties. If all of your parking is private (i.e., reserved for residents) then you may not need disabled parking under the federal Fair Housing Act. However, some states and local jurisdictions may require it. The best way to ensure that your property is in compliance with all relevant accessibility laws is to have the property evaluated by a Certified Access Specialist (CAsP).

Q. What notification is required from a tenant in the event of a change of disability status, i.e. if in mid-lease he or she becomes disabled, or now requires a service animal?

A. The only time a tenant would be required to notify you of a disability would be if the tenant was requesting a reasonable accommodation (such as an assistive animal) or a reasonable modification (a physical change to the unit or common areas to allow the resident full and equal use and enjoyment of the property). If the tenant makes an accommodation or modification request, then you are entitled to verification of disability and disability-related need for the accommodation/modification, unless either or both are readily apparent.

Q. We are an historic building and we do not have elevators or parking spaces and we only have stairs. Are we in danger of ADA Laws?

A. Possibly. The best way to ensure that your property is in compliance with all relevant accessibility laws is to have the property evaluated by a Certified Access Specialist (CAsP).

Q. If someone breaches the lease and we have multiple complaints in writing, why can’t we evict them? Since we are not allowed to ask about their mental illness?

If a resident’s behavior is caused by a known or suspected mental disability, there is generally a responsibility to try and accommodate the person before evicting. This generally means giving the person extra opportunities to comply with the lease before taking steps to evict. If the person still doesn’t comply, you may ultimately have to evict.

No-Smoking

Q. Can tenants who use e-cigarettes be denied for tenancy in a non-smoking building?

A. Tenants who use e-cigarettes cannot be denied housing (Fair Housing issues), even in smoke-free complexes, based on their use of e-cigarettes, however, complexes can regulate smoking on the premises, including the use of e-cigarettes. Existing laws in California restrict or prohibit the smoking of tobacco in various public places, including residential dwelling units. Senate Bill 648 was proposed in 2013 to expand the definition of smoking tobacco to include e-cigarettes and “vaping.” Many California cities have ordinances that prohibit smoking (including vaping) in multi-unit housing complexes, including, Santa Rosa, Foster City, San Mateo County, El Cerrito, Los Angeles County, Corte Madera, and Mammoth Lakes, and many leases will individually regulate smoking and vaping within their buildings and/or common areas.

Q. If a tenant is smoking pot in a unit and then produces a medical card, must I allow him to smoke in the unit?

A. There are arguments to be made for not allowing it. Even if your state has legalized marijuana for medical purposes, marijuana is still an illegal drug under federal law. Also, if the drifting smoke is bothering other residents, you may be able to argue that this is a nuisance. Some landlords decide not to focus on the issue of state vs federal law and instead focus on the drifting smoke. If the resident can find another method of using the medical marijuana that doesn’t involve smoking (and thus doesn’t disturb the neighbors) then the landlord will allow it. Other landlords take a “zero tolerance” approach due to the illegality under federal law and the issue of drifting smoke.

Cleaning/Maintenance/Inspections

Q. What would you suggest we do if a tenant is not cooperating with management’s efforts to perform pest control (bed bug) treatments?

If a resident is not complying with management’s efforts to perform pest control for bed bugs, such as not preparing their unit, first look to the lease agreement to see if it contains language that would make it possible to enforce the necessary treatment. However, if the lease agreement does not include specific language about bed bugs, or pest control in general, it may be possible to serve a 3-Day Cure Covenant or Quit Notice for a breach of some other provision of the lease agreement, such as failing to maintain a clean and sanitary household, in order to either obtain possession of the unit or to force the resident to comply with pest control requirements.

Q. Are bed bugs a tenant-caused problem therefore it’s there responsibility to get rid of them?

A. Bed Bugs are known as the hitchhikers of the insect world. They are most often carried into the unit on someone’s clothing or by hiding in used electronics, furnishings, or other items. It is often very difficult to determine the source of a bed bug infestation unless it can be pinpointed to one specific unit. However, even then, the resident may not even know how the infestation occurred or that they are the source. Because California Civil Code Section 1941 states that a landlord must repair items that make the property uninhabitable, it is the landlord’s responsibility to obtain and provide proper pest control treatment unless the lease agreement provides specific language that places the responsibility on the tenant to pay for, or reimburse the landlord for, the cost of necessary treatment.

Q. What if you can certify that that you did not rent the unit infested with bed bugs? That the resident brought them in?

A. Many landlords now use leases that include a bed bug addendum that states, among other things, that the unit was free of any bed bug infestation at the time the resident took possession of the unit. The addendum will often shift the burden of the cost of any bed bug treatment needed after the resident takes possession of the unit to the resident, unless it can be shown that the source of the infestation is another unit. Absent specific language to that effect, the landlord remains responsible under California law to provide a habitable property and provide necessary treatment and/or repairs for uninhabitable conditions, including a bed bug infestation.

Q. Under the new mold law, if a tenant requests a mold test by a third-party are we required to have it done? Is it only considered mold when code compliance says it is mold?

A. The new mold law does not require testing by a third-party if requested by a tenant. The new law also provides that in order for suspected mold to be considered a substandard condition, it must be identified as mold by a health or code enforcement officer.

Q. What about mold in a garage? Is that enough for a tenant to break a lease?

A. A tenant may terminate the lease in situations where defects in the premises (including the garage) are serious and directly related to the tenant’s health and safety and the defect was not of the tenant’s own making. In order for the tenant to utilize this remedy, the tenant must first give the landlord oral or written notice of the defect and a reasonable time to make repairs.

Q. On the topic of hoarding, would you recommend contacting the city officials to help with the residence being unsanitary?

A. This is a possibility. However, you need to realize that many city agencies (such as fire, health, or code enforcement) will cite the landlord for violations, rather than citing the tenant. You might check to see if there is a hoarding task force in your area as sometimes they can point you and/or your tenant in the direction of resources that can help without getting the property cited for code violations. If you Google “hoarding task forces” it will direct you to a website that has a list of all hoarding tasks forces in the U.S.

Q. How do we accommodate hoarding? Health and Safety, Fire Hazard. Why should a landlord spend money cleaning up their messes?

A. Because hoarding is a mental disability, landlords are generally required to try and accommodate by working with the resident to give them time to remedy the health and safety issues. The goal is not for the landlord to spend money cleaning up the unit, but rather to get the tenant to clean up the unit. This can involve breaking what needs to be done down into manageable tasks and giving reasonable time periods for accomplishment of each task. You should consult with an attorney who has experience dealing with fair housing and hoarding situations for specific advice if you encounter a hoarding situation, as no two situations are exactly alike and mishandling the matter can result in potential fair housing liability.

Employment

Q. What would you do if an employee request to have a dog in the office and some of your employee are allergic to pet?

A. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does require employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees with qualifying disability if doing so won’t impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. An allergy is likely to be covered as a disability under the ADA (which covers “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities”). If a doctor can come up with some reasonable accommodations to address the allergy, the employer has to either grant the accommodation, engage in the interactive process with the doctor and the employee to come up with an alternative accommodation, or demonstrate an undue hardship.

If there is no accommodation that would allow the employee to work in the presence of dogs, then the other question to ask is of the employer, namely, whether the dogs are an accommodation for anyone else’s disability. (The ADA also covers emotional support dogs and service dogs, so you have a real problem if the dogs are there due to disabilities of coworkers.) If not, then a reasonable accommodation might be to ask that the dogs be kept at home or in a doggy day care.

One accommodation that would work would be banning all the dogs (except service dogs) from the office. That is something the employer needs to consider seriously. An accommodation is not reasonable and does not need to be offered if it would create an ‘undue hardship’ for the employer. Usually that means an unreasonable expense to the employer. But here, there would not be a direct expense of banning dogs from the office. Rather the employer should consider the impact of the accommodation upon the operation of the facility, including the impact on the ability of other employees to perform their duties and the impact on the facility’s ability to conduct business. Banning the dogs would lower morale, but it would not appear to harm the business itself or the business’ operations. This is not a veterinary clinic where it is necessary to have dogs in the workplace. The business can presumably operate without animals in the workplace. So while banning dogs may be a drastic change and hurt morale, the employer must consider doing this in order to comply with the ADA.

Other

Q. Can you give example of an out of pocket loss for late rent? And, is this California law? Does it apply to all states?

A. An example of “out of pocket loss” for late rent would include time and money a landlord may spend on collecting rent from a tenant when they pay rent late. Late fees are allowed only if they are specified in the lease and only if the actual cost to the landlord can be determined. In this case, it is important to only charge the tenant the actual cost and keep back up materials used to calculate the actual cost.

Under California law, if the exact cost to the landlord for a tenant breach can be calculated, only the actual cost may be charged to a tenant. If the actual cost to the landlord cannot be determined with certainty then consider refraining from charging any amount, or be very conservative when setting the amount. You should also keep backup materials used in your unsuccessful attempt to calculate the actual cost to the landlord. If you decide to list an amount in the lease as a liquidated damage amount, include specific language in liquidated damage clauses to increase the likelihood of surviving judicial scrutiny. Your attorney can assist you in drafting the appropriate language for your lease.

Lastly, before imposing late fees, the landlord should conduct a risk/benefit analysis. Keep in mind that if a late fee is challenged, a landlord may be required to defend itself in a lawsuit and will incur defense costs even if the charge is later deemed by a court to be acceptable

This advice is specific to California only, we recommend you contact an attorney in your state to determine which laws apply to late fees.

Q. Regarding outdated leases which were signed in a time period where the details WERE legal, should they be resigned with currently legal leases?

A. The legal terms of the original lease would still apply. However, the costs of outdated leases with provisions that are no longer legal, could lead to unwanted rent claims, attorney’s fees and litigation costs, therefore, whenever possible it is best to execute new, updated leases with updated provisions. For a comprehensive list of prohibited items, see California Civil Code Section 1953.

Q. Can a tenant deny requests for showings after giving notice to move out?

A. Under California Civil Code Section 1954(a)(2), a landlord has a right to enter a rental unit to show the unit to prospective tenants after giving at least 24-hours written notice to the tenant, or if the tenant consents to the entry. Entry must be made during regular business hours and should otherwise be reasonable. This is the case whether the tenant gives the landlord a notice of intent to vacate the unit or the landlord terminates the tenancy. However, it is never a good idea to force the issue and demand entry into a unit if a tenant makes it clear that they do not consent to entry into their unit, as they might try to claim that the landlord is invading the tenant’s privacy or using the entry as a means to harass the tenant.

Q. Would like to know if the 21 day security deposit refund requirement refers to the day the deposit is mailed and what about ACH payments that take an extra day to process. Tenants often think they should “receive” the deposit in 21 days.

A landlord must provide an accounting of a security deposit to the tenant no later than 21 days after the tenant has vacated. The accounting, and any refund of the deposit, must be postmarked on or before the 21st day. If you are returning the refund via automated clearinghouse (ACH), you must initiate the transfer before the end of the 21st day.

Q. We are an SRO, if a person or applicant have a child, we tell them that this building is only for one person…is this okay?

A. It may depend on the laws of your state that govern SROs as well as your state fair housing enforcing agency’s position on what a reasonable occupancy standard is for an SRO. You should consult with an attorney in your state that is experienced in handling fair housing matters.

 

The post How Not to Get Sued (Part 2) appeared first on The Official AppFolio Blog.

3 Common Marketing Mistakes Every Property Manager Makes (At Least Once)

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

propertymanager_stressed

People need a place to live as much as they need clothes on their backs. Take a moment to think about your favorite department store. Think about what makes their clothes, brands, or style so attractive to you. More than likely, your tastes are partially manufactured by the way that the brand presents their products. Your favorite pair of pants? You saw those in an eye-catching email advertisement. That coat you’re never seen without? You saw that on a website homepage. Why should your marketing efforts as a property manager be any less enticing? We’ve pinpointed a few marketing mistakes that property managers make every day when advertising their properties, and how you can save time, money, and the environment by NOT making them.

#1 – Immobile

The internet is everywhere, on almost every mobile device. Even if you have a website that looks great on your desktop, are you sure that it looks good on smartphones? Recent trends show that 84% of current or prospective renters actively search using mobile devices. In fact, 4 out of 5 millennials have smartphones and perform almost every research task on them. If your marketing efforts aren’t tailored towards people using mobile devices to find rentals, then you have a great opportunity to increase your search traffic by 30% just by having a mobile-friendly website. If you’re a property manager without a website, or if you’re looking for ways to improve your existing website, AppFolio has a dedicated team of designers that can assist you with optimizing your web layout to attract potential new tenants. For great ideas on how to optimize your website for prospective renters, check out this recent AppFolio article highlighting key strategies.

#2 – Outdated

Along the same lines as mobility, the internet is only going to be your best friend if you stay on top of things. Property managers with the most successful online presence remain vigilant in posting their current vacancies and removing them immediately after they have been filled. Out-of-date postings may detract interested parties from signing a lease with you, particularly if a potential tenant makes an inquiry only to discover their dream home has already been filled. AppFolio marketing features centralize all of your postings (even on third-party listing sites), allowing you to add or remove listings with one-click simplicity.

#3 – Expensive

Marketing can be expensive, and it’s to your benefit to make sure that every dollar you spend on advertising your vacancies counts. When it comes to print advertising in local newspapers or magazines, you’re required to pay an upfront fee for advertising space with no guaranteed return on investment. Online advertising through Search Engine Optimization is a much smarter way to capture your intended audience’s attention and have various methods of charging for advertising space. For example, some SEO services will charge you only if your ads are clicked on, which means that you’re spending only as much as you need to in order to generate business. Not only will you be spending less on ad space, but focusing your marketing efforts online means that you’re using less paper, which can have an increased benefit to your overall costs as well as our planet!

We recently teamed up with the Sprout Marketing team for a webinar on how you can improve your online presence through Search Engines and Social Media.

The next time you stop by that department store you probably love more than you should, ask yourself what strategies they implemented to capture your attention and get you through their doors. More than likely, you can apply those same tactics to drive renters to your properties as well.

You Might Also Enjoy:

How to Stand Out with Your Property Management Website

10 Best Practices for Listing Your Properties

The post 3 Common Marketing Mistakes Every Property Manager Makes (At Least Once) appeared first on The Official AppFolio Blog.

How To Attract Property Management Contracts Beyond Local Prospects

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

business networking

Extending your property management circles to entice remote property owners can be fruitful when approached correctly. Remember, property owners are looking for someone they can trust to oversee their vested interests as well as help them improve the rental value of their rental properties regardless of locale. Property owners that live elsewhere are looking for someone they can trust to have their backs even though they aren’t nearby to oversee your every move.

When approaching these potential clients for business, keep in mind that less-than-stellar management companies may have disappointed them in the past. Show them that you are that special management company or supervisor that surpasses these challenges by actively seeking out their business and advertising beyond just local boundaries. These property management tips will help you reach possible owners outside your local market.

Print Medium Speaks Volumes

Don’t hesitate to promote your business with a banner, billboard, or print ad that declares, “I’m a property manager looking out for your interests, regardless of where you live!” Whether you are an online promoter, a print ad advocate or a supporter of both, utilize what the means you have available. If you live in a metropolitan area with mass transportation, take advantage of print ads, sign up for taxicab promotions, and those with larger budgets can strive for buses and mass transit ad space. Others can can look for low-cost print space in local registries and free publications.

Utilize Professional Marketing and Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites are all attention grabbers for those who stay apprised of current events in the neighborhood and the community. Use your web presence to establish your authority on local events, and don’t hesitate to hire professionals or utilize an online management service to keep this goal on track. Take time to read and respond to online reviews of your property, and if those things have gotten out of control, consider hiring a reputation management expert for assistance.

Professional Networking About Your Expectations

Yes, blogging and sharing what you expect from tenants can attract new property management clients. If you expect superior behavior from your residents, then what would a property owner expect from you? Expecting the same isn’t asking for too much, so utilize your professional network to promote these successes and your demand for tenant excellence.

A Brief Summary of Tips for Landing Remote Property Management Clients

As you’re trying to gain notice from new clients from a distance, keep these tips in mind.

  • Offer the same level of service you give to local property owners to remote clients.
  • Agree to a risk-free trial term.
  • Provide regular updates and occupancy stats to owners.
  • Be prepared to DWIT – Do Whatever it Takes

From newbies to old-school pros, these tips for expanding in the property management scene beyond your local area can help take your business to the next level of success.


appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

Considering 24 Hour Security for Your Multi-Unit Properties

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Surveillance_camerasWhether you own or serve as the property management company for a multi-unit housing complex, adding a security patrol to your agenda may be something to consider as an extra precaution or to add peace of mind value to your property.

One option to consider, if budget permits, is hiring off-duty police officers for 24-hour security; however, for this particular piece we will take a look at employing licensed and trained security personnel for evening or full-time patrols rather than formal police officers.

The Real Purpose of Residential Security Patrols

Whether considering a single night watchman or several patrol officers or stationary guards, the main emphasis should always be on establishing a perimeter of non-forceful deterrence. The goal is to make criminals think twice with the mere presence of security personnel, who should ultimately rely on municipal police for backup and action when and if it becomes necessary to protect the property.

You’ll only want to hire security when it’s called for. For example, if crime is higher on weekends or evenings, a force during those hours may be all that’s necessary. This is a consideration that may be taken to residents themselves through a survey, general meeting, and those with HOA boards already have a sounding board with the authority to approve such expenditures.

Determining the Functions of Your Security Force

While visibility of security is vital to its efficacy, so is the credibility that residents hold in your security personnel. This means that the security persons must be able to get police help promptly, must be adept at their job, and make those rounds so that they are clearly and regularly seen by both residents and mischievous eyes. Although the use of force must be minimal, these individuals must be able to exhibit the ability to defend themselves if and when necessary.

Security personnel can essentially perform three basic functions for your housing complex: patrolling, monitoring the electronic alarms and/or surveillance systems, and stationary guarding. Clearly patrolling may involve vertical patrols of interior hallways, lobbies, elevators, and the like while regular perimeter checks outdoors may also be necessary. Stationary guards may serve at the entrance of gated communities or serve dually as a monitor of any alarm systems and visual camera security. Determine how many patrollers you’ll need to handle your target tasks and budget appropriately.

Types of Security Services for Property Management Companies

Unless you’re considering police protection or thinking about establishing a resident patrol program, (an increasingly popular and rather effective option in resident owned complexes with HOAs) there are basically two options to consider: management controlled forces and contract guard services.

Management Controlled Security – Members of these forces are paid by the property management company who will retain the final say in supervising, hiring, and the firing of the security personnel.

Contract Guard Services – Unfortunately, these contracts are often purchased through agencies who retain hiring, firing, and supervising rights. These contracts will need to be cancelled if the services don’t live up to your standards and are less easily managed than controlled security forces.

You Can’t Go Wrong by Protecting Residents and the Property

Establishing set security personnel to keep an eye on things around the neighborhood can increase resident and owner confidence and dissuades potential criminal offenders from even making a move in your community. With this in mind, it could be time you consider 24-hour security, or evening patrols, to help keep your property and residents safe.


appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

How To Handle Property Inspections for Occupied Units

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Property InspectionAs the owner of rental properties, whether it be one or multiple units, annual inspections are a vital part of the process. Sometimes, you might have a long-term tenant that religiously renews that lease year after year – and you appreciate that. However, unless you employ a property manager to handle daily operations, property upkeep is your responsibility and you’ll need to perform the occasional inspection while a unit is still occupied.

After all, you can’t fix things when you’re unaware of their current condition, making property inspections during tenancy sometimes unavoidable. Here are some tips concerning the do’s and don’ts of approaching that annual inspection when the time rolls around, even if tenants have previously approved of your right to handle the task within your rental or lease agreement.

Do Give Notice Prior to Inspections

Unless you suspect your current tenant of violating current restrictions or policies within their lease such as unapproved residents or pets, current tenants appreciate you giving notice before inspection. Even if the worst they have to hide is dirty laundry or dust, unless you’ve stipulated the potential for surprise inspections in your lease agreement, the law mandates advanced notice unless a local law or ordinance is being broken.

Do Encourage Resident Presence During Property Inspections

More importantly, you should encourage at least one primary leaseholder to be present during your inspection. This could prevent any accusations of theft or mischief down the line, and it will also give you the opportunity to ask the tenant about any potential problems with appliances, systems, or concerns about the unit. Residnets are often very willing to open their homes to you just to catch your ear about a needed repair or suggestion.

Do Let Residents Understand Why You’re Doing the Inspection

Is that tile chipped in the bathroom? Is the kitchen faucet leaking? How about servicing that HVAC system? Structural integrity and appliance and systems check are a part of homeownership, whether you lease or rent it or not. Let your tenant know the reasons for your visit, and that it is a routine event both for their benefit and yours.

Don’t Take Photographs Indoors of Personal Items

You may only intend to get that sagging windowpane, but you accidentally got part of the mantle that features family photos. Unlike a vacant home, occupied rental property inspections have certain rules, and taking photos of identifiable personal items like pictures, computers, valuables, pets, or people is a no-no.

Don’t Engage in Face-to-Face Confrontations with Residents about Issues

As the owner,  steam may be coming from your ears if you make an inspection only to find your property is being neglected in some way. It’s important to visually and physically document such issues, but it’s equally essential to address such problems with your resident – in writing. Verbal confrontations could lead to your tenant skipping out on you, bad mouthing your reputation as a renter, or even legal troubles down the line. Keep your notifications formal and in writing if problems surface during your property inspection.

Whether annual, interim, or spot inspections are on the agenda for your rental properties, keep these do’s and don’t in mind to keep tenants happy and to ensure you’re acting in accordance with renter’s legal rights.


appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

Amenities That Attract Student Renters

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Student RentersYou’ve likely already considered options like renting by the room with separate contractual leases as a method of attracting student renters. So as a property owner, how do you make changes to your property itself that will attract even more of these surefire renters? Here are a few amenities that draw in higher education students.

Proximity to Campus

So this isn’t so much an amenity as it is a “feature” of the property, but the key to really luring in student renters is being close to the campus. Keep in mind, college students tend to play hard, party hard, and likely work hard in addition to all that studying, so being close to the college campus is ideal for those that punch snooze several time before getting out of bed. Being within two miles of campus is the target distance for most students, so if you’re considering buying a rental property designed for students, get as close to the campus as possible.

Lease Timing

Consider adjusting your lease lengths to accommodate the periods that students are in school. Most students put in about 9 months each year, although a few will stay on for summer session. However, by giving students the option for a lease that encompasses the traditional two semester year, you will likely attract even more students. Word gets around fast on campus about that cool property owner that isn’t forcing them to pay for three months of rent they won’t even use.

Add an Exercise Area

Staying in peak physical shape is high on many students’ priority list, and if you have an empty room anywhere on the property, go ahead and consider the inclusion of a weight and fitness room. The equipment doesn’t’ have to be fancy or even brand new, but the addition of an exercise room will certainly attract student renters that don’t want to commit to a gym membership.

Consider a Clubhouse or Other Central Common Area

Again, college students seem to like options for partying, and the addition of a clubhouse or common area to your property can meet that need. You certainly can consider charging additional funds beyond rent for utilizing the clubhouse for a party or gathering, which can increase your bottom line on rentals. If there’s a room and nothing happening in it, consider transitioning it into a money maker that will attract both college students and other renters.

As a property owner, do keep in mind that college students also appreciate additions such as extra storage, bike racks, and privacy. However, making a slight change in your amenities can help your property become one of the most recommended on campus!

Interested in learning more about student housing trends and what you can do to capitalize on this growing market? Check out this free webinar.


appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

 

Maintain Leasing Momentum with On the Spot Closings

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Apartment LeasingWhether you’re a busy property owner or an even busier property leasing agent, whenever you can have a time saving tool in your back pocket that simplifies the entire leasing process, how can you say no? We’ve seen great strides in the mobile leasing technology realm from basic online applications to our fully streamlined process that takes you right down to digitally signing and closing the lease on the spot. On the spot lease completion simply lands more tenants for many reasons that we’ll explore.

Don’t Let Tenants Leave Without Committing with Immediate Leases

Mobile applications aren’t new, nor is accepting fees online; however, the ability to have potential tenants’ credit worthiness confirmed and a lease generated and ready to sign at the time of showing gives you maximum leverage to convert a prospect. The ability to close the deal on the spot keeps the leasing momentum going, helping agents and owners land more tenants. Once a tenant leaves the property without committing, a number of things can happen to jeopardize the deal:

  1. Lookie Loos Often Get Lost – Desirable tenants may have several options on their list to view after evaluating your property that they may like better. The fully mobile lease flow lets you claim them as tenants so they never see other properties.
  2. Delays Get in the Way – Unexpected life incidents just happen, and that prospect may only have one day a week to handle property shopping; hence, your property sits unoccupied even longer and they have time to change their mind or find other rental options.
  3. Paper Apps are Inconvenient – They’re not very time or eco-friendly, and filling out and returning rental applications via mail, fax, or in person requires precious time on behalf of desirable renters. If attracting modern tenants is your wish, you’ve got to modernize the application and rental processes so you can get their signature on the lease immediately.

Speaking of Wasting Time, Resources, and Getting Lost…

Consider the amount of time that you as a property owner or leasing agent spend attending to the details of processing paper applications. Putting the applicants extensive information into the computer for credit and background checks, and then typing it all over again to import it into the lease agreement – who has time and payroll to spare on that? These processes can be instantly streamlined and fully customized for your rental needs producing a digital, ready-to-sign agreement so you can cement a new tenant immediately through a mobile device like a smart phone or tablet.

Beyond the perks of immediate lease options, you can modernize your communications and field inquiries, schedule viewing times, send the PDF application form, and see all the paperwork’s status, all online! Saving time, money, and reducing turn around time is what it’s all about in the property management scene, and these affordable and easy to use leasing features make it easy to achieve all this. Read more about how you can take your leasing flow online here or check out this awesome webinar on the future of leasing.


appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

Transitioning From the Paper Trail to Digital Applications

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Just reaching your prospective renters through targeted marketing isn’t enough anymore. Without a full toolbox of digital tools you might be missing out on golden opportunities to close more sales. If you are straddling the fence between a paper leasing processes and a digital automated leasing system, here are a few details to help you get off the fence.

The Problem with Paper Trails

The paper application process isn’t efficient, it’s fragmented. Tenants look for a property online (or during a drive-by), pick up an application, mail it back, fax it in or hand deliver it to the leasing office, and wait for a leasing agent to manually key in the information. Depending on how motivated the prospect is, he may or may not view other properties while waiting for notice of approval.

At every point in the process, property managers risk losing the prospect’s interest. He or she might take the application, but get distracted by other properties before filling out the application.  He could fill out the application, but fail to return it. Maybe, another property using digital processing reaches a decision faster and closes the deal while your team is evaluating the paper application.

Digital (Mobile) Lease Flow

Mobile lease flow systems close those gaps. When an apartment seeker locates a property that piques his interest, he can complete an application from any mobile device, get an answer from management, and sign the lease – all digitally and without leaving your property. No loss of momentum and no interference from other properties vying for attention. This also means prospective tenants doing a drive-by don’t have to wait for open office hours to apply.

Supporting a Green Lifestyle

Digital lease flow systems support an eco-friendly lifestyle. Managing guest cards, non-paper applications and online virtual tour brochures drastically reduce paper waste and shrinks your property’s carbon footprint. An environmentally responsible, low-impact management style is very appealing to many urban apartment dwellers who look for sustainability-centered properties to call home.

Boosting Profits

Digital applications are efficient and cost-effective. Property owners and managers find that digital leasing systems reduce staff hours, while increasing closing ratios. Cost of printing and file maintenance also falls. Integrative, seamless paperless leasing options require fewer staff hours, but allow for more customer contact. It is like having a virtual leasing agent on call to keep your prospects engaged throughout the process from the point of interest to a signed lease.

Still Not Ready to Switch?

Beside appealing to today’s savvy, digital consumers, saving money on supplies and labor costs, and reducing your carbon footprint, there are a few more advantages for digitally integrated systems.

  • Speed up background check processing times.
  • Electronic payments reduce NSF chargebacks and late payments.
  • Paperless applications reduce turn-around time.
  • Electronic files are secure and archived for future retrieval without taking up file space in the office.

Changing the way you do business can be stressful. Switching to a system that saves you money and boosts efficiency relieves stress though, and is a great option for tenants and property managers.


appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

PayRent.com