Posts Tagged ‘Apartment Leasing’

Create Nearly Instantaneous Connections with Residents and Prospects Using Instagram and Just a Few Keystrokes

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

by Elaine Simpson | Occupancy Solutions, LLC

Forget about putting up signs or relying on word-of-mouth; social media is the modern way to make hundreds of people aware of, and learn about your products and services.  Up to 60% of apartment dwellers report that they found their rental through website listings and social media. 

Is Your Toolbox Equipped For You To Be A Successful Leasing Professional? 

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Elaine Simpson, President of Occupancy Solutions, LLC

property manager success

Set yourself up for leasing success  by making a resolution to consistently use these basic leasing tools.  If you put all of them in your leasing toolbox and use them regularly and properly, they will lead you to success!

The Tour Path

As they say, “put your best foot forward”.  After making sure the office entrance and office look inviting, are clean and in order for the day, take the time to preview the path on which you  will take your prospects while touring and demonstrating why your community is perfect for them.  Be sure to pick up any trash or cigarette butts along your route.  While walking your tour path, be sure to take notes of maintenance or other issues that must be addressed to make your tour route look its best so you can impress your prospect.

Models and Vacant Market Ready Apartments

Preview the apartments that you will be showing. Create  a “sparkle kit” of basic cleaning supplies to carry with you so you can clean a mirror, dust a shelf, pick up a dead bug, change a light bulb, etc.  Include furniture markers to touch up scratches and scuffs on the model furniture.  All the interior lights in the apartment should be on.  Set the thermostat to the proper temperature for the day.  Turn on the radio and open the blinds.

Leasing Binder

We love to use Leasing Binders to hold and organize our paperwork.  Leasing binders are generally 3-ring notebooks with tab dividers and pockets to hold: availability list; product knowledge; marketing materials including brochures, floor plans, photos and current flyers; market surveys so that you can educate your prospects regarding the competition (remember not to gossip but speak factually about what they offer or don’t offer); guest cards; applications; business cards; calculator; tape measure.  Also use page protectors to keep the documents and pages looking clean and crisp.

Product Knowledge Notebook

Make this section of your binder a place to keep all of the information that you can find about the physical asset:  year built, number of acres,  type of zoning, number of units, unit mix, type of construction, type of insulation, floor plans, room dimensions, window sizes, carpet and flooring colors, lists of upgrades, etc.

List of Competitive Advantages

Make a list of the things that set you apart from your competition to help you sell against them.  This list can help you when overcoming objections.

Telephone Call Log

Everyone in the office should be logging their telephone calls.  It will capture how many calls were answered by a person during business hours.  The data will also illustrate which days and times of day are the busiest.  Many people just hang up and won’t leave a message when they hear a voice message so try to answer every call in person.

Terrific Telephone Techniques

The goal is to give and receive as much information as possible in an organized way in very little time in a polite and professional manner that leads to an appointment to visit the community or a lease over the phone.  You can create your own leasing script.  We don’t want you to sound like a robot, but if you follow along with a script you won’t forget to ask important questions and to give each caller a brief description of the apartment interior and community amenities, invite them to tour and set up an appointment.  You should ask for each caller’s name at the beginning of the call and use it during your conversation to personalize the call.  Find out how each caller heard about your community so you can track what advertising sources are working and which ones are not working for you.  Your list of questions should also include: Desired floorplan? How soon needed? Number of occupants? Pets? Length of lease? Why moving? Your description should include: feature/benefits of apartment interiors; community amenities; utility information; deposits and fees; invitation to visit; location and office hours; directions if needed; instructions on how to apply, etc.

Ear Appealing Descriptions and Words to Avoid

Each leasing consultant should take the time to write out a description of each floor plan within the community and then practice verbally  using those descriptions for their presentations whether over the phone, on line or in person.  Think of your own “ear appealing” words to use in your descriptions.  Examples:  exceptional, unique, charming, cleverly designed,  stylish, etc.  Avoid using industry words.  Replace complex, property, site and unit with community and apartment or home.

Proper In-Person Greeting

Stand up to greet each prospect.  Look them in the eye, extend your arm to offer a firm handshake, verbally introduce yourself and welcome them to your community.

Guest Cards

Whether you use printed or computer guest cards, best practice is to fill out the guest cards for your prospects instead of asking them to do it.  You can ask questions and make notes while making conversation.  Record their “hot” buttons and note what is really important to them in finding their next home.  These notes will help you later during your presentation, tour and closing.

Product Demonstration

We suggest you show your selected vacant apartment(s) before showing your model(s).  This helps prospects envision their own furniture being placed in their new home. Use the information from your guest card and point out the features and benefits you already know will interest them.  Take this time to build rapport and start closing the sale.

Closing Techniques

There are several ways to approach closing the sale.  You can set the stage for closing when you first speak to a prospect on the phone or at the beginning of an office visit before you ever leave the office by asking two key questions:  1.  What other options are you considering?  2.  If you see something you like, are you prepared to lease today?  This will start the dialog you need to work your magic.

Fantastic Follow Up

It is a little old fashioned, but we suggest the use of a “tickler box” in your leasing office to keep track of ALL leads from ALL employees so constant, progressive follow up can be done with each prospect until they tell you that they have leased somewhere else or to stop contacting them.

Elaine Simpson, owner of Occupancy Solutions, offers awesome in-person training sessions on this property management topic and many others in addition to e-learning courses and webinars.  She can be reached at (800)  865-0948  or

Landlord Quick Tip: Pros and Cons of Furnished Rentals

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

FurnishedApartmentSeasoned landlords know that all tenants are different.

Some like to settle into rentals for years and often stay in the same neighborhood even after they move. Other tenants might prefer short-term rentals and the flexibility it can provide.

Depending on the type of renters you are trying to attract, furnished units can either help — or hurt — your investment.

A month-to-month lease with a furnished apartment is often very attractive to the right tenant — someone who likes to move often and doesn’t like having to haul furniture from rental to rental. A furnished room is very convenient to a renter who travels light or doesn’t have a lot of extra money to spend. They might be sleeping on an air mattress in an empty studio and would be quite happy to upgrade to a dwelling that has, say, a couch or bed. If nothing else, furnishing rentals also can keep some tenants from dragging those dumpster or thrift store couches that may contain roaches or bed bugs into your clean, unfurnished apartment.

Don’t assume that renters seeking furnished are all the drifter type; some renters may own a home elsewhere and are looking for something convenient for work or an extended vacation, and are perfectly acceptable tenants. These tenants may even pay a little more, especially for summer rentals. But chances are they are uncommitted for the long-term.

An apartment with basic appliances is a good draw, but many tenants are going to be dubious about moving into a furnished rental. Most will already have a full set of furniture, and won’t want to get rid of it or pay to rent a storage unit in addition to the lease with you. Many renters shy away from ads for furnished out of fear that furnished rentals will cost more, or require a higher damage deposit to cover the cost of the furnishings.

It’s true that if a tenant damages or stains a piece of furniture, it will look dirty and unattractive to the next tenant. Once you go down that path, you might find yourself having to constantly re-furnish the dwelling as often as you paint the walls. You can’t assume the risk that the previous damage deposit will cover all your costs. Furthermore, tenants are often picky and may not agree with your decorating tastes.

One look at the bland sturdy neutral furnishings may send them running to another rental. Perhaps the idea of a slightly used mattress makes them squeamish.

Your decision to go furnished or not will greatly impact the type of tenants you attract.

If you prefer a higher priced, short-term lease, than furnished may be the way to go. If you want long-term nesters then an empty, clean, well-maintained dwelling should suffice.

In the end the decision should be based on what is the most profitable for you.

logo_aaoa American Apartment Owners Association | Company Website |

Rental property management can be very demanding. Our job is to make this day-to-day property management process smoother. AAOA provides a host of services ranging from tenant screening to landlord rental application forms and contractor directory to apartment financing. 

Fewer Tenants Can Afford Rent

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Rent IncreaseAccording to a report just released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a renter needs to earn $18.92 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental unit at fair market. That’s two-and-a-half times more than the federal minimum wage, and 52% higher than what was required in 2000.

The report, entitled Out of Reach 2014, reveals the drastic difference between what renters need to earn to afford rent and what the average renter actually earns. In 2014, the average renter earns $14.64 an hour. While housing costs vary nationwide, the report shows that a full-time minimum wage worker can’t afford a one or two-bedroom rental unit anywhere in the U.S.

According to Out of Reach 2014, the top five most expensive states are:

Hawaii, where renters need a wage of $31.54 per hour for a two-bedroom;
District of Columbia, $28.25 per hour for a two-bedroom;
California, where a two-bedroom requires $26.04 per hour;
Maryland, $24.94 per hour for a two-bedroom; and,
New Jersey, where renters need to make $24.92 per hour for a two-bedroom.

New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Alaska, and Virginia finish out the list of top 10 most expensive states in 2014.

The most expensive metropolitan area in 2014 is San Francisco, where an individual needs to earn $37.62 an hour to afford a decent two-bedroom rental unit at market rate. At the current federal minimum wage of $7.25, Out of Reach 2014 calculated that it would take more than two people working full-time minimum wage jobs to afford a decent two-bedroom rental home for their family.

Even if the federal minimum wage was raised to $10.10 per hour, as proposed by the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, it won’t help in everywhere — only in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico.

There were over 40 million renter households in the U.S. in 2012, making up 35% of all households nationwide. This is a 1.1 million increase over the previous year and double the rate of growth in previous decades. One in every four of these renter households are extremely low income, meaning they earn less than 30% of the area median income.

The population of extremely low income renters has risen to 10.2 million, and these are the households that experience the greatest housing instability and risk of homelessness. NLIHC calculates that there are just 31 affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low income renter households. However, NLIHC says that closing this gap is achievable through funding of the National Housing Trust Fund, which could provide communities with the money to build, preserve, and rehabilitate rental homes that are affordable for extremely and very low income households.

Extensive data for every state, metropolitan area, and county in the country are available online at

logo_aaoa American Apartment Owners Association | Company Website 

Rental property management can be very demanding. Our job is to make this day-to-day property management process smoother. AAOA provides a host of services ranging from tenant screening to landlord rental application forms and contractor directory to apartment financing. 

The 2 Rules Hidden in Every Lease

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Signing a LeaseEvery landlord knows that the lease controls when it comes to managing properties and settling tenant disputes.

But did you know there are two hidden rules inherent to every lease agreement, even if these rules are not written in the lease?


In every leasing situation, verbal or written, long-term or short, good or bad, a landlord has a duty to provide habitable premises. This is true if the lease is silent on the issue, and remains true even in cases where the landlord has shifted the responsibility to the tenant or attempted to limit this duty in some way.

While there may be language in a local statute and ordinance on habitability, this rule comes from simple contract law, and that makes it very flexible. The duty of habitability covers all the day-to-day necessities, including hot and cold running water, heat, and in some cases air conditioning, safe access, reasonable security from intruders, and compliance with zoning, building and fire codes.

The gray area: the tenant’s own actions. While the landlord has the duty to keep the property habitable at all times, a tenant may be liable for costs of repairs or remediation caused by their deliberate or negligent actions, including the actions of their guests.

Quiet Enjoyment

The biggest beef tenants have against landlords is intrusion on the right to quiet enjoyment, which exists whether or not it is mentioned in a lease agreement. Quiet enjoyment, the right to live without intrusion or nuisance, encompasses everything from excessive or unannounced landlord visits to noisy neighbors.

Despite the label, it’s not just noise that violates this covenant. Secondhand smoke is a common culprit.

Tenants’ Rights

When either of these hidden duties is violated, tenants have a number of possible remedies, including withholding rent (constructive eviction), or breaking the lease entirely, with no ramifications.

In a worst case scenario, the tenant can sue for damages that may go far beyond the actual rent paid under the lease agreement, so it’s important to keep these rules in mind when making property management decisions.

logo_aaoa American Apartment Owners Association | Company Website 

Rental property management can be very demanding. Our job is to make this day-to-day property management process smoother. AAOA provides a host of services ranging from tenant screening to landlord rental application forms and contractor directory to apartment financing. 

Multicultural Resident Retention

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

by Vera Dordick


Every property manager knows that spending time and effort to retain residents is more cost effective than working to attract new ones: Each resident turnover is estimated to cost a property around $3,000. While much has been written about strategies for enticing residents to renew, little is said about the different challenges involved in working with residents from other cultures.

California has more foreign-born residents than any other state, putting its property managers in a unique position: Odds are quite good that they will be working with renters from other cultures. New York, Texas and Florida are the other states with high immigrant populations. According to the Public Policy Institute of California:

  • One out of four immigrants to the United States resides in California. (That’s more people than the entire population of Michigan!)
  • Of this population, more than half are Hispanic and 37 percent are Asian.
  • Asia has surpassed Latin America as the major source of immigrants to California.

Across the board, retention experts have identified good communication as a critical factor in keeping residents. The big challenge with multicultural renters comes when your communications style is not necessarily the same as theirs. Culturally based behaviors and styles affect communication and can impact every step of the property rental and management process, from leasing to maintenance.

Culture is a loaded word that means different things to different people.  It is based on your family history, your religion, your reality and your perceptions. For example, if you have never tried an ethnic cuisine, its ingredients, flavors and textures may seem strange.  Similarly, if you don’t understand why people from a different culture behave the way they do, their actions may also seem strange, unfamiliar, or even wrong.

They aren’t “wrong.” They’re just different. This is the key concept that will be most helpful in working with people from other countries.  In a world of cultures, there is no right or wrong culture, no one culture that is “better” than another. Approaching education in cultural sensitivity with an open mind, devoid of stereotypes can help you achieve the “cultural mind shift” that your perception may not be their reality.  This will help you work efficiently and effectively with any multicultural renter.

All residents of a community want to be valued and understood, and feel comfortable living in a community. By understanding the reasons that drive their behaviors – the “why” – you will be better prepared to handle various communication styles and achieve your goals without offending. Some countries have a fluid time culture that does not place significant value on punctuality. Others do not have a history of fixed-term or fixed-price leases. Cultural differences can also impact gender relations and issues of hierarchy on both sides of your business dealings, particularly during the initial leasing process. By taking into account these differences from your very fist meeting, you will set the stage for an open and welcoming atmosphere.

Helpful tactics

Accommodating cultural differences does not have to consume a great deal of time or money as long as you are prepared. Before showing units to any potential renters, it’s a good idea (and prudent legal practice) to ask if renters have any special needs or requirements. By asking everyone, you will not stumble into issues of stereotyping or run afoul of the Fair Housing Act.

Additional challenges may arise after renters join your community. Cultural differences can create concerns over safety and maintenance, which in turn can affect your entire property.

  • Some residents may not wear shoes in the home and pile them outside, creating a fire and safety hazard.
  • Renters from some cultures may remove closet doors and burn incense or candles inside.
  • Cooking smells can be distinctive and pervasive.
  • Maintenance in some areas of the unit may become a concern, such as grease build-up in the kitchen or water damage in the bathrooms.
  • Appliances may be damaged because of unintentional misuse.

In all of these cases, cultural differences are the root cause of the challenge.  Depending upon the culture of the renter, there are various ways that issues can be addressed to solve the problem without offending the client. Often, problems can be avoided by providing renters a list of leasing etiquette points that must be followed.  Essentially, it’s a list of do’s and don’ts, which can be useful for any renter.

Reminding renters that maintenance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week can be critical.  In some countries, maintenance service – particularly without an extra charge – does not exist. Familiarizing residents with the availability of the service can save a bundle on repair costs when the situation is one that requires immediate attention.

Sometimes, communicating with non-native English speakers can be challenging. Be mindful of the language you use in speaking with multicultural renters. Speak slowly and avoid compound words and idioms, which can be difficult for them to understand. Don’t be afraid to say you are having trouble understanding and ask someone to repeat themselves.

Interacting with multicultural residents can be an exciting and personally rewarding experience. Their traditions, stories and perspectives can enrich the lives of the entire community.  Moreover, from a business perspective, they cannot be ignored. Most all ethnic communities have an informal network that newcomers use to find sources of goods and services.  It could be damaging to a property if it were to develop a reputation as being unwelcoming to foreign-born renters.

Progressively minded property management companies will seize the opportunity to attract and retain this sizeable market segment.  Educating and training staff members to effectively communicate with multicultural renters will have an immediate and tangible effect on a rental community’s bottom line.

TangibleDevLogo Vera Dordick | Company Website  |  LinkedIn Connect

Tangible Development helps companies thrive in a world of flux through cultural awareness training and improved global communication skills. It offers customized consulting with special industry expertise in property management, hospitality, higher education, science and technology, health care and financial services.

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.


Highlights from the 2014 Income Property Management Expo

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Pasadena, CA – March 25, 2014


We hope to see everyone back in Pasadena in 2015!


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.

Landlord Quick Tip: #255

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Tip #255: Say What You Mean

Most landlords go out of their way to make lease agreements and house rules that are clear and concise, and leave no room for misinterpretation. But, if you using the term “nonrefundable” with the word “deposit”, you may be asking for problems.

That’s because “deposit” implies that the funds are to be returned. When you say “nonrefundable deposit”, your tenant hears, “I’m going to hold on to your money, and then not give it back to you.”

This is particularly confusing for tenants when you mention both fees and deposits in the same conversation, or in the lease agreement.

Rather than using “nonrefundable” anything, consider simply calling the charge a “fee” — application fee, late fee, early termination fee, pet fee. That can save you loads of time and trouble debating the language with disgruntled tenants.

For good measure, check your local laws for any restrictions on fees — or deposits — that can be charged to tenants.

logo_aaoa American Apartment Owners Association | Company Website 

Rental property management can be very demanding. Our job is to make this day-to-day property management process smoother. AAOA provides a host of services ranging from tenant screening to landlord rental application forms and contractor directory to apartment financing.