Posts Tagged ‘Property Management’

How to Find and Keep Great Tenants

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

by Kathy Fettke | RealWealthNetwork.com

HappyTenants

Finding a great tenant begins with having great information — and lots of it. Information is a landlord’s crystal ball. And the best time to get this information is “before” the tenant signs on the dotted line.

One of Real Wealth Network’s preferred property managers calls it the “honeymoon period” because tenants will tell you more about themselves when they want something from you — such as the keys to your property. And it’s not just important for the selection process. This information can be critically important a year or two down the road, if your rental situation suddenly goes south.

This property manager, who prefers to remain anonymous, owns hundreds of properties herself. After years of dealing with both good and terrible tenants, she is a wealth of knowledge about what it takes to select the right tenants. Here is some of her advice:

Tenant Screening Priorities

1. Begin with a criminal background check and a civil background check.
Criminal background checks are good for things like arrests, convictions, and warrants, while civil background checks will let you know if applicants pay their bills on time or have any judgements against them. Civil background checks tell you more about whether they will make “good tenants” and not just “law abiding citizens”. Lexus-Nexus allows you access to a more comprehensive database of information.

2. Credit checks are important for different reasons.
Credit checks are useful, but less important than background checks because they generally won’t tell you much about the tenant’s rental history. It is useful for understanding the applicant’s credit “load” and whether bill collectors are chasing them. Even if you don’t plan to do a credit check, always have prospective tenants sign a release form for obtaining one in case you need it in the future.

Bad credit does not always mean a potential tenant won’t pay their rent. For example, someone who lost their home to foreclosure during the housing crisis may have bad credit today but if the rent is less than their mortgage was, they could become very good tenants.

3. Current landlord information is helpful but you may learn much more from previous landlords.
Current landlords may not tell you if someone has been an excellent tenant because they don’t want to lose them — or they may not tell you if they are horrible tenants because they want to get rid of them. So talking to previous landlords may get you more honest information. Ask for information on two previous landlords.

4. Make sure they are who they say they are.
Request a photo ID and several pay stubs to verify source of income. Ask about next of kin and emergency contacts.

5. Be sure understand Fair Housing rules so you don’t discriminate.
Protected classes include: race, color, sex, religion, national origin, familial status and disability. In Ohio, military personnel are also protected. So know your state rules. Attorneys and paralegals are “not” a protected class. Renting to them could put you at a disadvantage in the event of a future court battle because the landlord would have huge legal fees while the tenants would not need legal advice, or would have access to “free” legal advice. Talk to an attorney on your side to protect yourself in advance with a bullet-proof lease agreement.

The Importance of Good Marketing

It’s also important to be able to attract a large pool of candidates so you can find the right tenant and not feel desperate to just take anyone. To do that, you need quality advertising. Another property management company, Renters Warehouse, offered advice on that:

Place your ad on a website that will display contact information accurately and consistently. Renters Warehouse uses proprietary software to spread the word on hundreds of websites.

Your ad needs to be impressive in order to attract the right tenant. Use high quality or professional photos of both the inside and the outside of the rental property. The photos should be taken with good lighting, and the unit should be spotless. A video walkthrough is also a great idea along with plenty of details.

Renters Warehouse says that most prospective tenants want to know everything about an apartment before they decide to call for a viewing. If you have a pet policy, say so in the ad. If you don’t allow smoking or you need a 2-year lease, spell it out in the ad. You could also include interesting details about the rental or the neighborhood and information about an HOA.

You should also have an eye-catching headline that will showcase a few desirable or unique qualities about your rental. Use well-chosen adjectives that represent your property truthfully. If it’s a recently-renovated older home in a happening neighborhood, the title could read: “Amazing, Upgraded Home Near Shopping & Entertainment.” Or if you expect to attract a younger crowd, cater to them with “happening” words or phrases. Just be sure your description is accurate.

One final point — If you are worried about current tenants making a unit look presentable during the tenant screening process, make sure you require their cooperation with a clause in the lease. For Renters Warehouse, that clause requires cooperation within the final 60 days of the agreement. It also says that most tenants are willing to work with you on those showings, so don’t be afraid to ask. It’s important that prospective tenants get a good impression.

Renting to People Who Plan to Have Roommates

Real Wealth Network has a hot tip for landlords renting to tenants who who plan to have roommates at some point. By requiring the lessee (the person signing the main lease) to inform the landlord of any potential sublessees (people who sublet from the lessee) the landlord can know who’s living in their home at all times.

The landlord then also has a “point person” to talk to about issues.

A clause about rules in regards to renting the property on VRBO or Airbnb would also be useful so you can control if your property might have complete strangers living there for the weekend.

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The Real Wealth Network is a real estate investment club that educates members on how to diversify their real estate portfolio nationwide by sharing information on the best US markets for cash flow and future appreciation. The company also offers referrals to experienced and highly-rated brokers, property managers, and real estate professionals in those markets. You can join for free at www.realwealthnetwork.com.

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 www.occupancysolutions.com.

Should you be Required to Accept All Emotional Support Animals?

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Becky Bower

emotional support animals

The term “emotional support animal” has always produced mixed opinions, with some property managers claiming that it’s a loophole term to get applicants’ pets accepted, while others cite federal law concerning tenants with disabilities. Whether your pet policy attracts applicants out of the 79 million households that own cats and dogs or prohibits residents from having their own big red dog, California property managers might be required to allow tenants to have emotional support animals, regardless of their pet policy.

What are the Differences between Service Dogs, Psychiatric Service Dogs, and Emotional Support Animals?

Service animals are animals that are trained to help a specific individual with a disability. Some states, like California, limit service animals to dogs (and in some cases, miniature horses as well). Psychiatric service dogs are individually trained to help a person with a mental disability. Both of these service animals are trained to aid someone with a disability, whether it be pulling a wheelchair or responding to the owner’s panic attack. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, can be any type of animal and are not trained to perform a specific act that relates to an individual’s disability. These types of animals give their owners emotional relief, rather than physical relief, and unlike most service dogs, they do not need to wear any form of identification (like a vest or harness).

emotional-support-animal-quote

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act (FHA) requires housing providers to provide reasonable accommodation to tenants with disabilities, allowing them to “request a reasonable accommodation for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal.” Federally funded housing (like Section 8 housing) is required to accept emotional support animals without proof.  That being said, legally, you may not request to show proof that the animal has any specialized training. This means, if a resident with a disability requests for reasonable accommodation and provides a letter legitimatizing the need for an emotional support animal, under the FHA, you legally must provide reasonable accommodation for their support animal regardless of your rental policy on pets. If you deny their request for reasonable accommodation, the resident can file a discrimination complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Potential Legislation could require the Admittance of All Emotional Support Animals in California

Currently, it is within a property owner’s right to disallow pets on the property, and deny applicants (who are not covered under the ADA) based off of those written rental requirements. However, according to Ron Kingston of East Bay’s Rental Housing Association, that might change. Their online magazine, Rental Housing (issue Dec. 2016, page 22), illuminates that California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is currently proposing “broad new regulations requiring rental property owners to allow tenants to have ‘emotional support animals’ of all breeds and types to live with them in their units.” While (as said above) federal regulations require residents to request reasonable accommodations for support animals, Ron Kingston argues that the DFEH’s proposal is too broad and gives property managers limited authority to “deny a support animal request when the animal poses a threat to health and safety of other tenants, and to the property.”

As the transportation industry has enabled service and emotional support animals to fly on airlines for free and an increase in emotional support animals on airlines has been present, the validity of emotional support animals has come into question. Brian Skewis, California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind executive officer, has previously stated that he has found a “misuse” of the service dog law in airports. While Sacramento International Airport spokesman, Mark Haneke, has said that he is not aware of a false service dog problem, it puts into question whether or not significant misuse could be present in rentals.

Big cities like Los Angeles (which has the highest percentage of renters) have been facing a pet-housing shortage for a long time. Early last year, the City of Los Angeles even stated that they’ll start creating pet-friendly housing legislation to combat the 22.6% of dogs and 18.6% of cats that are surrendered to animal shelters due to pet restrictions. While no legislation has been passed since this statement, with misuse, the DFEH’s proposition could inadvertently cause rentals to become pet-friendly to avoid a discrimination case.

Although the California proposition has yet to be released in full detail (be sure to subscribe for updates), its broad nature would limit Californian property owner’s rights. While it might positively affect the pet-housing shortage in large cities, federal regulations already protect the resident’s right to request reasonable accommodation that allows emotional support animals. If these rights are already protected, the big question is what does this law really do?

Regardless of whether your community is pet-friendly or has a strict no-pet policy, make sure your online application has space to provide additional information (like about service animals or pets) and that you perform thorough screening of all your applicants. Just because an applicant doesn’t come with a furry friend in tow, doesn’t mean they’re a perfect fit for your community.

Becky 201509 Becky Bower is a writer for the ApplyConnect® Blog and the communications executive at ApplyConnect®, a consumer initiated tenant screening company.  She has also spent several years in compliance and auditing.  Becky holds a degree in English with a focus in creative writing from CSU Channel Islands and is a published writer.

BUILDINGS MAINTENANCE & MANAGEMENT EXPO OFFERS BIG DATA, TECHNOLOGY AND SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS IN ANAHEIM OCTOBER 25

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

bld_siteheader_date2016_5

Irvine Company, So Cal Edison and So Cal Gas Host Smart Buildings Seminars, Exhibit Hall and Networking

The Buildings Maintenance & Management Expo (BMME) featuring educational seminars by Irvine Company and So Cal Edison, building management industry speakers, exhibitor showcase and networking opportunities will be held Tuesday, October 25 at Anaheim Convention Center. Admission is free.

“Sustainability initiatives, new technologies, policy mandates and funding incentives are shaping the future as public and private sector leaders explore, source and integrate smart building solutions,” said Scott Kitcher, conference co-sponsor and President & CEO of Sustain OC, formerly Clean Tech OC.

Buildings management, sustainability and operations seminars will be held on topics such as microgrids, energy storage, seismic retrofits, security, compliance and smart systems. The Orange County Sheriff Department will hold a special active shooter and crisis management clinic, and presentations by leading utility, energy and industry experts include:

* Rich Bluth, Irvine Company
  * Caroline McAndrews, Southern California Edison
  * Corey Lee Wilson, International Facility Management Association
  * Scott Kitcher, Sustain OC (formerly Clean Tech OC)
  * Mark Walter, Biix Smart Building Software
  * Heather Williams and Shane Millhollon, Orange County Sheriff Department
  * Stephen C. Duringer, Duringer Law Group
  * Andrea Marr, Regatta Solutions Energy Services
  * William Exeter, Exeter 1031 Exchange Services LLC

Facility managers, commercial real estate developers, architects, engineers and government officials are invited to access the latest products, services and clean tech equipment in the exhibit hall. This event is co-hosted by The Register, International Facility Management Association, Apartment Association of Orange County, Sustain OC and Buildings Maintenance & Management Magazine. Hours are 8:30 am to 4:00 p.m. For pre-registration and more information, please visit www.buildingsexpos.com.

Editors Note: For interviews or media credentials contact: David Kuff at davidjeffrey99@gmail.com

 

Landlords and Natural Disasters

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By  | Original post from RentPrep
natural-disaster-prepMost parts of the United States are subject to at least one kind of natural disaster, and some areas may be impacted by several different kinds. These disasters can often be tragic and cause devastating losses in lives and property. As a property owner, it’s always a good idea to educate yourself on what natural disasters could take place in your area. Then, you can create a plan for dealing with them during and after they occur.

What is a Natural Disaster?

A natural disaster is a significant event that occurs because of normal functions and actions of the Earth and its forces. Examples of natural disasters include:

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornados
  • Floods
  • Wildfires
  • Tsunamis
  • Drought
  • Landslides
  • Sinkholes
  • Volcanos
  • Blizzards
  • Extreme weather, hot or cold

Natural disasters, depending on the severity, can affect an area economically and cost millions of dollars of state and federal money to help the region recover. The impact on a property owner can be significant and even in the best case scenario, natural disasters can create plenty of stress, damage and tenant issues for landlords.

Regional Risk Factors

The biggest natural disaster risks can be broken down into regions, where certain types of natural disasters are most likely to occur. There is no single area that is completely safe from natural disasters, but some areas have increased odds while others remain relatively disaster free for long periods of time. Let’s review the biggest natural disaster risks for each major geographic region of the United States.

Northeast United States

This area is subject to incredibly powerful storms in this area are called nor’easters. These macro storms get their name from the direction the wind is coming and bring heavy rain or snow, hurricane-force winds and coastal flooding in some instances. Severe winter storms can cause power outages that last for a few days or a few weeks in extreme cases. These storms can also interrupt road travel and cause property damage.

Southeast United States

In the states that border the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, the biggest natural disaster risk has to be hurricanes. From the first of June through the end of November, the area is susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes. Hurricanes bring strong winds, heavy rain, and high waves that can affect coastal communities. A hurricane’s heavy rain can cause flooding inland so distance from the coast is not always a relief from damage. Tornados are also common in this region and can cause plenty of damage.

Midwest United States

From North Dakota down to Louisiana, the likelihood of tornados here are high during certain parts of the year. Known as Tornado Alley, this region generates many tornados every year. With strong winds, tornados can decimate a small town in just a few minutes, and cause extensive damage and loss of life. The Midwest is also subject to flooding disasters due to heavy spring rains.

Mountain West United States

Due to the dry nature of the region, the Mountain West’s biggest risk comes from wildfires. With huge expanses of dry forests and acres of grassland, a small spark can ignite a wildfire that can threaten homes and lives. Another risk of natural disaster in the Mountain West region comes from earthquakes, as several significant fault lines run throughout the region. While there hasn’t been a large earthquake in the area for decades, scientists have determined that it’s not a matter of if, but when.

West Coast United States

Similar to the Mountain West, the West Coast is most likely to be affected by wildfires, but the increased activity of earthquakes in this region catapult this type of natural disaster to the top of the risk list. Even moderate earthquakes can cause damage to structures, and the region has a history of several large earthquakes that have resulted in extensive damage and loss of life.

Natural Disaster Risk Areas

Thanks to decades of study and tracking, scientists and researchers can calculate the areas of the country with the highest risk of natural disasters as well as those places with the lowest risk of natural disasters. Several reports have been created to give residents an idea of what kinds of natural disasters they are most likely to face, depending on where they live.

Here is one report that ranks the top 10 states most likely to have natural disasters, as well as what residents are most likely to encounter there:

  1. Texas—tornados, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, floods
  2. California—earthquakes, wildfires, flooding, severe weather, tsunami
  3. Oklahoma—tornado, snow, flooding, wildfires
  4. New York—snow, ice, tropical storms
  5. Florida—hurricanes
  6. Louisiana—hurricanes, flooding
  7. Alabama—hurricanes
  8. Kentucky—flooding, tornados, mudslides, severe weather
  9. Arkansas—heavy rain, snow, ice, tornados, flooding
  10. Missouri—ice storms, snow, tornados, flooding

This report reveals both the highest risk cities, as well as the safest cities, in the United States:

High Risk Cities

  • Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas
  • Jonesboro, Arkansas
  • Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Houston, Texas
  • Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
  • Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Austin, Texas
  • Birmingham, Alabama

Low Risk Cities

  • Corvallis, Oregon
  • Mt. Vernon-Anacortes, Washington
  • Bellingham, Washington
  • Wenatchee, Washington
  • Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Spokane, Washington,
  • Salem, Oregon
  • Seattle, Washington

It’s easy to see that where the Southeast and Midwest intersect, there are more chances for residents to encounter natural disasters. It’s always a good idea for landlords and property owners in general to get familiar with the risks associated with their region, so that proper preparation can begin.

Landlord Plan for Natural Disasters

No matter where you live in the United States, as a homeowner and landlord, you should find out what natural disasters may occur where your properties are located. There should be plenty of state and local resources on how to prepare physically for a natural disaster.

Insurance

As a property owner, consider reviewing your current insurance policies and see what kind of coverage you have signed up for. Some areas require separate insurance for certain disasters that is outside of a standard policy. For example, if your rental property is located on a flood plain, your standard homeowner’s insurance may not cover any damage by a flood and you would need to purchase a separate insurance policy for floods. Follow your insurer’s advice on listing the features of the property and even taking pictures to document everything before disaster strikes. Also, educate your tenant on renter’s insurance.

Records

Keep your information about insurance and so forth in a safe place so you can access it after the natural disaster occurs. If you live in the same area as your rental property, keep hard copies of important documents where you can access them easily. It’s a good idea to create digital copies and store them in the cloud or in an online storage facility like Dropbox or as attachments to an email. Even if you are without a computer or power, you will eventually be able to access the documents. They may be the only versions left if your own home is affected severely.

Tenants and Lease Agreements

It’s also important for landlords to become familiar with the laws concerning the destruction of rental property and how that affects the lease agreement. If the laws are vague or non-existent, landlords can include wording in the lease agreement for clarity in the event of a natural disaster that destroys or otherwise makes a rental property uninhabitable. For example, will rent be temporarily abated while the property is being restored or repaired or will the lease be dissolved?

In other words, make sure the lease agreement has specific wording that covers provisions if the rental property is partially or completely destroyed. Of course, check with a landlord tenant attorney to ensure that your lease is compliant with state laws on the subject.

Structural Preparations

Depending on what types of natural disasters your area is prone to, there may be some things you can do to minimize damage to your rental property. For example, if your rental is in a high hurricane area, consider replacing standard windows with impact resistant glass and installing hurricane shutters. In an earthquake area, take the time to anchor large appliances, like refrigerators, with hooks and straps. For rental properties in wildfire zones, choose landscaping that places shrubs and trees several feet away from a structure. Taking the time now to prep a rental property can mean the difference in thousands of dollars worth of damage and may even lead to keeping tenants safer.

Other Factors

Other factors to consider when it comes to rental properties and natural disasters:

  • Whether a lease is terminated because of a disaster.
  • What happens to the tenant if the rental property is uninhabitable.
  • If the tenant’s job and income is affected by the disaster and how that can impact the ability to pay rent.
  • How the tenant might pay rent on time if normal methods are not stable (mail delivery, electronic banking, etc.).
  • How tenants become informed about the steps for them to recover from the loss of personal belongings or injury claims due to the disaster through FEMA or other avenues, as well as from their renter’s insurance policy.

In order to minimize the amount of stress and to ease the financial burdens for landlords in the event of a natural disaster, the best advice is to be prepared. While there is no way to predict where and when a natural disaster will take place, you can control your level of preparation and ensure the best possible scenario for your property and your tenants.

Landlord Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Natural Disasters and Severe Weather

Federal Emergency Management Agency: FEMA

USA.gov: Disasters and Emergencies

Red Cross: Prepare for an Emergency

You can also go online and search for your state’s division of emergency management or emergency department for resources and guidance specific to your state.

What steps have you taken to protect your property from a natural disaster and minimize the stress of a devastating aftermath? Please share this article and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Learn more about RentPrep at RentPrep.com

Roof Coatings are not Roofs!

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Tom Scherer  | T&G Roofing

roofing materials

Roof coatings became popular in the 1970’s and 80’s, along with the “Bee Gees”, and they have been around ever since. Coatings are applied over an existing hot tar roof in an effort to “extend” the life of the roof and to add reflective qualities to the system. This is sound thinking, however, in many cases, coatings are misrepresented by the coating industry and contractors who install them. Most of the waterproofing is done before the coating is even applied. (All cracks and holes are mended with plastic roof cement)

To “extend” the life of the roof could mean getting an extra year or two out of the existing system. But I have heard boasts of 10 and 15 year warranties that may not hold water. I installed one of these coatings exactly as directed by the manufacturer. After being told that I would get a 10 year “leak free” warranty from the manufacturer, I had to refund my customer’s money after the first year. I then installed a single ply TPO system to keep water out of the building and to keep myself out of the “People’s Court.”

Since elastomeric coatings are as thin as a piece of paper, how could they be expected to maintain a waterproof membrane for more than a year or so? They can’t and they don’t.

Coatings are not to be confused with actual roofing systems like hot tar, torch-down or single ply. Coatings, by themselves, are not considered to be a legitimate roofing system. They are considered to be a roof restoration only.

Coatings are often required to be installed over a cap-sheet roof so it meets the title 24 (environmental reflective demands) requirement. But it was never intended as a waterproofing system in itself. Single ply systems, on the other hand, have a reflective coating, that meets Title 24, built right into the system.

The best available flat roofing systems as of Jan. 2015 are single ply systems (TPO or PVC) that carry 20-30 year warranties. Hot tar systems are legitimate, but they do not compare with the single ply across the board in terms of safety, longevity, environmental issues. Torch-down is at the low end of the tier. It has the shortest lifespan, uses open flames, and has safety issues.

Emulsion and elastomeric coatings rely on the roof system that they are covering for longevity. When the roofing that the coating is covering deteriorates then the coating fails.

I know of some manufacturers offering 10 year warranties on their coatings however, the warranty has stipulations that do not protect the property owner. The cost of coatings is about half of regular flat roofing options so many property owners are lured by the lower prices and the long warranties, however these warranties do not stand up to close scrutiny.

Single ply roofing does not rely on the existing roofing at all. It stands by itself, whether it’s over an existing roof or bare plywood. It is like large sheets of thick rubber. This material is substantial and will not allow water to penetrate it for 20+ years. The warranties for single ply are legitimate and are validated by reputable companies.

There is really no comparison between the two. One is akin to painting over a roof (coatings) while the other is a new roof covering (single ply).

New buildings across America are roofing with single ply roofing. No building chain (Lowes, Home Depot, WalMart etc.) is roofing their buildings with a coating only.

Hot tar roofing is an acceptable re-roofing choice as it is substantial and will last 15+ years, however single ply is the better choice for longevity, reflectivity, and environmental effects. (no fumes, not oil based, and it’s recyclable)

At T&G Roofing Company, Inc., we pride ourselves on quality. Every installer is a professional with many years of roofing experience. The materials that we install are of the highest quality, always number one grade and we never use seconds. We install brand name roofing products such as GAF, CertainTeed, Owens Corning, Monier-Lifetile, US Tile, and Eagle. These products have proven time and time again that they can stand up to what Mother Nature has to dish out.

Millennials Actually Like the Suburbs

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Tierney Plumb | Shared Post from the Hightower Blog

millennials in the subs

For the past few years, the media has churned out a steady stream of stories describing how city-loving millennials are driving a re-urbanization of the U.S.

But not so fast. As it turns out, the white picket fence life is still desirable for the young age group, according to a new report from CBRE.

Census data shows domestic net migration out of cities and into suburbia. We chatted with the author of the report, CBRE director of research and analysis Darin Mellott.

By the numbers

The most recent annual data from 2014 shows that 2.8 million people moved from the suburbs to cities that year, but 4.6 million did the opposite. That means the death of suburbs isn’t nigh.

“This news is quite shocking to some people because of how much life that prevailing narrative that has taken on its own,” he said.

Millennials, or those mostly born between 1980 and 1995, make up the largest age group in the country and the biggest segment of the U.S. workforce. But census data does disagree with the media when it comes to where they actually live and where they have been moving to.

About 30% of millennials live within urban areas. The remaining balance doesn’t appear to be rushing to city centers; in 2014, 529,000 people between 25 and 29 moved from cities to suburbs, while only 426,000 did the reverse.

For the younger end of the spectrum (ages 20 to 24), the flow’s direction was even more pronounced, with 554,000 becoming city dwellers and 721,000 trading cities for ‘burbs (keep in mind some of that represented relocation into parents’ basements).

Among the oldest millennials and the tail end of Gen X, negative net migration was even more: 1.2 million people aged 30 to 44 moved from cities to suburbs, while 540,000 did the contrary.

So what do they want?

Space and an urban feel rank high on the list. A recent survey showed that 81% of young people (classified as millennials and those born in the late 1970s) want three bedrooms or more in their place.

That preference means suburbs would be the more likely pick when it comes down to family formation and affordability, he said. “It’s hard to afford a three-bedroom in Manhattan.”

In another study, nearly two-thirds of millennial-aged respondents self-identified as suburbanites or rural people.

Still, country mouse types aren’t everywhere. Millennials love urban perks, like access to public transit, shops, restaurants, and offices. Just because millennials appreciate city living doesn’t translate into demand for downtown real estate.

Suburbs can grow on younger demographics once injected with urban qualities.

In San Jose, for example, mini mixed-use developments like Santana Row have plunked down a myriad of restaurants, bars, and housing that replicate the environment found an hour north in San Francisco. Similar redevelopments on the outskirts, dubbed “hipsturbia” and “urban burbs,” are popping up more and more.

Why the increase? As millennials leave cities, they still crave certain amenities and more developers are reacting to that request, he said.

Western cities like Phoenix and LA are seeing pockets of strong suburban activity, he said, and that same phenomenon is occurring in suburbs of New York and New Jersey.  “Those pockets share common characteristics—that is suburban areas with urban qualities,” said Mellott.

Exceptions to the rule

Of course, the report doesn’t aim to make a blanket statement across the board about millennials and suburbia; keep in mind no two property markets are created equal, and each market has its own dynamics that play out on various levels and in unique ways,

And there are definitely downtown markets across the country that have outperformed—and will continue to outperform, in some cases—suburban markets.

For example, McDonald’s Corp. recently announced plans to move its headquarters from the suburbs to downtown Chicago.

“While we are continuing to suburbanize, that doesn’t mean dynamics are negative in cities,” Mellott said.

Some big firms are realizing that an urban setting is a big selling point when it comes to attracting and retaining new talent. And in San Francisco, Silicon Valley-based Facebook is considering adding a ton of square footage in San Francisco. And LinkedIn recently tacked on an entire office building in downtown San Francisco to appeal to city lovers.

While there’s some truth to the idea of the resurgent urban core, it is also fair to say the extinction of the suburbs and millennials’ love of cities have been “greatly exaggerated,” he concluded. His study aims to dispel erroneous thinking that millennials are anti-suburb.

“We are trying to form a more informed and intelligent conversation around these topics. Suburbs aren’t dying,” he said.

ABOUT
Tierney Plumb
Tierney Plumb is a former reporter for Bisnow San Franscio. She previously worked with the San Diego Daily Transcript and the Washington Business Journal.

Tips for Turning Your Properties Pet-Friendly

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared post by Appfolio

pet friendly apt_2

We all know the saying: a dog is a man’s best friend. There are plenty of reasons why—they are cute and fun, and they bring comfort and joy when you need it. If you are a property manager who has a furry friend, you probably understand this already. But even if you don’t have one or are not particularly fond of them, a pet could also be your business’s best friend.

Animals are assets in attracting potential residents and differentiating yourself from competitors. The most frequently asked question from renters is “Do you allow pets?” So while a renter’s dog might not be your cup of tea, it means a good deal to their owners and therefore should mean a lot to you.

As an example, allow me to take a quick moment and tell you how AppFolio utilizes dog friendliness to propel happiness and productivity in the workplace. Trust me, it directly relates to how you can take advantage of pet friendliness in your property management business.

A Dog Friendly AppFolio Boosts Employee Happiness

The dog friendly environment of AppFolio’s offices is one of the reasons why people love working here and why they feel like they have found a home upon joining the team. Welcoming a new dog keeps spirits high throughout the day. They unknowingly foster values beneficial for a productive and close knit community; employees will occasionally reach out to coworkers for dog care which cultivates a mindset of helping one another during and outside of work hours. And when you’re having a rough day, a five-minute break with a new puppy is all it takes to bring a smile. It’s important for companies to offer perks that enable employees to have both a successful personal life and also a professional one. Dog friendliness at AppFolio promotes a happy and social atmosphere, and these points can be easily transcribed from the AppFolio setting to the Property Manager setting.

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How Can Property Managers Institute Dog Friendliness

Most people’s pets are like family to them, so being told that there’s no room for pets can be enough for an applicant to walk out the door. Alternatively, dog friendliness at a property can be very enticing for a potential renter. It can be the reason that your listing initially draws their eye, but can also play a part in what keeps the renter happy and feeling at home.

Making a shift towards dog friendliness (or pet friendliness in general—this is not exclusive to dogs!) can be difficult, but also incredibly rewarding for your business. One of the most common things property managers do is to simply have a “pet interview” where they sit down with the pet and their owner. This can be a great way to make renters feel more welcomed while also helping you stay knowledgeable about the pets living on your properties. Here are three more ways that can make your transition to pet friendliness a smooth one.

  1. Educate your residents about socially acceptable pet behavior. This might seem like common knowledge, but it can be helpful to set expectations when transitioning to a pet friendly community. Having pamphlets available and providing doggie bags gives dog owners and other residents all the tools they need to live in a collaborative and successful multifamily home. Educating your residents ensures that they are up to date about the acceptable pet behavior which helps keep everyone happy.
  2. Charge a fair fee for your additional service. Accepting pets can also be used as another avenue of collecting payments. You are providing an additional service: accommodating pets. As such, it is reasonable to introduce security deposits or additional fees for pets. It might also be worth considering putting limitations on the type and number of pets. You can make the dog friendliness aspect of your business worth your time and effort by putting rules, regulations, and fees in place.
  3. Host pet friendly events to promote resident mingling. One of the best ways to avoid conflicts between pet owners and non-owners, is to host social events that encourage co-mingling. People who love pets, but who don’t own one, are more inclined to forgive their infractions if they actually know the pet. This is also a good way to introduce new members into your housing community, and  it helps both pet owners and their neighbors feel more comfortable and friendly with each other. You can use the pet friendliness of your business to bring together residents and foster a more inclusive and social community, which will in turn improve the face and feel of your business.

While pets can sometimes be a nuisance, the reality is that there are a significant number of dog owners looking to rent properties. In a 2015 All Property Management Research Report, 65% of households had pets and 42% had more than one pet.

AppFolio recently surveyed over 200 property management customers and 78% of respondents allow pets of some kind. While you can certainly set the rules—small dogs only, no cats, etc.—the number of renters who are also pet owners is too high to ignore, and catering to their specific needs or at least making them feel welcome is a great way of expanding your business.

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.

As the apartment rent rocket slows its climb, portfolios turn to Google for higher revenue.

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Matt Easton is EVP of MultiFamily Traffic 

apartmentSEO

Regional Manager Mark Hunter found a way to stand out from all of the other properties rushing to lease apartments in Austin’s hippest neighborhood: he is using SEO and Google AdWords to skip the line and get instant access to qualified potential residents willing to sign a lease with him today without a special offer like free rent or a lower lease rate.

“I found myself questioning why my community website did not appear on Google by itself for the top keywords luxury renters in Austin were searching for,” said Hunter, whose property went from 82% occupancy to 100% with a wait list in just 120 days using SEO and AdWords from MultiFamily Traffic. “We decided we weren’t happy only being visible to Austin renters in the cattle-call of Internet Listing Services and that it was time for us to stand out and attract renters willing to sign a lease today without a concession.”

Apartment managers are having to take digital marketing and apartment SEO more seriously as weaknesses are starting to show up in the boom that has sent apartment rent rates skyrocketing for the last five years all across America. Now with many cities like New York, Dallas, San Francisco and Denver starting to build a surplus of new apartment units, rents are beginning to slow and leasing units is becoming increasingly more difficult without solid online visibility.

Over the last five years, many community developers have decided to concentrate much of new construction on luxury communities in an effort to help them achieve the profits needed to cover the added expenses of staff salaries and rising cost of land to build on. With many new properties featuring trendy locations, rooftop pools and fire pits, managers like Mark Hunter will have to work harder to find renters.

“We found that once we started to rank the community at the top of Google search results, renters called our leasing office before anyone else”, said Hunter. “By being the first property a renter visits, I don’t have to be saying “me too” as the prospect mentions amenities they have already seen somewhere else. The best part about SEO is that I get the first at bat and when those renters that visit us before any other property and sign a lease, I can avoid a price war with my neighbors.”

So if you are as concerned as many operators are that your units will not be able to fetch premium rents and you won’t keep occupancy at 100% what can you do to get Google working for you?

98% of all leases start with a search online. It can be on a phone a tablet or a PC or Mac it doesn’t matter; if your property is not in the search results it may as well not exist. So then why are renters calling you if you are not in the search results? The answer is, you are – you just happen to show up via a surrogate like an apartment listing service. ILS’s like Apartments.com are fantastic but as Mark Hunter put it “a cattle call is not the best place to get the highest rent”.

ILS’s are great but by nature they make you compete with other properties.  If you want the highest rents and 100% occupancy you don’t want to compete you want to DOMINATE YOUR SPACE that means when someone even thinks about an apartment in your city your property company comes up! Working with the right apartment SEO and certified Google AdWords specialist can help you ensure that your community dominates as renters look for an apartment. If they come to you before they ever use an ILS you want have to compete in the cattle call.

The first step is knowing what the top searched keywords are in your city and where your website ranks for them. Multifamily Traffic has a dedicated research team that performs this as a free service for anyone. You can call that team directly and have your research back free of charge in less than 1 hour in most cases. They are available at 888-683-5885.

The next step is looking for a partner that can drive renters to you without asking you to make changes to your website or overcharging you for the work they do. There are many SEO providers that charge thousands per month for a mixed bag of results. You want to work with a firm that understands the industry and can guarantee results for a price you can fit in your budget.

Once you get your property to the top of the search results you will hear the results in the form of hundreds of calls to the leasing office. Make sure your staff is ready to follow up quickly. If you wait to set an appointment the renter is likely to go back to square one and look at an ILS placing both you and themselves right back in the “cattle call”.

MattEaston_BloggerAbout the author:

Matt Easton is EVP of MultiFamily Traffic the leading apartment SEO and digital marketing provider. MultiFamily Traffic works with 500 communities across the U.S resulting in thousands of leases signed every day. Matt can be reached at 303-803-7372 or www.MultiFamilyTraffic.com

5 Crazy Marketing Tactics That Actually Attract Student Renters

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared Post by Appfolio

If you currently manage a student housing portfolio then you probably notice that you have to go the extra mile to be the hottest property around, as most students are just hoping for a room with a bed. This means you might have to employ some more creative marketing tactics to max out your student housing.

Here are a few unconventional ideas on how to fill your properties on and off campus this year.

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Hit the Road with Mobile Marketing

Some student housing property managers have taken to the road with a rather ingenious way to attract attention—a rent bus.

If the student housing pool in your area is particularly competitive, standing out is an absolute must. That’s why Haven Campus Communities decided to take their marketing to the streets with an old food truck that they tricked out to be a mobile leasing station. Parking at sporting events or around campus, students are invited inside the bus to check out floor plans, photos, and even apply for an apartment on the spot.

Talk about driving demand! When taking your business to the streets, mobility and cloud functionality is key—property management software can help you streamline these processes.

Throw a Pool Party

If the property you are trying to fill has a shared pool, what better way to attract new renters than to throw a pool party? Spread the word across campus using flyers, an email blast, or social media. Invite local DJs or bands to play at your party. If your property has grills, use those to offer your prospects free food while they splash around. Throwing a huge party is a great way to show renters that your properties will keep the good times rolling…All they need to do is apply.

Offer Free Food (Who Can Say “No” to Free Food?)

If you want to draw a crowd, free food is always the way to go. No matter where you may be promoting your properties, if you bring food people will come. Consider hiring a food truck for the day and bringing it to a student housing event or local beer and wine festival. Hungry students (and prospective renters) will never refuse an application if it comes with free tacos!

Be a Renter Superfan

Students have a wide variety of interests. College students have the highest attendance rate of sporting events and music festivals than any other age group in the country—and where there are large gatherings of students, there is an opportunity to market!

If you have a marketing team, get them to help you design cool paper collateral to hand out at festivals, concerts, or sports games; Millennials and younger generations think of quality creative work as a sign of professionalism, and a fresh poster or postcard design is one of the best ways to leave a positive impression in a student’s mind.

Many events also need local sponsors to help bring their projects to life. Sponsor a local event and get permission to set up a booth where attendees can speak to you in person about your properties. To sweeten the pot, you can even provide a little free swag like a fanny pack or water bottle that displays your company brand while providing a service to your prospects.

Get Creative with Incentives (Loan-a-bike systems, public transportation included in rent, etc.)

In college towns or large universities where student housing is competitive, most students know that they can be picky about where they want to live while also staying within their price range. You can make your properties more attractive on a financial level by providing creative yet practical incentives for your renters when they sign.

As an example, Chicago is a diverse city filled with many different types of higher learning institutions; it is also very large and can be difficult and expensive to navigate. Divvy is a local a bike loan service that allows students to pick up a bike in one of their many locations and drop it off when they are finished. At only $75/ year per student, this could be a great signing incentive that would provide real value to students without breaking their bank or yours.

While students need to get around, they also need places to go. Many large universities will offer season passes to sporting events to their students at a discount; try to strike the same deal for your property, then run a promotion offering free season passes to the first 100 students that sign a lease with you. Most students will reason that they were going to buy the tickets anyway, so they might as well get them for free.


Remember, young renters are not always financially stable on their own, so a big piece of the marketing puzzle is about including their parents in the rental decision. Your marketing can be fun and adventurous so long as it also shows professionalism and makes fiscal sense to the real decision maker.

Along the same lines, you may also want to consider accepting cosigners for your student housing portfolio. Not only is it financially safer for you and your renters, it helps create a sense of responsibility and ownership in young adults without forcing them to sign a lease completely on their own. Allowing cosigners will help you fill vacancies faster and assume less risk.

These are just a few of many wacky ways to capture a college student’s attention, don’t be afraid to get a little more edgy when it comes to marketing to a younger crowd. Who knows? You might discover new ways to market to your larger portfolio in the process.

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.

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