News & Research Listing

News, Industry Insider, Apartment Business Update, Operations Insights
Developing An Emergency Preparedness Plan to Manage Supply Chain Disruptions

The first component of a preparedness plan is to develop contingencies and solutions with multiple suppliers.  

Public safety emergencies such as COVID-19 are challenging for everyone in a multitude of ways. In the rental-housing industry, economic pressures can escalate quickly in times of emergency as the impact on the supply chain becomes more evident.  

But quick and confident planning, including having an emergency preparedness system with suppliers in place, can ensure fast access to critical supplies.  

During the session, “Developing an Emergency Preparedness Plan to Manage Supply Chain Disruptions” at NAA’s Apartmentalize, various industry professionals discussed how they overcame supply chain challenges by working closely with supplier partners. 

The first component of a preparedness plan is to develop contingencies and solutions with multiple suppliers.  

“These days, one supplier is just not enough. You’ve got to have backups,” said Andy Haynes, Strategic Growth Director for Avendra LLC. “See who else can provide you the materials you need in case that primary supplier, as much as they want to help you, might not be able to.”  

Second, communication is of the utmost importance when it comes to creating a preparedness plan. Panelists advised to have a routine communication plan in place with both suppliers and residents. Lack of communication creates panic, so be sure you can relay crucial information to the right people at the right time.  

As the pandemic began, operators across the country faced multiple challenges simultaneously. However, a common challenge that they all shared was the uncertainty of the times and its impact on the supply chain.  

 “The largest supply chain problem was that this was very unscripted. Nobody knew what environment we were getting into, and that included our suppliers,” said Wais Khairzada, Corporate Director of Residential Services for The Bozzuto Group. “So primarily for us, and certainly in our multifamily space, the biggest challenge was getting the plexiglass dividers, the masks, all of the PPE supplies and things like that.” 

Resolving supply chain challenges entailed different approaches, but it was establishing and maintaining multiple relationships with corporate and local suppliers that really kept operations moving.  

“The relationships with our vendors across the country were a huge proponent of navigating COVID and what our orders looked like,” said Kayt Watts, Director of National Accounts at Advanced Catastrophe Technologies, Inc. “Because ACT was proactive when the Pacific Northwest was being hit, we automatically started making those phone calls to the rest of the country and asked what their turnaround time was. We basically planned for the worst and hoped for the best.”  

Emergencies change perspectives on what it means to be prepared, and insurance is a part of preparedness that many operators took for granted pre-pandemic. 

“Know the devil in the details of your insurance policies,” said David Abbenante, President of HRI Management. “We’ve spent weeks, if not months sometimes, analyzing our insurance policies and getting prepared. You’re always now going to think of opportunities or concerns as it relates to this pandemic well in advance.”  

Old practices don’t always hold up with changing times and the challenges that arise. Operators should learn from previous challenges and create new practices when developing an emergency preparedness plan, according to the panel. 

“We’ve got several preparedness manuals in place, whereas we didn't have a manual format before. There’s also very robust communication plans in place,” Khairzada said.  

Panelists noted that implementing an effective preparedness plan consists of four parts: 

  1. Have a written plan. A written plan should be stored where other team members can access it and find the key information and protocols necessary to handle an emergency if your point of contact is unavailable.  
  2. Gain the commitment of your supply partners. Foster and maintain supplier relationships and communicate who they are so that team members are aware, avoiding scammers who are attempting to take advantage of emergency situations.   
  3. Ensure your onsite teams understand the plan. Having a plan is crucial, but team members being familiar with and knowing the plan is just as important.  
  4. Review and revise your plan at least annually. Things change, like new team members coming onboard or regulations evolving. An annual review will help your plan stay relevant as changes occur.  
     

 “When you are expecting the worst and you have those plans in place, it’s so much better when things are going smoothly because you’re doing it with the confidence that if something goes wrong, you’re ready,” Haynes said. 

 Andrew Ruhland is a Junior Account Executive and Assistant Content Writer for LinnellTaylor Marketing. 

October 25, 2021
Developing An Emergency Preparedness Plan to Manage Supply Chain Disruptions
NAA Press Releases
Derrick Semeneh Named NAA’s Vice President of Information Technology

ARLINGTON, VA | October 25, 2021 – The National Apartment Association (NAA) today welcomed Derrick Semeneh as the new Vice President of Information Technology.

Semeneh brings vast technology and leadership experience to NAA. Most recently, Semeneh served as the Director of Information Technology for Advantage Engineers, where he was responsible for the enterprise infrastructure of the nationwide telecommunications engineering firm – supporting 13 locations across the United States. Semeneh previously served in similar roles for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Rivermed Health and SOTECH, amongst other organizations. He studied both computer and information science and information systems management at the University of Maryland.

“Derrick’s impressive background makes him a critical addition to the NAA family at a pivotal time for our industry,” said Bob Pinnegar, NAA President and CEO. “I look forward to working alongside Derrick and his team to ensure that our digital infrastructure provides the best possible experience for our members.”

In his new position, Semeneh will create a vision for, plan and drive the enterprise-wide information technology strategy. He will work closely with senior stakeholders and executive leadership to define the role of information technology operations in the broader association and how it can enable important organization-wide objectives. Semeneh will also lead NAA’s information technology team which consists of operations and infrastructure, data and applications management as well as customer service.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the NAA team to continue the important work that we provide for the rental housing industry,” added Semeneh. “Working alongside such a dedicated team of information technology professionals, I’m confident that we’ll continue to build and strengthen our digital infrastructure to better the experience for our members across the country.”

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About NAA
The National Apartment Association (NAA) serves as the leading voice and preeminent resource through advocacy, education, and collaboration on behalf of the rental housing industry. As a federation of 149 state and local affiliates, NAA encompasses over 93,000 members representing more than 10.5 million apartment homes globally. NAA believes that rental housing is a valuable partner in every community that emphasizes integrity, accountability, collaboration, community responsibility, inclusivity and innovation. To learn more, visit
www.naahq.org. NAA thanks its strategic partners Lowe’s Pro Supply and Yardi.

October 25, 2021
News, Industry Insider, Operations Insights
Marketing Your Community’s Positive Resident Experience

Three ways to help make prospects aware that your current residents are happy.

So, you’ve succeeded in creating a relatively positive resident experience at your property, but how do you effectively market it?

After all, your property is providing a service, probably the most important service of all: A place to call home. Plus, with the current trend of apartment communities offering resort-style amenities to entice more renters, the service aspect has never been more in play. Or, on the flip side, if your property doesn’t have many amenities, then your staff’s personal touch really needs to shine.

Either way, marketing your positive resident experience is key to getting more new leases. Here are a few effective and easy ways to do it:

1. Document + Share Your Move-In Process

A seamless move-in process is an important component for a positive resident experience and, therefore, a higher renewal rate. In fact, a Kingsley Associates study found that the renewal rate for residents who were satisfied with the move-in process was 59% higher than the renewal rate for residents who were dissatisfied.

There’s no question that prospective residents will love to know that moving into one of your apartments is quick and easy—it may even become the deciding factor to signing a lease.

A great way to show an easy move-in process is by documenting a new resident actually moving in from start to finish. You can do this by having the leasing agent take simple videos and pictures of everything. We also recommend getting a few quotes from the resident if possible. Obviously, you will have to secure permission from the incoming resident, but usually a gift card or discount on the first month’s rent will do the trick.

However, if you can’t get permission or don’t feel comfortable, you can still document what the general process looks like without a physical resident or have one of your staff stand in.

As for marketing this content, an easy way is to share the videos to your Instagram stories and save them all as a “Move-In Process” highlight. This way, it will permanently stay on your profile and prospective residents can check it out whenever they want. You can even refer to it in your social posts, lead emails and tours to continue informing prospects that it’s there.

2. Share Reviews

It’s a big win whenever your community receives a positive review online. So, when it comes to pumping up your positive resident experience online, it should be treated as such! It’s time to share every positive review your property receives loud and proud on both social media and your website!

For social media, a tool our marketing team loves to use for quick graphics like this is Canva—an incredibly user-friendly graphic design platform. With this tool, you can create a crisp graphic with the review quote in the foreground and property images or other fun design elements in the background. Plus, in Canva, you can upload your property’s brand colors and logo to use in the graphics.

It’s incredibly reassuring for prospective residents to see positive reviews when they visit your social media platforms or website. It may also help combat any potential negative reviews they see on Google.

3. Post Content of Residents On Property

There’s nothing more reassuring to someone who’s gearing up to move than seeing residents being actively happy at the community where they’re thinking of living.

Seeing real residents living their best life is much more persuasive and impactful than a headline on your website that says. “Live your best life at our property.” To be clear, I’m not knocking a good headline, it’s just helpful to back it up with photo proof.

A great way to keep up this strategy is to set a routine where a designated staff member swings by some of the amenities and community areas on certain days to take quick videos or photos of residents utilizing and enjoying the spaces. If you keep finding that you’re not able to capture too many residents “in the moment,” then think about their routines and the times they are most likely to use the amenities.

Additionally, when your staff or one of your residents hosts an event, that’s the perfect time to snap away!

No Experience Left Behind...

No matter how you choose to do it, get the word out that your residents have a positive experience leasing with your community!

There’s no question it’s great to advertise your amenities and unique features, but too few properties really market the great service they offer and the level of satisfaction of their current residents. This is a mistake, especially considering how resident experience has become such a hot topic in the industry.

Make it your goal this week to implement one new strategy for showing off your happy residents and incredible staff!

Ashley Tyndall is Chief Relationship Officer at Criterion.B.

October 22, 2021
Marketing Your Community’s Positive Resident Experience
News, Industry Insider, Operations Insights
Meet Gen Z: Understanding the Next Generation of Renters

Social media and fast website loading times grab the attention of the Digital Generation. 

Maybe they weren’t born with a mobile device in their hands, but that’s not an extreme exaggeration; the Gen Z demographic has grown up exclusively in the digital age.  

While the same is essentially true for many of their Millennial predecessors, Gen Z’s tendencies as renters are vastly different from prior generations. From search behavior, fondness for video clips, occasional frugality and preference for simple over flashy, the generation has its share of idiosyncrasies, as panelists discussed at NAA's Apartmentalize 2021 session, “Meet Gen Z: Understanding the Next Generation of Renters.” 

Having grown up on social media, their attention spans might be shorter than usual. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to capture their attention. As such, multifamily marketing teams are aiming for quick-hit engagement on the front end.  

“We’ll start with a 15-second video that links to our website, where we have a one-minute video that lives there,” said Garin Hamburger, Senior Director of National Property Management for Cushman & Wakefield. “When they are already engaged and want to learn more, they will be more inclined to watch a little bit longer of a video. That’s our strategy and it’s been great so far.” 

While it might be difficult to catch their immediate attention, Gen Z individuals are more detailed in their initial searches. According to the REACH by RentCafe Gen Z Renter Study, they average 4.9 words per search—more than any other generation—and are inclined to use words and phrases such as “best,” “cheap” and “how to.” And despite their fondness for social media, only 13% start their search there, with 43% beginning with a search engine and 39% in a marketplace environment.  

“Gen Z renters might not start their search on Instagram or social media, but I think it’s still a super important part of your marketing mix,” said Brooke Atsalis, Marketing and Training Manager of The Management Group. “They might not be starting there, but they are definitely going to go there throughout their journey, and it’s going to be a big factor in their decision.” 

According to the REACH by RentCafe study, when asked to rate their top three social media outlets, 46% rated Instagram in their top three followed by Facebook (43%), YouTube (39%) and TikTok (33%). While the latter two are of no surprise, the data dispels the notion that Facebook is becoming an afterthought to younger generations.  

Additionally, studies show that 69% of Gen Z individuals tend to like a mix of professional and user-generated videos, and they prefer faster loading times and clean, soft colors as opposed to anything hyper-flashy. An overwhelming 88% indicated that fast loading times are critical to them during a search as opposed to a website with a lot of motion and animation, according to the REACH by RentCafe study. 

Hamburger noted that “a broad marketing strategy to hit all the key touchpoints” is needed given Gen Z’s unique and wide-ranging search habits. If it doesn’t already, the generation, which will account for 30% of the U.S. workforce by 2023, should have the attention of the apartment world.   

Paul Willis is a Content Manager for LinnellTaylor Marketing.  

For more on understanding Gen Z's housing preferences, read "The Complexities of the Digital Generation," containing insights From the NAA/SatisFacts/ApartmentRatings Survey on Gen Z.

October 19, 2021
Meet Gen Z: Understanding the Next Generation of Renters
News, Industry Insider, Apartment Innovations, Operations Insights
Technology Revolutionized Remote Property Management

While technology was needed immediately to maintain operations during the early stages of the pandemic, it is important to assess whether these solutions are temporary or viable in the long term.

Virtual technology was a necessity during the pandemic as operators rewrote their practices and procedures to accommodate a remote workforce. But virtual is now a reality, and the technology is here to stay.

During the Apartmentalize 2021 session, “Virtually Unstoppable: Managing Properties from Anywhere,” industry leaders discussed the virtues of the technological advances introduced to multifamily housing during 2020.

“There has never been a year that has presented more operational changes,” said Lisa Domm, Vice President of Strategic Business Services for Preferred Apartment Communities. “We’re in a very human industry, and losing that personal touch during COVID was really challenging. We really had to think about how we can better use the tools available to us.”

Online payment portals, maintenance workflow systems and inspection platforms all quickly became required aspects of operations during 2020, as offices closed and leasing teams worked remotely. But operators were still cautious to retain their person-to-person connections with residents.

“People still like to lease from people, even if we have to focus on remote sales strategies to do that and ensure that personal touch is still an option,” said Kaycee Kisling, Managing Director of Multifamily Investments at Mark-Taylor Residential. “We knew response times could be impacted, so we implemented remote strategies to make sure we were keeping up with communication during the pandemic.”

Finding the right technology partners to maintain or even raise the level of onsite service was critical to avoid the resident perception that property teams were phoning it in.

“I think we all looked at what platforms could help us to overcome the obstacles we were facing,” Kisling said. “We needed to improve our internal communication and really create radical transparency throughout the company. We also looked at who we were partnered with for smart-home technology. It was critical that we were able to conduct self-guided tours and virtual tours through our website. And on the maintenance side, we were looking at platforms that could help us improve our response time and resolution times so that we could continue to improve our online reputation scores.”

While technology was needed immediately to maintain operations during the early stages of the pandemic, it was important to assess whether the solutions were temporary or viable in the long term.

“We have the mindset to never let a good crisis go to waste, so we really focused on what changes are here to stay and what things are going to transform our industry moving forward,” Kisling said.

Successfully transitioning to a more digital business model has hinged on integration and avoiding disconnected data silos.

“It is important to make sure that everything is streamlined and that all the data is flowing and working, and making sense holistically,” Domm said. “Another really big thing for me is getting rid of all the extra logins. Everyone wants to sell you something that requires you to log in. The more that we’re able to get things working together and get them plugged into the same location, the easier it’s going to be for our leasing teams.”

With technology now firmly a part of multifamily operations, it’s up to property teams to maximize its potential.

“We’re going to take advantage of this new velocity, this new speed at which things are moving, to make sure that we’re staying ahead,” Domm said. “The multifamily industry has been the industry that technology forgot, from a lot of perspectives, but we’re no longer that, that’s for certain.”

Doug Pike is a Content Manager at LinnellTaylor Marketing.

If you missed 2021 Apartmentalize, the largest rental housing industry networking and education event, or just missed a few sessions while attending, then you’re in luck. Order NAA’s REWIND program to access 80+ PowerPoint-synced audio and video sessions from Apartmentalize. You’ll also get a chance to earn continuing education credits (CECs) with purchase. Share the knowledge and relive the experience by ordering REWIND today. 

October 13, 2021
Technology Revolutionized Remote Property Management
News, Industry Insider, Apartment Innovations, Operations Insights
AI Driving Leasing Efficiency, Consistency

Improving customer service and built-in conveniences for leasing teams through integration. 

Multifamily housing operators often see the greatest benefits from new innovations when the technology doesn’t need to be managed by onsite teams. As a result, more management companies are turning to artificial intelligence to increase efficiencies, reduce costs and start down the path toward more autonomous communities.  

During the 2021 Apartmentalize session, “Is Artificial Intelligence Changing Rental Housing Management?” industry experts weighed in on the various successes of AI in the multifamily space, and the issues it is helping to solve at the property level.  

Companies like Waterton are routing all digital leasing inquiries through an AI platform. Matt Mehon, Director of Marketing and Leasing at Waterton, said the process has improved customer service and built-in conveniences for leasing teams through integration.  

“We’re really focusing on bolstering the leasing process through AI,” Mehon said. “By routing digital inquiries through AI, our leasing consultants can devote time to the customer sitting in front of them. It improves the customer experience and customer service. Also, AI interacts with a lot of different technologies and will schedule an appointment directly with a customer for virtual or self-guided tours. The technology interaction is largely at the CRM level, so if one of our associates wants to see how the conversion is going between our AI and a particular customer, they can go in and do that through the CRM system.”  

At Equity Residential, leasing teams noticed that 35% of customers were reaching out after business hours, but teams were following up on those leads only 65% of the time. By switching to an AI platform, responses were sent promptly and dependably. 

“It creates an extreme amount of consistency in our process,” said Kristin Hupfer, First Vice President of National Sales at Equity. “AI does 30% better than a leasing consultant on those after-hours responses, and it puts the customer information into the CRM system on such a consistent basis that it is much more accurate than ever before.” 

By scheduling appointments through an AI system versus a call center, Waterton has seen more residents show up for their tours (80%), as well as less time wasted on unqualified prospects.  

Jason Kessler, Chief Operating Officer at Edward Rose & Sons, said AI is helping to drive associate satisfaction and retention.  

“We need people to be the professionals they want to be. They don’t need to be operators,” Kessler said. “We want our associates to be as successful as possible within the organization. We need more property managers and regional managers, due to our growth, and we need our associates’ feedback to help implement this. They need to know that this is how they’re going to be more successful.” 

The panelists agreed that identifying super-users and project managers for AI implementations is crucial, as is sticking to a timeline for deployment. Because the earlier property teams can integrate AI into their leasing practices, the more successful they will be.  

Doug Pike is a Content Manager at LinnellTaylor Marketing. 

If you missed 2021 Apartmentalize, the largest rental housing industry networking and education event, or just missed a few sessions while attending, then you’re in luck. Order NAA’s REWIND program to access 80+ PowerPoint-synced audio and video sessions from Apartmentalize. You’ll also get a chance to earn continuing education credits (CECs) with purchase. Share the knowledge and relive the experience by ordering REWIND today. 

 

October 12, 2021
AI Driving Leasing Efficiency, Consistency
Apartment Advocate
HUD Issues 30-day Notice to Vacate Rule for PBRA Participants

As the National Apartment Association (NAA) previously reported, this news is consistent with HUD’s interpretation of the CARES Act notice to vacate requirement and the agency’s public statements signaling their intention to make this a permanent mandate beyond the COVID-19 national emergency.  

Here’s what you need to know about the new rule

  • Published as an interim final rule, this rule will became effective on November 8. It is intended to gives residents an opportunity to secure federal funding that is available due to a Presidential declaration of a national emergency.  
  • The rule provides the HUD Secretary with the discretion to require covered housing providers to provide adequate notice (at least 30 days) to their residents prior to filing for eviction due to nonpayment of rent. The notice must include information about available federal ERA funding.  
  • In terms of the notice to residents, owners must, at a minimum, use HUD-provided language, updated to reflect the entity issuing the notification with a link to the appropriate local ERA grantee and their contact information. See the Appendix: Information for Tenants in HUD's October 7 notice
  • The authority granted by this rule extends to future national emergency declarations and is not limited to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The new rule applies to HUD-subsidized public housing and housing providers that participate in HUD’s project-based rental assistance (PBRA) programs.  
  • Included in the scope of this rule are participants in HUD's PBRA programs such as Section 8, Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation, Section 202/162 Project Assistance Contract, Section 202 Project Rental Assistance Contract (PRAC), Section 811 PRAC, Section 236 Rental Housing Assistance Program and Rent Supplement. 
  • The rule does not cover Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher participants.  

Regardless of this rule, remember housing providers of federally backed and federally assisted properties must provide covered renters with a 30-day notice to vacate in accordance with the CARES Act. Unless and until a clear sunset date is codified into law, HUD and other federal agencies will continue to enforce their interpretation of the CARES Act’s 30-day notice to vacate requirement. As background on HUD’s interpretation of this requirement, see HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs guidance, Question 25 and Office of Public and Indian Housing guidance, EM1 on page 10.  

This announcement is part of the Administration’s “whole of government” approach to reduce preventable evictions and provide renters more time to access the $46.5 billion in federal ERA dollars that is gradually being distributed to renters and housing providers through state and local programs. 

To learn more about this rule or NAA’s federal regulatory advocacy, contact Nicole Upano, NAA’s Director of Public Policy. 

November 9, 2021
News, Industry Insider, Operations Insights
What the Pandemic Taught Us About Maintenance

Industry leaders discuss supply chain shortages and completing service requests from afar.

Maintenance professionals are known for their ability to enter a scene and quickly extinguish the problem. But when access to that scene becomes restricted, it certainly complicates the prospects of conquering the task. 

As such, many maintenance professionals essentially became teachers during the pandemic. Unable to enter homes, they remotely guided residents through some of the simpler fixes in their apartments via video chats, texts and emails. But that was hardly the only adjustment maintenance teams had to make when the world was turned upside down in 2020, as a panel discussed during “What the Pandemic Taught Us About Maintenance" at NAA's Apartmentalize conference in Chicago. 

“We quickly realized that ‘the way it always has been’ wasn’t going to be able to stay,” said Adam Dudley, Director of Property Management at Panther Residential. “It became apparent there was going to be a lot more resident interaction, although from afar, and a lot more DIY processes.”

Additionally, Dudley and Panther Residential eventually replaced many of the tedious by-hand cleaning processes with the use of foggers for more efficient disinfecting of common areas and offices. It was part of an industry-wide effort to streamline suddenly intensified cleaning processes, which operators utilized various methods to execute. 

While modified daily processes were the most glaring changes from the pandemic, one of the most overlooked maintenance challenges was that of inventory management. With nationwide supply shortages on just about everything, many operators were unable to replace key maintenance items when they ran out. According to the panel, that has prompted operators to be more diligent about bulk ordering items such as Freon and personal protective equipment like masks so they aren’t left without them if there’s another disruption in the supply chain. 

Move-in and move-out processes were altered, as well, which subsequently affected the ways maintenance teams went about turning apartment homes. In doing so, they had to be aware of ever-changing, pandemic-related protocols enacted by local jurisdictions. Then there is the challenge of exhibiting a consistent approach across the portfolio. 

“We really tried to find the common ground so that we weren’t having half of our company functioning one way and half of it functioning the other,” said Daniel Kughen, Senior Vice President of Facilities for Steadfast Living. “We regular checked into what the counties and states were requiring, and we always erred on the side of the safest recommendation. I think we closed earlier and opened our amenities later than other companies, and we only did emergency service calls right off the bat.”

Budget season has also been significantly altered in the maintenance world, with the need to bulk buy, further utilize tech to communicate with residents and make considerations that didn’t exist before 2020. 

“Keeping our shops stocked and having the materials we need will be the biggest thing, so we don’t diagnose the problem then have to order parts,” Kughen said. “That’s going to be the big push going forward.” 

Paul Willis is a Content Manager for LinnellTaylor Marketing. 

October 11, 2021
What the Pandemic Taught Us About Maintenance

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