News & Research Listing

News, Industry Insider, Operations Insights
Online Reputation Speaks for Itself, Delivers ROI

Considering that 70% of online reviews are positive, communities should encourage residents to share their experience.

What is the ROI of a positive online reputation? And what impact does it have on leasing and renewal? The 2021 Apartmentalize session, “Your Online Reputation: Trends, Strategy and ROI in Multifamily” delved into those questions, as well as strategies for improving online reputation.

Joseph Batdorf, President of J Turner Research, opened the session with some eye-opening statistics: In 2014, apartment communities received 1.7 million online reviews. Through just the second quarter of 2021, apartment communities had already received 11.7 million reviews. And those reviews are factoring into prospect decisions, with 64% of prospects reading all reviews, regardless of their rating. Also, during their apartment search, prospects actively research 14.3 properties but only visit 4.22 properties prior to leasing.

“Residents are now looking at more sites to gather more information, and physically visiting fewer sites,” said John Hinckley, Senior Vice President of Living Suite at RealPage and founder of Modern Message. “Decisions are being made based on information found online.”

So, what does that mean for leasing teams? Online reputation needs to mirror the actual resident experience.

“It starts with service,” said Kelly Shannon, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Customer Engagement for The Bozzuto Group. “Are you doing the things you need to be able to do, just to deliver on service? My reputation online needs to reflect the level of service residents are receiving in person.”

Shannon noted that the right online response from the property team also has a positive impact.

“We want to make sure we have the best response out there, and sometimes that takes a little bit of time,” she said.

While traditional schools of thought suggest that a rapid response to online feedback is essential, research shows that responses that also offer a solution to a stated issue can be even more beneficial. In cases of negative reviews, 58% of prospects prefer a response within 72 hours that offers a solution and contact info, compared to 42% who prefer a reply from the community within 24 hours with a simple acknowledgement of the issue.

Property managers can look at review trends and data to boost resident satisfaction by figuring out what the hot button items are for the community and working to address those issues for residents.

“People are happy when you’re delivering or even overdelivering,” Shannon said. “When residents are happy with your service, that’s a good time to ask them for their online feedback.”

Encouraging residents to create online content, take pictures, post and share their resident experience and what it’s like to live at the community creates an opportunity for resident engagement. And resident engagement generally results in a spike in positive reviews.

When resident satisfaction is high, and online ratings reflect that, operators can even reduce their marketing budgets.

“We don’t have to market as hard because our online reputation speaks for itself,” Shannon said.

Hinckley said online reviews and responses from the property team can be used to tell the community’s story. Considering that 70% of online reviews are positive, teams should encourage residents to share their experience.

“Review sites are not a liability anymore,” Hinckley said. “They’re selling your community online and telling your story. The more people you can get to share their feedback, the more positive the story is likely to be.”

Doug Pike is a Content Manager at LinnellTaylor Marketing.

September 27, 2021
Online Reputation Speaks for Itself, Delivers ROI
NAA Press Releases
Pam Weber Joins NAA as NAAEI Vice President

ARLINGTON, VA | September 27, 2021 – The National Apartment Association (NAA) today announced Pam Weber, CAE as the next Vice President of the NAA Education Institute (NAAEI). 

Weber brings a wealth of association experience to NAA, working as a highly respected manager of credentialing, education and career development programs for nearly 20 years. Most recently, Weber served as the COO at the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE), which is a global certification program. Weber previously held similar roles at the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International and Yoga Alliance and is a graduate of both Purdue University and George Mason University, where she earned her M.P.A. 

“Pam’s extensive knowledge of association work and impressive background demonstrates her commitment to creating meaningful and lasting change,” said Bob Pinnegar, NAA President and CEO. “I’m excited to work alongside Pam to further the great work of NAAEI to support our industry at such a pivotal time.” 

In her new role, Weber will continue to expand the work of NAA’s education and training branch throughout the industry. As its mission statement reads, “NAAEI seeks to provide broad-based education, training and recruitment programs that attract, nurture and retain high-quality professionals and develop tomorrow’s apartment industry leaders.” Weber will work closely alongside the NAAEI Board, committees and staff, as well as NAA COO Amy Groff, who joined in April. Additional information on the work of NAAEI and its industry credentialing programs can be found here.

“I am excited to join the NAA family to continue the incredibly important work that NAAEI provides for our industry nationwide,” noted Weber. “Working in partnership with such a dedicated team, I’m confident that we will continue to expand, adapt and enhance the industry’s highly regarded credentialing programs.” 

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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.

September 27, 2021
News, Industry Insider
Apartment Retention Rates Near Peak Level

Retention rates in August show largest jump on record.

Residents are staying put in their apartment homes, resulting in near record retention levels and a huge year-over-year (YoY) jump. According to a RealPage analytics blog by Deputy Chief Economist and Vice President of Asset Optimization Jay Parsons, the retention rate for August increased 4% YoY, which is the largest jump on record. The retention rate is at 57.2%, slightly behind the historical highs set in the early months of the pandemic lockdowns.

One of the biggest factors impacting retention is the lack of options for renters—apartment occupancy was at an all-time high of 97.1% in August. Single-family rentals are at their highest occupancy since 1994, and active listings are well below normal. Rental costs are also affecting retention. Rent growth has surged during the pandemic, up nearly 13% in single-family rentals. “Apartment renters signing a new lease paid more than 18% above what the previous resident paid for the same unit – a record high roughly equaling the blistering pace of for-sale housing price growth,” according to the article.

The demand for urban core apartments also factored into the higher retention rates in summer 2021 compared to summer 2020. Renters were fleeing coastal urban markets like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and New York City due to shutdowns. The reverse has happened in 2021—markets such as Phoenix and Denver, along with the coastal urban centers previously mentioned, are seeing a resurgence in rental activity.

September 27, 2021
Apartment Retention Rates Near Peak Level
News, Industry Insider, Operations Insights
Keeping the Focus on Resident Satisfaction

While the pandemic changed many aspects of the business, one thing remains constant: Great customer service.

While a lot has changed in the apartment industry during the past 18 months, Tina West, Senior Managing Director at Cushman & Wakefield, thinks the characteristics that define the best leasing agents have remained the same.

“Leasing agents who thrive in the multifamily industry hold a similar set of values and talents,” West says. “Best-in-class agents are service-minded, customer-facing, dynamic and personable. This has never wavered.”

However, to succeed over the past 18 months, West found that team members have needed to be nimble, creative, responsive and more open-minded than ever before.

“Our leasing agents who inspire surprising and delightful touchpoints are hospitality-driven with bespoke service and world-class standards of care,” West says. “Leaders in this role must have a mindset for anticipatory service and an ability to engage customers in new ways.”

Learning to master technology and follow-up quickly have also helped. “For residents, increased automation allowed for immediate feedback, which was then followed-up in person or through some other means,” West says.

Whether through daily communication or virtual events, Cindy Clare, Chief Operating Officer for Bell Partners, says onsite staffers developed an even stronger bond with residents throughout the pandemic. “For the new residents coming in, I think they appreciate that the staff has been there for them,” she says.

That customer service won’t change as the pandemic eases.

Even with demand rising, Morgan Properties is working hard to keep its current residents happy. “We’ve improved our communication efforts to be able to notify residents via text, email and social media,” says Dan Flamini, Area Vice President for Morgan Properties. “These new tools make it so our property teams can share news quicker and more accessibly.”

Morgan has also enhanced its community amenities and added new ones, including centralized package stations by Amazon HUB. “At each property we own and operate, we are committed to providing residents with the best experience possible and have worked to provide more convenient options like flexible lease terms for residents during this time,” Flamini says.

Strong customer satisfaction and community amenities should attract renewals. However, in a rising market, renewal rents should rise, which could mean difficult conversations with residents. “We’re seeing the same [upward] trend on market rent increases as well as renewal increases,” says Cindy Clare, Chief Operating Officer for Bell Partners.

So far, Chris Riley, a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Blaze Capital Partners, sees a pricing gap between renewals and new leases.

“It’s a heavier emphasis on new leases and probably less so on renewals,” Riley says. “That’s just a byproduct of what you’d otherwise expect, which would be the associated pricing pressures that you see from in-place versus that of a new lease.”

Wood Residential Services’ pricing strategy has changed regarding renewals. But Executive Vice President of Operations Steve Hallsey acknowledges that more tests are coming, especially with evictions. “A number of communities are sitting on a lot of physical occupancy that is not paying rent," he says. "Once those units become available, pricing and occupancy may take a dip.”

Les Shaver is a freelance writer.

September 27, 2021
Keeping the Focus on Resident Satisfaction
News, Industry Insider, Apartment Innovations, Operations Insights
Hitting Refresh on These Multifamily Marketing Basics

When investigating new ways to reach prospective residents, make sure not to leave these proven marketing tactics behind.

With platforms like TikTok taking off in popularity and the push for video content greater than ever, it can be incredibly easy to jump down the rabbit hole of social media innovation and let the tried-and-true multifamily marketing methods collect a little dust on the shelf.

It’s time to take out the dust cloth because the basic marketing strategies will always be the best foundation for every successful campaign.

While this by no means, is your “hall pass” for not learning and engaging in new marketing avenues, it is a strong reminder that the multifamily marketing basics still work and you shouldn’t let them get lost in the social media shuffle.

For a quick refresh, here are the top multifamily marketing basics that deserve your attention 24/7:

Email, Email, Email

I can’t stress enough how important email marketing is for generating new leads and retaining residents at your property. If you’re going to keep up any of “the basics” while exploring new trends, it should be emails.

Email marketing allows you to build relationships with new leads and current residents. It’s your best opportunity to repeatedly speak directly to them and get your property’s name in their inbox (and mind)— especially when it’s at a time that is convenient for them.

Tips for Achieving Email Consistency

With so many tasks to complete every day, and depending on the size of your team, it can be difficult to keep up consistent email marketing.

Which brings me to the first tip: Automate your email marketing.

If you’re still manually sending emails to leads, you’re wasting your precious time. If you haven’t already, I recommend creating a free account with an email marketing system like MailChimp and building out some email workflows; at least one for new leads and one for current residents. The moment you get an email from a contact, they should be entered into the appropriate workflow. This will ensure that leads are always getting emails from your property.

Another great tip is to draft email templates for common topics you will regularly communicate about like property updates, weather updates, local news and special resident events. This way, when you need to send out a timely email that is separate from your workflows, you have a template to work off of, cutting down on your execution time.

A Website with Easy Navigation

It doesn’t matter how modern or chic your property’s website is, if it doesn’t have easy navigation, you will lose leads.

Today’s renters aren’t patient; they want to be able to find what they’re looking for on a webpage in under a minute or they’re going onto the next. While your bold imagery and crisp design will catch their eye, clarity will keep them.

Here are the five things website visitors should be able to find within 30 seconds from arriving on your homepage:

​● Location and Contact Information
● Floorplans
​● Amenities List
● Image Gallery
● Resident Reviews

I recommend testing your entire team to find these items in under 30 seconds and if any take longer, you know where your navigation needs to be improved. 

A Google My Business Profile and Account

A critical component of getting your property seen by potential renters when they go to Google and search for “apartments near me” or “apartments in [city]” is having a Google Business Profile.

A Business Profile is basically Google’s term for your Google business listing. However, many people don’t realize that to actually manage your business listing, you need to create a separate Google My Business Account; creating one does not automatically create the other.

With a Google My Business Account, you will be able to edit and update the information on the listing as well as manage customer reviews.

Having these two accounts and keeping them updated is the single most important action you can take to improve the SEO and website traffic for your property online.

Achieving Balance in Marketing Strategies

There’s a reason why blogs, podcasts and webinars are still covering email marketing, websites and SEO for multifamily properties: Because they WORK. There’s also a reason why properties are experiencing tons of success through viral TikToks and sponsoring influencers to make posts: because it WORKS.

It’s important that you strive for a marketing strategy that encompasses the new trends that are popular as well as the time-tested strategies.

It isn’t always 50/50 though. As you learn more about what your audience of renters respond to best, you’ll be able to adjust where you devote your time.

Ashley Tyndall is Chief Relationship Officer for Criterion.B.

September 20, 2021
Hitting Refresh on Your Multifamily Marketing Basics
News, Industry Insider, Apartment Business Update, Operations Insights
Florida Owner Mandates COVID-19 Vaccine for Residents and Staff

One Florida apartment owner announces a vaccine requirement for all residents and employees.

As the country continues to seek a path forward for pandemic recovery, the matter of vaccine mandates is affecting all industries, including rental housing. A recent situation in which an apartment owner has announced vaccine mandates for residents and staff recently appeared in the Washington Post, “Florida landlord says tenants must get coronavirus vaccine: ‘You don’t want to get vaccinated? You have to move.’

According to the article, Owner Santiago A. Alvarez is requiring proof of vaccination before moving in or renewing leases. He owns roughly 1,200 apartment homes in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Alvarez also mandated employees to be vaccinated—two did not and left their positions. Alvarez recovered from COVID-19, lost friends and saw residents die from COVID.

In addition, a new Florida law went into effect Sept. 16 that comes with a $5,000 fine if vaccine documentation is required.

We will continue to report on this story as it develops and share further developments as they happen.

Read the Washington Post article here.

September 20, 2021
Florida Owner Mandates COVID-19 Vaccine for Residents and Staff
News, Industry Insider, Apartment Business Update
California Seeks to Address Housing Crisis with New Laws

California governor signs three housing bills intended to streamline processes and expand housing production.

Fresh off surviving a recall election, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is taking aim at housing policies. On Sept. 16, Gov. Newsom signed three bills—Senate Bill 8, Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10—to streamline housing permits and expand housing production, among other objectives.

Also announced as part of the governor’s California Comeback Plan was a $1.75 billion California Housing Accelerator “to expedite construction of an estimated 6,500 shovel-ready affordable multi-family units in projects stalled due to constraints on the supply of tax-exempt bonds and low-income housing tax credits,” according to the release from the governor’s office.

The California Comeback Plan invests $22 billion in housing and homelessness to create more than 84,000 affordable homes. SB 9 eases the process for homeowners to construct a duplex or split their residential lot, resulting in more options for homeowners to add units on their current property.

SB 10 allows local governments streamlined access to the zoning process of multi-unit housing near transit-rich and urban infill areas—10 residential units per parcel. This law gives local governments the ability to voluntarily increase density by easing the California Environmental Quality Act zoning requirements.

“This bill has the potential to increase housing development at a time when the state is experiencing a significant shortage of the units needed to meet the needs of Californians,” said the governor in a letter on SB 10 to members of the State Senate.

SB 8 extends provisions of the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 an additional five years through 2030. The Act accelerates the approval process for housing projects and limits fee increases on housing applications, notes the release.

Read the release from Gov. Newsom’s office here.

September 20, 2021
California Seeks to Address Housing Crisis with New Laws
News, Industry Insider, Apartment Business Update, Operations Insights
Surviving ‘The Great Resignation’

If 2020 was the year of COVID-19, then 2021 is shaping up to be the year of “I quit.”

After spending more than a year at home, an eye-popping 95% of all U.S. workers say they are now considering leaving their jobs, according to a recent Monster.com survey. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 12 million already have.

Not too long ago, such a large number of people quitting would signal a booming economy. But the pandemic led to the worst recession in U.S. history, and as it recedes, millions are still unemployed. At the same time, employers say they’re struggling to fill almost 10 million job vacancies.

The “Great Resignation,” as it’s now known, has many origins, but they all generally center on a single theme: People’s post-pandemic priorities have shifted, and their current jobs just aren’t cutting it anymore.

Multifamily housing, already a high churn profession heading into the pandemic, has been particularly hard hit. Where 30-50% annual employee turnover was once the norm, anecdotal evidence suggests some are seeing close to 70% of their workers heading for the exits, including many of their most experienced property managers and maintenance personnel.

What’s fueling the mass Exodus? Burnout, for one. During the pandemic, mandates like stay-at-home orders and eviction moratoriums placed unrelenting demands on onsite property staff, leading many to feel overwhelmed and overworked. For others it was a sense of being poorly compensated and lacking growth opportunities that made them head for the exit.

In general, people want more money, more flexibility and greater work-life balance, and they feel confident they’ll find that somewhere else.

So, what’s the typical multifamily community owner or operator supposed to do? To quote a well-known computer company: “Think Different.”

One of the reasons many in the industry have been so hard hit was a long-held assumption that high employee churn in site-level staff was acceptable because people could be quickly replaced.

Covid upended that. More important, the additional time at home during the pandemic changed the expectations employees have of their employers to such a degree that millions of people are willing to quit an unfulfilling job in search of a better one.

That kind of worker attrition leads to painful and potentially risky decisions like promoting inexperienced staff and piling more on to other people’s workloads. It’s not a sustainable model.

The reality is a successful multifamily community needs good, dependable onsite staff to manage the asset, which isn’t possible if almost half of them leave every year.

Interestingly, there’s a simple solution for the problem of churn: Recognize good work.

According to a recent survey by bonusly.com, 63 percent of those who said they were regularly recognized for their work were also very unlikely to look for a new job.

Another easy way to keep good people is to invest in improving the tools available to them. To wit: Onsite staff is all too often still working with paper and spreadsheets in a world of smartphones and cloud computing.

Providing people with access and training on newer cloud-based and mobile software technologies not only improves skill sets and job satisfaction, but it also benefits the whole business. Information from these systems is more timely, accurate and easily shared with others in the company.

The pandemic radically changed what workers expect from their employers. Successful companies in multifamily housing who want to not just survive, but thrive, need to shed their conventional thinking and embrace these new standards to increase retention and improve operations. Recognizing employees for their good work and investing in their skills with new technology and training are two simple and effective ways to do that.

Those who ignore it should expect to be hit hard by the Great Resignation.

Daniel Cunningham is CEO & Founder of Leonardo247 and Host of The Apartment Academy Podcast.

September 20, 2021
Surviving ‘The Great Resignation’
News, Industry Insider, Apartment Business Update, Apartment Advocate
#ICYMI: September Public Policy Outlook Report Released

This month’s edition offers an industry outlook and highlights emerging legislative and regulatory issues affecting rental housing.

In case you missed it, the September edition of the Policy Outlook Report, a new resource from the National Apartment Association (NAA) featuring insights from the NAA Government Affairs staff about legislative and regulatory issues affecting our industry, is now available (NAA member login required). This monthly report focuses on operational issues of importance that could hurt your ability to successfully manage your business, lead to compliance-related challenges or increase your legal risk. The outlook highlights NAA’s federal advocacy program and the work of its affiliate network to protect the industry’s interests at all levels of government. Delve into this month’s issue here, and be on the lookout for new editions every month!

September 20, 2021
Apartment Advocate
NAA Voices Concerns Over Proposal to Reinstate HUD’s 2013 Disparate Impact Rule

NAA and NMHC have documented the diverging disparate impact standards being used by HUD and various courts following the Inclusive Communities decision, and in 2018, we urged HUD to revise the 2013 Rule to ensure compatibility with the Supreme Court ruling. Since the 2013 Rule fails to address the current legal landscape, we have encouraged HUD to instead implement a rule that better aligns the HUD standard with recent legal outcomes and helps housing providers execute long-held business practices without running afoul of fair housing requirements. 

For more information on disparate impact, please visit our policy issues page. 

September 15, 2021

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