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It’s Tough To Afford To Be A Renter These Days
Posted on 17. Feb, 2014 by Marc Courtenay in Real Estate
Housing affordability isn’t looking too promising as 2014 begins. If you listen to the National Association of Realtors the opportunity to be a homeowner hasn’t been this affordable in a long time.
If you review Figure 2 below you’ll get the impression that American housing is now extremely affordable and the typical household can easily make the monthly mortgage payment on a home. Thanks to historically low interest-rates, fixed rate mortgages have become more affordable for some American families and many analysts expect that this cheap credit will fuel another housing boom.
Figure 2: US Housing Is Affordable
Perhaps another home-buying- boom has begun, but from the index above it still looks like the price of housing is above the levels we saw between 2005 through 2008. Yes, there’s been a dip since 212, but anecdotally I’m not hearing of a big increase in existing housing sales since mortgage rates are climbing.
In fact on Dec.19, 2013 Reuters reported that “U.S. home resales fell sharply in November to their lowest level in nearly a year, hurt by a rise in interest rates since the spring and ongoing price increases that have shut some home buyers out of the market. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said on Thursday [the 19th] that sales of previously owned homes dropped 4.3 percent last month, the third monthly fall in a row, to an annual rate of 4.90 million units.” That was the lowest annual rate since December 2012, and well below the median forecast in a Reuters poll of a 5.03 million unit pace. “It is a clear loss in momentum for home sales,” NAR economist Lawrence Yun told reporters.
How About The Cost Of Being A Renter?
As Mr. Doubtfire said to Mrs. Doubtfire in the movie by the same name, “Brace yourself Effie!” An online trade journal for folks in the mortgage industry, The National Mortgage Professional had a grim assessment titled, “American Renters Facing Tough Affordability Issues”.
“Affordability problems for renters have skyrocketed over the past decade both in number and the share of renters facing them, according to a new report on rental housing from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.” “The inability of so many to find housing they can afford dramatically impacts the health and well-being of U.S. renters, as lower-income households cut back on food, healthcare, and savings, just to keep up.”
The Harvard report, “America’s Rental Housing: Evolving Markets and Needs,” found that half of U.S. renters pay more than 30 percent or more of their income on rent, up an enormous 12 percent from a decade earlier. A large amount of the increase was found among renters with severe financial burdens (e.g. paying more than half their income on rent). These levels were unimaginable just a decade ago, when the percentage of American renters paying half their income or higher on housing stood at 19 percent and was already an alarming concern.
“Escalating rental affordability problems come at a time when the share of Americans that rent has increased from 31 percent in 2004 to 35 percent in 2012. In fact, the 2000s marked the strongest numerical growth in renter households in the last fifty years” the report continued. “As ownership rates fell, housing markets have adjusted dynamically to the increased demand for single-family rentals, with about three million existing homes switching from owner to rental occupancy from 2007-2011 alone.”
That number has risen in the last two years, and most of those houses were rented at local fair-market rent levels. So Property Managers, are you keeping up with the rental affordability circumstances in your area? How fast are your vacancies being filled, and will vacancies start a trend in the other direction?
Be prepared to speak with your owners (clients) and let them know what’s going on both regionally and nationally. If fewer Americans can afford the current cost of renting a house or an apartment, perhaps we will all experience the need for temporary rent reductions? Another possibility to consider; Are your owners and you willing to rent to multiple couples, and are you going to need to advertise your unfilled vacancies for singles to share to help the affordability challenge?
Hopefully a rebound in employment and a robust gain in the economic circumstances of the average American will unfold in the year ahead. In case it doesn’t, prudent Property Managers need a back-up, contingency plan. What is yours, and are you communicating with your clients about it? If you don’t have one, create one. Then plan on scheduling individual meetings with owners or do a client-appreciation seminar to let them know your ideas.

How to Clean Leather Furniture
Learn the best methods for keeping various kinds of leather upholstery in top condition
Julie Sheer December 11, 2016
Houzz Contributor; journalist with more than two decades of experience as a graphics... More
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Leather is one of the more durable, low-maintenance surfaces for home furnishings. Keeping your leather sofa, chair or ottoman clean is relatively simple if you follow the proper steps. But different types of leather upholstery have different cleaning requirements, so you first need to know what type of leather you have. Here’s how to identity, clean and maintain your leather upholstery to keep it looking great.
Transitional Living Room by Vivian Johnson Photography
Vivian Johnson Photography
Types of Leather Upholstery
To find out what kind of leather upholstery you have, and the recommended care, start by checking the label or the written materials that came with the piece, or look up the item on the retailer’s or manufacturer’s website. If you don’t have access to care instructions and you’re not sure what kind of leather you have, here are some clues.
Transitional Living Room by Larina Kase Interior Design
Larina Kase Interior Design
Unprotected leather. Aniline leather — also called pure aniline, full aniline or unfinished leather — has a soft, luxurious feel. The leather is dyed through with aniline dye but has no surface pigment color added. It has little or no protective coating other than perhaps a dirt-resistant treatment. Natural surface grains and markings may be seen on the leather, which can develop a patina.
Aniline leather is more sensitive to staining than protected leather and typically is pricier as well. Other types of aniline leather include pull-up leather, which is injected with oils and waxes, and nubuck leather, which has been distressed or buffed to create a soft, velvety feel.
Hess leather sofa: Room & Board
Traditional Family Room by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design
Jessica Helgerson Interior Design
Protected leather. Most leather furniture is made with protected, or finished, leather. These leathers may be labeled semianiline, aniline plus pigment or pigmented leather. Protected leather is more durable, stain-resistant and uniform in appearance than pure aniline.
Semianiline leather is aniline-dyed and topped with a layer of pigment color. It has a soft feel like pure aniline leather but is a little more durable due to the protective pigment coating. Other protected leathers are coated with thicker layers of pigment and polymer. They have a stiffer feel and stand up to more wear and tear.
Contemporary Living Room by Twinkle and Whistle
Twinkle and Whistle
Caring for Your Leather Upholstery
Skip the home potions. When it comes to cleaning leather upholstery, keep it simple and avoid DIY remedies. Homemade solutions using mayonnaise and vinegar are best kept to salads and sandwiches, and not the leather-cleaning menu. Donna L. Frehafer, from Wellington’s Leather Furniture in Port Ludlow, Washington, has seen clients harming their furniture with everything from hair-care products to Pine-Sol. Keep in mind that warranties can be voided if the wrong cleaner or conditioner is used on leather furniture. The most important thing is to avoid applying anything that is not endorsed by the tanneries, Frehafer says.
Traditional Home Office by Anthropologie Europe
Anthropologie Europe
Cleaning Materials
Vacuum cleaner with brush attachment
Distilled water
Mild, neutral-pH nondetergent liquid soap, such as Neutrogena or Dove, or a leather cleaner designed for furniture upholstery
Soft white microfiber cloths
Tarp or drop cloth
Commercial leather conditioner (optional)
Scandinavian Living Room by STEFANI STEIN
Cleaning unprotected leather. Some furniture makers recommend doing nothing more than dusting unprotected aniline leather with a clean, dry cloth and vacuuming it regularly using a soft brush attachment. Others advise gently wiping the surface with a cloth slightly dampened with distilled water, or cleaning it with an approved leather cleaner. The natural look is sensitive to scratching and staining, so take care when cleaning. Consult the manufacturer’s cleaning directions or a leather cleaning professional before using any products, and test them out first on a hidden surface.
Turner leather sofa: Pottery Barn
Rustic Family Room by Studio V Interior Design
Studio V Interior Design
Cleaning protected leather. Semianiline and especially pigmented leather can stand up to heavier use and cleaning than aniline leather. But stay away from products containing ammonia or alkalies, which can damage leather beyond repair, according to the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. Avoid saddle soap, detergents, oils, furniture polishes, abrasive materials and any cleaners with caustic ingredients.
Commercial leather cleaning brands recommended by some furniture makers include Lexol, Mohawk, Leather Master and Leather Magic.
by Upholstery Club's Shelly Leer
Upholstery Club's Shelly Leer
Cleaning Steps
Here are the steps for cleaning protected leathers. Always try them first on an inconspicuous spot that can’t be seen. And put down a drop cloth to catch any water drips.
Remove dirt by vacuuming the furniture piece using the brush attachment.
Add a few drops of mild nondetergent soap to distilled water to create a cleaning solution. Moisten a microfiber cloth with the solution.
Test an inconspicuous spot with the cloth to make sure there’s no discoloration from the soap and water.
Working from top to bottom, wipe the furniture.
Dampen another cloth with plain distilled water and wipe the furniture again.
Dry with a clean towel.
Transitional Dining Room by Shiflet Group Architects
Shiflet Group Architects
Spills, Spots and Stains
Leather is very sensitive to spills, especially liquids, so they should be removed from the surface as soon as possible to keep them from soaking in and forming a hard-to-remove stain.
Unprotected leather. For spills and stains on pure aniline leather, blot the substance as quickly as possible with a clean, dry white cloth to absorb it. Check with the furniture maker, your retailer or a leather cleaning professional before doing anything else.
Contemporary Dining Room by Eminent Interior Design
Eminent Interior Design
Protected leather. Stains may be removed from protected leather. Water-based spills such as soda and juice can be wiped off with a clean white cloth lightly dampened in distilled water, and then left to air-dry. On stubborn stains, American Leather recommends gently applying a soft cloth or sponge moistened with a mild nondetergent soap and lukewarm water, and then wiping it off with a clean damp cloth and blotting dry with another soft cloth. Never use an air dryer on leather.
Oil-based stains, such as butter or body oil, should be blotted with a clean, dry white cloth. Do not use any water. The stain will dissipate into the leather over time. For butter, oil or grease stains on pigmented leathers, Melissa Brown of American Leather recommends Leather Degreaser by Uniters.
When in doubt and for any difficult stains, consult a leather cleaning professional.
Transitional Living Room by Pam Kelley Design
Pam Kelley Design
To Condition or Not?
If you want to keep the leather soft and supple, after cleaning and occasionally after that, you can apply a commercial leather conditioner.
Brown recommends applying a good leather conditioner every six to 12 months. “This will help your leather piece maintain its own natural oils, keeping it soft and supple for many years,” she said. Brands she recommends include Leather Master, Mohawk and Leather Magic. She also advises checking the care label on the furniture before using any commercial product.
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification advises avoiding conditioning oils that contain silicone or wax, which can make the surface permanently sticky.
Eames lounge chair and ottoman: Herman Miller
Rustic Bedroom by Howells Architecture + Design, LLC
Howells Architecture + Design, LLC
Frehafer from Wellington’s Leather Furniture recommends a leather conditioner with sunscreen several times a year. To protect your leather furniture, keep it away from direct sunlight and heat sources, which can cause drying and cracking. “Leather breathes and continues to remove moisture from its environment to keep it soft and supple,” Frehafer says. “In certain conditions and climates where it is very dry, it will require more conditioning because of less moisture available.”

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Why Good Property Managers Are Still Hard to Find
Posted on 08. Sep, 2016 by Marc Courtenay in Articles
In today’s world there seems to be fewer adequately compensated jobs where the demand outstrips the supply. If you are a property manager, assistant property manager, or facilities maintenance coordinator you’re in one of the best professions at the right time. Both the commercial and residential property management businesses are growing so fast that it’s difficult to find experienced, qualified personnel to fill all the positions needed. That’s the bad news.
The good news is if you have the training, skills, and qualities of a really good property management tradesperson, you just need to decide where to begin!
If you’re in business for yourself or working for a property management company, the place to begin is with yourself. Now may be an auspicious time to reinvent you into “the best of the best.” Besides sound judgment and flexibility, a good manager, assistant manager, or maintenance coordinator also needs skills in creativity, accounting, administration, conflict resolution, leadership, and technological skills; and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If you’d like to really separate yourself from your average peers consider a professional training program where you’ll earn a specialized certification. Where can you find such outstanding programs?
You can begin your search with the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). IREM is an international community of real estate managers dedicated “…to ethical business practices, maximizing the value of investment real estate, and promoting superior management through education and information sharing.”
As an affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS, IREM strives to train professionals in the industry to uphold the ideals that “good management and professional ethics matters.” In speaking to members and perusing the organization’s website, I’ve learned that those who apply themselves to a higher standard of professionalism have a greater chance of outstanding success.
In addition, after 80 years of experience IREM has concluded, “That well-managed properties pay dividends in terms of value and in the quality of life for residents, tenants and customers.”
Their credentials, earned by meeting high standards of education, experience, and ethical business practices, include:
Certified Property Manager (CPM)
Accredited Residential Manager (ARM)
Accredited Commercial Manager (ACoM)
Accredited Management Organization (AMO)
As of 2016 IREM membership includes more than 19,000 individuals and 550 corporate members. This is just one example of how to move from good to best in this fast-growing worldwide industry. I also encourage you to see what classes your local community colleges and universities can offer.
If you’re a big thinker and a self-starter, consider hosting a professional round table discussion on professional growth and development in the property management professions. Become a local, knowledgeable, and respected authority. You’ll be in the center and on the cutting edge.
The enormous growth of the residential rental housing market has only just begun. As the saying goes, “It’s not only what you know but who you know that leads to success.” Know yourself and prove yourself to be a highly competent, skilled property management professional. Owners, investors, landlords, and residents will seek you out and reward you generously.

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How Not to Get Sued – Tips for Property Managers
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img_justice_540x360Part of running any successful business is complying with the many legal standards that come with it. Property Management is a tightly regulated industry as it involves the most paramount of all human needs—a place to call home. As a result, each state government has its own set of rules to ensure that every human is being treated with the respect they deserve. That applies to tenants and landlords. However, there are times when situations arise and someone has violated those rules. When this happens, don’t be the PM that got sued on a technicality.
Here are some of the common mistakes that property managers get sued for every day, as well as some of the steps you can take to protect yourself and make sure it never happens to you.
#1: Don’t Get Sued for Accessibility Violations
When it comes to the ADA, compliance is key. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that every residential building be handicap accessible on all levels, and also requires a certain number of handicap parking spaces and rental units based on the size of the structure. Many lawyers look for these violations in residential areas, known as “Drive-by lawsuits.” One look at the layout of your parking lot will tell them if they’ve got an easy win at your expense. If you feel your units are not ADA compliant, check with the official .gov website or with your lawyer to make sure that you are not currently violating any regulations that are relatively easy to fix.
#2: Don’t Get Sued for Fair Housing’s Biggest Issues
Violations of Fair Housing laws are the most common type of lawsuits that landlords deal with and cover a wide range of protected classes. While these suits are mostly violations due to the treatment of disabled persons as a result of parking, mental illness, or refusal to allow service animals, this also includes discrimination (or preferential treatment) of any person based on race, familial status, or gender identity. If you as a landlord need to take action against or evict someone of a protected class, make sure that you have documented your dispute in a professional and objective manner as you would any other renter.
#3: Don’t Get Sued Over Employment Issues
Maintaining a positive rapport with your employees is just as important as it is with your renters. Be sure to stay current on all employment laws, as these can change from year to year and from state to state. This includes laws around minimum wage, sick leave accrual, and wage equality, but property managers are most commonly sued by their employees for sexual harassment charges or lodging compensation. In preventing these types of cases, require mandatory sexual harassment training for your entire team, and hire a good employment law attorney to ensure that your company’s employment practices are all-around sue-proof.
#4: Don’t Get Sued over Assistive Animals in the Workplace
In some cases, you employees may also need to bring assistive animals with them into the workplace. That employee may need a seeing eye dog for a vision impairment, or may need to bring an animal to cope with diagnosed levels of anxiety or stress. Employers are expected to evaluate each request for accommodation on a case-by-case basis, and you may face lawsuits if you fail to properly accommodate employees who need the use of an assistive animal based on these standards. As an employer, you have several rights concerning your employee and their assistive animal:
You can request:
Documentation identifying the type of animal
Requirements for the animal in the workplace
A letter from a health-care provider acknowledging the reasons your employee needs their animal to perform necessary work function
That the animal must be well behaved and trained to provide assistance for that employee’s disability
#5 Don’t Get Sued in a Class Action Lawsuit
A class action lawsuit is a type of lawsuit where one of the parties is a group of people who are represented collectively by a member of that group. This means that an entire group of renters can file suit if they feel they are all being impacted by a particular issue, with the potential for each of them to receive damages if they win. These types of suits often include:
Illegal Late Fees— the landlord places a fee on an overdue payment or eviction that was not otherwise specified in the lease.
Security Deposits— the landlord illegally withholds a security deposit in a manner inconsistent with the lease agreement or with state law.
Breach of Personal Data— renter’s data is in adequately secured by the landlord and is released to the public or stolen.
Environmental Issues— inadequate notice when performing pest control, or failure to comply with mold regulations are two very easy ways to a class action suit.
How to Avoid Lawsuits: A Quick Checklist
The best way to avoid a lawsuit is to make sure that any aspect of your business involving legal regulation is airtight. When drafting leases or employment agreements, make sure that they are legally appropriate and comply with all current laws. These types of laws are also subject to frequent change, so have a lawyer or professional representative review all legal documents on a regular basis. This includes leases, rental applications, community rules, rental criteria, and notices. Secondly, put procedures in place for handling disability requests from both your renters and your employees, and have a compliance review completed for all of your properties on a regular basis. It may seem costly up front, but it could protect you from huge damages (and headaches) in court.
If you see any trouble brewing, contact a legal professional in the early stages to make sure that you are not hurting your own case. Firms like Kimball, Tirey, and St. John LLP are specially equipped to handle these types of cases and can help you avoid costly court cases.
All these great tips are expanded on in this recent webinar, How Not to Get Sued (sponsored by Inman) featuring Puneet Singh, managing partner at Kimball, Tirey, and St. John.

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A Property Management Breakup Story
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WebYour renter signed a one-year lease agreement and wants out three months early. What do you do? Step one: Don’t panic!
Naturally, some renters will ask to break their lease because of any number of things: a job transfer or loss, health issues, breakups, etc. State and federal laws vary, so you might have no choice but to let some renters out of their leases. Also, you might grant certain exceptions because you’re not likely to collect rent debt anyway, believe you can quickly find another tenant, or want to preserve good relations. Or maybe, it’s just the right thing to do. No matter what, breaking up is hard to do; it can be a stressful and spontaneous situation to deal with.
What to Do When A Tenant Asks to Break Their Lease
yes-no-cartoon-guy-smThere is no one-size-fits-all solution for handling tenants who want to break their lease; it’s important to review your policies to make sure you minimize the impact, encourage communication, and manage expectations for both renters and staff. A lease is a binding contract—you have the right to enforce it. Here are three common strategies property managers use to deal with broken lease agreements.
The “No Exit” Strategy. Some property managers never allow tenants to break a lease unless they have a legal exception. In this case, you will need a strategy to collect debt. This includes your own accounts receivable process, third-party collection companies, and perhaps even legal action. You may find that some tenants won’t be motivated to keep their unit in good shape if they know they will lose their deposit and get chased down for rent anyway. It’s also not possible to predict what courts will decide is fair, and legal matters tend to get expensive.
The “Great Compromise” Strategy. In many areas, you can’t keep collecting rent if you manage to re-rent the property. If the tenant communicates early, you might agree in writing to only hold them accountable for rent due until you can find another tenant. This might encourage them to leave the property in good shape, stay in contact, and pay what they owe. If the renter has a good reason for leaving and offers you advance notice, you may decide that a compromise is in your best interest.
The “ET Fee” Strategy. You don’t have special powers and can’t predict the future, but you can anticipate that some percentage of tenants will break their leases and, if it’s legal in your area, include an early-termination fee in the lease agreement. This solution seems easiest, but it doesn’t always hold up if it’s challenged in court. If you find another tenant, the old renters may claim that you are using this fee to charge rent twice for the same unit. Also, the presence of an early-termination fee in the contract may encourage some renters to exit early.
Which strategy does your property management business take and why? Let us know in the comments!
Can You Evaluate Lease Termination Requests on a Case-by-Case Basis?
business man with questionsThe law may protect some tenants and allow them to get out of their leases without consequences. Obviously, you will have to adhere to any federal, state, or local regulations that apply to your property. The situation gets complicated when the tenant has no legal exception but still isn’t likely to pay rent after they move out.
Since property managers are humans too, you may be tempted to evaluate requests to break a lease early on a case-by-case basis. If a tenant becomes seriously ill or loses a job, you may find that it’s just good business to let them go. In these cases, you might have to spend money on collections and legal fees—money that would be better spent on finding another quality tenant. However, if you grant exceptions, you could make yourself vulnerable to charges of discrimination. It’s best to consult with an attorney about these practices.
The truth is that most property managers do have some avenue to allow tenants to break leases without paying rent for several months that might remain on the lease. Tenants should expect to lose security deposits and face other consequences for breaking their contract. It’s most important for you to anticipate the fact that some tenants will break leases and to have clear guidelines for how to handle different situations. It’s also important to make sure your policies are legal in your area and likely to hold up in court.

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Is Your Property Going Green or Green-ish?
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Research shows that some tenants are willing to pay more for apartment homes managed by property teams with a focus on environmental responsibility. There are other benefits to targeting the “green crowd” with advertising efforts.
Lauren Gilder (National Apartment Association) says green initiatives – such as installing metered utility equipment that allows property managers to track usage and implement higher efficiency standards – attracts a proactive market with similar standards and benchmarks for protecting the environment.1 It wouldn’t be unrealistic to assume that tenants specifically searching for properties with a strong personal environmental protection policy would be more likely than other tenants to manage energy consumption in their homes and in common areas – potentially saving apartment home complexes money on shared utility costs.
Property managers should approach marketing their rental property as an environmental advocate cautiously if the only visible investments pointing toward sustainable practices are a few solar landscaping lights and the new hybrid car wrapped with the property logo.
While installing metered utilities is a fantastic step in the right direction – here are a few more tips for moving from a greenish property toward a greener lifestyle.
Keep Your Light Shining. The reason the government is phasing out incandescent bulbs is obvious when you consider that an incandescent lamp only uses about 5% of the energy consumed as a visible light source. Although LED and CFL lamps are the most energy-efficient bulbs on the market today, some properties continue to buy incandescents from overstocked supply companies because they are less expensive.
If you’re still using old-style bulbs, don’t be surprised when prospective tenants broach the topic on property tours.
Recycle Everything for High Marks.
If your property already has an office recycling program that includes recycling ink cartridges and paper, excellent! You can take it a step further by encouraging residents to recycle plastic, aluminum, paper and cardboard with strategically bins conveniently placed around the property. Announce the recycling program with a prominently displayed sign in the office.
If you designate an employee to take the recyclables to a center that reimburses for items brought in, you can apply that money toward upgrading to more eco-friendly light bulbs or switching to less toxic cleaners. This approach is definitely a triple play – residents, property owners and the environment benefit.
Make Your Conversations Green Through and Through
Communication is a given for any property. Makes yours stand out with the crowd by using a text or messaging service to deliver your monthly newsletters, important bulletins and rental statements.
Along with simple changes in the way you do business like the ones mentioned above, there are some subtle habits that might discourage prospects from seeing your property through an eco-friendly lens.
Check your customer refreshment table. You might have a delectable layout with mouth-watering croissants and aromatic coffee blends, but serving those treats on Styrofoam plates and cups is a real no-no.
An inviting pool is always a plus, but a strong, chlorine smell indicates you might be using too much of a good things, or worse yet, relying on toxic chemicals to keep the pool clean.
A perfectly manicured lawn creates a first impression that is hard to beat. Today’s environmentally conscious tenants look beyond the local management team to external relationships. Be certain your landscaping vendor practices solid, sustainable practices, too. That means incorporating xeriscaping (using plants that require less water) in arid climates, choosing appropriate fertilizers, and well-maintained, energy-efficient vehicles that reduce the carbon footprint.

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Making a Commitment for a Better 2017
Posted on 28. Dec, 2016 by Mary Girsch-Bock in Articles
It’s that time of year again. As we look at welcoming in 2017 in a few short days, there’s no better time to take stock of your properties and what you’d like to accomplish in the coming year.
While the process may seem daunting, there are ways to determine exactly what is terrific about your properties – and what you would like to improve, eliminate or change. Today, we’ll examine some of the common issues that property managers typically face, and in a future post, we’ll take a look at ways to address those issues, even on a limited budget.
Skyrocketing costs. While you struggle to maintain your property, the cost of everything continues to rise. It’s difficult to walk that fine line between keeping your rents affordable, while making sure that maintenance and other issues are promptly addressed. In order to address some of these issues, maybe it’s time to think a little outside the box.
Wasted resources. As areas in the U.S. and abroad struggle with drought, water conservation is more important than ever. Do you cringe each time you look at your property’s water bill? Do you know that you really need to start conserving water use but don’t know where to start?
Outdated appearance. First impressions are important. When a prospect visits your property for the first time, he or she will be making an immediate determination as to whether they would like to live there. While they may ultimately decide against signing a lease, be sure it’s not because your property is run down and in need of obvious repairs.
Security. While a visually appealing appearance is necessary for the prospective tenant, your current tenants are just as important. That’s why security is such an important issue. If your property has any security issues, they must be addressed promptly.
Your property management office. This may be the most difficult topic to address. While it’s easy to spot security issues, rising utility costs, and maintenance issues, it’s not always easy to spot dysfunction in your own office. But like the other topics on this list, if your business office is failing, it must be addressed.

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Three Powerful Words That Build Lasting Relationships with Residents and Clients
Posted on 03. May, 2016 by Marc Courtenay in Articles
In today’s world of ever-changing strategies and depersonalizing experiments with “virtual reality” and “artificial intelligence,” property managers need relationship-building skills they can depend upon. This article is about 3 of the most reliable words for creating an environment of trust and loyalty in all aspects of the property management industry. These 3 words are essential to our personal success.
The first is INTEGRITY without which our reputations and our relationships won’t stand the test of time. Are you a person who keeps their promises and whose word is as “good as gold”?
Without integrity there lacks trust, and without trust, loyalty withers and fades. Yes, that’s a simplistic statement, but I challenge anyone to disprove its veracity.
Devote some early mornings or weekend “down time” for reviewing the promises you’ve made to yourself, your colleagues, your clients and your residents. Are you devoted to fulfilling them? It’s so easy to slip into the habit of using sales promotions or marketing concepts that tend to over-promise and under-deliver. If you are truly honest with yourself and others, people will trust you.
In the final analysis we all want to do business with honest people whose personal ethics are founded on integrity. Through self-evaluation and with the help of trusted advisors we can strengthen ours.
The second powerful word is IMPROVEMENT. This can specifically relate to areas of service and the maintenance of the buildings that we manage. Has your management of maintenance issues improved in the years you’ve been a property manager? What have you done lately to evaluate how you handle complaints and maintenance issues? The opposite of improvement may be the word “deterioration.” If your rental units aren’t being preserved and carefully maintained on a scheduled basis you may find too many areas of disrepair. To initiate improvement in this area, begin meeting with your maintenance providers on a regular basis. Look at the history of work orders, how timely they were handled, and at what rate of success. Is the quality of your maintenance procedures contributing to the contentment of the property owners and the residents who pay the rent? What steps can you take today towards lasting improvement?
The third word for better results in your property management business is INNOVATION. In simple terms, innovation is the willingness to be a creative problem-solver, one who thinks outside the box. “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it,” said the 20th century genius Albert Einstein. Are you open to better ways, more effective ways of operating your business? Procrastination is a big obstacle to proactive innovation. Begin today to discover who you work with, who you know with outstanding ideas for innovative progress. Ask questions, reach out for insights. Many of the latest technologies available were born of a need to innovate effective solutions, saving time and protecting our most important relationships. Learn where those technologies are found.
Integrity, improvement and innovation will preserve those aspects of your daily life that you treasure most. Incorporate in your self-management ways to use these 3 powerful words to serve and succeed.

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6 Ways to Make Your Properties Sustainable
Posted on 15. Mar, 2016 by Mary Girsch-Bock in Articles
In Part I, we discussed ways in which you can build a sustainable property management model for your office. In Part II, we’ll look at ways in which you can build a sustainable model for your properties.
Building efficiencies into your property is one of the easiest ways to introduce sustainability into your property operations. This can be as simple as introducing a preventive maintenance model, where high-dollar fixtures are inspected at regular intervals in order to ward off unexpected maintenance costs. There are a host of other small changes that can be made property wide that can have a big impact on the environment, while moving you toward your sustainability goals. They include the following:
Create a preventive maintenance program for your staff and ensure that it’s followed. Heating and cooling systems can be expensive and time consuming to replace. By warding off potential problems before they occur, maintenance and replacement costs can be significantly reduced.
Replace current lighting with LED lighting. LED bulbs will reduce energy consumption, and their long-lasting capability eliminates the need to constantly replace light bulbs across the property. As an added benefit, this will work to reduce the occurrence of unlit areas that occur when lighting is out.
Adjust the thermostat by a degree or two. Managers can see a significant reduction in both energy consumption and utility bills by simply lowering the thermostat in cooler weather, or raising it in warmer weather. The change will not impact anything but your bottom line.
Be water-conscious. Keep a look out for leaking pipes and repair them promptly, whether they occur in a tenant’s apartment, or on the property itself. For those in more arid climates, consider switching to native plants that are accustomed to the climate and can survive on less water than a foreign species. Implementation of xeriscaping should also be considered at properties that currently require large amounts of watering and lawn upkeep and maintenance.
Step up your recycling program. While it’s great that your office recycles on a regular basis, imagine the impact from a property wide effort. Arrange for recycling bins to be placed throughout the property, or have a common drop off point where tenants can bring their recyclable items.
Consider solar energy. Installing just a few solar panels on roof tops can help to reduce greenhouse gases while also reducing energy sourced from coal and natural gas.
Depending on your budget, you can implement any or all of these suggestions to help build a more sustainable future for your property and the planet.
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