Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Multifamily Adopts New Tactics. (Viewpoint)

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Multifamily Adopts New Tactics. (Viewpoint)

Article excerpt

Despite its overall health and a streaming demand for apartment homes nationwide, the multifamily industry is in the midst of upheaval--a revolution sparked, in part, by the Internet, which, has spawned the development of other technologies and set new standards for cost and time efficiencies.

One of the earliest signs of change within the multifamily industry was signaled by such Internet companies as HomeStore.com, Apartments.com and Rentals.com, which, along with several of the industry's leading print publications, featured apartment referral Web sites to help property management companies advertise their communities on-line and provide state-of-the-art marketing such as virtual, 360-degree pictures of these communities.

The day is soon approaching when leasing teams will be able to offer a virtual tour and communicate in real time with a prospective resident thousands of miles away. Within minutes, the leasing consultant will e-mail the prospect a lease application, seek instant credit approval and have the prospective resident e-mail back a signed lease with the first month's rent charged to his/her credit card, all within minutes, and all via the Internet.

To this end, the property management industry will become an even more aggressive and competitive business than it is today, further influenced by such factors as increased pressure to provide added value to residents, as well as mounting financial pressures. As a result, property managers are looking for new ways to bolster their balance sheets, streamline operations and remain competitive as the industry continues to evolve. To help them meet these challenges, new technologies, products and services have emerged within the multifamily arena to streamline a wide variety of property management processes.

Efficiencies at Lease Signing

Property managers are looking to achieve greater efficiencies right at the start--at lease signing with prospective residents. For example, on-line resident screening companies such as CreditRetriever, RentGrow, and Safe Rent offer an array of Webbased services including screening, collections, and on-line reporting. With "real time" reporting, property managers can reduce the extra time and aggravation of waiting for results and data, precluding the potential to lose a prospective resident. Such services provide immediate data and reporting, and are available 24/7. In addition, they afford greater accuracy and help ensure that leasing professionals better comply with Fair Housing Act standards.

Property managers are not the only ones working to reduce costs. Residents, too, are trying to reduce expenditures such as astronomical move-in costs. Consider that, in many parts of the country, a new resident must pay the first and last month's rent, in addition to an amount equal to a month and a half's rent toward a security deposit.

Security deposit alternatives--most often found in the form of a surety bond--address this resident concern, while vastly improving upon traditional security deposits by augmenting the risk management and marketing appeal of a property.

While these programs differ, residents can pay a one-time nonrefundable premium, which is a fraction of the standard security deposit, upon lease signing. In the event of any damages or lease violations, owners file a claim for prompt reimbursement with the provider of the security deposit alternative. …

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