Handling Flu Epidemics in the Community

Flu epidemics have become quite common in the past few years, and it is a very difficult task for property management to keep flu causing viruses off the property. Previously the flue and influenza used to occur mostly in certain seasons, but now, CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has cautioned that these epidemics are highly unpredictable and can occur any time.

Deep into Spring

Usually, the holiday season was considered prime time for these viruses but now their presence could last up to May and even beyond.

Young children and older people are particularly vulnerable during these epidemics, since they can suffer serious complications from the flu. Apart from the flu virus, there is another highly contagious bug, Norovirus, which causes acute gastroenteritis and affects over 60,000 people each year severely. Therefore, property management needs to take certain steps to avoid or contain such outbreaks and keep the community safe.

Before the flu season arrives, property management should educate residents of the possible ways to avoid an outbreak in the community. Here are some of the measures that are considered highly effective by the CDC.

Encourage residents to wash hands regularly with soap and water. Parents should be instructed to pay particular attention to children to make sure they wash their hands often, especially immediately after they enter the home. When soap and water is not available, people can use a hand sanitizer that has minimum 60% alcohol content. Property management could also keep germicides at entrances and encourage staff, guests, and residents to make use of it and stay germfree.

Property management should also advise residents to be vaccinated, even if the same type of vaccines from last year is available. Staff should also be vaccinated, and it is important to be inoculated against pneumonia. If somebody is affected, isolation can greatly prevent the spread of the disease.

Proper Precautions

If anybody on the property management staff is infected, he should be sent home immediately, and if it is a resident, he or she should be encourage to stay in the unit to avoid interaction with other. Children in particular should be kept away from infected adults and parents should not allow them to visit any sick neighbors.

When several people in the community have been infected with the flu virus or Norovirus then extra precautionary steps should be taken. If a member of a household is sick, it is best to switch to disposable cups, plates, and utensils for that person.

Protect Yourself & Your Family

The sick member can be served meals in plastic plates and after the meals all utensils used by the person can be bagged, sealed, and thrown into the trashcan. It is very easy for the entire household to catch the same virus if one member is infected, and therefore it is critical to take these precautions even if they sound drastic.

It is also crucial for people who feel they have recovered from the disease to wait at least two days before they start to mingle with others. Usually, these ailments could make the person feel content for some time, but the disease may not have fully dissipated or burned itself out.

Earthquake Preparedness for Property Management

With the increasing number of natural disasters, property management needs to be prepared to face the worst calamities. Amongst all disasters, earthquakes have the most devastating effect depending on their magnitude. According to United States Geological Survey, moderate quakes are now being recorded in areas that are relatively new to any kind of seismic activity. For instance, several smaller quakes in the Fort Worth Dallas areas have significantly rattled business establishments and homes recently.

Since the start of 2015, eleven quakes have hit the North Texas region, which is quite a distance from the usual epicenter that affects western part of the country. This indicates that almost any areas in the country are at risk from unexpected quakes, and therefore property management needs to be prepared for all types of seismic activities. Here are some important points to consider for limiting property damage and reducing risks to life of residents.

Strengthening Structures

If there are existing structural issues, they should be looked into and corrected immediately. Cracks in foundations and ceilings will dramatically increase the chances of structural collapse, which causes the greatest destruction and harm. Check for deep cracks and all structural repairs should be given priority. If there are signs of structural wear, it is best to seek expert advice and professional help.

Minimizing Risk of Fires

Earthquakes can cause fires that increase the devastation considerably. Detect and repair faulty gas connections and electrical wiring, these two are the major reasons for fire even during times when there are no quakes. Flexible pipefittings are more resistant to breakage, and their installation should be seriously considered when property management is thinking of renovations and repairs. Property management could also consider installing protective mechanisms such as gas valves that automatically shut off when strong vibrations are detected.

Limiting or Securing Objects that can Move Around

Avoid hanging objects in common areas, since they can fall and greatly increase the risk of injuries and fatalities even during small tremors. Inside units, make sure shelves are solidly secured to the walls and are not likely to come off their mounts during tremors. It is not possible to secure everything, but in quake prone areas special attention should be given to photo frames, mirrors, and decorative wall hangings.

These can be secured by earthquake putty or strong adhesives. Similarly, electronic devices like televisions, computers, and printers can be secured using nylon straps to avoid damage. Gas appliances and water heaters should be bolted to the floor or strong strapping can be used to prevent their movement.


Educating Residents and Holding Mock Drills

Many residents may not have faced an earthquake in their lives and will not have any idea about what they should do in such situations. Hence, property management should hold a meeting or post material that educates tenants about earthquakes and what tenants can do to minimize damage and injuries. It also helps an astounding deal to hold mock drills so that tenants are aware of safe spots in the units, or possible escape routes to move to comparatively safer areas.

If you do not want to run actual drills because that could affect peoples’ lives and day, you can at least hand out fliers on where to go in case of an emergency. 

Are Real Estate Postcards Outdated for Lead Generation

When you hear words like letter and postcard, people usually feel that you are talking of a bygone era. However, there are realtors who still swear about the efficacy of real estate postcards in generating leads. In a world where email campaigns and social media are considered the best marketing tools, are postcards still relevant.

Surprisingly, they still are, and many real estate agents have excellent results to show, when used along with social media. Many agents have reported that they were able to net around three listings for every hundred postcards they mailed.

Real estate postcards and direct mailing campaigns might sound basic, but you cannot write off a technique simply because it is old and basic. If your real estate business is lagging or you have newly started it, then postcard marketing could render excellent results, provided you are consistent. Direct mail marketing is still effective even after many years since its inception, particularly in the real estate field.

Developing a Successful Campaign

However, success of your campaign will mainly depend in correctly identifying the farm or target market, which comprises the best pick of potential clients, and your level of consistency in mailing the postcards. Identifying the farm area will involve thorough market research. For instance, if you are trying for first-time purchasers, you might need listings of luxury home communities.

On the other hand, if you are looking for listings in general, you might want to pick neighborhoods that are most promising, including the areas having the most baby boomers. Condominiums and neighborhoods, where other realtors have an established presence should be avoided. The objective is to develop dominance in one area so that anybody seeking property in the place automatically thinks of contacting you first.

Number of Postcards and Consistency

Every realtor has his own optimum number of how many postcards to mail. Experts believe that sending postcards in the range of 1,000 to 3,000 will provide the best results. However, reach may not be as important as frequency. Some marketers believe that asking 20 prospects ten times will generate much better results than asking 50 prospects only once.

The Best Content for Postcards

Realtors who have managed successful postcard campaigns believe that content should simply be an announcement of a property that has just been listed, sold, or one where the contract has just been signed. However, this content is best used when you are known to the residents of the area and you are promoting a listing in your target market.

If you are newly developing a farm area, the content of your postcard will mainly be your introduction. Later you could follow up with reports and newsletters on a regular basis. Make sure you are providing value through your content to homeowners in your area.

Type of Postcards

The quality of the postcard and the printing will mainly depend on your budget. If you are newly establishing yourself in the area, choose all the bells and whistles, since you want to be seen as a notable and respectable realtor who understands this realm.  

Strategies for Retaining Terrific Tenants

Retaining outstanding tenants is highly profitable for property management, since it will reduce vacancies considerably and the workload will be substantially reduced as well. Hence, forming specific strategies for tenant retention is a fantastic idea, and should be given the highest priority, especially for the coming year, where competition is expected to be intense.

When you want to retain impressive tenants, the obvious objective would be tenant satisfaction, as a satisfied tenant is not likely to leave, provided other factors in his life are stable.

Check the Competition

This could be considered as an indirect way, but it is quite effective when you are ruling out the places, where your tenants are likely to relocate. Review similar properties in the area and check out the tenant profiles and vacancy rates on those properties. Consider what features and amenities they are offering, and see if your property is able to match or falls short. Make the necessary changes, do renovations, and upgrade to their level, so that your tenants are no longer inclined to move.


Check for New Developments

New building projects in your area means increased competition, and you can track these by paying a visit to the municipal council of your locality. New developments will not only upset the demand-supply ratio, but the new properties will also be offering incentives and better features to attract prospects. To counter this, property management can consider offering the same incentives or better features to their tenants.

Improving and Maintaining Impressive Relations with Tenants

Tenant satisfaction has a lot to do with the type of relationship property management develops and maintains with the tenant. Better features and incentives do play a major role in retaining tenants but ultimately if the relationship goes south, the tenant will think of moving. Here are some of the major points that can help property management build stellar relationships with residents.


Being Responsive and Attending to Issues Quickly


This is one of the most important aspects of maintaining remarkable relations. Facilitate open communication channels, where it is easy for tenants to contact property management. Ignoring emails or calls is a major mistake, even if the concerned matter is hardly worth noting. Delaying response could escalate issues, and repeatedly ignoring tenants will make them disregard the property and its rules.

However, being responsive is not enough, since you need to follow it up with actions to set the problem right. Many tenants are dissatisfied due to the delay in the execution of maintenance and repair requests. If it is not possible to carry out the request in time, then at least inform the tenant about the difficulties and ensure that the repairs will be done as soon as possible.

Having Pet Friendly Policies


With over 60% tenants having pets, it would be very helpful for property management to have pet friendly policies. For many tenants their pets have become a part of their families, and they would not hesitate to move if they feel their pets are uncomfortable or being discriminated against. Well, if they have a pet cobra, that type of pet should be frowned upon.

Syndicating Social Media for Real Estate Business

Usually realtors consider any person who wants to purchase, lease, or sell property as the ideal customer. However, in actuality this is not the case, as realtors work their own niche comprising of certain price ranges or specific pin codes and so on. Hence, everybody in the business is looking for more listings, buyers, and leads, but in the end the question remains as to who is the ideal customer.

It might be surprising to note that in many instances the ideal customer for a realtor is another realtor.

A real estate agent is capable of bringing a signed contract with money, and not a client. However, you might argue that other agents will be farming the area, where you have listed a home, and they might have potential buyers. This may be true, but you could befriend them and change the competition into a fruitful collaboration. Moreover, the best and easiest way to become friends in today's world is through social media.

Utilizing Social Media

When you are mostly representing purchasers, you would be relying on agents who have listings for your inventory. The reverse could be the case as well, where you are the listing agent and you require purchaser's agents for selling your properties. Finding a random seller or buyer with a complete executed contract and money is not probable, and therefore your ideal customer is another realtor. Befriending several realtors by syndicating power of social media platforms is quite easy.

One of the most important aspects of social media is that when you want to acquire loyal friends you need to be a marvelous friend. This means you will have to give more and act first, if you want to be the leader of your group. You cannot expect other realtors to in your circle to act first. You need to be proactive for instigating a reactive response, this type of approach works reliably well.  

Creating a Syndicate on Social Media

The first step would be to surfing and searching Facebook to find realtors whom you already know. These people could be realtors with whom you entered contracts in the past or other realtors in your office. Secondly, from now on, when you acquire a contract from another realtor, immediately follow them on Twitter, or become friends with them on Facebook and LinkedIn as well.

When you are browsing Facebook walls of other realtors and you come across latest listings, simply click on the share button. This will make their posts visible to your friends as well, which means the visibility of their properties will be almost doubled or trebled, depending on the number for friends in your circle. However, do not forget to insert a call to action in the sharing or your personal posting.

Virtual Networking

You could insert a call to action like - "My friend Robert has listed this excellent property in Charlotte. I always love working with Robert, and if you are looking in this area, please contact me". Since the agent's name is tagged by you, the agent will automatically receive an email from Facebook about him being mentioned in a post, and this will demonstrate your proactive help in marketing his listing. 

Property Management and Pet Friendly Policies

Many surveys show that over 65% of renters in the US are pet owners, and it not surprising to find many tenants give preference to properties that have pet friendly policies. Almost none of these renters would be likely to give up their pets to live in a particular property just because there are impressive features, an awesome fitness center, and the area is pleasant to live in but there is not any permission to keep pets.


Therefore, property management has to consider improving pet policies, if they want a larger share of this growing segment. Here are certain points that can help property manager or property owner frame better policies for pets.


Pet Screening and Waiving Deposits on Certain Pets


Property management can provide discounts or waive the pet deposit altogether, when the tenant is able to provide proof that their pet has undergone obedience schooling or some sort of professional training. Waiving the initial costs is a major incentive for pet owners; however, property management can still enforce strict regulations for damages caused by pets.


Secondly, prospective tenants should be encouraged to bring their pets along for their first interview, since it is much better to form an opinion of the pet when the property manager is able to observe the pet in-person. A pet interview might seem like an outlandish idea, but this approach has been found to be highly effective in spotting problematic pets. Pets such as pit bulls and Rottweiler’s are certainly pets that should require a hard look.


Avoid too many Regulations


Property management can avoid developing a discriminatory reputation towards pets by not having too many regulations. It is usually not necessary to specify the type, weight, and breed of pets, as long there is a list of dangerous pets that are not allowed. Making such a list, will be quite challenging, as many people are going beyond the traditional choices of fish, dogs, and cats. Small pigs, ferrets, rabbits, monkeys, and even snakes are some of the popular pets today.


Before excluding certain pets, it would be best to consult certain organizations like the Humane Society, and do some extensive research to know about pets that should be realistically excluded. Property management will have to make some clever judgment calls while creating new pet policies, especially when you consider the exotic taste most people are developing for pets.


Being Polite and Clear


Pet owners consider their pets to be part of their family, and hence the property manager has to be extra careful and polite while conveying the pet policy. For instance, the prospect would not want to hear why pets are generally a problem, and that you are levying huge fines and deposits to keep the area clean. Nevertheless, the property manager has to communicate the pet policy in a clear and concise manner, but at the same time sounding well disposed towards pets.


Enforcing Cleanliness


Investing in cans for dog waste is a smart idea, but property management should also implement fines for violating poop disposal norms. It is wrong to assume that all pet owners are responsible and will be picking up after their pets. In fact, some are lazy and will only adhere to common decency because of the fines. Sad to say, that is a strong contingent of human nature but most people are honest and wholesome.



How Property Management can Increase Rents without Increasing Vacancies

Property owners are allowed to increase the rent of their units each year but it is limited by a percentage fixed by the law. For 2015, the allowable rent increase is 2.5% for residential tenancies. However, the rent increase is more of a balancing act for property management and property owners, since they could end up with a loss if the increase has caused some vacancies to materialize. Here are some important points to consider, before you make a decision to hike rents in an economy that is nothing to write home about.


Assessing Tenants and the Market


Research has to be conducted in two areas, and property management will have to assess tenants' value and the state of existing rental market. In order to assess accurately consider the following points:


For Tenants


*      The last time rents were raised

*      Who are the valuable tenants and can you risk losing them

*      Can you consider excluding certain high-value tenants from the rent hike to avoid the risk of losing them


For the Rental Market


§  Review rental rates of similar properties and see how they match up with rent on your property

§  If your rates are higher than other, what features or amenities justify the high rate

§  Is the demand for your type of property higher than usual

§  Your current rate of vacancies

§  What type of units are more in demand, for instance smaller units compared to bigger ones, and should you consider hiking rent for only units with higher demand


Announcing the Increase in Rent


Obviously, nobody is going to be happy with an increase in rent, but the negative effect can be reduced largely by effective communication in a professional, clear, and polite manner. Use the official medium for announcing the hike, which is usually a printed notice on company's or property owner's letterhead. The language should be simple to understand, concise, and include some of the reasons for justifying the increase, so that number of complaints can be reduced before they occur.


Formulating a policy where you tie the increase to an indexed measurement would be an incredible and judicious idea, since that way you can avoid surprises and it can help tenants plan their budget accordingly. For instance, a consumer price index would be a magnificent point of reference to base the increase.


After the Announcement


After the increase in rent has been announced, be ready to respond to negative feedback and even outright anger and shock from tenants. Ready a list of legitimate justifications, which you feel were the main reasons behind the hike in rents. Some of the reasons that most tenants will understand them to be legitimate are higher costs of repairs and maintenance, expensive janitorial service, higher cost of utilities, and increased rates of property fees and taxes.


If you are planning to improve features and amenities for enhancing the living experience of tenants then make a point to mention it to them. However, first make sure, most tenants will value such improvements. There is not any point in increasing parking spaces for instance if everyone already has a spot to park and there are already enough extra spots available. Finally and moreover, if you have not raised the rent in a long time, point out the duration since the last increase in rent took place. But keep in mind that the economy has not improved in years so that date may not mean as much.  




Handling the Move-In Process in Property Management with Acumen

An effective move-in process involves much more than simply signing lease documents and providing the keys of the unit to the new tenants. Most property managers do not give much importance to the move-in process and are not even equipped with a thorough checklist. Even though this is a simple task, it can backfire if it is not thought of and executed properly.


Being a Professional Organization


The most common issue is when the tenant is moving out and is leaving a mess behind. Most tenants will claim that they are leaving the unit in exactly the same condition as when they moved in. The only solution to this problem is to have a checklist procedure that documents the state of the unit when the tenant is moving in. The property manager could document each item on paper and rank the state of the paint and other features of the unit, but this would be a lengthy and inefficient procedure.


Eliminating Ambiguity


Now, with the ready availability of digital devices, it would be ideal to document the state of the unit by using a digital camera. The property manager could click photos of the items or could take a walk-through video that documents everything in the unit. The photos and videos provide substantial proof of the state of the unit at move-in, and they do not leave any room for arguments or denials.


An effective move-in checklist will also provide a reference to check maintenance and repairs requests. Many tenants are in the habit of making repair requests for items that have not been damaged by normal wear and tear. When the move-in checklist is available, property manager can show proof of the item being in solid condition and that the tenant would have to bear the expense for repairing it.


First Rate Organizations know about First Impressions


Move-in checklists are actually meant for protecting the rights of property management as well as the tenant. The checklist will protect property management from costly damages, and the tenant from foregoing security deposit unnecessarily. Move-in checklist also provides a strong indicator to tenants that the property management is quite serious about the condition of the property, and does not tolerate any damages. The tenant will receive this message quite clearly, and will be more cautious in using the items and maintaining their condition.


If someone is moving into a rental unit and it seems the property management does not have it together, loses the renter’s paperwork, does not have keys at the moment for the unit, does not show up on time, the unit is not even cleaned yet, and so on indicates to most professionals and students (certainly their parents) that this property is not ran well. To most decent and dignified people, this could be wakeup call that perhaps this is not the place you want to be doing business with. First impressions matter in any professional setting.


Lastly, move-in checklists offer peace of mind to tenants, as they know their security deposit money will be safe and will be given back to them when they move out, if they maintain the place properly and avoid damages. Coordinating the document signing and move-in inspection is usually a daunting task for property management, but it has to be handled efficiently. It is best to have a protocol or a sequence of things that need to be completed within a given period.


Processing New Renters should be Routine


The lease document and move-in inspection and checklist are equally vital, and any mistakes can prove costly to both parties, especially to property management. However, tenants should not be rushed, and they should feel welcome, since they will be forming their opinions of the place when they are moving in as already indicated, and these impressions will play a major role when they will be extending their lease later.  



Page 24 of 44