5 Crucial Considerations for Today’s Property Manager
High speed internet and safe delivery of packages are two renter demands that today’s apartment property manager must meet.
It obvious that no one has better incentive to take care of a property than its owner. That being said, there is a good chance that the eyesore of an apartment community you pass on your daily commute — you know, the one with the abandoned Buick in the parking lot — is not being run by a professional management company.
If you don’t have the time, dedication and experience needed to provide a hospitable living environment, you should probably hire a reputable firm. If you are up to task, here are five crucial things to consider.
1. Be Fido-Friendly (For a Fee)
Did you know that over 36% of households own a dog and over 30% of households own a cat? Millennials are also the most-likely group to own a pet. A “no-pets” policy drains out a good portion of your renter pool. But not all renters are pet fans. Some managers set up a designated floor as being pet-free. Be proactive and create a progressive policy for pets. An extra security deposit is one option, though consult with your legal counsel first. Security deposit limits vary from state to state. A small, one-time non-refundable fee is another option.
2. 100% Occupancy Isn’t Always a Good Thing
If your property has 15 units, 100% occupancy is probably a good benchmark to aim for. When you get into the 80+ unit range, 100% occupancy could mean that your rents are too cheap. It might be time to re-examine the rents that similar properties are achieving in your submarket. With stagnant incomes and the lowest home ownership rate since the early 1960s, demographics are only improving for apartment owners. High demand and limited supply means that rents should continue to grow for most markets.
3. A Connected Renter Is a Happy Renter
Take a moment and count how many Internet-connected devices you have in your home. That would be every smartphone, tablet, desktop, laptop, gaming console and — in many cases — television. We love our devices.
Now we don’t expect you to install a flat-screen notification system in the lobby of your Class C or B product. You should, however, make sure that you can offer your residents access to a good high-speed Internet service provider. Some renters (looking at you, Mr. and Ms. Millennial) will be discouraged by slow connection speeds or limited options when it comes to providers. This can ding you when it comes time to renew.
Likewise, you need to make sure that your renters have good cell reception in their units. This might involve installing a cell booster, depending on the type of construction at your property. But you can bet prospective renters are checking cell reception during a unit tour.
4. Have a Plan in Place for Packages
Venerable multifamily REIT Camden Property Trust recently made headlines for deciding to no longer accept packages in the management offices at their 169 properties. While that may sound harsh, consider that Camden’s communities received nearly one million packages in 2014. Online shopping is only increasing. If you don’t have a plan of action, your office is going to be drowning is a sea of cardboard boxes. Companies like Package Concierge offer electronic lockers coupled with text/email notification systems. You could also consider adding a processing fee for each delivery that doesn’t fit in their mailbox. While some residents might make a fuss, the majority will simply have their items shipped to their place of employment.
5. Energy Audit and Retrofit
Perform an energy and water use audit after your acquisition. Look to a service like WegoWise to see how you are performing against other properties in your market. Give your residents an incentive to report any leaks — but don’t give them gift cards to Amazon.com until your package plan is in place.
You could also look at updating all common area light fixtures with LED bulbs. While the upfront cost is high (look for local tax incentives to help out on this front), the payoff is worth it both in terms of lower utility bills and the time it frees up for your maintenance staff, as LED bulbs typically have a lifespan of 10 years or more.
Being a property manager involves making some tough calls to keep your residents happy. If you want to turn to the pros, be sure to check out our list of the 14 Must-Ask Questions for Screening a Property Manager.