Mobile Branding Matters...

Take a guess. How much time do you spend on your phone every day? Add up all those downward glances, text replies, phone calls and photo filters. If you’re like the average American, you spend 5.4 hours on your smartphone. And if you’re like me, that’s way more than you expected. Those numbers come from a recent study asked 2,000 smartphone users to check their phone settings and report their screen time. Not only did the study reveal just how attached we all are to our devices, but it showed that usage across generations is similar. Millennials spend only a little bit more time on smartphones (5.7 hours) than baby boomers do (5 hours). Over 50 times a day, we’re checking our phones. This year, Gartner anticipates that there will be over 20 billion connected devices. Just imagine how much more dependent we’ll be as these tools continue to pervade our homes and habits. Smart devices have led to incredible innovations, and they’re changing our lives like very few other communication technologies have before. By far one of the biggest differences is the way we interact with businesses. Why grab your car keys or dial a support line when the services you want are available at your fingertips in a mobile app? We now spend about 90% of our smartphone time in apps. Remember, that’s hours of every day. So for businesses looking to stay competitive, your mobile presence has to be top-notch. Of course, that goes for multifamily businesses too. You’ve spent so much time and money defining your brand strategy and designing your physical properties. Shouldn’t your mobile apps match? Put your brand in the palm of your residents’ hands Your residents are on mobile, so you should be too. Take advantage...

Ray of Hope Jan27

Ray of Hope

Rick M. was starting to lose his eyesight. His optometrist missed the glaring signs of glaucoma. As a result, Rick was completely blind in one eye within two months of his appointment. The visual acuity in his other eye measures 20/60. The quick onset of the condition radically transformed his life. Rick, a university-educated and independent young man, was forced to quit his job at a major greeting card company. For several years, he was transferred between assisted care centers. He found The Lighthouse Supported Living 16 years ago. He has called it home ever since. No two clients at The Lighthouse are the same. Each person has a unique set of circumstances that have led to homelessness or poverty. To meet their singular needs, The Lighthouse offers a range of services to help clients obtain self-sufficiency whenever possible. About The Lighthouse The Lighthouse is more than an emergency shelter. It has evolved into a supported living and affordable housing provider that offers wellness services to people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Programming at The Lighthouse helps pursue achieve self-sufficiency, mental and physical health. Anna Pacik, fundraising and communications manager, was drawn to The Lighthouse because of its mission. “The mission of The Lighthouse is to take care of people holistically and help them to find a healthier, more positive path in life. I love this mission,” she explains. “The Lighthouse cares for people who are the hardest to keep safely housed.” These marginalized people may have mental health issues, intellectual and development disabilities, or “unseen disabilities” like FASD and head injuries. Clients also include trauma survivors who try to manage their pain with drugs and alcohol. Though each case is different, all are welcomed and treated with dignity. The non-profit organization aims to end...

2020 Foresight Jan24

2020 Foresight

Here’s a sampling of developments to follow this year. Proptech grows . . . The use of property technology will continue to expand across all real estate sectors. “Property managers and asset managers are leaning into technical solutions for productivity enhancements and operational efficiency. They are digitizing as much information as possible, so that analytics can be applied and data shared throughout the organization,” says Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2020, the 41st annual forecast report compiled by PwC and the Urban Land Institute. “Using analytics to enhance customer experiences will define winners and losers in the coming years.” Much of the multibillion-dollar global investment in proptech “revolves around smart-home and smart-building applications aimed at energy efficiency” and enhances coworking and co-living concepts, the report says. Sensors activated by motion, voice, temperature or weight “are now part of the landscape, and will become more ubiquitous over time.”   . . . and so does ESG Emerging Trends also addresses the growing importance of environmental, social and governance principles to real estate customers, employees, shareholders and communities. “Sustainability evaluation is becoming a checklist item for institutional investors domestically and worldwide” in real estate and other business sectors,” the report says. And with 55% of millennials, 25% of Generation Xers and 11% of baby boomers saying they factor ESG policies and performance into their investment decisions, “the power of ESG to influence capital deployment will be rising over time.” “ESG attracts a more diverse set of investors, aids in recruiting talent and helps generate community support for proposed projects,” notes an unidentified REIT executive and Emerging Trends contributor. Another REIT exec adds, “As ESG data is becoming more widely available, we’re seeing clearer ties between ESG and overall performance.” Along with comprising a standard for due...

Senior Tech at CES

Early January is a special time of the year for the technology-inclined. Tens of thousands flock to Las Vegas for four days to feast their eyes on the latest inventions and innovations at CES. There were over 4,500 exhibitors clamoring for attention this year. But hidden among them were a surprisingly large number of vendors who’ve turned their attention to one of the biggest changes of the coming decade – our aging population. The vast majority of seniors prefer to age in place, staying in their homes as long as possible. But just as many underestimate how much support they will need as they grow older. Currently, only one-third believe they will eventually need long-term care services, but the actual rate is near 70%. To add another misconception to the pile, many seniors believe that Medicare will cover them in these cases. But Medicare, as it exists now, provides for skilled medical care — think hospital stays and rehab. Though there have been some motions in the Medicare Advantage space to accommodate long-term services and supports, many of tomorrow’s seniors are likely to be underprepared for the costs of growing older. Which is why we’re thrilled that more and more technology developers are focusing on senior living and creating unique ways to help. Here are five of our favorites from CES 2020 for upcoming technology with the potential to change the way we age. A robot ball that recognizes falls If you’ve watched any of the new Stars Wars films, you can see where the inspiration for Samsung’s new creation might have come from. Called Ballie, this palm-sized rolling robot can follow its owner around the home, communicating with other smart devices, interacting with household pets and — most useful for caregivers — keeping...

New Office Insight Jan22

New Office Insight

Here are some highlights of the most recent U.S. office property report from Yardi Matrix: Office-using employment increased 1.6% year-over-year in November 2019. The average asking rate increased 2.3% year-over-year that month while the vacancy rate fell 10 basis points to 13.6%. Growth in demand for office space as measured by office-using employment is heavily concentrated in a handful of metros. The top 20 markets tracked by Yardi Matrix accounted for 64% of office-using employment growth from October 2018 to October 2019 but only about 42% of total employment growth. Transactions through November totaled $82.2 billion, on pace to match or exceed the $93 million recorded in 2018. Sixty-seven million square feet of space was delivered year to date through November and another 156 million square feet remains under construction. Learn more about key trends in national supply, demand and sales—along with the factors driving listing rate increases in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and why the office market economies in Nashville, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla., are riding high—in the Yardi Matrix national office report for December...

Efficient Conversions Jan22

Efficient Conversions...

According to Gleanster, only 25% of your marketing leads are prepared to buy. About 50% of leads enter a sales funnel undecided. That leaves a noteworthy 50% of leads that are dropped or go cold. Improving how you nurture leads and how to streamline that process can help you achieve more conversions and see greater returns on your marketing dollars. First step: optimize your first contact  Making the most of your first contact with a lead is crucial to nurturing that relationship and prompting the conversion. At the widest part of the sales funnel, you’re putting in the legwork of lead generation. Your brand is making an impression on prospects via ads, listings, and other marketing initiatives. Towards the middle of the funnel, your prospects are showing interest. They’re responding to your marketing strategy. Perhaps they’ve filled out a contact card or visited the property. That first contact is essential. Use robust customer relationship management (CRM) software to store prospect contact information. In addition to traditional data  such as phone and email, also request social media handles. Even if you don’t “friend” each prospect, you gain a better insight on their preferred platform for social media marketing. It is equally important to record lead attribution. That’s how the prospect found you such as the social media platform, website, or ad that convinced them to make contact. Getting this information will help you identify the highest quality lead sources and focus your future marketing dollars accordingly. Learn how to optimize multi-source lead attribution. Be sure that you’re entering prospect data into a CRM system that integrates with your property management software. This step improves efficiency by eliminating multiple points of data entry for the same prospect. It also decreases the likelihood of duplicate entries and...

In Renters’ Wallets...

We’ve all heard that renters are interested in smart home devices. How much are they willing to pay for them, though? We dive into the 2020 NMHC & Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Survey to find out. What renters value is determined by how much they are willing to pay. The NMHC & Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Survey set out to put a monthly price on smart home features that renters crave. Nearly 373,000 renters living in 5,336 communities across the U.S. submitted their opinions on desired gadgets and pricing. The 2020 report is the largest compilation of apartment resident insights to date. Let’s take a look at which smart home features are most valuable to renters. Most Valued Smart Home Features All valuable smart home gadgets are connected to the internet of things (IoT). It takes more than internet connection for renters to value a gadget. The survey reveals that the most valuable smart home features are those that offer a combination of benefits in a single gadget. One of the most valuable smart home features makes the unit more comfortable, functional, and healthy. Survey respondents are willing to pay $36 for smart or dynamic glass. The technology helps to moderate indoor temperatures. It also reduces glare on display surfaces like televisions and tablets. Additionally, the dynamic glass promotes better health by blocking harmful light rays from the sun. Smart locks are the second most valuable. This product also multitasks: it offers the convenience of keyless entry as well as a layer of security. Most smartphones are protected with face recognition, fingerprint scanners, or PINs. An authorized user must be present to unlock the phone and then use an app on the smartphone to manage the lock to the unit. Renters are willing to...

Home, Office

Home is where the heart is, as well as the home office for some. All the time at home in front of a computer, however, can lead to feelings of isolation, a lack of inspiration, and a lack of meeting space for collaboration. Remote employees and freelancers turn to coworking spaces for help. To avoid a hectic commute, they seek coworking offices that are as close to home as possible. Herein lies renters’ problem that is an opportunity for multifamily and coworking owners. As the number of digital nomads grows, it outpaces coworking space availability especially in midsize and tertiary markets. Many multifamily communities aren’t equipped with the space, staff, or equipment needed to successfully operate their own coworking space on premises. This is where a collaboration between coworking organizations and multifamily properties can fill the void. Renters want coworking space but providers face challenges The 2020 National Multi-housing Council & Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Survey indicates that 46% of renters are interested in coworking space as a community amenity. Additionally, 48% are interested in conference or meeting rooms and 37% take interest in makerspace and DIY rooms. Unfortunately for renters outside of major metropolitan areas, coworking spaces are too far away, face limited availability, or are quite pricey. Some property managers will accommodate renters by creating a coworking space within the community. When space and staff are limited, that simply isn’t an option. For coworking firms outside of major metros, high rents may necessary to stay afloat with inconsistent membership revenues. A reliable base of clients would offer stability and an opportunity for growth but getting such leads is a struggle. Multifamily property and coworking leadership may be able to work together with mutual benefit. Considerations for coworking and multifamily property managers Space...

How PHAs Simplify and Save

Public housing agencies are among the busiest organizations in the residential property management industry. There’s a lot going on. Most PHAs have thousands of names on their waiting lists. As names come up for consideration, staff faces hours of detailed work to ensure that that applicants qualify for housing assistance. Once applicants become residents, PHAs and the private landlords participating in their programs are responsible for all the normal property management duties associated with multifamily housing. To top it all off, PHAs are required to continuously report to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as other state and local government offices, for compliance purposes. Luckily, there’s an app for PHAs that streamlines each of these workflows. RENTCafé PHA is a unique solution available only to Yardi clients. By modernizing the way PHAs work with stakeholders, most every stakeholder group benefits. Here’s how. Prospects: RENTCafé PHA simplifies how an agency can open its waiting list for new names. The typical frenzy of activity that happens when an agency accepts new names is mitigated since people can join a waiting list online, and without having to turn in a stack of paperwork. RENTCafé PHA even offers automated solutions for agencies to periodically purge their waiting list without the need to mail thousands of notices and enter data returned in the mail. Instead, waitlisted households receive an electronic notice that it’s time to confirm their waiting list status. They can simply go online to quickly save their spot on the waiting list or opt out of consideration for assistance. Applicants: Nearly 800 housing applications were created in RENTCafé PHA every day in 2019. And contrary to traditional methods of applying for housing, applications in RENTCafé PHA are paperless. That’s nearly 300,000 stacks of paper potentially saved in 2019 alone. Another break from tradition is that applicants can work on their submissions when it fits their schedule. There’s no need to set an appointment during PHA office hours. In 2019, 42% of applications were completed after 5 p.m. and before 8 a.m. The convenience of 24/7 access from any connected device saves applicants from visiting the PHA during office hours, a bonus for both applicants and PHA staff. Landlords: Most any rental unit in town can be part of a public housing agency program if the landlord accepts PHA vouchers to supplement rent paid by the resident. Private landlords who decide to participate require access to forms to report back to the PHA on activities such as rent collected, maintenance work completed, move-outs, etc. With RENTCafé PHA, landlords can do this work from their private computers or handheld devices. There’s no need to mail or fax paperwork to the agency, which saves a lot of time and money. Residents: Modern multifamily housing providers offer residents the ability to go online to pay rent, make repair requests, schedule inspections and more. PHAs are no different. Households that qualify for housing with RENTCafé PHA continue to use the solution once they move into a unit. It’s simply a matter of adding resident functions to their already existing RENTCafé PHA profile. Compliance staff: Every resident and participant in a PHA housing program must qualify for assistance. There’s a lot of work involved, and a lot of personal data that must be collected, submitted and verified. RENTCafé PHA makes compliance easier and faster by connecting PHA staff with applicants and residents. Households can securely submit their data online, as well as images of backup documentation, directly to PHA compliance workers. Insecure and inefficient methods such as photocopying legal documents and storing private personal information in file cabinets are taken out of the process. Staff can even use RENTCafé PHA to securely communicate with applicant employers, schools and former landlords to verify the accuracy of submitted information. Learn more about RENTCafé PHA by downloading Five Steps to Revolutionize PHA Applications & Compliance Workflows, a...

Rise of the Digital Assistant

Google anticipates that there are more than 20 billion devices connected to the internet of things and the digital assistants that manage it. This increase in connectivity has a dramatic impact on how people interact with their living spaces. Forward-thinking multifamily firms are capitalizing on the new technology and getting ahead of the curve. Renters + Their Digital Roommates Digital assistants like Alexa have become endeared members of American households. They wake us up in the morning and get us started with a pot of coffee. They play our favorite songs while we’re getting dressed and tell us when it’s time to take the kids to school. They also tell us jokes when we’re bored. (Fun fact: Alexa told over 100 million jokes in 2018.) Always cheerful and increasingly helpful, digital assistants have rapidly grown in popularity. About 16 percent of Americans own a smart speaker, which is quite impressive considering that the technology is only four years old. As of January 2019, Amazon sold more than 100 million devices with Alexa onboard, including 28,000 smart home devices from 4,500 different brands. Alexa speaks seven languages and added new customized user experiences for residents of Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Spain and Mexico. She offers 70,000 skills to make daily life more convenient. CNET reports that owners are so satisfied with her performance that the number of households with multiple Echo devices doubled in 2018. Digital assistants and smart home technology are here to stay. The value that they can add to the resident experience makes them a worthy investment for multifamily properties. Optimize Rent Lift with Digital Assistants Renters are among the millions of people who use digital assistants daily. Demand drives the trend of integrating smart home technology into multifamily properties: the 2019 Multi-Res Tenant preference survey, sponsored by Yardi, showed 31 percent of renters prefer a home with automation amenities. Smart home technology is now a competitive differentiator that bolsters revenue and NOI. “Residents equate efficiency with quality,” said Masa Hoshino, product manager at Yardi. “Prospects and residents increasingly care about convenience and experience. Integrating smart home technology is a tool for sales and retention.” The RENTCafé Resident Services Alexa Skill expands the value of digital assistants for renters. The program customizes the convenience of home automation to the multifamily lifestyle. After securely linking their account, renters can issue commands like, “Alexa, open RENTCafé,” and complete tasks such as “Alexa, ask RENTCafé to pay my rent.” Watch the RENTCafé Resident Services Alexa Skill video to learn more. This service enhances how renters already use digital assistants. Thermostats, lights, locks and security monitors are just a few of the popular smart home features that residents already value. Residents can control these features via apps and voice commands. “The demand for smart apartments is increasing,” said Patrick Lawler, director of product development at Yardi. “This Alexa skill helps property management businesses stay competitive by offering convenient and intuitive resident service options. Renters can ask Alexa to handle important tasks for them, without having to sit down at the computer or place a phone call.” Read more about RENTCafé Resident Services Skill for Alexa. The future is bright for smart home technology. Global News Wire reports that the global smart-home-as-a-service market is forecasted to bring in about US$ 10.9 B in revenue by the end of 2025. Renter adoption rates continue to climb, motivating many multifamily firms to offer digital assistants as move-in...

International Outlook Jan15

International Outlook...

Editor’s note: the below perspective on 2020 and the decade ahead for technology and real estate comes from Neal Gemassmer, vice president of international for Yardi. Originally published in Property Week, it is reprinted here with permission. The festive period was an invitation to reflect on the year gone by and the year ahead, even more so than usual. After all, it was the end of one decade and the beginning of another. Naturally enough, all eyes are on Brexit, but from a real estate perspective the impact that technology is having on our industry offers the most interesting food for thought. New technology has had a greater impact on property in the last few years than in the previous three or four decades combined. In 2010, the term ‘proptech’ had not even been coined; today, it is ubiquitous. However, in my view we have barely scratched the surface in terms of its influence. In the years to come, it will redefine how real estate functions. Here are a few ideas as to how. First, consider the build-to-rent (BTR) market. More and more investors are moving into the sector and technology has the potential to act as a major enabler. Digital technologies can allow owners and operators to cut out the middle-man – the letting agent – and communicate directly with potential customers, who can view different buildings and get a feel for the quality of the accommodation and the amenities on offer. Virtual reality lets potential tenants view a property remotely, while online tools can arrange physical visits without the need to call or email ahead. Applications and background checks can also take place digitally and customers will be able to sign their lease and pay their deposit online. The whole process will become virtually...

Neuroscience in the Park Jan15

Neuroscience in the Park

The importance of childhood play has had anecdotal value for ages. In the 1960s, however, studies on rodents and brain development encouraged neuroscientists to formally explore the importance of play in childhood development. Their efforts have paved the way for programs like Start2Finish that improve childhood academic performance through physical activity. Acknowledging multi-dimensional complexity When it comes to academic success, literacy takes center stage. The ability to read improves academic performance in mathematics and other areas of study. But the benefits of education do not stop in the classroom. Multiple studies note the correlation between a nation’s literacy skills and the well-being of its inhabitants. Improving literacy depends on consistent exposure to literature. For Canada’s 1 million children living in poverty, exposure is inconsistent at best: limited access to libraries, few books at home, and single-parent households with tight resources are just a few contributing factors to childhood illiteracy. In public schools, governments fail to adequately and equally equip all school with resources. Teachers spend $143 million of their own money to buy reading materials for their students yet the gap remains. As a result, children living in poverty are about 4.5 times behind their peers in vocabulary development. The lack of literacy development then creates a snowball effect in other areas of study. A sedentary lifestyle adds to the complexity of children’s developmental hurdles. Children in low-income homes are twice as likely as children from middle class homes to live in a neighborhood where violence and drug-trafficking are everyday occurrences. Impoverished areas also have fewer parks. Neighborhood dangers and a lack of access to green spaces minimize youths’ exposure to natural environments and safe places to play. Low literacy and physical activity contribute to an under-stimulated hippocampus in children’s brains. Executive function, learning, and concentration are all adversely affected. Overcoming invisibility to promote change When playing for the Canadian Football League, Brian Warren would often participate in meet-and-greets with kids from area of complexity. The kids would watch a game, hear a few words of inspiration, receive an autographed ball, and then return home. Mr. Warren felt like it was not enough. He soon founded Start2Finish, a nonprofit organization that uses neuroscience techniques favored by athletic and business professionals to help children excel in school. Karen Pessoa-Warren, director of operations, explains the inspiration behind the organization. “Athletes get exclusive training in the connection between mind and body. Why couldn’t this work with the kid struggling in school and at home?” proposes Pessoa-Warren. “We find the kids are most vulnerable in the areas of executive control and focus, things athletes are trained in. We’ve married these very unlikely concepts, to stimulate the hippocampus with books and physical activity. A snowball effect then happens. Not only are they reading better, which even helps with math, but they’re better able to multi-task, stay focused, and manipulate thought.” Though the research was in place, it would take a change of perspective for the organization to succeed throughout the country. The Warrens first endeavoured to shine light on local childhood poverty, a topic that went largely unrecognized. “In Canada, people don’t think we have childhood poverty,” reflects Pessoa-Warren. “We don’t have an index for poverty, but one out of five kids live at or below the poverty line. We needed to let people know that poverty exists.” Secondly, they found themselves battling the notion that poverty and poor academic performance were character flaws rather than systemic problems. She adds, “We have a strong social net here, but kids still fall through. Without understanding of the data or the complexity surrounding their lives, people thought those who struggled in school weren’t bright or that it was a family issue.” Public education continues to be a part of the work at Start2Finish. Read, play, excel Children living in areas of complexity are facing an uphill battle. The team at Start2Finish has developed a creative plan...

Making History

Dorothy Day Place, owned and operated by Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has made history. With 370 permanent supportive homes and 356 emergency and medical respite beds, it’s one of the largest affordable housing projects in the state. The project is also the largest public-private partnership involving housing in Minnesota history. Dorothy Day Place was made possible in part by a philanthropic collaboration between Catholic Charities and Yardi client, Dominium. New Phase, New Chapter in History Dorothy Day Place wasn’t planned as a record-breaking collaboration. With the first phase complete, Catholic Charities turned its attention to phase two in 2017. Leadership recognized that the ambitious second phase would benefit from the insight and expertise of an experienced developer. Catholic Charities contacted Dominium, one of the country’s largest affordable housing developers and a fellow Minnesota-based organization. The response of Paul Sween, managing partner of Dominium, took Catholic Charities by surprise. Sween offered to develop the second phase of Dorothy Day Place free of charge. Perhaps to Sween’s surprise, the initial request came from the bank. “We instinctively said ‘yes’ to helping with the project when our partner U.S. Bank asked us to do so simply because we knew how important it was to them,” Sween explained in an interview with Housing Finance. “We know the great work of Catholic Charities and how critical the transformation of the property would be to their mission.” Dorothy Day Place broadens the scope of Dominium’s work. Historically, the firm develops and manages affordable housing for people who earn at or below 60 percent of the area median income. The Dorothy Day Place project serves residents with incomes below 30 percent of the area median income. Jeff Huggett, vice president and project partner at Dominium explains, “Every unit...

Connection vs. Safety...

To remain competitive, real estate providers face pressure to provide high speed internet. This pressure is felt throughout all property classes, from subsidized to luxury housing and commercial properties. Yet the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is pushing back against signal boosters that pose a threat to public safety. The story is currently unfolding. Here is what we know: What is DAS? Broadband signal boosters are proving to be a benefit for multi-tenant real estate owners and a danger to FCC operations. Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) are one of the most common boosters. They are a network of separated antenna nodes connected to a single source that enhances wireless service within a geographic area or structure. DAS helps to provide high-speed internet in areas where infrastructure is unfavorable for any number of reasons. Such fixed wireless technology has relatively little capital expenditure for ownership. No street-level digging is required. But like its pricier fiber optics competition, it offers a wide range of broadband transmission capabilities. The challenges for real estate providers Real estate providers turn to DAS to improve internet accessibility and performance for renters and tenants. Renters demand high speed internet, and the demand shows no signs of slowing down. According to the National Multi-housing Council Resident Preference survey, 93% of renters rate reliable cellphone reception as a top interest.  About 55% of respondents view high-speed internet as a necessity. Additionally, 74% of renters are interested in community Wi-Fi. In the multi-tenant commercial environment, broadband connectivity is among the top three features that tenants require, reports the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International and the Urban Land Institute. Broadband connectivity is standard in new construction, and more than 50 percent of existing construction is retrofitted in some way to accommodate the technology, states...

Revisiting the 1920s Jan10

Revisiting the 1920s

Here’s a look at some energy milestones from the last time a ’20s decade dawned—a period described by Marquette University economics professor Gene Smiley as “the first truly modern decade.” Wind. In 1919, two Danish engineers advanced windmills’ state of the art by designing blades that worked like the wings of an airplane. Their “Agricco” could turn to adjust to the wind flow and automatically rotated to face into the wind. A German-developed windmill capable of producing electricity from wind and the U.S.-bred first wind power company followed in 1920 and 1922, respectively. Wind technology was superseded in the 1930s by power lines capable of transmitting electricity to rural areas. In common with other renewable energy sources, wind experienced a renaissance in the wake of the oil crises of the 1970s. Today, “renewable energy is seeing a boom in growth, with wind energy leading the way” and accounting for nearly 7% of U.S. electricity generation, according to the National Geographic. The World Wind Energy Assn. reports that global capacity for wind turbines reached 600 gigawatts by the end of 2018. There are 57,000 land and offshore wind turbines in the U.S. alone. Geothermal. At The Geysers, some 70 miles north of San Francisco, molten rock lying relatively close to the Earth’s service heats water in overlying permeable rock to very high temperatures. In 1921 an engineer drilled a geothermal well that powered a generator for lighting a local resort. In 1960, a steam-generated plant at The Geysers began generating electricity commercially. The Geysers stands today as the world’s largest commercially productive geothermal field. Its average output in 2017 was 647.7 net megawatts. Geothermal energy—which can be used for heating, cooling and generating electricity—contributes more than 3.7 gigawatts to the national grid, making the U.S....

The Mobile Advantage Jan09

The Mobile Advantage

Your resident portal is a convenient and secure connection to your renters. While some renters like to access the resident portal via computer, studies show that most renters prefer to use a mobile app. If your current resident portal doesn’t offer a robust mobile option, you’re missing out on three key points for resident satisfaction. What renters want: convenience and efficiency with a mobile app According to the 2020 NMHC + Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Survey, community mobile apps are in high demand. Community apps permit a secure and mobile-ready way for users to access resident portals without using a web browser. Renters access mobile apps directly via smartphone or tablet, two devices that most of us always have within reach. In contrast, websites are best viewed via web browser on a laptop or desktop computer, which we don’t always have on hand. A community mobile app can promote renter satisfaction in three distinct ways. Mobile apps improve communication, task management, and daily operations for renters Residents prefer to communicate via mobile app more than conventional methods. About 60% of survey respondents prefer for leasing management to contact them via mobile app. Only 17% prefer contact through the website portal. On average, 64.5% of renters prefer to receive notifications through a mobile app. For example, 71.5% of renters want to receive mail and package notifications through the community mobile app. An app is also a preferred way to manage a household. On average, 58% of respondents prefer to pay rent via mobile app compared to only 23% who want to pay through the website portal. About 64% of renters want to submit maintenance requests via app. Even a formal event, like a lease renewal, is suitable for the app: on average, 46.5% of respondents...

Rate Weight Jan08

Rate Weight

A new report from Yardi Matrix shows that elevated supply levels continue to weigh on U.S. self storage street rates, which fell 1.7% year-over-year in November 2019 for standard 10×10 non-climate-controlled units and 3% for climate-controlled units of the same size. Self storage projects under construction nationwide accounted for 9% of the total existing national inventory that month, a 20-basis-point, month-over-month increase. San Jose, Calif., and Portland, Ore., led in this category with 18.5% each, followed by Seattle, New York City and Sacramento, Calif. The month-over-month national average street rate did increase by $1 in November as new-supply pressures slowly alleviated in select markets. Strong demand for storage space reflects job growth in metros like Orlando, Fla., which added more than 54,000 jobs in 12 months and saw its self storage pipeline grow 50 basis points from October to November. Other metros with rising populations, such as Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, Texas, also have seen significant new supply over the past few years that resulted in street rate declines. The most recent Yardi Matrix monthly supply and rate recap incorporates an enhanced approach for calculating projects under construction and planned as a percent of total existing inventory. “Compared to our old method, the new methodology provides a more complete picture of the development pipeline and results in a minor increase or decrease of the development pipeline of many markets,” the report says. See that new methodology put into action in the Yardi Matrix national self storage report for December...

RightSource Compliance Jan08

RightSource Compliance

Yardi announced this week the acquisition of RightSource Compliance, a Minneapolis-based software consultant and developer that improves the technology experience for affordable housing providers and provides standout compliance solutions. RightSource has developed a successful software solution to assist clients with meeting complex federal and state affordable housing regulations. RightSource software serves affordable housing providers in all 50 states, and in 2019, the company’s software and services were used to help more than 10,000 families move quickly into affordable housing. “Through our integrated services and technology, we’re able to provide site staff the tools and outsourced compliance services needed to complete paperwork efficiently and accurately, which allow families to move in faster and reduce the risks of compliance errors, including late recertifications,” said Chris Voss, president and founder of RightSource. “We started RightSource in 2007 with one simple goal: to reduce the costs and complexity of compliance. Those dollars and time saved can be put right back into the properties to improve resident services and quality of life,” Voss said. The RightSource team of over 50 employees will continue to operate from their existing offices based out of Minneapolis, Minn. “We’re pleased to welcome RightSource Compliance to the Yardi family,” said Gordon Morrell, executive vice president for Yardi. “Affordable housing is an important part of our clients’ portfolios and RightSource’s products, services and the expertise of its staff will be a great enhancement to our affordable housing product line.” About RightSource Compliance RightSource is a technology firm committed to increasing the availability and quality of affordable housing throughout the country by reducing the costs and complexity of compliance. RightSource partners with owners and operators of multifamily real estate to provide software, consulting, training and technology-enabled compliance services for their properties. Together, we help the homeless become housed faster and enable property managers to focus on collecting rents, maintaining the property, and providing resident services by taking away the burden of compliance. Find out more...

5 Social Media Strategies

Social media platforms and technologies have redefined how multifamily managers engage with customers to attract, convert and retain residents. According to one survey, people spend one-seventh of their time on social media. In a crowded online environment, does your corporate or property social media strategy have what it takes to stand out and get noticed? Get ready for 2020 with these five smart social media strategies. Plan for the future by looking to your past. By analyzing current social performance data, setting realistic goals, and planning your social content calendar ahead of time, you’ll be set up for success in 2020. Get started: Do a social media audit Set your goals for 2020 Map out your path with this social media planning guidebook Get your proposal ready And if you’re new to social media marketing, here’s a great checklist on how to get started. Beat the algorithms. Multifamily marketers are competing with crowded social platforms and everchanging algorithms. Get a head start on 2020 by considering these strategies: New mediums, such as 3D photos, 360-degree videos and Facebook Live, are incentivized by Facebook, so being an early adopter is a smart move. This applies to other social networks too. Have you considered TikTok or Snapchat? As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. Those early to adopt can benefit from incentives like higher visibility and increased engagement rates. Investing in quality photography across your social media accounts and website can benefit your brand by showcasing your resident culture in a highly visual way. Not only do high-quality photos and video perform better, but they also provide a glimpse of the experiences offered at your community. Consider hiring a professional or purchasing equipment to create high-quality photos. Learn from top multifamily marketers and digital marketing experts at the 2020 Multifamily Social Media Summit. On Thursday, Jan. 9, join Kelley Shannon, the Bozzuto Group’s senior vice president of marketing & customer engagement and Esther Bonardi, vice president of marketing at Yardi Systems to understand how social media and digital reputation strategies have evolved, and what it will take to influence social savvy renters in 2020 and beyond. Get personal with your customers. Personalized experiences between brands and customers is becoming the norm. “Brands that haven’t focused on relationship marketing techniques will either spend more on their pay-to-play model or dive into building and hosting community conversations that create brand advocates and support a belonging vs. buying mindset,” says Jessika Phillips, social media strategist and founder of NOW Marketing Group, with Social Media Examiner. Focusing on personalized service experiences will increase renter satisfaction and improve online reputation. Using smart marketing technologies can help businesses personalize the customer journey from lead to lease. Make automation your friend. Smart marketers are using automation to be consistently present in today’s increasingly busy digital world. Marketing automation reduces repetitive tasks, tracks user behavior and delivers targeted content. Nudge marketing, online tour scheduling and automated follow-ups can help improve the lead-to-lease experience for prospects as well as resident retention. Implementing marketing automation tools can also free up staff to focus on customer care and the unique needs of prospects and residents. Ready to take your marketing automation to the next level? Download our free eBook and discover nine strategies you can implement at your property now. Continue to learn. Whether it’s attending conferences like the 2020 Multifamily Social Media Summit, tuning into marketing podcasts and webinars, or making it a habit to stay on top of industry news, investing in yourself is a great building block for...

Energy Pipeline Jan06

Energy Pipeline

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the U.S. Department of Energy’s R&D arm, has provided about $2 billion dollars for more than 800 potentially transformational energy technology projects since 2009. Here’s a sampling of projects currently receiving support from ARPA-E. Fill it up, fast.  The University of Illinois, Chicago, is designing a new high-power converter circuit architecture for charging electric vehicles quickly. “The reduced weight and size of the universal battery supercharger can enable both off-board stationary fast charging systems and [serve] as a portable add-on system for EV customers who require range enhancement and quick charging in 15 minutes,” ARPA-E says. The system’s bidirectional power flow capability enabling vehicle-to-grid dispatching offers another potential benefit. No-pain windows. Massachusetts-based thermal management solutions provider Aspen Aerogels and its partners are working on a cost-effective, silica aerogel-insulated windowpane for retrofitting single-pane windows. Silica aerogels are strong insulators that resist the flow of heat. The team’s design consists of an aerogel sheet sandwiched between two glass panes to make a double glazed pane. It would be manufactured using an innovative supercritical drying method that significantly reduces drying time. The windowpane could be used to replace, at substantially lower cost, single panes in windows whose thickness or weight preclude replacement with common double-pane units. Frozen hope. Massachusetts renewable energy technology provider American Superconductor (AMSC) is developing a freezer that doesn’t rely on harmful, inefficient liquid refrigerant systems and is more energy efficient than conventional systems. The solution uses helium gas as its refrigerant, offering hope for a safe, affordable and environmentally friendly approach to cooling. High-efficiency freezers could be mass-produced cost effectively and without polluting refrigerants. Scrap value. Lexington, Ky.-based advanced materials developer UHV Technologies Inc. is working to apply X-rays to distinguishing between high-value metal alloys found in...