Utilizing Market Data...

Multifamily property performance has been stellar throughout most of the country. There are, however, distinct regional differences in fundamental measures. Savvy investors examine macro and micro economic trends before making investment decisions. Focus areas include rent growth, occupancy trends, supply growth and transaction activity. By understanding those multifamily trends, property managers can optimize property performance and occupancy to satisfy investors. The IMN Property Manager & Operations Forum – Southwest dove into the nuances of real estate data and how it impacts investors’ decisions. On the panel, “Multifamily Investment Trends & Their Impact on Property Managers,” industry experts identified best practices that can help property managers navigate data to their benefit. Chris Nebenzahl, director of institutional research, Yardi Matrix, was one of the experts on the panel. He explored the benefits of monthly national and metro trends reports, such as the reports Yardi Matrix provides for multifamily. Robust reporting provides insights into the industry that can help property managers make informed decisions. Definitely mess with Texas Texas markets, especially the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, are very strong places to invest. Supported by job growth and ample land, these markets are ripe with potential. There is a lot of capital in play throughout the state, even in smaller markets. The rise of popularity has made finding deals increasingly difficult. “The value-add trade is far less lucrative and easy to find than it was earlier in the cycle,” says Nebenzahl. “Yields are compressing making the value add harder to accomplish.” He adds that since valuations are high, the next decade will be focused on operational efficiencies, “Hold periods will likely extend out, and high equity multiples will be less likely. As a result, cash flow, managing expenses and driving revenue as much as possible will be essential for...

Safeguarding Seniors Mar27

Safeguarding Seniors

As the novel coronavirus spreads, senior living providers are taking every precaution to keep their residents healthy and safe. That includes visitor restrictions and entrance screenings. While effective, these safeguards are also creating anxiety for residents and their loved ones, who now find it harder to see each other. What’s happening in the community? How do they keep in contact? During these uncertain times, communicating openly and regularly goes a long way towards reducing fear and building trust. Many senior living providers already have strong infection protocols in place for seasonal flus, so they know how to effectively minimize illness risk. The key is making everyone aware so that residents, families and staff can rest easier. So although the national guidance recommends social distancing, the need to stay connected is stronger than ever. To that end, we’re here to help our senior living clients ensure the wellbeing of their communities. Here are a few simple ways that you can use Yardi tools already available to you to empower communication and prevent business disruption: Overcommunicate on all channels RENTCafé Senior Living can help families stay connected. Residents and loved ones can opt in to receive SMS alerts from the community, and they can also send confidential messages and questions through the online portal to staff about their concerns. On the administrative side, RENTCafé Senior CRM allows you to send emails and track all correspondence from one place. Staff can also set announcements to display on the online portal right after someone signs in. These are simple, effective ways to share updates and useful links about the coronavirus situation. Access and upload health information Within the RENTCafé Senior Living online portal, family members can view the latest records about their residents, including vital signs, diagnoses and medication orders. This data is shared from Yardi EHR in real time, so as caregivers and nurses make their rounds, families can keep tabs on any health changes without having to make extra calls to the community. If a resident must visit a hospital for any reason, the family members can also upload test results and documentation to RENTCafé Senior Living. That way, care staff are kept in the loop so they know exactly how to help when the resident returns. Take routine interactions online Family members who would normally drop off a check in person when visiting should be encouraged to pay their bills online instead. They can see the current balance, view the statement history and schedule one-time or recurring payments (through ACH, credit cards or debit cards) within the RENTCafé Senior Living online portal. The same advice extends to asking maintenance for assistance. RENTCafé Senior Living allows residents and family members to submit requests online, and maintenance personnel will be able to see the tasks instantly on their smartphone. On that note, residents and their family members can also pay their bills and request maintenance on mobile devices through the RENTCafé Senior Living Resident app for Android and iOS. Ensure staff are prepared on every protocol Many providers have revisited their infection protocols ahead of a possible outbreak of COVID-19 in their communities, and it’s critical that all staff are aware of the right steps to take. Yardi eLearning can help your organization quickly distribute the latest training without the potential health risks of a large in-person meeting. The online platform offers live classroom sessions and webinars in addition to on-demand courses. You can quickly customize content around your protocols as well as guidance from the CDC, then track participation and follow up with knowledge checks to ensure that staff are prepared. Help potential residents tour virtually Move-ins over the next few months will likely slow, but they won’t stop entirely. The decision to join a senior living community is often preceded by a health change or care need, and these potential residents will still want to know what a community is...

Support Resources Mar25

Support Resources

Yardi is closely monitoring recommendations from national and international organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization and taking the following measures to protect and support its clients, employees and communities during the COVID-19 outbreak: Client Support Property managers’ obligations to tenants, residents, employees and communities continue even in this period of extreme disruption. The Yardi team is actively working on tools and training to help clients ensure business continuity, safety and productivity in this new near-term reality of far more remote work and social distancing. The company will offer free online training courses to help its clients continue to work as productively, efficiently and securely as possible. Yardi is following its own business continuity protocols to ensure uninterrupted client services and encourages clients to contact their client services representatives for help during this difficult time. Employee Support Most of the Yardi team has transitioned to a remote work environment. Healthcare and nursing resources are available to all employees, as are counseling and therapy resources. The company has heightened office hygiene and cleaning protocols for those who remain onsite to deliver essential services. In addition, Yardi postponed or canceled all near-term in-person events and ceased travel in favor of online alternatives. The spring Yardi Advanced Solutions Conference (YASC) has transitioned to a free online presentation for Yardi clients. Industry events that the company normally participates in have been postponed or canceled by their sponsoring organizations. Community Support In addition to the time, energy and financial support that Yardi traditionally donates to philanthropic organizations, we have committed $2 million to food banks and other nonprofits on the front lines of their communities’ fight against COVID-19. “Our team is navigating the COVID-19 crisis with the same philosophy that has guided us for more than three decades: take care of our clients, our employees and our communities. We are confident that all of us will unite to subdue COVID-19, and we’ll emerge from this challenge stronger than ever,” said Anant Yardi, the company’s president and founder. Read a letter from Mr. Yardi on our support resources page. ** Everyone should conduct their own planning based on their specific location and circumstances. While we are dedicated to providing general information to our clients, it is not intended to be healthcare or legal advice. Please consult appropriate government agencies and authorities, as well as healthcare and legal...

ASHA Educates Mar24

ASHA Educates

Learning about senior living can be overwhelming, especially to newcomers. It’s an industry people seldom think about until they’re facing the decision to move in themselves or help a parent take the step. Everyone has questions. What it like to live in a community? What’s the difference between all the options? How much does it normally cost? Will Medicare cover it? How do families talk about it? How do they decide? Where do you even start? To answer those  questions, older adults and their families can turn to Where You Live Matters. The website is an online library of educational content about senior living, designed to help people make informed, smart decisions about their housing and health needs. There are tons of articles, infographics and videos on a wide range of topics. The site was launched in 2016 by ASHA, the American Seniors Housing Association, but they’ve been building on it since. In 2018, they added a community search feature so that visitors can look up local options. And last fall, ASHA completely overhauled and re-launched the site. It’s now easier to browse on mobile, and there’s more content than ever. At the time of the website’s launch, ASHA noted that much of the online content about aging was written by marketers, and that academic information wasn’t clear enough for consumers. So they set out to create unbiased, research-based materials that anyone could understand. “Our members and organization are committed to giving consumers across the country a place to learn more about the senior housing landscape,” said David Schless, president of ASHA. “There are resources available, but we’re committed to painting a clearer picture.” And while Where You Live Matters is intended primarily for consumers, senior living providers can benefit too. Educational content for...

Avoiding COVID-19 Scams Mar23

Avoiding COVID-19 Scams...

Even as communities around the world pull together to battle coronavirus (COVID-19), the outbreak provides fertile ground for scammers. Authorities are striving to keep pace with con artists peddling an array of schemes. For example, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration have sent warning letters to several sellers of unapproved and misbranded products such as teas, essential oils and colloidal silver. The FDA stresses that no vaccines, drugs or investigational products are approved to treat or prevent the virus. “Cybercriminals will often take advantage of trending topics in the news, such as the coronavirus, to try and prey on consumers using fear and urgency tactics,” says Gary McAlum, senior vice president and chief security officer for financial services provider USAA, who was quoted in americanbanker.com. “Nontargeted phishing campaigns using COVID-19 as a lure in the subject line have been observed since January. These cover the range of pre-existing threats out there, including information-stealing malware,” adds Steven Silberstein, CEO of the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, an industry consortium that promotes cybersecurity. According to the FTC and other authorities, online communications that should set off alarm bells include: Email from unknown sources. Analyze URLs carefully before clicking on them. If an email comes from a source that you think is legitimate and requests you click on a link, find another way to validate it. Correspondence claiming to be from legitimate sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization. A bogus version of Johns Hopkins University’s popular coronavirus map has been used to embed malware. Offers for treatment or prevention. Solicitations for investment in companies offering in-demand supplies or products pitched as preventing, detecting or curing the virus. Also look out for emails...

7 Ways to Earn Loyalty Mar21

7 Ways to Earn Loyalty

Social distancing is a necessary yet challenging directive for apartment communities. We must build a sense of community and safety if we want to earn resident satisfaction and loyalty. But social distancing practices don’t exactly conjure warm, fuzzy feelings. We’ve got seven tips for maintaining resident satisfaction and earning loyalty even when keeping your distance. Check on your seniors and vulnerable residents. Call vulnerable renters to make sure that they have the essentials. They will appreciate knowing that you have their wellbeing in mind, even if they’re already taken care of. If they are in need, consider either of the options below to help. Receive donations and stock up for those in need. In times of panic, many people naturally think of self-preservation. Acts of altruism shine brightest during these times! Place a large box outside of the office and invite residents to make food and toiletry donations for those within the community who need it most. Pre-package items can be easily wiped down before distribution. As a business, you may also have wholesale access to resources that are not available in stores. Consider stocking up on essential items for residents in need. It’s a small investment to make to earn resident gratitude, respect, and loyalty. Share community updates and best practices. Use your online resident portal to issue updates by your local health centers, especially any news or tips that are empowering and uplifting. Be sure to cite your sources and provide links when you can. This step encourages residents to get information from credible sources. Inform residents of your measures to sanitize the property. As your property takes additional measures to sanitize the site, inform your residents and prospects. They will appreciate that you are prioritizing their wellness and taking care of staff health. Host online gatherings. It’s important to support a sense of community even when you can’t congregate in groups. Shift community events to online platforms instead! Watch movies and TV shows together on viewing apps and online networks like Watch2gether. Attendees can make comments and share reactions just like in a live setting. Do your best to accommodate those with extenuating circumstances. Technology has enabled many people to work from home. There are some who cannot, particularly those in the service and hospitality sectors. They may not be able to work and may temporarily struggle with rent. Organize and communicate efforts to accommodate renters with extreme circumstances. Compassion during tough times will be remembered during lease renewals. Encourage online payments and online maintenance requests. This is a smooth way to discourage unnecessary visits to the office staff while highlighting conveniences that you’ve made available for residents. If leasing office or maintenance protocols have changed, clearly communicate those changes with renters. When you go above and beyond to support residents during challenging times, they will remember your efforts during lease renewal time. Watch this quick video to learn how the Excelsior Group uses technology to stay engaged with...

Critical Communications Mar20

Critical Communications

During chaotic times like the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to build and maintain trust with your residents through clear, proactive and consistent communication. Here are four tips to help you navigate resident communications during a global health crisis: Lead with empathy Write a message for humans, from humans. Remember, your units are your residents’ homes. Say, “Here’s what we’re doing to help keep people safe, and here’s what you can do protect your home and family.” Point them to resources in their neighborhood and reliable news sources. Are you changing policies or augmenting services during this time? Maybe you’re adding chat tools to limit personal interactions in the leasing offices. Or implementing curbside drop off for rent checks. Whatever it is, let them know that you’re taking action to adapt to the changing environment. Emphasize online services Remind renters of the online services you have to help limit unnecessary virus exposure. Plainly list all the ways they can pay rent or submit a maintenance request electronically. Add links where applicable. It might seem like overkill, but your long-term residents may not be aware of options that have been added since they moved in. Can they pay rent by text or using the RENTCafé Resident Services Alexa skill? Do you have a mobile app for residents that lets them communicate with your leasing or maintenance staff? Make sure they’re aware. Set expectations Let residents know how often you plan to be in touch with them. Are you going to check in once a week? Every 48 hours? When there are new updates from local or national health organizations? Be clear, so they know what to expect. Worried that you might be bothering them? Unless you’re emailing daily, don’t be. The 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Report indicates that more than 80% of renters want to hear from their management company at least monthly in non-emergency situations. Get your message out A well-written message is only effective if people read it. Make sure you’re reaching the people you need to communicate with by distributing your message across multiple platforms. Send an email to your residents Post a message in your resident portal, if you have one Share an excerpt on your social channels that includes a link or phone number where they can get more information Build a custom webpage on your corporate or property website with information about how you’re making things safer for prospects, residents and your team Text updates to residents who have opted in to SMS communications Apply what you learn during this time We’re all going to learn some important lessons in the next few weeks as we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19. Make a note of the different situations your team has to react to as they come up — then use those notes to create a proactive crisis plan for the future. A solid crisis communication plan usually includes some combination of these things: Designated team members, usually from multiple teams Corporate response plan including sample statements for a variety of scenarios Dedicated customer service channels Social media response templates Multi-scenario escalation plan Post-event customer outreach and feedback collection If you want more guidance, Hubspot pulled together six crisis communication plan examples. Whether it’s another virus, a local weather disaster or something else, having a crisis communication plan in place never hurts. The worst-case scenario is also the best-case scenario: you just might not use it. Team Yardi is here for you. If you need help using our RENTCafé resident communication and service tools, or if you want to learn more about what’s available to you, please reach out to us at sales@yardi.com or (800)...

Improve Value Mar19

Improve Value

By now, you’ve heard about low income housing tax credits (LIHTC). LIHTC can boost revenues up to 9% and offset up to 80% of project costs. But the program brings its own fair share of risks, headaches and complicated paperwork. If you’re considering this funding option for your next project, there are 4 things you should know before diving in. But first, let’s get the know more about why LIHTC is such a valuable resource. The problem: affordable housing shortage The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) reports a shortage of 7 million affordable rentals for low-income families. Of eligible families, more than 70% are “extremely low-income households.” That means that they allot more than half of their income to rent payments. Supply growth could ease high rents and potentially alleviate financial strain on many families. Such supply growth would require investors obtain benefits from affordable housing projects. LIHTC steps towards a solution To make affordable housing more appealing, the US government has offered incentives for investors and property managers. These programs offset low rents collected from renters and make it possible for affordable housing to be profitable. The LIHTC program falls into this category. It has promoted supply growth in affordable housing more than any program of its kind. Why is it so successful? The program offers value for investors and property managers: through the state, the program provides tax credits that are sold to investors. Those credits can be used as tax write-offs. They can also be combined with other programs that may make an affordable housing project more profitable. Affordable housing developers can then pursue affordable housing as viable assets, and low-income families can secure a home. Investors have a few options from which to choose. There are two main tiers...

Perspective on Proptech Mar18

Perspective on Proptech...

Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in Vastgoedmarkt, a Netherlands-based real estate magazine. It is reprinted here with permission. Mapping the future of living, working and recreation, will require being responsive to the needs of millennials.  For this, proptech is essential, according to Richard Gerritsen of Yardi. Most of the technology is already available, but the drive to actually apply it to some sectors of the global real estate industry is still missing. Richard Gerritsen has been working for Yardi since 2005, and currently serves as regional director Europe. The American real estate automation supplier is doing well, the regional director says. ‘We started with offices in London and Amsterdam, but Yardi is now also in Germany and Romania, and will soon also be present in France. Our goal was to double our turnover every five years. We succeeded in that and recently, we have been even growing faster than that. Yardi saw its European turnover grow by 44 percent in the year 2019 alone. Now that Yardi is an established party in Europe and in the Netherlands, Gerritsen also sees it as his mission to stimulate more enthusiasm for proptech in the real estate industry. Unlimited possibilities ‘I want to make the industry aware of the great importance of proptech.  When I started at Yardi in 2005, I learned that I shouldn’t use the word software in my conversations with real estate professionals. The software department meant the lads at the end of the corridor where it was always dark. But now, technology and proptech play a much bigger role in (office) life.  Yet technology is still not a popular subject in the boardrooms. This is related to conservatism within the real estate industry, but it is also because those aged over...

Employee Spotlight Mar18

Employee Spotlight

It all started with a baby.  In 1995, Catriona Orosco welcomed a handsome baby boy into the world. She was quickly dissatisfied, however, by the drab and impractical clothing on the market for nursing moms. “I thought I could do better,” she says. She had no idea that her career with Yardi was in the making. Nursing Mamas and Internet Marketing A few years later, while pregnant with her second son, Orosco created Nursing Mamas, a clothing line for breastfeeding mothers. She teamed up with a friend and began making trips to the Los Angeles Garment District. After each trip, they returned to Santa Barbara with cozy, natural fabrics that they’d take to a local pattern maker and producer. Once a few good products were in development, Cat turned her attention to marketing. “I started a website because I really just wanted to sell the clothes online and work from home,” she says. “It was an incredible learning experience.” Orosco witnessed the birth of Google, and quickly saw the marketing opportunities with AdWords. “I used AdWords very early on and figured out how to optimize my website back in the days when there really were only 10 blue links,” Orosco laughs. “I learned a lot about marketing, and it was exciting to participate in everything that was happening online.” At that time, the average jane did not build her own website. There weren’t handy drag-and-drop features or convenient widgets. There certainly weren’t many resources on increasing organic rankings with search engines. Cat explored the terrain of website building and online marketing, talking to as many people as she could find and testing on her own. When she exhausted her available resources, she got the help of a SCORE consultant. “While they were impressed with...

Multifamily and COVID-19 Mar17

Multifamily and COVID-19

It seems no industry is immune from the impact of the COVID-19 virus, and that includes multifamily real estate. The global spread of the COVID-19 virus has brought a technical end to the 11-year bull market in equities, forced a European travel ban and sent Treasury rates to historic lows. According to the latest multifamily report from Yardi Matrix, the industry may feel the effects of COVID-19 as it spreads across the nation, although the rental housing industry remains well capitalized and strong enough to weather a modest slowdown. “Owners and operators may face short-term rent collection issues if there is a tightening in the employment market, and value-add projects will likely slow,” states the special report from Yardi Matrix. “However, most real estate investors are poised to sustain their operations and may see an investment opportunity as the market shocks continue.” Travel, hotel, restaurant and trade industries will likely be hurt the worst, as business and leisure travel draw nearly to a halt. “It seems inevitable that the U.S. economy will experience a technical recession,” states the report. “Business travel has all but stopped and personal travel has slowed considerably, leading the airline industry to be one of the hardest-hit sectors. Restaurants and tourism will also feel significant pain as trips are canceled and social distancing increases.” While the data has yet to reflect the impacts of COVID-19 (February employment growth was very strong, jobless claims did not increase, and rent growth continued its steady increase), the coming weeks and months are likely to show employment cuts and a slowdown in trade with widespread impacts. Learn more by downloading the full Yardi Matrix special multifamily report at yardimatrix.com Yardi Matrix offers the industry’s most comprehensive market intelligence tool for investment professionals, equity investors, lenders and property managers who underwrite and manage investments in commercial real...

7 Quick Tips Mar17

7 Quick Tips

Make this your best leasing season yet! A bit of early preparation can help you convert leads faster, improve efficiencies around the office, and ensure you’re maxing-out your revenue. We’ve created a seven-point checklist to get the busy leasing season off to a great start. Maximize revenues with data-driven rental pricing. What are you using to determine the pricing of your units? If you’re not using a revenue management system, you can be missing out on6% net rental income growth. When you use localized market data to determine your unit pricing, you drive revenue and improve occupancy. Position yourself to beat competitors by at least 2%. Explore ways to make the leasing workflow more efficient. Start with the basics: go paperless. Wherever you see paper, that means manual (and likely repetitive) data entry must take place. Online applications expedite the process. All document submissions and resident screening protocols are completed online. Prospects are easily converted to residents without duplicate files and redundant data entry. Bonus: you can get rid of unsightly, space-consuming file cabinets. Secondly, automate as many tasks as possible. Scheduling tours and most marketing strategies benefit from automation. When you automate tasks, leasing staff can save time. Their time can be redirected towards resident satisfaction initiatives and building relationships with prospects. Speaking of building relationships, ensure that your leasing workflow includes conscious strategies for nurturing leads. Learn how to nurture leads to improve conversions. Without these steps, you will experience more dropped leads and waste your marketing spend. Ensure that your team is proficient with all software that is in use. Software can make workflows effortless—if you know how to use it! Continuing education courses on your customized e-learning software will promote proficiency and efficiency. Leasing agents can review materials at their...

Multifamily Trends Mar16

Multifamily Trends

Multifamily housing performance has been strong across the U.S. during the current economic cycle, but there are notable regional differences in market health, investor demand and economic growth, says the latest Yardi Matrix regional multifamily report. The report analyzes rent growth, occupancy, supply growth and transaction volume in 130 metros between 2016 and 2019. The strongest performances were delivered by metros in the Southeast, Southwest and Western U.S., while the Northeast and Midwest were slightly behind. Key takeaways from the report: The Southeast, Southwest and Southeast have outperformed in rent growth, employment and transaction volume The West and Southwest have led in rent growth for most of the economic cycle Led by the Northeast, occupancy rates at the end of 2019 were nearly 95 percent in every region except the Southwest The Northeast ($2,066) and West ($1,824) have the highest rents in the nation New investment is highest in the Southeast and West, which accounted for 60 percent of multifamily transaction activity last year “Robust demand to add multi-family properties to portfolios pushed deal flow to an all-time high of $119.5 billion in 2019,” notes the report. Nearly 300,000 multifamily units were delivered last year nationwide. Find all the regional performance insights and learn what’s happening in your region in the Yardi Matrix regional multifamily report.  ...

Spring Marketing Mar16

Spring Marketing

As the snow thaws and daylight lingers through the evening, your residents will be itching for fun ways to get outdoors and spend time with loved ones. Catch their attention with your community events! This guide will offer quick and simple steps for launching your events towards success. Before the Event After you’ve planned the event, you’ve got to get the word out. Use Yardi RENTCafé to create a blog post about the event. In the post, provide helpful details such as: Date, time and location Admission costs, include an early bird discount to create urgency and motivate the sale Number of non-resident guests that may accompany residents Relevant age restrictions Parking provisions Recommend attire or dress code Details about any items that guests should bring Don’t forget to give the event plenty of personality! Do this through the tone of your text and the Featured Image that you select on the blog post. Once the blog post is complete, use RENTCafé to connect Facebook and promote your event. You may choose to pin the post to the top of your newsfeed so that all new and returning visitors will see it. Next, create at least one new visual per week that you can use to promote the event on social media (in addition to your blog post). Fresh visuals are important because they may capture the attention of residents who did not respond to the Featured Image on the blog post. The visuals can be videos, illustrations, or pictures with text. In the latter, limit the text to 20-30 percent of the total image surface area. If an image is too wordy, it will be ignored. Distribute these images on your preferred social media platform(s) each week to spread the word of your...

Get Current Mar13

Get Current

The U.S. Energy Information Administration distributes information on energy-related trends and milestones. Here’s a sampling of recent postings from the EIA’s Today in Energy news and information resource. Renewables on the rise The EIA projects that electricity generation from renewable sources such as wind and solar will surpass nuclear and coal by 2021 and natural gas in 2045. Most of the growth in renewable electricity generation comes from wind and solar, which account for about half of renewable generation today. These technologies will account for nearly 80% of the renewable total in 2050. New wind capacity is expected to continue at much lower levels after production tax credits expire in the early 2020s. Growth in solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity will continue for both utility-scale and small-scale applications through 2050 because of declining PV costs. In April 2019, U.S. monthly electricity generation from renewable sources exceeded coal-fired generation for the first time. Wind blows by hydro In 2019, annual wind generation exceeded hydroelectric generation as the top renewable source of energy generation in the U.S. for the first time. Wind generation totaled 300 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2019, exceeding hydroelectric generation by 26 million MWh. Energy consumption heats up World energy consumption will grow nearly 50% by 2050, with the growth focused in regions where strong economic growth is driving demand, particularly Asia. The industrial sector, including refining, mining, manufacturing, agriculture and construction, will account for more than half of end-use energy consumption through 2050, by which time global industrial energy consumption will reach about 315 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu). Transportation energy consumption is slated to increase nearly 40% by 2050 and is largely driven by developing countries with non-market economies. Energy consumed in the buildings sector, which includes residential and commercial structures, is...

Health and Wellness: Afya Mar12

Health and Wellness: Afya

Imagine that you are a skilled physician. You’ve taken a month off work to volunteer at a clinic in Tanzania. Upon arrival to the clinic, you immediately encounter families in need of medical care: inflections, malaria, injuries and deadly viruses. You expect that the clinic staff will point you towards the supplies that you need to begin working, but there are no supplies. The shelves are empty. Nothing. You have the skills to help but without supplies, you feel powerless. Danielle Butin encountered one such physician on her trip several years ago. She found the physician crying in a tent, frustrated at the situation and sad for the suffering that she could not alleviate. Butin sat with the physician, one arm draped across the crying woman’s shoulders. Skilled practitioners need supplies to do their best work. The concept for Afya began to brew Butin’s mind. From New York to the Serengeti At the time, Butin was an executive with a Fortune 500 company. When her work with the health care corporation was complete, she found herself at the threshold of a new frontier. The physician’s story proved unshakeable, and Butin began researching ways that she could help. She knew there was a regulation-driven surplus of medical supplies in hospital basements and storage rooms. It was standard practice for unused medical supplies to end up in landfills. How could so much waste continue when there is such need for supplies all over the world? Butin planned how she could intercept those unused supplies before they made it to the dump. She could then divert the resources to places like Tanzania. Butin cold called hospitals to learn about their discarded materials. Bewildered hospital staff guided her through storage areas to see possible donations. Butin readily accepted whatever was available, though she had no way of storing the materials or transporting them to their ultimate destinations at the time. At one point, a semi-trailer of supplies sat in front of her home for weeks. In 2007, Afya (which means “health” or “wellness” in Swahili) took shape. Butin secured storage for donated goods and coordinated logistics. She established relationships with medical centers in New York where she could receive a more consistent source of discarded supplies. The work continues to grow and change lives around the world. Saving seniors in Puerto Rico  Afya currently operates in 83 countries. The nonprofit has diverted $36 million-worth of supplies from the greater New York waste streams into the hands of clinicians and volunteers who use the resources to save lives. Though no longer in the for-profit sector, Butin has transferred several of her corporate values into her work. “I’ve learned to be accountable and hold others accountable. In nonprofits, there tends to be a much looser structure. Accountability is, in many cases, not a clearly defined construct. As the leader for a nonprofit, our accountability is vitally important,” says Butin. She adds, “My previous work also taught me the importance of truth-telling. A vital piece is being honest about experiences, being honest with partners and donors. They appreciate transparency, even when it’s not the best news.” Unlike a large, for-profit corporation, the non-profit sector has afforded Butin a considerable amount of agility. Her organization has been able to quickly respond to disasters without weaving through red tape and extensive protocols. That agility enabled Afya to work extensively in Puerto Rico immediately after Hurricane Maria and the first earthquake to hit the island in January 2020. “After Hurricane Maria in 2017, we did an enormous amount of relief work in Puerto Rico,” says Butin. “We partnered with Acción Social. We love them. So when the earth started shaking there this year, we went back to figure out how we can be helpful. We began our work with seniors.” The Afya team arrived to Puerto Rico to find seniors sleeping in the streets and under bushes. Though the...

Digital Conversations Mar11

Digital Conversations

Imagine never picking up the phone to answer prospects’ questions yet still receiving stellar reviews for customer service. Can you see a future where residents only visit the leasing office for friendly conversation? All their questions, concerns, and feedback are addressed without consuming staff time. Chatbots are bringing these seemingly unrealistic expectations to reality—and it’s time for multifamily to reap the benefits. What’s a chatbot and why should I care? A chatbot is an interactive application that relies on artificial intelligence to assist humans. Quality chatbots mimic human communication by using personable language when engaging with users via websites, apps, and text messages. Multifamily housing providers use chatbots to reduce operational costs while improving responsiveness to clients’ needs. Advanced chatbot auto-response systems promptly assist clients without human intervention. Chatbots can guide prospects through the leasing process, assist residents with online bill pay, submit maintenance requests, and issue lease renewals without consuming a second of a leasing agent’s time. As a result, chatbot users can experience improved resident satisfaction and retention. Your competition is likely benefiting from this technology At the end of 2018, about 66.4 million chatbots were in use in the US. That’s a 40 percent boost over 2017’s data. The implementation rates continue to climb. A Spiceworks survey revealed that 40 percent of companies employing more than 500 people implemented one or more chatbots over corporate mobile devices this year. About 80 percent of marketers will implement a chatbot by 2020, estimates Oracle. The popularity of chatbots stems from their effectiveness. They are responsive, patient, and impartial. According to NICE inContact’s 2018 CX Transformation Benchmark, 33 percent of consumers report that chatbots made issue resolution faster. Users also appreciate the responsiveness, convenience, and reliability of chatbots. AI communication is more efficient than email yet still maintains a written record of the conversation that can be emailed to users. Chatbots are more convenient than phone calls because they offer assistance 24/7. This combination of features has helped to establish trust between users and AI. Trust matters. Millennials favor chatbots though adults of all ages are increasingly comfortable with chatbot interaction, even for expensive purchases like an apartment. A Drift survey suggests that 13 percent of adults purchased at least one expensive item using a chatbot and 27 percent have purchased daily necessities. A new-ish technology is already improving Technically, the first chatbot was created in 1966. It felt very much like talking to a robot that had the conversational and comprehension skills of a toddler. But that noble program paved the way for the powerhouses of today. Modern chatbots are equipped with machine learning which makes them more sophisticated than their predecessors—and their technology is improving by the second. When artificial intelligence is paired with machine learning, a chatbot gathers data from each interaction with users and analyzes that data to improve future experiences. Chatbots learn, in a sense, to be more helpful and more natural in their engagement with humans. For example, a chatbot can answer most questions about a property or unit such as square footage, layout, rent rates, pet policies, and amenities. When they encounter questions that they cannot answer, they send a report to operators and improve their services in the future. Each interaction improves future interactions. Additionally, chatbots deliver information promptly and as frequently as prospects request it. Unlike humans, chatbots can repeat information and receive a multitude of questions without a change in temperament or feeling pressed for time. As a result, customer service scores will not be affected by a representative’s mood or tone. What does the future look like? Business Insider reports that 80 percent of enterprises will use chatbots by 2020.  Organizations benefit from improved communication between companies and consumers without increasing the manpower needed to handle rote tasks. AIs ability to communicate and handle tasks will become more sophisticated. Natural language processing enhances the usage of chatbots in...

3 Questions to Ask Mar10

3 Questions to Ask

There are several factors that can influence a change in a property’s performance. The economy and market conditions are often the largest influences that are beyond your control. Smaller and more controllable factors, like vendor selection, may influence your success as well. If you haven’t evaluated your vendors’ performance since striking the contracts, now is the time. Complacency with vendors is bad business It’s common to find reputable vendors and stick with them until a major event prompts you to reconsider. The result is that the quality of vendor services may slowly and subtly change without your awareness. As the quality of services degrade, it negatively affects your property’s performance. Have resident complaints or dissatisfaction risen? Have you noticed units are harder to lease out? The overall maintenance of your site could be a contributing factor. Any work completed by vendors—landscaping, pool and site maintenance, turning and staging units, for example—are part of the prospects’ and residents’ experience. If vendor performance is underwhelming, your property suffers. Ask the three simple question below to determine if your vendors are truly an asset to your business. Are your vendors organized? Disorganized vendors rarely delivery top-notch services. A few common signs of disorganization include: arriving late to appointments delayed invoicing unclear and unspecific invoicing inconsistent performance or products and poor communication If your vendor demonstrates more than one of these signs, it may be worthwhile to take a closer look at their performance and business practices. Also, ensure that all licensing and insurance is updated each year. A lack of coverage is a risk to you and your customers. Besides, if they’re falling behind on essential documentation, what else are they overlooking? Learn how VendorCafe empowers your business to reduce risk, gain efficiency, and enhance compliance. Are...

A Career on the Go Mar09

A Career on the Go

As of March 2020, Carlos Perez will have spent two decades in the data management industry. Three common themes run throughout his career and personal life: technology, Yardi software and change. Carlos has a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree with a concentration in Business Analytics from the University of Phoenix. He enjoys collecting music on vinyl, DJ’ing, reading self-motivational books and playing scrabble with his wife and kids. His current position is senior technical analyst for Yardi, specializing in support of public housing agencies and cloud-based technology. The story of how he got here is a bit complicated, to say the least. Carlos was born in Los Angeles, where he spent his first five years before moving to Ensenada, Mexico. Later, he’d move back to Los Angeles, and then back to Ensenada, then San Diego, Tijuana, and ultimately to Santa Barbara. Throughout his moves, Carlos built the foundation of his professional skills on technology and data. He began his career in the PHA industry in 1999, working for the Los Angeles County Development Authority (formerly known as Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles). “We were using VisualHOMES software, but were in the process of switching to Yardi. Our VisualHOMES team was understandably disappointed that we were leaving. But then, not long after, Yardi acquired VisualHOMES, and somewhat ironically, we were once again working with our VisualHOMES team to implement Yardi Voyager PHA,” says Carlos. In 2007, Carlos got married, moved to San Diego and began working as a crime data analyst for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. In that role, he made a professional connection with a Yardi executive who was doing some work with the San Diego Housing Commission. That connection eventually led to another job change...

Middle East Expansion Mar07

Middle East Expansion

Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in Gulf Property Executive and is reprinted here with permission. Yardi is now the most used real estate solution for residential units in the Middle East. The company’s game-changing, cloud-based technology helps property and asset managers reduce the costs of managing properties, improves operational efficiency and allows real estate professionals to focus on adding value, a senior official said. “We have already implemented our real estate solutions with some of the largest developers and asset managers in Middle East to manage their units with our property management system, and we expect our business to continue growing at a fast pace,” Aditya Shah, director of Middle East operations for Yardi, told Gulf Property in an exclusive interview. “We help them to reduce costs and drive efficiencies in the way they execute many processes across the real estate lifecycle; the management of service charges being a prime example.” Shah comments that some of the largest UAE-based developers and asset managers use Yardi’s flagship product, Yardi Voyager, to centralise operational, financial, leasing and maintenance management for their entire portfolio in a single database. Yardi is a global real estate solutions provider that manages more than 12 million residential units worldwide through its cloud-based software platforms including Voyager, the RENTCafé Suite and a range of other solutions that support the entire real estate lifecycle from procurement and maintenance to business intelligence and reporting. Established in 1984, the 35-year-old company employs more than 6,500 professionals in 40 offices across the world. The UAE’s facilities management market is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8 percent and expected to generate $23.88 billion revenue by 2024. The growth is driven by the higher number of new residential supplies that is also putting pressure on rent and property prices. According to industry reports, more than 60,000 new homes will be delivered in Dubai in 2019 and 2020 as the emirate prepares for the World Expo 2020. “The supply glut is considerable. In 2018, about 43,000 units were added to Dubai’s total residential stock (which stood at around 491,000 units at end of 2017) and about 8,000 to the Abu Dhabi market (251,000 units at end of 2017),” Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a global real estate advisory, said in a report. According to a recent report by global property management advisory Knight Frank, rental rates across Dubai fell on average by 7.7 percent from January to November 2018 with apartment rents falling by 8.4 percent and villa/townhouse rents by 8.3 percent over the same time period. Gross yields in Dubai currently stand at 6.27 percent as at November 2018, down from 6.45 percent a year earlier. This is as a result of rents declining at a faster pace than sales prices over this time period, the report said. Shah estimates rents to decline at around 7-8 percent this year, matching that of Knight Frank. Despite that, he says, Yardi’s business will continue to grow. “The new supplies will expand the property management market and these new units will require efficient property management. With falling rents and property prices, property managers will have to find ways to reduce costs while efficiently managing the buildings and servicing the residents. This is where the deployment of Voyager and other solutions becomes crucial for property managers as it helps lower costs and ensures better property management,” Aditya Shah explains. “Although the real estate market is bottoming out in the UAE, our business is growing at a double-digit growth rate, due to the cost savings and operational efficiency that our system provides.” The major drivers for the market are the increasing investments in the construction sector and the continued growth of the tourism industry. What’s become paramount is the need for the real estate sector to ensure the continuous functionality of these built structures. This applies equally to residential buildings, transport infrastructure like...