Tips for Thriving

The senior housing industry is taking steps to transitioning from the COVID-19 era with policies that emphasize safety and resident service. Nicole Moberg, COO of Atlanta-based Thrive Senior Living, offers insight into successfully marketing senior communities during and after the pandemic. Below are excerpts from her recent interview with Multi-Housing News. How has the outbreak impacted Thrive Senior Living communities? Moberg: From early on, we were one of the first senior living communities to prioritize testing—backing our belief that every resident and team member should be tested as often as possible for the safety of the residents as well as our community. We also developed the “Take Off to Thrive” marketing concept, with a 30-day new resident communication checklist. This served to minimize resident isolation and loneliness and even included an adapted red carpet “landing day/move-in” experience. We view our communities as the safest place to be [with our] proper training and education, personal protective equipment, disinfection procedures and aggressive COVID-19 testing programs. How have your marketing strategies changed? Moberg: We pivoted by creating COVID-19 sales strategies including altering our messaging to focus more on care and safety and how we can help people during challenging times. Digitally, we worked to bring on a chief storyteller who showed a behind-the-scenes look at Thrive culture, created a YouTube channel to share online content to increase awareness when families could not visit and increased online presence as we allocated more toward digital spend to drive more traffic to our website. We saw increased sales throughout the pandemic with safely executed event activity. What role does technology play in your marketing? Moberg: We sourced a new video app that allows us to send videos to prospects as a follow-up; a platform to enhance virtual tours; a “thank you”...

Pennrose Prevails Mar18

Pennrose Prevails

The demolition of a decrepit public housing project in Annapolis, Md., is making way for new memories and a brighter future for families. The project is six years in the making and will boost the quality and quantity of affordable housing in the city. New growth in Annapolis Yardi client Pennrose recently broke ground on the Newtowne 20 project. The redevelopment site will be home to 78 much-anticipated affordable housing units. Families can choose between one-, two- and three-bedroom floorplans. Most units will surround a central garden while others stack the perimeter. A 3,500-square-foot community center, basketball court and playground accentuate the property. “Through persistence and determination, we have reached a great milestone in the rebuilding of this great community,” said Melissa Maddox-Evans, Executive Director/CEO of the Housing Authority of The City of Annapolis during the virtual groundbreaking ceremony. “We thank all of our partners for their hard work and support as we move forward with the construction phase. We are glad our residents will be able to have this opportunity for a new start for themselves and their families.” Patrick Stewart, Regional Vice President at Pennrose said, “We’re excited to continue our partnership with HACA as we transform outdated public housing into a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with high-quality affordable housing, community amenities and open green space.” He continued, “Today’s milestone brings us one step closer to completing this full-scale revitalization and welcoming residents back into their new, modern homes.” Neighborhood revitalization offers new opportunities to existing residents The site of Newtowne 20 is the former home of 810 Brooke Court, a public housing project constructed in 1971. After more than 50 years, the site is receiving a new lease on life with high-quality, energy efficient units. Existing residents of the neighborhood will benefit from...

Payment Processing

At Yardi, we are constantly exploring ways to help you and your team operate more efficiently. With additional conveniences and functionalities, our payment processing solutions have become even more robust. ACH Account Validation reduces fraud Skip the high cost of fraud. With the new ACH Account Validation feature, you can reduce fraudulent payments. It’s also a convenient way to decrease data entry errors that result in returns. Before initiating a payment, ACH Account Validation authenticates a resident’s bank account using a micro deposit. The resident must verify the deposit details before completing a payment. Residents initiate the process, eliminating the chance of staff keying errors. ACH Account Validation is in compliance with the WEB Debit Account Validation Rule which takes effect March 19, 2021. PayNearMe makes walk-in payments even easier Yardi has partnered with PayNearMe to take our walk-in payment system (WIPS) to the next level of convenience. The PayNearMe partnership allows residents make payments at more than 27,000 retail locations across the nation. These locations are as convenient as the local CVS or 7-Eleven. To improve ease and accuracy, residents can download a unique barcode to their phone which then allows them to easily connect to the RENTCafé Resident app. Make payments and earn credit You know the satisfaction that comes with earning points on your credit card? Our new Bill Pay payment method is even better. When you pay vendors with a Yardi virtual credit card, you earn an annual credit. You can also dodge the per-transaction fees you used to pay with check and ACH transactions. The new Yardi virtual credit card makes vendor payments completely automated, seamless and contactless. Fee-free upgrades on Payment Processing Want the latest features in the Payment Processing platform? Upgrade now at no cost! Get the newest...

Paperless Made Easy

Did document management get lost in the shuffle as you shifted to a paperless office or remote work environment? Your team may now struggle to track down files and keep versions organized as they send copies back and forth. Fortunately, it’s never too late to achieve the level of organization, accessibility and security that you need. Paperless made easy Paperless documentation is an industry standard. Yet without the right technology, managing electronic documents can be even more challenging than paper files. Users face a series of challenges related to organization, access, storage, searchability, security and integration. Yardi Document Management for SharePoint integrates with Voyager property management software and Microsoft 365 to eliminate paperless documentation challenges. Centralized storage Centralized document storage can take place on local servers and in the Cloud. The latter permits secure access to documents for staff in office, in remote work environments and on the go. Work together from anywhere Improve collaboration without redundancy or version control issues. When combined with the power of SharePoint, interconnected document management software empowers users to collaborate. With Cloud syncing, each team member stays up-to-date with the latest developments. Document management also integrates with Microsoft 365 and other Yardi applications to improve accessibility to and security of your documents. Secure and accessible Managing permissions and end-user access can be a pain point for organizations. Skip the hassle of creating new profiles and credentials within your document management system with Voyager integration. SharePoint permissions will reflect your security settings in Voyager. As a result, users can access files quickly and securely with no VPN required. Intuitive organization Folder structures and hierarchy make organization simple. You can track version history of documents as well as individual contributions from users over time. Such tracking makes it easy to...

Faster Answers Mar15

Faster Answers

With multiple communities each submitting up to 200 invoices every month, Linda Adams was shuffling a lot of paper. The accounting manager for Burlington, Mass.-based senior living provider Northbridge Companies spent much of her time digging up receipts or tracking down paper records across numerous decentralized offices. “When I had questions, I had to call another office for answers. They’d have to find the invoice, scan it and send it to me for review. It was very time consuming for all concerned, she recalls.” But now, solving a discrepancy at any property is easy thanks to Yardi PayScan, which is part of the Yardi Procure to Pay Suite, a single connected solution for supply procurement, invoice processing and vendor management. Yardi PayScan allows the accounting department to access invoices and check whether payments have cleared without having to pick up the phone to call another office. In other words, team members could self-serve, reducing internal dependencies and churn. But time savings wasn’t the only benefit. Yardi PayScan eliminates copying, mailing, and storing paper—and minimizes touch points that can lead to lost invoices and data entry errors. “There’s no need for us to use up valuable office space with paper invoices anymore when everything we need is available electronically. Once the tax returns are done, we can throw the documents out,” Adams says. “I can go back and look at invoices from 2012, and they’re right there. Plus, it really cuts down on all that lugging paper back and forth when I work from home.” Adams and the rest of the Northbridge Companies team also appreciate the versatility of Yardi PayScan. “You can make the approval process as intricate or as easy as you want, which I love,” says Adams, noting that custom workflows, flexible...

Improving real estate decisions Mar12

Improving real estate decisions

The human brain is capable of tremendous achievements. But what are its limitations in business transactions, specifically those involving property and real estate investment management? At what point do machine data-based systems make more accurate decisions than intuition? Human intuition certainly has its place. As Deloitte researchers Surabhi Kejriwal and Saurabh Mahajan have noted, “The [real estate investment and management] industry has long thrived on relationships, which is how many investors have traditionally gained access to unique information. Traditionally, most investors have combined this information with their gut instincts to make investment decisions.” But although intuition can be a useful tool, Harvard Business School Online writer Tim Stobierski cautions that “it would be a mistake to base all decisions around a mere gut feeling. While intuition can provide a hunch or spark that starts you down a particular path, it’s through data that you verify, understand, and quantify.” A team of McKinsey experts echoes this sentiment, noting that complex decision-making requires analysts to “sift through tens of millions of records or data points to discern clear patterns and place their bets with few supporting tools to help glean insights from that material.” By the time the data needed to determine a course of action is collected, compiled and processed, they note, “the best opportunities are gone.” There’s also the problem of “cognitive biases” that misguide decisions with information drawn from the wrong sources. Fortunately, Stobierski notes, “it’s never been easier for businesses of all sizes to collect, analyze, and interpret data into real, actionable insights” into portfolio health measurements such as revenues, debt, risk, occupancy and sales, along with property-level operations like energy consumption and accounts receivable. Ronald D. Marten, CCIM, writing in Forbes, adds that “CRE brokers who can tap into today’s sophisticated data tools can differentiate themselves and their core value proposition to clients. Knowing everything about a building by using flood maps, demographics reports, traffic counts, tenants and retailers … and more gives a potential buyer an accurate idea of what their ROI is going to be on day one.” What do machine learning algorithms in the real estate realm consist of? One example is combined macro and local forecasts that identify areas with the highest demand for residential housing. On another front, retail mall investors can combine operational data at the property level with sales data from mobile sensors, social media and physical store sales, then use machine learning algorithms to analyze consumer buying behavior. Similarly, commercial property tenants can compare rent rates across various markets to make more informed decisions and get into spaces faster. Data compiled from multiple disparate systems is complicated and prone to error. As a result, sophisticated software applications capable of collecting, processing and using data across the asset management lifecycle have been developed and brought to market. This technology, complemented by machine learning recommended actions, enable management of deals, budgeting, investor reporting and more in a single connected system. Developers seeking new parcels, for example, can use advanced analytics to assess the properties’ potential, property uses and even pricing, among other things. Asset managers can evaluate pipelines and match deals with investors, benchmark their properties’ rent against others in the area, tie capital calls to investment lifecycle data and generate reports. Property-level data collected within a centralized location enables everything from online tenant payments to reduced heating, cooling and ventilation costs and better oversight of construction projects. Kejriwal and Mahajan point out that “investors and managers can leverage analytics and AI across key steps in the investment life cycle, from deal sourcing to portfolio management to risk management. In addition, these technologies can help increase efficiency and effectiveness of operational processes, such as information integration, investment accounting, and reporting.” Real estate software technology holds massive potential to shift decisions from humans to machines. Assimilating all asset management information at the property and portfolio levels and makes it universally available can preempt...

Learn Yardi

Yardi offers robust, configurable software to meet the needs of nearly 20 verticals. From students to seniors and parks to ports, property management runs on Yardi! But what do you do when you want to get more out of your user experience? There are many opportunities to attend Yardi trainings. Explore the list below for ways to learn Yardi from experts and users in your industry: Yardi Training on Aspire Yardi Aspire is the go-to learning tool for employees who want to become Yardi product experts. Users gain access to hundreds of in-depth courses taught by product specialists. Through learning checks and tests, you can assess your product knowledge. You can then review materials on demand and get help from the experts. With greater product knowledge, you will be equipped with the tools needed to optimize product usage, promote time and cost savings, and expedite ROI for your organization. YASC Global Digital Conference Yardi Advanced Solutions Conference (YASC) is one of the company’s largest real estate software events. It offers everything from product introductions to deep dives sessions on the latest innovations in real estate software. YASC Global, our digital event, brings the power of the conference to your fingertips. Log-on to learn more about the latest software and services, ask questions in our product lounges and connect with other Yardi users. In 2020, more than 20,000 industry professionals attended YASC Global, representing 2,500 companies in 58 countries. Attendees viewed over 12,000 hours of informative and engaging content. As our first virtual conference, we are thrilled that 98% of survey respondents said the sessions met their expectations! YASC Global digital conference offers CPE credits and is free for all Yardi clients. Current clients can access 2020 content through the end of April 2021 via...

Project Destined Mar10

Project Destined

Project Destined is an organization focused on providing education and access to the commercial real estate industry for minority students. Programs are targeted towards high school and college students, with the goal of introducing real estate ownership to people who may not have previously studied or worked in the commercial real estate industry. Yardi Matrix has provided 10 complimentary education licenses to Project Destined for use in their curriculum and internship programs. Students will have full access to Yardi Matrix’ industry-leading data and analysis to use when researching, underwriting and presenting potential deals to their teachers, industry mentors and competition judges. Chris Nebenzahl, editorial director for Yardi Matrix, has been actively involved with Project Destined. “I have been volunteering to teach the market research segment of the curriculum and offer guidance for how students can use Yardi Matrix with the projects they are working on,” said Nebenzahl. “I focus on our data at the property, submarket and market level. The students are tasked with creating an investor presentation and pitching their deal to a panel of industry judges. Through the process, they need to provide valuation models, market research, forecasts, and cash flow models, all of which can be developed and leveraged by using Yardi Matrix data.” Nebenzahl began working with Project Destined in early 2020 and has lectured virtually at each session held by the organization since then. Project Destined was started by entrepreneur Cedric Bobo to expand opportunities for minority students within the commercial real estate field and to encourage his students to become owners and community stakeholders in the cities where they live. Project Destined started 5 years ago and has grown significantly to include students in many major markets around the country. Bobo, who grew up in Memphis, was fascinated...

Learning with Play Mar09

Learning with Play

Do you remember when learning was fun? So fun that you didn’t realize you were learning because it just felt like playtime? I grew up playing “mad scientist” with my older brother, replicating his school experiments in our kitchen. My neighborhood friends and I played Jurassic Park as we trekked through the woods exploring plants, insects, and animal tracks. Those days of childhood play are at risk for many of today’s kids. kidSTREAM is a non-profit dedicated to preserving the art of effortless learning through play. Yardi Oxnard team member Wendy Aceveda-Solis serves as a board member with kidSTREAM. I spoke with her to learn more about this innovative organization. kidSTREAM: education through play kidSTREAM is founded on the basic principle that learning should be fun and engaging. The organization provides an interactive environment where kids explore, play and discover. Each experience aims to inspire and empower kids to become critical thinkers, innovators and life-long learners. Acevedo-Solis began working with kidSTREAM two years ago. In addition to being a board member, she assists with the fundraising and programs committees. She’s passionate about museums and is excited to share interactive learning with children. “I’ve been fascinated by museums since I was a child,” she shares. “I have shared this passion with my children, and it is incredible to see the curiosity and desire to explore through their eyes! Most children’s museums are outside of Ventura County, so when I heard about kidSTREAM, I wanted to help bring something to our community.” Since becoming a nonprofit in 2016, kidSTREAM has helped to educate more than 30,000 children and families around Ventura County. The non-profit focuses on experiences in science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math. A team of dedicated staff and volunteers host lessons where kids hang out the most: classrooms, parks, libraries and their (increasingly) their...

Let’s chat

Property management chatbots have been a hot topic lately, especially for multifamily rentals. A chatbot can meet renters’ increasing demands for digital communication and capture more leasing opportunities, but only if it’s used wisely. First, we’ll talk about why you should consider “hiring” a chatbot if you don’t have one on staff already. Then, we’ll show you three things your chatbot should be able to do. Finally, watch a short video to get chatbot tips from expert marketer Drew Davis, who spent months talking to chatbots in different industries to see what works and what doesn’t. Why a chatbot? Employing a chatbot as part of your customer experience team can ensure you never miss an incoming leasing opportunity, day or night, and it frees up onsite staff to focus on assisting applicants and residents. If you don’t have a chatbot yet, you’re probably losing leases to competitors that do. That’s because customers expect instant and accurate answers to their questions. They hate waiting. In fact, in a survey on response times that included more than 3,000 customers, 88% of respondents expected a response within an hour, with 33% of them saying they expect an answer in 15 minutes or less. Is that realistic for your agents, especially when you factor in after-hours contacts? Probably not. That’s where a chatbot comes in handy. But do people really want to talk to a bot? Recent data says they do. The 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Report found that 48% of renters say they would use a chatbot in their next rental search. That number is anticipated to grow as chatbot adoption becomes increasingly common across multiple industries. A 2019 report by Chatbots Life predicts that chatbots will handle 85% of human interactions online within the next...

Bozzuto Expands West Mar08

Bozzuto Expands West

Yardi client Bozzuto recently announced its expansion into the west coast! With the right people and technology in place, Bozzuto positions itself for growth and success in the new frontier. Bozzuto: spring heralds growth for the property management company In 33 years, Bozzuto has grown into one of the largest property management companies in the United States. The company currently has a presence in 11 markets along the East Coast as well as a properties in Chicago and Milwaukee. In total, Bozzuto manages 85,000 apartments and 2.5 million square feet of retail space. Moving forward, the Greenbelt, Md.-based property management company is setting its sights on the Pacific Coast. Bozzuto’s first West Coast projects will take place in Washington and California. Read how the Bozzuto Group increased online prospect engagement with RENTCafé. Expansion requires the right people and the right tools. The property management leader recently hired Heather Wallace as the managing director of Client Services. Wallace brings 20 years of experience in operations, acquisitions and development for real estate firms. She previously served as a senior executive with Sares Regis Group. Bozzuto Management Company president Stephanie L. Williams says, “The addition of Heather Wallace ensures that Bozzuto will continue to grow through thoughtful and strategic relationships.” Williams continues, “We hold ourselves to the highest standard of delivering the exact same extraordinary experience our customers have come to expect, across our portfolio.” For tools, Bozzuto relies on scalable property management technology by Yardi. Bozzuto + Yardi, growing together As a foundation for its sustainable growth, Bozzuto sought technological solutions that facilitated efficiency, innovation and scalability. Bozzuto turned to Yardi for property management, accounting, procurement, business intelligence, asset management and marketing solutions. Through nearly 20 fully-integrated products and 17 years, Yardi and Bozzuto have grown...

Expanding Entertainment...

Many senior living community operators are finding creative new ways to broaden their residents’ entertainment and activity options. In fact, Forbes reported in November 2020, entertainment has emerged as a marketing differentiator. “Many [seniors] are sharpening their focus on independent-living communities that not only provide creature comforts and an aesthetically pleasing brick-and-mortar living environment, but hospitality-inspired entertainment, trips and outings enabling highly-sought connections. Saying, in effect, ‘Let us entertain you,’ is good business for senior living communities.” That’s why “savvy senior communities are emphasizing the delivery of socially focused programming to bring mature adults together in fun, entertaining and educational ways once they’re safely able to drop the masks and rub shoulders again.” Even before the lockdown, “many retirement communities [were] stepping up to the challenge and redefining what fun looks like,” according to Denver-based Spectrum Retirement Communities. “If you were used to hosting get-togethers with friends and family, there’s no reason for that to change after moving to a senior living community,” said Brad Kraus, the company’s president and chief executive officer. “Those of us in charge of planning entertainment need to focus on designing activities that are elevated, purposeful and the entire family can experience.” Spectrum once sponsored a nationwide gingerbread house design competition with residents, team members and family members. One community in Texas came up with 3-foot-tall creation made of 600 sugar cookies, six buckets of frosting and 30 pounds of candy. Another in Colorado created  Pike’s Peak facsimile. Spectrum residents have also participated in volunteer activities involving pet shelters, waste reduction programs and homeless support, among others, “Why not make it possible for residents to continue giving back to the community with their family by their side?” Kraus says. “It’s our job to create that possibility. We want to...

Aspire Available

Yardi Aspire gives senior living community operators the tools to train their staffs in everything from software skills and compliance to company policies and career development. The system’s convenient on-demand course content and documents help teams work more productively and efficiently. What training topics can be covered through Aspire? Everything from clinical skills, safety, new employee orientation and health records compliance to leadership, time management, software applications and more. As an added benefit, users seeking to customize training can build their own content and add pre-built videos. Equally important, users can create, maintain and administer courses without adding IT resources. The system also accommodates courses from other learning management systems while offering convenient esignature and employee survey capabilities as well as collection functionality for other types of surveys. “Aspire projects energy, forward focus and confidence. When employees feel those emotions at work, they are positioned to gain career skills and make a difference in their organizations. That’s exactly what Aspire brings to our clients through its broad scope of features,” says Terri Dowen, senior vice president of sales for Yardi. Learn more about how Aspire can pave the way for better community management for residents, operators and family...

Reimagining Canadian Office Space Mar05

Reimagining Canadian Office Space

How is the commercial real estate landscape changing and how do we adapt? How will we apply those learnings to our future as a technology innovator? These questions have been on the mind of the team at Yardi Canada as well as on technology providers worldwide. Commercial asset managers require flexible workspaces and integrated technology to adapt and thrive. Those foundations pave the way for greater efficiency, resilience and human-centric design. To further explore trending implementations of destination workspaces and integrated technology, a recent “Future of the Work Place” webinar hosted by The Empire Club of Canada provided valuable insights. More equitable, accommodating and accessible workplaces It begins with considering occupant safety. Yardi Canada is an occupier of offices in Toronto, Vancouver and Saskatchewan with 400 employees across the country. In addition to following provincial COVID guidelines, we are considering the very nature of the employee-workplace relationship and how that relationship may change to promote more equitable occupant wellbeing. During the webinar, Infrastructure Ontario president Toni Rossi explains, “Can tenants make it safely to work? Once there, can they work in healthy conditions? It is not just about feeling safe in a space, because that’s personal. It’s about leaving their homes and getting to work safely, and working safely, because more people (these days) have the responsibility to care for the elderly and for young children.” For managers of all asset classes, the pursuit of equitable workspaces encourages the creation of healthier environments for all occupants, including service workers and vendors who may not have remote work options. Previously overlooked spaces, such as control rooms, could be reconfigured to accommodate worker wellbeing. With such considerations in place, large office spaces can maintain their appeal and with the right technology, they can be managed remotely. Revisiting open floor plans and measures of productivity While the pandemic has challenged the popularity of open floor plans in residential real estate, commercial landlords are experiencing greater demand on this front. Yardi Canada agrees with the panelists concluding that open concept workspaces will continue to demonstrate value for commercial tenants. Before the pandemic, tenants who opted for open floorplans were looking to drive work environments that encourage teamwork, learning and creativity while supporting social activities. These spaces continue to serve the same purposes while offering the added benefit of social distancing without feeling isolated, open concepts permit a functional and healthy use of space. The open space also encourages inclusion and wellbeing in the workplace. Tenants can provide greater consideration to their employee’s work preferences, integrate biophilic design principles throughout the office and take advantage of amenities such as wellness rooms. Panelists acknowledge that many workplaces will uphold a hybrid model of in-office and remote work options. Sarah McKenzie, independent consultant – Innovation and Future of Work observes that the “office will likely shift from a central destination for all employees to a more fluid ‘hub’. Its use will fluctuate based on the needs of occupants.” At Yardi, we are engaging with employees regarding remote work and flexible, in-office options. Multiple factors will influence our decisions, from productivity to company culture and employee wellness. Such engagement, however, paves the way for workplaces that are both client-focused and employee wellness-centred. Asset managers would benefit from innovative tools to manage such flexible workspaces, offering access to tenants as a value-added service. Foundational tools for the future Asset managers must have access to reliable data to efficiently address the unique and changing needs of tenants. There are a lot of innovative products being developed in the industry today. The first step is to implement technology to streamline and automate processes which will promote greater efficiencies, increase insights and enhance decision making. With this as a base, leadership can take the next steps to create the vision of that future workspace. Technology that seamlessly combines portfolio health, tenant risk, deal management, budgeting and construction in a single connected...

Digital Marketing Mar04

Digital Marketing

Property marketing — once constrained to classified ads, flyers and yard signs — has largely gone digital over the last two decades. And while most multifamily property management companies market their properties and vacancies online in one way or another, many aren’t using digital marketing to its fullest potential yet. Done well, digital marketing is part of a comprehensive strategy that attracts renters no matter where they search. It creates a cohesive customer experience that helps turn more leads into leases. And it gives you the data you need to keep building on your success. Let’s take a closer look at digital marketing for property management, what it entails and how you can benefit, as well as how you can get help when you need it. What is digital marketing? Per the American Marketing Association: Digital marketing refers to any marketing methods conducted through electronic devices. The includes online marketing efforts conducted on the internet. In the process of conducting digital marketing, a business might leverage websites, search engines, social media, video, email and similar channels to reach customers. Digital marketing can also be referred to as online marketing and search marketing. What does digital marketing include? A holistic digital marketing strategy includes multiple channels that complement each other, creating a consistent brand and customer experience everywhere prospects encounter your business. Digital marketing practices evolve as the way we use the internet changes, but these are some of the most common methods: Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO is the process of improving ranking with major search engines to increase unpaid online traffic to owned websites. Search engine marketing (SEM): SEM is the use of paid online advertising to increase website visibility within search engines. It’s often used together with SEO to create a stronger...

Student Housing Slows Down Mar03

Student Housing Slows Down

Yardi Matrix vice president Jeff Adler presented a look both forward and back for the student housing sector in a webinar held Wednesday, March 3. (Find the presentation materials and recording here.) Despite the challenges of the pandemic over the last year, the sector has held up relatively well. Rents are still increasing – but just slightly. Year-over-year rent growth was 1.3%, with Class B assets taking a larger hit than Class A or C housing. Adler remains very positive on the student housing space, even though preleasing is currently behind its usual pace for Fall 2021. “We do expect the 2021 term to have a surge in enrollment and preleasing activity, but it will probably come late, in April and May, as the vaccine situation clarifies,” he said. That was just one of many insightful takeaways from the presentation. Yardi Matrix produces a quarterly student housing report that summarizes leasing, rent rate, transactions and other trends. The student housing data set includes over 2,000 universities and colleges nationwide, including the top 200 investment grade universities across all major collegiate conferences. Known as the “Yardi 200,” it includes all Power 5 conferences as well as Carnegie R1 and R2 universities. Schools that have fared best with housing over the last year have been those that are not urban or in states with strict COVID restrictions in place, Adler said. Overall, national university enrollment is down 2.5% this year from a year ago. Currently, preleasing of student housing for Fall 2021 is trending four percent below where it was last year at this time. Preleasing for Fall 2020 ended up five percent behind 2019 numbers. “Large, first tier institutions have done the best, and the top performers are those that have been in states and localities that were open for business (throughout COVID),” said Adler. Universities that have preleasing off to a good start for the upcoming fall term were major public universities in remote areas and some universities near smaller downtowns. That includes schools like Case Western University, the University of New Hampshire-Main Campus and University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus, which are leading the way as top preleasing performers for Fall 2021. Schools that are falling behind on preleasing include the University of Illinois at Chicago, Brigham Young University and the University of California at Santa Barbara, which are all lagging far from their normal preleasing numbers. As a result of the pandemic, housing providers are seeing higher demand for studios, single bedrooms and bedrooms with their own personal bathroom, Adler said. “Those without bedroom/bathroom parity are struggling (to lease). This may be an issue that continues, where you would have to have very significant discounts to overcome people’s desire not to share a bathroom.” The desire for personal space will also impact on-campus student dorms, which may have to rethink double and triple occupancy situations due to parent and student concerns. “I’m bullish about the whole sector, because dorm capacity just doesn’t work,” Adler said. It also doesn’t seem to matter whether schools are offering fully in-person learning, a hybrid model or all virtual classes. The school simply needs to be open for business in order for student housing demand to remain strong. “Our data showed that they wanted to get out of the house (in 2020) and they did.” Development trends in student housing reflect what life will look like post-pandemic. High performance Wi-Fi, always a must, has become even more important. Apps that allow students to submit maintenance or service requests are trending, as are outdoor/open spaces where students can gather in person. And touchless features, like keycards for building entry or elevator operation, will be more prevalent. Development of new student housing stock is primarily focused in the south and southwestern U.S. and has not been deterred by the pandemic. Investment opportunity in the sector remains strong. Highlights include: Global Student Accommodation Group (GSA) made its...

Health at Home Mar03

Health at Home

As a company grows, it can be challenging to maintain a personal connection with the communities that it serves. When two international chains and a national housing provider behave like good neighbors, communities take note. CVS, Walgreens and EAH Housing have teamed up to provide in-house immunizations for seniors and other vulnerable groups. Rapid changes in senior living communities Seniors have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. To protect vulnerable residents, senior housing providers were required to cancel conventional family visits, group excursions and most daily outings. With ample creativity, staff members helped seniors thrive during quarantine. But undoubtedly, seniors missed time with their families and trips outside of the community. Additionally, seniors had to embrace technology in new ways. Seniors are a tech savvy bunch, and technology adaptation comes with health benefits. The new approach to health care, however, replaced many in-person office visits with telehealth options. Seniors again found themselves on unfamiliar terrain. The COVID-19 vaccine could save lives. It would also provide a safe way for seniors to resume a somewhat normal lifestyle. But with cases on the rise, venturing outside of their communities to access the vaccine posed risks of its own. Senior housing providers such as EAH Housing sought means to bring vaccinations to residents. CVS, Walgreens, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) answered the call. Walgreens and CVS answer the call to serve seniors Yardi client and affordable housing provider EAH Housing recently announced that residents are receiving Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations. The initiative is part of an immunization clinic provided by Walgreens and CVS. Residents and staff of Reflections at Barbara Ann in North Hollywood were among the first recipients of the vaccine in January. This month, the site completes the second dose of the program. Reflections...

Mental Health Resources Mar02

Mental Health Resources

The Mental Health Resource Library from the COVID-19 Rental Housing Support Initiative.was created to help users navigate the pressures, challenges and unknowns of life during and after the pandemic. The library is just one piece of a content collaboration of The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), National Apartment Association (NAA), National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM). You can learn more about all aspects of the Rental Housing Support Initiative here. Exploring the Mental Health Resource Library The Mental Health Resource Library offers tools to help manage changes in your home, work and social environments. Explore dozens of videos, articles and other media that are practical and easy to understand. While there is a lot of content, it is divided into categories that make it easier to get started. You can: Learn how to cope with isolation Discover how to adapt and bounce back after life changes Establish a sense of ease in the face of worry and anxious feelings Take control of your money to manage financial stress For optimal emotional, physical and mental health, we must learn to manage the changes in our environment. The Mental Health Resource Library provides tips, new perspectives and life hacks that bring change management within reach. Click here to explore the Mental Health Resource Library. Building a library takes a village The COVID-19 Rental Housing Support Initiative is proudly sponsored by Yardi. This collaboration between leading industry organizations offers solutions in key support areas. Each component meets the growing demand for research and education that can help the industry survive and thrive through the pandemic and beyond. Learn more about the Rental Housing Support...

Online Marketing

Knowing what not to do is as important as understanding what should be done. That’s a key takeaway from a new Yardi ebook designed to help senior living communities market their offerings effectively. “8 Do’s & Don’ts for Senior Living Community Websites” offers tips for sprucing up digital curb appeal, maximizing the impact of a website’s most visited pages and more. The list of “dos” includes showing multiple views of a floor plan, helping prospects identify the unit that meets their needs and boosting traffic by sharing images on social media. The “don’ts” address rising above a bad user experience, avoiding inferior photography, not expecting photos to speak for themselves and resisting the impulse to mimic competitors. Looking for new ways to use your marketing website to make your senior living community both more visible and more appealing to prospective residents? Read the ebook for all the do’s and don’ts of getting those prospects to your page and into your...

Returning to the Office Mar01

Returning to the Office

The past year has been full of challenges from a traditional office perspective. These challenges have come in a series of phases ­­— initially sending employees home for an indefinite amount of time, implementing physical and tech upgrades to safely welcome workers and guests into offices, creating a potential hybrid working model to accommodate distancing in the workspace and now waiting on sufficient vaccine distribution that will encourage more employees to return to the office. As we look at the progress we’ve made toward re-entering physical workspaces, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to when occupancy will return to pre-COVID levels. On a recent Realcomm webinar, a group of panelists was asked when they thought their offices would return to some sort of normalcy. Their answers varied: “When we hit 50% occupancy could vary, especially in California with its restrictions,” said Stuart Appley, managing director at CBRE. Appley suggested that around September he believes they could reach 30% capacity in office. Susan Gerock, CIO and vice president of IT at Washington REIT, says she’s hopeful to be at 50% occupancy “at some point in the fall, but many companies won’t even try to start bringing people back until September.” Joe Rich, senior vice president at Related Companies, and Ilan Zachar, CTO at Carr Properties, both pushed their timelines out a bit further, with Zachar saying his customers believe the end of 2021 will bring some normalcy, while Rich admitted that a return to 100% occupancy is unlikely to happen at all in his opinion. This is a significant cause for debate among industry leaders, because while there is a chance that 100% occupancy is a thing of the past, there is a wide range of guesses as to what working models will look like long term. Once the pandemic is “over” in terms of social restrictions, all signs point to the elimination of a standard 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday schedule. Whether it’s fewer hours or fewer days in office, employees who have the ability to fully function remotely will do so more often than they did before March 2020. “This trend was occurring before the pandemic, but this just accelerated it,” Rich said. As Zachar mentioned, 25-30% of Carr Properties’ workforce was remote pre-COVID. Many companies were not worried about a drop in productivity when sending employees home, but were concerned about missing out on the tangible benefits to being in an office. Interpersonal relationships and hallway conversations cannot be duplicated on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. In the same manner that the office will lose its appeal, city centers are losing their vibrancy when workers aren’t in the offices. With studies showing that New York City is below 20% office occupancy, Rich expressed concerns about how viable this is for businesses throughout Manhattan and other major hubs. “Our vibrancy is currently at risk,” he said. “We can’t work without public transport.” The concern over mass transit use is one of the principal factors affecting a slow return to physical workspaces. Dallas, Houston, Austin and Philadelphia have all seen significantly higher number of employees returning to office than New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C, the latter three much more dependent on mass transit usage. Leveraging the right technology The panel made a point to differentiate between two unique sets of technology. “COVID tech” are advances such as thermal scanning, virtual conferencing and contact tracing which became necessary due to the pandemic. The second category, tech to encourage people back into the office, includes all the touchless security advances which have been implemented over the past year, such as elevators programmed to take you directly to your floor, handwaving sensors to allow workers through a checkpoint and apps that show desk availability or occupancy in an office. There have been remarkable advances in the technology designed to keep people safe in the office. Air...