Super Service Apr18

Super Service

Actionable information on which multifamily markets offer the best prospects of penetration has fueled Valet Living’s rapid growth. For three years, Valet Living has used Yardi Matrix, a business development and asset management tool for underwriting and managing real estate investments, to identify the number of Class A, Class B and garden-style properties in a market, unit mixes and the construction pipeline. Thanks in part to Yardi Matrix, Valet Living now serves 1 million apartment homes in 38 U.S. states. Valet Living’s services include trash collection, recycling, turns (preparing units for new residents), pet care and maintenance. The company will soon announce additional resident-facing amenities. “Yardi Matrix data, from the individual property level all the way to overall industry market conditions, drives our sales,” said Bruce Tokarski, senior financial analyst for Valet Living. “Apartment community attributes generate a scorecard that identifies the most promising communities to penetrate. This creates leads for our sales team. Before Yardi Matrix, we just walked up to a property and hoped for the best.” He added, “Yardi Matrix research also helps our operations team. We can estimate the volume of trash generated per unit mix and therefore how much money and resources we need to budget for a community. In addition, new construction reports help us understand a market’s pipeline. All these reports are customized to our needs and make our lives easier.” Valet Living of Tampa, Fla., has been setting the standard for doorstep collection and recycling since 1995. Servicing more than 1 million apartment homes in 38 states, Valet Living is the only national provider of doorstep collection and recycling services and the only nationally recognized full service amenities provider to the multifamily industry. In addition to doorstep collection, Valet Living’s turns, maintenance and pet station solutions...

Life Assurance Apr03

Life Assurance

After 184 years in business, Irish life assurance company Friends First knows how to provide high-quality service and meet emerging business challenges. Established in 1834 to provide life assurance to the Society of Friends (Quakers), Friends First now offers a wide range of life protection, investment and pension products to more than 281,000 customers. It is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Friends First, which has €4 billion ($4.93 billion) of assets under management as of December 2016, operates a number of complex property investment structures that split properties across different funds and receive data from multiple external sources. Seeking a New Foundation The challenge Friends First faced in 2015 was finding a single connected platform that could house financial and operational data from all of the investment structures and execute portfolio-wide accounting, management and performance reporting. The company found the solution it needed in Yardi Voyager. “Yardi Voyager is the foundation of Friends First’s interactions with property accounting, fund management, property management and external agents,” says Alan Pollard, senior investment specialist for Friends First. For example, performance reports generated from Yardi Voyager data allow the company’s property and fund managers to monitor and manage portfolio and fund performance. Automated accounting for complex split property ownerships and non-standard investment structures relieves Friends First staff of manual data entry and processing, significantly reducing risk. Another key benefit Friends First receives from Yardi Voyager is the ability to map the general ledger to another system’s account codes. “This allows us to extract the data from Yardi Voyager easily and post it to another system. It also simplifies reconciliations and audit trail tracking between systems,” Pollard says. The platform also gives Friends First new capabilities for system-based accruals, which accrue charges collected as a percentage of...

Enhancing Operations Mar27

Enhancing Operations

According to a market study carried out by the analysts at Technavio, a business reporting service, the retail market in Saudi Arabia will grow steadily at a rate of above 7 percent by 2020. The recent influx of global retailers in Saudi Arabia will result in the steady growth of the market for the next two years, the report projects. To prepare to meet the local, regional and international retail development trends, the Red Sea Mall’s owners chose to adopt the leading cloud-based retail real estate management solution from Yardi, a global technology company with a strong presence in the Middle East. The intent of purchasing the software is to optimise shopping centre operations by managing the asset efficiently and preparing for future growth. Red Sea Mall is one of the biggest shopping centres at Jeddah City, it is located at the northern suburbs on Malik Road. The mall includes 242,200 square meters built area, with a five-star hotel, seven story office building, and both external and undercover parking areas, all of which are linked to the 18 mall entrances. “Among various investments, the retail sector is a major contributor to the increased economic diversification regionally. Accordingly, to enhance the operation of the Red Sea Mall, we invested in the Yardi Commercial Suite,” said Aidrous Al Bar, Executive Member of Red Sea Markets Limited, owning company of the Red Sea Mall. Yardi is a leading, full-business solution for retail property management that centralizes data and automates workflows to help property managers work more efficiently, reduce costs and achieve successful retail center operations. “The software platform will not only allow management to streamline core property management operations, it will also enhance its marketing of rentable spaces, enhance retailer on-boarding and relations, and gain deeper insight...

Talking Tech Mar21

Talking Tech

For every property management company, success often hinges on selecting — and keeping — quality residents. “With screening technology, we no longer lose our best applicants to the competition due to lagging on approvals or digging through paperwork, and we have reduced our vacancy rate from 13 percent to under 3 percent,” says Jason Roblin, CEO of Canadian-based Vionell Holdings Partnership (VHP). Having tools to not only ensure that operations including leasing run smoothly, but also to make its customers happy, was a big incentive for the company to put the right technology in place. Meeting the challenges of growth Now in its second year as a Yardi client, Vionell Holdings Partnership is a multifamily and condominium property management firm with operations in Brandon and Thompson, Manitoba. The company specializes in leasing, maintenance, budgeting and financial reporting services for its clients. With 1,250 multifamily and 1,500 condo units in its portfolio (along with 100,000 commercial square feet), VHP’s business continues to grow. The thriving company is adding to its Yardi software platform to achieve seamless processes across its business including better reporting and online services for customers that engage more applicants and improve resident retention. VHP uses the Yardi Voyager property management and accounting platform, Yardi Resident Screening, and RENTCafé for online marketing, leasing and resident services. Soon, the company will start using Yardi Payment Processing to accept convenient online payments that residents have come to expect for fast deposits that maximize cash flow. Using tech to make customers happy Answering applicant phone calls and processing paper applications with manual background and credit screening was time consuming and exposed VHP to missing out on its best prospects. With Yardi Resident Screening as part of its Voyager leasing workflow, VHP’s applicants are screened and qualified...

Pricing that Wins Mar06

Pricing that Wins

Finding the “sweet spot” for pricing new and renewal leases may not be easy, but it is critical to optimize net rental income and move ahead of the competition. For property managers and executives hunting down data and compiling paper spreadsheets, finding that sweet spot can be difficult and time consuming. And with other important management tasks to attend to, doing it on a daily basis can be nearly impossible. That’s why California-based DEELS Properties ditched the paper and adopted Yardi RENTmaximizer for adaptive, dynamic revenue management built into its Yardi Voyager property management platform. As a result, DEELS has transformed its pricing methodology to achieve significant rental income gains for its apartment communities in Los Angeles. Part of the Yardi Multifamily Suite, RENTmaximizer utilizes proven rental pricing technology that leverages property history and market comparisons to generate rents that maximize rental income and occupancy. The process is transparent to the property manager so they can easily understand what factors are influencing pricing. Saying Goodbye to the Paper Chase Before RENTmaximizer, DEELS used paper spreadsheets, market surveys and traffic reports to set rents. And because it took so much time to compile the data, DEELS only adjusted rental prices once per month. “The process was cumbersome and not as adaptive as we wanted it to be. RENTmaximizer has helped increase our revenues for both new and renewal leases. No more wasted hours creating complicated spreadsheets,” said Noam Hameiri, senior vice president of operations for DEELS. RENTmaximizer leverages DEELS’ property data in Voyager to drive revenue with clear, comprehensive metrics focusing on rental income, concessions, occupancy and rental rates — not just pricing. The system’s open calculation method, along with integrated market data and accurate analytics, helps DEELS make smart and effective pricing decisions across...

Pangea Cares

When Pangea Properties first formed in 2008, the Chicago-based company established a mission to implement “service, value, and care–one resident at a time.” Since then, the REIT has transformed communities throughout Chicago, Indianapolis, and Baltimore with quality affordable housing and service programs. Chanelle Cromwell, Head of Pangea Cares, has witnessed the difference that the Pangea Cares foundation makes in communities. “We don’t just invest in buildings, we invest in the success of our communities,” says Cromwell. “Pangea is very data-centric and we use data as the engine in our decision-making process.” Data has encouraged the firm to pursue success for its communities in three sectors. Education + Technology “We provide access to education and technology to youth that helps bridge the divide that exists for many kids living in the neighborhoods that Pangea serves,” explains Cromwell. One such program is the annual Backpack Giveaway, a partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). Pangea Cares raises the funds to buy school supplies. The organization then coordinates with CHA to purchase and assemble more than 400 backpacks. Kids ages 5-12 received backpacks stuffed with essential school supplies to help them start the year with confidence and the proper tools. This year will mark the sixth year of the Backpack Giveaway program. A newer addition to the Education and Technology program is B’more, Read More. Baltimore Walbrook Junction neighborhood, home to more than 150 kids, hosts a free library for the public. The tiny library was in need new literature for its shelves. “Pangea donated 30 books to the library, providing a fresh wealth of informative and imaginative literature for local kids,” says Cromwell. Health + Wellness Pangea Cares focuses on the health and wellness of residents by making fresh food and recreational activities available to their communities. The team has gotten quite creative in finding ways to serve members of the community. Pangea Cares collaborated with Julie Hightower of a Better Day with Julie, The Daisie Foundation and many other organizations to give moms in Chicago a free makeover. “More than 150 mothers were invited to the event, which boosted their confidence, provided much-needed networking opportunities, and provided a respite from their daily routines,” Cromwell says. For youth, the company’s Indianapolis properties hosted an ongoing summer event that provided nutritious lunches daily for children of low-income families. The kids had lunch and a movie matinee, meeting their need for nutritious nourishment and activities over the summer months. “Overall, the teams were able to provide lunches for hundreds of children!” Cromwell said. Pangea Cares partnered again with CHA and Operation Warm to ensure CHA youth were warm, healthy and ready to learn during the cooler months. The organizations distributed more than 10,000 winter coats to local youth in need. Dignity + Beautification Pangea Cares believes that a beautiful and safe neighborhood brings communities together. “We are committed to community beautification and striving to make areas we serve ones that residents and communities can be proud of,” says Cromwell. Such efforts include frequent Habitat for Humanity builds in Chicago and Indianapolis. Pangea Cares has also taken on a Play More B’more playground build project. The local non-profit works with other organizations to construct fun and accessible playgrounds in marginalized communities. “They put in some serious manpower to build a brand new playground for the children of the community,” says Cromwell. Show love for your local Pangea community by contacting the organization to volunteer or make a donation. To learn more about how other Yardi clients are Energized for Good, check out our Giving...

Paperless Perks Feb08

Paperless Perks

Are you feeling energized for 2018? It’s a new year, bringing fresh challenges and opportunities. And while every January can inspire a list of resolutions, for every real estate business one goal is likely to top the list year after year: reduce costs. When it comes to lowering operational expenses, going paperless for as many tasks as possible is smart. And here’s some great news: it’s easier to do than you might think, and the benefits are big. For Dallas-based apartment manager LumaCorp, centralizing and automating procurement and payables processing on its mobile Yardi property management platform using Yardi Procure to Pay has not only reduced costs for the company, but also saves its staff valuable time (in addition to sparing more than a few trees). And in just three months, by eliminating the cost of transporting invoices by courier, Procure to Pay paid for itself. Better Buying and Bigger Discounts LumaCorp manages 24 apartment communities with more than 6,000 units. According to Larry Orth, LumaCorp’s controller, the company’s maintenance, repair and operating supply costs fell by 4 percent the first year after adopting Yardi Procure to Pay, an end-to-end, paperless procurement and invoice processing system that’s part of the Yardi Multifamily Suite full-business platform. Orth said, “For me, the great thing about it is the time efficiency, both at the properties and in the accounting department. We are a full service Procure to Pay client, so the processing is handled by Yardi, which takes a lot off our onsite people’s hands. All told, Procure to Pay has reduced by up to 40 percent the time our team spends on the payables process. And it’s a paperless system, which obviously also benefits the environment.” LumaCorp has also gained savings from the negotiated pricing across...

One Year On Jan15

One Year On

“We wanted innovation and efficiency,” Sandeep Manak, chief financial officer for Wesgroup Properties LP, said in November 2016, when his company announced its adoption of products from the Yardi Commercial Suite.  “We wanted a platform that integrated various departments so they could work more collaboratively.”  Other priorities included lower operational costs, more accurate budgeting and efficient management of an existing commercial and growing multifamily portfolio. One year later, how has that plan played out for Vancouver, British Columbia-based Wesgroup, a fully integrated real estate owner, operator and developer with 61 commercial and residential income-producing assets? “We have made good progress,” Manak says, starting with better access to lease and portfolio data. “Centralizing all lease and financial records in Yardi Voyager gives us a holistic repository of information that is easily accessible. We don’t have to look at different places or worry about version control or broken links.  We can drill down to lease clauses and very quickly understand an asset’s performance.” Wesgroup reduced costs by simplifying invoice processing with Yardi Procure to Pay, which automates the process all the way to vendor payment. “We pay several thousand dollars every month for document storage.  Storing images in Yardi Voyager significantly reduces these expenses in the long-term,” Manak says. Besides that, he adds, “approvers have immediate accessibility to vendor relationships by being able to review a vendor’s account and approve invoices for payment from the convenience as they are always out and about.” Meanwhile, Yardi Fixed Assets helps Wesgroup track assets that have varying amortization schedules.  “Previously each property had its own schedule —  for example, roofs amortized differently at different properties when the materials used to build them were identical, in the same geographical environment and were installed by the same builder. Fixed Assets automates...

The Great Flood Jan03

The Great Flood

In October 2015, the state of South Carolina received record-breaking precipitation. More than 25 inches of rain fell across the coastal region in less than 20 hours. Additional water spilled into the devastated communities when 13 dams failed. Homes flooded, ousting residents into the streets or crowded shelters. Businesses closed, adding to the economic strain of the struggling region. Even 74 miles of I-95, a major thoroughfare for relief and supplies, became impassible. “Our state was devastated,” recalls Babbie Jaco, vice president of Boyd Management, a Yardi client.  “Meadowfield Apartments, a USDA 515/Section 8 property in Summerton, SC–a very poor area–had more than 40 inches of water. There was water up to the windowsills for weeks. The water just wouldn’t recede.” The deluge of water saturated the soil and overwhelmed runoff infrastructure. To make matter worse, a ply board and other debris prevented a local storm drain from functioning. Local authorities would not discover the root of the problem until the DOT ditch had become a small lake. As the water lingered for weeks, residents of Meadowfield Apartments could not return home. Local Boy Scouts hosted a temporary camp for the residents. Yet as the fall pressed onward, the 150 displaced residents needed a place to call home. A Community United Many residents of the community, including the property owners, did not have flood insurance. As the property fell further into disrepair, with repair costs estimated to be more than $1.4 million, HUD prepared to remove its subsidy. News of the displaced families spread throughout the region. Then the volunteers arrived. Community members provided the manpower to clear the site and prepare it for renovation. Summerton Baptist Church joined forces with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) and Boyd Management to clean up the property at no...

Tech + Growth Oct26

Tech + Growth

Arabian Centres Company Ltd (ACCL) became Saudi Arabia’s largest developer, owner and operator of retail malls by offering international-standard quality shopping and entertainment. In formulating a strategy to build on that success, ACCL’s executive team came to realize that expanding its portfolio across the Kingdom depends as much on harnessing new technology as on providing high-quality retail and leisure offerings. The task of keeping ACCL’s property management software in tune with the company’s strategy lies principally with Rashed Alothman, ACCL’s chief information officer. “A desire to take on new challenges and drive improvements and achievements for the business is my primary motivation,” Alothman said. ACCL, a subsidiary of Fawaz Al Hokair Group, has grown to encompass 19 shopping centers in 10 cities since its founding in 2001.  Its more than 1 million square meters of total gross leasable area (GLA) represent a quarter of all organized GLA in the Kingdom.  ACCL transformed the Kingdom’s retail sector with a commitment to create unparalleled destinations for shoppers, leisure seekers and retailers. ACCL has embraced an aggressive strategy designed to reinforce its position as the Kingdom’s premier mall operator. Eight developments in the pipeline will nearly double its portfolio to approximately 2 million square meters of GLA.  The growth plans are part of a larger goal.  “We seek to advance beyond developing mere functional properties.  We aspire to create living, vibrant and integrated communities and enhance the quality of life for tenants and customers alike,” Alothman said. To achieve that goal and make sure ACCL properties remain the destination of choice for 132 million annual visitors and 3,600 retail outlets, Alothman is spearheading a digital transformation program.  The initiative emphasizes expanding technology capability and utilization in such areas as business-to-business communication, social media and numerous operational procedures. ...

Growing with Matrix Oct25

Growing with Matrix

With 4,200 units of owned multifamily housing, MACC Venture Partners is on a mission to more than double in size, according to managing partners Tony and John Azar. Based in Gastonia, N.C., MACC Venture Partners is a private equity owner operator of commercial real estate engaged in active pursuit of capital preservation and appreciation. With over 4,200 owned apartment units and over 5,000 under management, the family owned and operated firm is currently pursuing an aggressive growth strategy of Class B and C properties in the Southeast U.S. To identify the best deals to augment its portfolio, MACC Venture Partners chose Yardi Matrix as its source of dependable real estate data. Matrix offered the most complete information for the most reasonable price point, and covered all the markets required, John Azar said. Yardi Matrix is the real estate data provider of choice for MACC Venture Partners because of its comprehensive market analytics, including for secondary and tertiary real estate markets. Many of the properties that MACC Venture Partners considers for acquisition are often located outside of major cities, so coverage of these markets is important for the company. “The granularity of the data was important to us and not only from a primary market perspective. We don’t operate just in major metro areas, we operate in first, second and third tier areas. Yardi Matrix has the data we need,” said Azar. Matrix was instrumental during MACC Venture Partners’ recent acquisition in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where the company purchased a 168-unit garden apartment community in partnership with Legacy Capital Partners. “(Matrix) was very relevant to this transaction because North Myrtle Beach area had less available data than Myrtle Beach. This was a situation where Yardi gave us good data not just about the...

Success Stories

Little makes us happier than hearing about a client’s success with one of our products. Unless that same client is experiencing success with three of our products! We recently had exactly that happen when we sat down to chat with Belinda Torres and Heather Palmer of Continental Realty Corporation (CRC) about their experience with RENTCafé. It turned out that CRC wasn’t just getting positive results and feedback from using RENTCafé, the company was also seeing measurable returns by extending its marketing platform with both RENTCafé CRM and RENTCafé Reach. Keep reading to see how CRC improved their online presence, lead tracking and organic traffic with a suite of integrated marketing solutions. Meet CRC CRC was founded in 1960. Headquartered in Baltimore, it’s a full-service multifamily and commercial real estate investment and management company. It uses Yardi software to manage a diversified portfolio featuring nearly 10,000 apartment homes and retail centers consisting of more than 3.5 million square feet of space. Better Websites Before adopting RENTCafé, CRC had a corporate website that hadn’t been redesigned in a decade and didn’t have individual property websites. “There wasn’t any SEO value,” said Torres, corporate marketing director at CRC. “Keywords and alt tags weren’t being utilized. There was nothing to help a prospective resident find us.” CRC used RENTCafé to create marketing websites for every multifamily property in its portfolio. CRC also uses COMMERCIALCafé to create websites for its commercial properties. “The websites that we have now are attractive. Photos and tours are what people want to see, and we’ve been able to give that to them with RENTCafé,” said Torres. The sites are mobile-friendly and allow the marketing team to upload videos and custom content for each community. Applicants can apply online and receive and submit all...

Tech Transforms Oct12

Tech Transforms

“Information technology is the core of your business and every business,” states Brian Turpin, vice president of information technology for Greenwin, one of Canada’s largest privately owned residential property management companies. Headquartered in Toronto, Greenwin has a combined staff of over 500 employees. The company professionally owns and/or manages more than 1,000,000 square feet of commercial space and 15,000 residential units throughout central Canada. Greenwin is currently using integrated software solutions for accounting, construction management, budgeting and forecasting, procurement, inventory control, and maintenance management — operating on a single platform. Turpin’s role over the past four and a half years has been to work with Yardi, Greenwin’s software vendor, to meet the company’s evolving needs as it seeks to do more digitally. Part of this rewarding relationship includes beta testing Yardi’s latest innovative products. Currently, Greenwin is testing VENDORCafé, the one-stop-shop for vendor management. Changing the Way People Work Turpin describes the way he looks at new technology as “digital transformation” and is always asking himself and his team, “what challenge does this product solve for us?” Usually, the answer to that question includes the ability to untether Greenwin’s staff with the option to use mobile devices and leave their laptops behind.  Turpin further elaborated on this line of questioning, “How can we do what we’re doing every day better, and where can technology take us? Are we at risk for falling behind, and do we need to automate more manual tasks and digitize our paper-based resources to create greater efficiencies?” For help with answering these questions and more, Turpin reaches out to Yardi. “Why not be the first to ask for something that maybe no one else is asking for yet? Yardi will endeavor to make it happen — and that close collaboration...

Intuitive Integration Oct11

Intuitive Integration...

With 30 senior living communities across six states, Merrill Gardens provides a lifestyle approach to senior housing that’s unique to each locale they inhabit. By designing each community with characteristics unique the area in which they reside, Merrill Gardens creates a comfortable and welcoming environment for residents so they can relax and feel at home. “We take great pride in the fact that we spend a lot of time making sure that our communities, especially the senior side have a place to live that is like a home,” says David Wiedeman, Business Systems Analyst for Merrill Gardens. “It’s a place you want to be. With activities integrated into the community, our residents aren’t living on an isolated island but are going to events and participating in clubs and other activities. This keeps everyone active and connected.” Making the switch to an integrated platform allows Merrill Gardens to avoid missed billing opportunities and increase revenue. Previious a CFO for a property management company, David was once a third party consultant for Yardi. When Merrill Gardens began implementing the Yardi platform, David and his team worked side-by-side with Yardi to ensure the switchover went smoothly. “If you have the vision of what you want, Yardi can build it,” says David.  “Yardi has a good knack of hiring people who are really good in their fields, they are specialized but can also be creative and help us meet our needs across different channels, including the residential and senior sides of our portfolio.” As part of his role as Business Systems Analyst, David spearheads software infrastructure and administration for Merrill Gardens, overseeing all Yardi modules as well as software implementations throughout the company. A big supporter of the single stack solution, David feels Yardi provides an unmatchable combination...

Apartment Idol

For musicians Jay Filson of Nasvhille and Jeremy Gentry of Chicago, a year of free rent in a brand-new apartment building is a golden ticket while they work toward establishing fledgling music careers. And for Chicago-based Magellan Development Group, a Yardi client, hosting the two musicians as “Artists in Residence” at its new properties is an amenity so unique that it has garnered significant press attention. Filson and Gentry are the inaugural winners of a creative lease-up competition held by Magellan as it marketed The Sobro in Nashville, and Exhibit on Superior in Chicago. The goal was to find Artists in Residence who would perform at the communities and provide music lessons to residents in exchange for a year of free rent. The Contest Each Artist in Residence winner competed against dozens of other musicians who submitted videos about why they were the most deserving and talented applicants. A live final performance, a la American Idol, concluded the competition. “Our Magellan principals envision this musician/artist in residence as teaching, playing, connecting with our residents in a variety of ways. They believe that music brings people together,” said Sherri Cuda, Director of Leasing for Magellan. Both Filson and Gentry are newly out of college and each was struggling to figure out what next steps their pursuit of a music career would take when they heard about the “Sobro Star” and “Exhibit A-Lister” competitions. Gentry, who works at one of Chicago’s dueling piano bars in the evenings, was thinking of moving back in with his parents. Filson had been working in marketing but knew that music was really the passion he wanted to pursue. “This is the kind of opportunity that does not come up, ever,” Gentry said. “I’m hoping that before next year I can make some original music. That’s my goal, to release an EP or a short album of original music before my time is done here.” Filson has a similar plan. He was working at his alma mater, Indian Wesleyan University, when the opportunity to compete for free rent in “Music City USA” came his way. “I tried not to get my hopes up too high but it just seemed like such a perfect opportunity,” he said. “And then it worked out, so I packed up all my stuff and moved to Nashville.” Since arriving, he’s been working on establishing a broad base of contacts and exploring the local music scene. “People here really do care about music in a really exceptional way. So it’s fun to be able to play for people and residents here that really love music and are open to hearing new artists,” Filson said. Benefits all Residents As part of the terms of the contest, each Artist in Residence puts in 30 hours a month of musical contributions toward their community. “We get a great deal out of it, but the residents get in house entertainment on a regular basis,” said Filson, who often mixes his own original work with mash-ups from popular artists like Eminem. “I’ve been playing by the pool, playing any events we have, and playing events at other Magellan buildings,” said Gentry, who is trained as a pianist but also plays guitar and drums. To augment his preparation for work at the piano bar, Gentry asks his neighbors for their song requests when he plays at the pool. He also has a list of residents who are interested in lessons and plan to start teaching soon. Expanding Possibilities Cuda says that Magellan plans to continue to roll out the contest in other future lease-ups, with the option to expand the scope. The talent portion of the event garnered significant publicity and attention in both markets. Local public relations agencies helped market it via social media and local news outlets. “In future projects, we intend to tailor the program. We may include culinary, wellness, fitness, or other areas. We...

Smart Growth Jul26

Smart Growth

New hire onboarding is a necessary process for all growing multifamily organizations. It is also a major pain point. Dominium, a Minneapolis-based leading apartment development and management company, set goals to double in size by 2025. To reach its goals, the company needs an innovative and efficient training solution. Maya Kasangaki, Senior Service Desk Technician and Yardi Trainer, explains how Yardi eLearning has prepared her organization for growth. Onboarding Dilemmas Dominium faced challenges that are familiar to other property management firms: high turnover and costly, inefficient training processes. The organization hosted monthly weeklong trainings for new community managers at the corporate office.  In addition to regular conference calls, these nearly six-hour training sessions consumed the majority of Kasangaki’s time. Once complete, she lacked a consistent way to track students’ understanding and content retention. “If we have training with 12 people on the call, it’s hard to make sure that everyone is absorbing the information. They aren’t as comfortable bringing up questions or starting a discussion in the midst of a training,” she observes. High turnover exacerbated the already frustrating situation. “Because of the staff turnover in property management, we would train someone but they didn’t have basic knowledge of the industry. The information we provided  was maybe going over their head. Then we would hire someone to replace them and we would have to begin this process all over again,” says Kasangaki. Dominium sought a training solution that would simplify and expedite new hire onboarding. Online Solutions for Onboarding and Growth In 2016, Dominium implemented Yardi eLearning. The company customized the curricula to include soft skills courses, videos, webinars, and more. Kasangaki appreciates the ability to deliver content in different formats, allowing learners to receive the information in a way that appeals to their...

Creative Funding Jul24

Creative Funding

Desperate times call for creative solutions. The city of Allentown, Pennsylvania faced a multimillion-dollar deficit, high crimes rates, and a dwindling population. A unique approach to capital investment saved the city, producing what the mayor calls “Allentown 4.0.” William Billowitch, Controller, City Center Investment Corporation, sits down with Yardi to explore the organization’s singular approach to development. Built from Necessity The city of Allentown, the third largest city in Pennsylvania, descended into a rut during the recession. Its blighted neighborhoods became a hotbed for crime. While neighboring cities gradually pulled out of their recession lows, Allentown continued to descend. In the effort to save the town, local leaders and visionaries from the public and private sector worked together to draft a revitalization plan for the urban core. With that plan in mind, real estate development firm City Center Investment Corporation created City Center Lehigh Valley. The mixed-use complex is helping to transform downtown Allentown into one of America’s most vibrant urban communities. It is a regional center of excellence for business, culture and metropolitan living. “Our objective is to stimulate downtown, the economy. We use pretty much almost all Pennsylvania labor, all Pennsylvania products, to build,” says Billowitch. With Allentown’s new arena, PPL Center, at its core, City Center includes more than 1 million square feet. The campus includes three Class A office towers, the Renaissance Allentown Hotel, STRATA East and West residential buildings, The Shops at City Center, upscale restaurant space and a co-working space called Velocity. The seven-story office building, One City Center, was the first installment of a 10-year master planned project. In addition to office space, it is home to a sports performance and fitness center. One City Center is currently fully leased. “Since then, we’ve opened a building every...

Western Focused Jul19

Western Focused

Casey Lynch and Mike Brown were graduate school classmates at UCLA when they started their real estate investment and development company, LocalConstruct, with limited funds and bona fide sweat equity. “We bought a $55,000 condominium in Fontana, Calif. that we painted and renovated ourselves. We were at Home Depot, buying our own supplies,” recalled Lynch. Flash forward nearly a decade, and LocalConstruct has become a thriving small firm with multifamily and mixed-use projects in California, Colorado, Idaho and Montana.  The Los Angeles-based company, a Yardi client, has developed 2,000 apartment units to date. Lynch and Brown have a specific vision for urban infill development. Seeking out markets with plentiful jobs but limited work-proximate housing, they have hit a sweet spot where limited supply meets unprecedented demand. We talked with Lynch about LocalConstruct’s market choices and formula for success.   You started your company in 2008, when real estate was in a desperate place. Why? Lynch: We saw a great opportunity to start an entrepreneurial enterprise, given the volatility in the market at the time. We raised a small fund to go out and buy single family homes and convert them into real properties in Los Angeles. You always hear developers who have been in the business 30 to 40 years talk about their first deal and working their way up the ladder. For us and our story, that would be true.   Things have changed tremendously since then. What happened to LocalConstruct in the last nine years? Lynch: We went from one unit projects to 2 to 4 to 8 to 20 to 100 to 300. We have a presence in four states in the West and we are focused on infill housing strategies, primarily rental housing, and we are focused on emerging markets...

Tradition Meets Tech Jul14

Tradition Meets Tech

With 8 communities in Illinois, Ohio and Michigan and 3 more in development, Randall Residence prides itself on a history of providing quality care dating back to 1975. Though the company has been around longer than the personal computer, they aren’t stuck in the past. In fact, by embracing the data management capabilities of Yardi to improve staff efficiency and more effectively manage operations throughout their portfolio, Randall Residence is using the best of modern technology to continue their track record of excellence. For Noel Salgado, a key element of the company’s success lies in its ability to harness the power of information. As CFO for Randall Residence, Salgado watched as the company transitioned from a small, regional company to a senior living provider with properties spanning three states. As the company evolved, its needs also changed, including demand for a comprehensive and integrated software system capable of incorporating accounting and care management. “As CFO I want to make sure I can see all the effects that are occurring in real time instead of having to wait a month before knowing whether anything needs to be adjusted,” says Salgado. From Basic to Comprehensive When Salgado first arrived at Randall Residence, the company was in the early stages of Voyager 6 integration. Although Salgado was aware of the software’s capabilities, he admits that at first Randall Residence was “using it in a very minimal way.” “We weren’t utilizing all the Yardi Voyager capabilities at first,” he says. “For the longest time, we used only a minimal portion of the software, before realizing the value of what we could do.” For Salgado, the realization hit when the company transitioned to Voyager 7S and began to add modules and expand utilization. “Moving from Voyager 6 to Voyager...

Affordable Housing Jul12

Affordable Housing

In the face of crippling budget cuts, housing authorities rely on innovation, resourcefulness, and advanced software to stimulate growth. Carlos Pizarro serves as Vice President of Housing at Housing Authority of the City of Lakeland, Florida. His decade of experience in the private sector made him an unlikely candidate for the position. That experience, however, is the key to the housing authority’s success. “Public housing and section 8 must change,” reflects Pizarro.  “It needs the private sector and the public sector to work together to create something new. I don’t see the government able to support Section 8 and public housing forever. There has to be an effort between everybody.” Such industry changes are felt across the nation. Fort Smith Housing Authority in Arkansas has managed to ride the waves of these changes under the guidance of Rachel Brown, Section 8 Director. “You can’t depend on public housing funding anymore,” Brown says. “Public housing is going away. A lot of us are focused on converting public housing into RAD.” Fort Smith Housing Authority demolished 170 of its public housing units. The 288 remaining units were converted to Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) units. RAD, per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “allows public housing agencies to leverage public and private debt and equity in order to reinvest in the public housing stock.” The program is an effort to address a $25.6 billion dollar-backlog of public housing capital improvements. Blending funding options within a portfolio, and even within a single project, is one way that housing authorities stay afloat. Discovering untraditional sources of income is another. Innovative Incomes Both the City of Lakeland and Fort Smith housing authorities have created construction and development branches. “We got into developing properties, which is new for a housing...

Kindness Rules Jul11

Kindness Rules

To mark two decades in the senior care industry, Benchmark Senior Living recently embarked on a seven state mission to spread kindness and neighborly love in towns and neighborhoods where the company’s 54 senior living communities are located. For the month of June, residents living near a Benchmark community discovered care packages on their doorstep along with small helpful acts like a newspaper moved closer to their front porch, all with a note commemorating Benchmark’s “Radiant Acts of Kindness.” Employees committed to 1,000 such acts throughout the month. “This is Benchmark’s 20th anniversary year, and we want to give back to the communities and families that have supported our company’s growth since 1997,” Tom Grape, the company’s founder, and CEO said in a statement. “So, every one of our 54 senior living communities across seven Northeast states — and our home office in Waltham, Mass., — has committed to performing at least 20 Radiant Acts of Kindness during June in their local neighborhoods and towns.” Located in Waltham, Mass., Benchmark Senior Living operates 54 senior living communities throughout the Northeast. They offer services ranging from independent living to skilled nursing and memory care. For the last nine years, Benchmark has been recognized by The Boston Globe as one of the “Top 100 Places to Work,” and many of Benchmark’s executive directors and staff embraced the June initiative. Every one of Benchmark’s communities committed to the 1000 Acts, with many taking a creative approach that went beyond gift baskets to include washing cars, providing free tennis balls to neighborhood dogs to handing out random gift certificates. “We can’t wait to share these compassionate acts with West Chester and surrounding areas,” commented Doug Buttner, executive director, Wellington at Hershey’s Mill. “Our employees already have surprises prepared...

Going Digital Jun14

Going Digital

By adopting an electronic health record platform with a centralized database, senior living provider Northbridge Companies lives up to its commitment of providing best quality of care to its residents. When Northbridge companies made the choice to transition from paper documentation to electronic health records, the company’s primary objective involved eliminating redundant tasks and improving staff productivity. As someone on the front lines during the company’s switch to Yardi EHR, Marcia Suddy saw firsthand how swiftly technology can improve the workplace. “One of the biggest changes with electronic records versus paper is that you can lay your hands on information very quickly,” she says. “That reduces the length of time needed to resolve issues and helps us provide the best quality of care to our residents.” Live Well, Love Life Founded in 2006, privately owned senior living provider with 15 communities servicing residents across New England, Northbridge Companies has made providing quality senior care a priority for over a decade. Northbridge Community provides its 850 residents with an environment designed to “encourage freedom, offer lifestyle choices, and provide the necessary services to live life to the fullest.” When Suddy began her nursing studies, she quickly realized she felt a connection to seniors. “While I was earning my administrator’s license and BC certification, I absolutely fell in love with senior care,” she says. “I don’t foresee ever doing anything else.” As Regional Director of Care Services for Northbridge, Suddy feels great satisfaction working for a company she describes as being “passionate about senior care.” “It’s such a relief to work for an organization that truly lives up to the values they advocate,” she says. “It’s not just the president of the company, but the associates, the investors, the families. Everyone is committed to providing the...

Communication Counts Jun12

Communication Counts

When it comes to the senior living industry, one word reigns supreme: community. Whether it’s memory care, assisted living or simply providing the opportunity to live independently, all manner of senior living options pivot on the notion that residents and their families are keen to sustain connections and keep life in the golden years meaningful and nurturing. One key aspect integral to the creation of a senior community is communication, between staff, caregivers, residents and their families. “Communication is one of the biggest challenges we face as an industry,” says Dennis McCarthy, CIO at Superior Residences. “In the senior housing market, you are not just serving the resident, you’re serving the family that cares about them as well, so it’s important to ensure everyone stays connected.” Care, Comfort and Accountability Florida-based Superior Residences exemplifies the multifaceted nature of the senior living industry, with services ranging from independent living to assisted living and memory care. Superior Residences even provides a Day Stay Program designed to give at home caregivers a break by providing resident care for shorter periods of time from a few hours to the whole day. The company’s mission statement, “building trust so that residents, families and our team have peace” demonstrates Superior Residences commitment to creating an atmosphere of care and comfort based on a set of core values including “integrity, service, efficiency and fun.” As one of the company’s founders, McCarthy understands the essential role accountability plays in fulfilling those core values, an accountability made all the easier by the company’s use of Yardi Voyager for Senior Housing. “Billing needs to be as accurate as possible so that you can explain to resident why they are being charged and what services they are being billed for,” he explains. “When you have...

Lee-Ann St. Jacques Jun07

Lee-Ann St. Jacques

In the northern half of Ontario, Canada, daily life maintains a bridge to an earlier time. Economic drivers include gold mining, and until recently, a paper mill. Winters are long and sometimes unusually frigid. One local politician says the area, an eight hour drive from Toronto,  is “truly one of the last frontiers left in the country.” But despite those links to the past, the region has modern problems. Poverty, addiction, domestic violence and elder care are issues here on the last frontier just like anywhere else. Thankfully, there are leaders like Lee-Ann St. Jacques to help address them. St. Jacques was recently honored as the Influential Women of Northern Ontario’s Executive of the Year. A passionate advocate for supportive housing services, she serves as Area Manager of the Cochrane District Social Services Administration (a Yardi client), which delivers social services to a far-flung region encompassing 145,618 square kilometers – and around 83,000 residents. “Housing is a critical part of our region’s future and yet it remains one of the most underfunded elements. Lee-Ann has not let that deter her from leading one of the most significant housing outcomes of our generation,” wrote Peter Politis, Mayor of Cochrane, one of the larger towns in the district. Politis and other area officials expressed profuse support for St. Jacques’ nomination for the executive honor. “One primary passion for Lee-Ann is that of ensuring adequate and affordable housing for the growing needs of seniors living in our community,” wrote Michael Shea, Mayor of Iroquois Falls, the town where St. Jacques lives and works. In addition to her day job, she has also served as the director of the Iroquois Falls Chamber of Commerce and worked toward establishing a community senior center and garden. “For me it is all about the people I serve. It is seeing the impact on their lives, that is my motivation. Everyone needs a safe place to call home; to live in dignity and to achieve a healthy quality of life,” St. Jacques said. She fell into public housing somewhat accidentally as a career path, but has now been with the CDSSAB for 28 years. In that time, St. Jacques has worked on numerous development projects to augment the area’s housing stock and consolidate local delivery of social services. Housing for victims of domestic violence and two-bedroom affordable and accessible units for seniors have been among the projects. The most recent work involved a public-private partnership to construct 32 units of supportive housing for seniors. With the final closure of the Resolute Paper Mill in Iroquois Falls in 2015, a significant portion of the town’s population relocated to find other jobs. The ripple effect impacted many. NE Ontario Communities are struggling with youth out-migrating to secure employment and seniors leaving to reside in supportive and assisted living facilities. “We are ahead of the curve when it comes to senior supportive and affordable housing, but we are not at the crest of Baby Boomers yet. This is a pilot project for us as we know based on our demographics and community consultations there is going to be an increasing demand over the next 10-20 years,” she said. Mayor Politis noted: “Our mothers and fathers, who have built their homes and lives here, can now remain in their roots, with dignity and family nearby. I can’t think of a better gift from one person to many others.” Within her organization, St. Jacques has impacted future-focused change, including the implementation of the Yardi Voyager platform. With such a far flung region to oversee, she noted that Yardi’s cloud based technology has been a huge help to the CDSSA. “Because of the size of our district, to be able to go to another community and have access to the database, or to be able to work from home, that’s fantastic,” she said. While St. Jacques is recognized regionally for her work, she...

Stephanie Williams May08

Stephanie Williams

Bozzuto Management Company President Stephanie L. Williams was recently recognized by the Washington Business Journal as one of the top 25 minority business leaders in Washington, D.C. One of the co-founders and co-champions of the Bozzuto Diversity and Inclusion program, which strives to cultivate diversity at every level of the company, Williams has strongly held views on how those in the multifamily industry can make their corporate cultures more innovative and strengthen relationships with residents. What do you believe was the greatest factor in your success? Williams: I’ve been at Bozzuto since 2004. I came in as a development associate, having been brought on board as a result of relationships I started in graduate school. I learned early on that building relationships was a key to getting opportunities and to being successful. Once I joined Bozzuto I continued building relationships, demonstrating knowledge of the business and my interest in the industry. And that was evidence I was committed to the company and wanted to grow within the company. I was pretty vocal about saying I wanted to become a leader and also in saying, ‘Help me understand how to do that.’ I supplemented that with relationships outside the company, which allowed me to bring business into the company, whether it was a company we could partner with or build for. I’ve always been a big believer in mentors both inside and outside the company. They have helped me strategically navigate through my career, urging me to take risks and sometimes to show patience. And then just not being afraid to take risks. That separates the good from the great. There were times when I made a decision that wasn’t the right one. But showing the initiative and the willingness to think outside the box...