Are You Monitoring Your Property’s Online Reputation?

bigstock-House-In-Hands-Home-Real-Estat-2617813The competition for apartment rentals in Los Angeles is fierce. If you have a poor reputation, renters are likely to step over your listing and move on to the guy with a positive rating. People talk about apartment communities almost daily and with the advances in social media, it is easy for an online reputation to spread like wildfire — good or bad. To make sure your apartment is keeping positive, you should use various tools that help monitor your online reputation.

Use Google Alerts

Google Alerts helps you monitor what people are saying about your apartment complex online. You might already be using Google Alerts, but if you aren’t, you can sign up using your Google account. Create a search query in the Google Alerts interface, then choose what alerts you want to receive, the frequency, and get started on monitoring your reputation.

Try Social Mention

Social Mention is free like Google Alerts and helps track any mentions of your company or brand name via social media. This is extremely important because often reviews and feedback are posted on social media sites rather than your own review site.

Integrate Pin Alerts

Pinterest is extremely popular and it is one of the fastest growing social networks. While negative feedback isn’t usually posted on Pinterest, users might pin pictures of your community, which is good for your reputation. Pin Alerts helps you track when your apartment community hits Pinterest and what is being pinned.

HootSuite

HootSuite is free to use. It doesn’t let you monitor your reputation, it helps you manage it. You can schedule posts on sites like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter. These tools help you keep connected with current residents and potential residents to influence a more positive online reputation.

Handling Negative Feedback

If your reputation has turned sour online, there are things you can do to help turn it into a positive. First, you need to assess the review. Was it a tenant that was a poor tenant? Are they lashing out because they were evicted? If it was a solid tenant with good rental history leaving the feedback, address the concerns right in the feedback. For example, responding with a comment. Discuss that you understand their frustrations, how you plan on fixing this issue so tenants aren’t upset in the future, etc. But, be genuine. If you say you are going to fix something, fix it. Really assess why people are leaving negative feedback and work to fix that feedback.

Never respond to negative comments with a negative tone. Be positive and understanding. You can defend your community, but do so professionally and politely. There is nothing worse for your online reputation than becoming snarky or mean in a comment that is posted online for everyone to see.

20
Feb 2014
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Raising the Rent? How to Tell Your Renters

bigstock-Keychain-And-Key-41443585As the southern California economy improves, housing prices and rental rates are on the rise. The National Association of Realtors has already predicted a leap in rental prices by 4.3 percent in 2014. As your own operational costs, taxes and overhead go up, you’ll be forced to raise the rent. Unfortunately, there is risk of a lower renter retention rate when your rates make the climb, but if you do it right, you can raise the rent and not sacrifice keeping renters.

Be Upfront

When you make the decision to raise the rent, tell your renters why you’re raising the rent. 100 percent transparency goes a long way with renters. If you’re open and honest, renters can understand the need for a change and be more accepting than if you aren’t clear on why the rental rates are going up. You can mention costs that have gone up and how their rise has impacted your ability to operate. Be clear that you don’t want to raise the rent to make more money, and state the economic changes are forcing you to increase it.

Inform Right Away

Don’t wait until the last minute to tell your renters the rates have gone up. Most states require a minimum of 30 days to inform renters, but you can be courteous and offer even more notice (if you have it available). You can only increase rent on new lease and renewed leases, unless your documents specify that increased rates are allowed mid-lease. Tell tenants with leases about to expire about the change and give them at least 30 days so that they can decide whether or not they will renew. If you tell residents last minute they might move because they feel as though they were deceived.

Be Flexible to Renters

If you have a strong track record and your renters trust you, you might make it through a rental increase just fine. Listen to the renters who come to you and cannot afford the higher rent. There may be instances where you can afford to negotiate a slightly lower rate for those who have been long-term tenants. Remember that having long-term tenants can be more profitable than a high turnover rate in your units.

When you show that you understand what your renters are going through, especially during a rental increase, you are more likely to keep your tenants than if you don’t. Remember that managing a property means you still have to show your human side and show that you’re compassionate about what your renters are going through. Offer a budgeting class, incentives, and discounts to renters who chose to renew their lease even with a higher rate as a “thank you” for sticking it out.

19
Feb 2014
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Rental Rates on the Rise? 5 Ways to Save Money and Lessen the Hit

bigstock-Couple-calling-transport-compa-37114168If you have lived in an apartment for a long period of time, you’re bound to see the rent go up eventually. No one likes to pay more in rent, but moving can cause a whole second set of headaches and financial difficulties. Luckily there are ways to cut back so that the increased rent isn’t that big of a deal.

According to the National Association of Realtors, apartment rental rates are expected to see a climb of 4.3 percent throughout 2014. Which means if your lease is up any time soon, you might be renewing at a higher rate.

Make a Budget

Everyone should have a budget — whether rent is going up or not. Start tracking your expenses and compare it to your income. Look for expenditures you don’t need — such as eating out or shopping. You would be surprised how much money is wasted each month when you don’t keep track of it. Cutting a little extra here and there will help you handle the increased rent and also pad your wallet.

Stop Eating Out

Eating out is a big expense. Unfortunately apartment dwellers are more likely to eat out than homeowners. Start eating in a little more often and limit your eating out to once a week or once every other week. If you have a particular dish you like to eat, see if there is a recipe online and make your restaurant favorites at home.

Sell Some Stuff and Declutter Your Life

If your closet is full of junk you don’t use or need anymore, it’s time to think about getting rid of them. What about those small, useless appliances that you never use? Decluttering can save you on space inside your apartment, but also gives you an opportunity to make money. Sell your stuff online through sites like EBay or Craigslist — there are always people looking for stuff on the cheap.

Upkeep the Appliances

Your apartment managers are responsible for repairing and replacing appliances, but it is up to you to maintain them. You can lower your energy bills by keeping up your appliances. Vacuum the back of your refrigerator where the coils are to remove dust that slows down the refrigerator’s efficiency. Unplug small appliances throughout your apartment that aren’t in use — and these will all add up to significant monthly savings over time.

Use Your Apartment’s Facilities More Often

Does your apartment already have a fitness center? If so, cancel your gym membership and start using the amenities that are free with your apartment. Take a few laps in the pool or go to a nearby park for a jog. If your apartment doesn’t have a fitness center, you can still workout at home using fitness videos — a lot of which are offered for free these days.

Sometimes the rent going up can be a good thing. It forces you to get in control of your finances, spend less and work your way to financial freedom.

18
Feb 2014
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5 Reasons to Go for Top Floor Living

bigstock-Family-of-three-on-the-balcony-45110686Searching for a new apartment is exciting. It’s a time to try something new, explore a new area and even meet some new people. A lot of people are concerned about the size of the unit, the rent, amenities, what have you, but what thought do you put into the floor you’re living on? You can usually pick the unit you’ll live in, including the floor. While the top floor often has a higher price tag, there is a reason for it: it’s the most desirable spot in an apartment building.

If you’re not sold on top floor living, consider these five top reasons people go with the highest floor possible.

It’s Warmer

Heat rises, that’s just physics. You won’t have a high heating bill during the cooler California months, because your neighbors will have their units cranked up to the fullest. Because the ground is damper and cooler in the winter, the bottom units will spend more in heating bills than the top floor. In fact, you might not have to turn on your heater at all in the winter.

You Can Enjoy Quieter Living

On the top floor there’s no one above you. You won’t hear your neighbors walking around, exercising or even talking. If you live in an older unit this is especially helpful, since floorboards tend to creak louder with age — waking you up in the middle of the night for sure. Of course, you’ll have to still be conscious of the fact you have neighbors living below, and not stomp your way to the bathroom or kitchen every time.

You Get More Privacy

On the bottom floor you have to deal with all of the foot traffic, including people just walking by to get to their car. On the top floor you are isolated and you have more privacy. You won’t have to keep the curtains drawn closed all day either, because everyone and anyone can’t walk by and look in to see what you have inside.

You Get All of the Sights

In downtown Los Angeles, a top floor apartment is beautiful. You can look down on the bustling city below you, take in the California sun, and never have to leave your place to do it. Depending on what portion of Los Angeles you are in you might even be able to see the ocean.

It’s a Little Safer

Top floor apartments are less prone to break-ins and thefts than bottom floor units. This is because burglars know they would have to pass multiple units and possible witnesses to burglarize a top-floor unit. Bottom floor units, on the other hand, have a higher number of thefts and burglaries.

It’s entirely up to you what floor you live on. If the apartment is nothing but stairs, you will want to consider if you can handle going up multiple flights of stairs on a daily basis. If your apartment has an elevator, make sure it is a working one and that there is an on-site staff member to fix it. The last thing you want is to have to take five or six flights of stairs every day because the elevator is out of service.

17
Feb 2014
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Benefits of a Higher Resident Retention Rate

rentalsAs a property manager or owner, it is your responsibility to aim for a high resident retention rate. While it does require a lot of effort and some funds, having a higher retention rate pays for itself. If you are finding it difficult to see it that way, here are some benefits to keeping the residents you have versus working on finding new ones.

Save Money

When you have residents that stick around, you have a stable income. Consider it this way: when a resident leaves, you have a vacant unit. Open slots waste potential income as they remain vacant, but also cost money to fill. Think of how much it costs to advertise a vacant unit, the time you will take to show the unit to potential renters, the cost and time associating with doing a background check and approving a new resident, etc. When you have residents that stay in place, these costs can be avoided.

More Referrals

Long-term residents know how you operate as a property owner or manager and they like there they are living — if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be a long-term resident. Long-term residents could increase the number of referral residents you receive. You can even offer incentives for referrals, such as a new microwave or discount on rent for referring new tenants.

Better Income for Bad Times

Net operating income is important for a rental property. As a property owner, you need a solid NOI and when you have a high resident retention rate, you will.

Less Turnover Costs

You already know that it is cost-efficient to have a higher resident retention rate, but your turnover costs are also reduced when you have a high rate. You can avoid turnover expenses like changing the locks, replacing carpet or having carpet professionally cleaned, replacing blinds, repainting, changing appliances, etc. All of these costly repairs and replacements aren’t needed when the same tenant remains in a unit, which means you could potentially save thousands of dollars per year on turnover costs.

Reduced Rental Income Losses

You don’t take in rent when you have vacant units. Not only are you spending money advertising for new tenants, but you are missing out on income you could have had if the tenant stayed in that same unit. In some cases you could see a potential rental income loss for months, especially when you hit those months where residents just aren’t looking for a new place. If you have multiple units that sit vacant at the same time, you’ll encounter an even larger rental income loss.

Focusing on the tenants you have right now is the best investment you can make as a property owner. The more time you take keeping your residents happy, the less time you will spend finding new ones, taking care of turnover and suffering extensive losses.

14
Feb 2014
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