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SPECIAL REPORT: Are Mini-Apartments the Next Big Thing?

NATIONAL NEWS PAGE 5

Are Multifamily Investor Preferences Shifting to B and C Class Properties?

MANAGEMENT MINUTE PAGE 7 How to Manage the Industry’s Top Complaint

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Attract More Than Just Residents With the Right Branding Power

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More Strong Performance in the Apartment Market Reported During Q3 2013 Apartment occupancy remained tight during the third quarter, and rents continued to climb at a pace above the historical norm, according to MPF Research. The healthy quarterly performance reflected strong leasing activity at new developments coming on-stream plus solid pricing power at most already-full existing properties. MPF Research analysts highlight the nation’s latest apartment occupancy and rent growth statistics as well as other key performance indicators in a discussion found at www.realpage.com/MPFQ3-2013-Report. Occupancy in the nation’s 100 largest metros averaged 95.4 percent during the third quarter. Occupancy has been hovering around the essentially-full mark of 95 percent for two years, with slight moves seen from one quarter to another aligning with normal seasonal patterns. Among large individual metros, Oakland moved into the #1 position on the list of the country’s annual rent growth leaders as of the third quarter. Pricing for new leases grew 7.9 percent during the past year. Denver-Boulder’s ranking also improved, as the market’s 6.8 percent annual rent growth pace was the second-best nationally. While San Francisco slipped from its previous top spot for annual rent growth, pricing power remained strong with rates up 6.6 percent on an annual basis. The next three positions also went to metros in the red-hot Pacific Northwest region, as rents climbed 5.9 percent in both San Jose and the Seattle-Tacoma area and 5.7 percent in Portland. Miami returned to the list of annual rent growth leaders for the first time in several years during the third quarter, as pricing improved 5.0 percent on an annual basis. The yearly growth pace was 4.8 percent in Houston and 4.2 percent in both Austin and Nashville. Metros that just missed the cut-off point for the best-performers list included Fort Worth, West Palm Beach and the southern California trio of Orange County, San Diego and Los Angeles. Las Vegas is still underperforming at a measly 0.2 percent, lowest of all the major metros. This, however, was a turn in the right direction for Sin City which has continued to struggle in raising rents throughout the Las Vegas Valley. OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2013


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SPECIAL REPORT: Are Mini-Apartments the Next Big Thing? Could you live in a single-car garage? That's about the size of tiny apartments popping up in major U.S. cities where many residents live alone. Inhabitants say the key is keeping only stuff you use. By Wendy Koch; USA TODAY 40% in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Denver, Pittsburgh, Seattle, St. Louis and Washington, according to Census data. In Seattle, which has led the nation with hundreds of dorm-like "sleeping rooms" as minuscule as 150 square feet, a backlash has taken hold. Boardinghouse-style buildings have replaced single-family homes in residential neighborhoods, prompting complaints by neighbors about parking problems, transiency and fire-safety hazards. Officials have responded by drafting building rules they'll publish this summer. "It's an accelerating trend in the industry, especially where space is at a premium," says Ryan Severino, senior economist at New Yorkbased research firm Reis. "You're seeing an urban renaissance," he When Gil Blattner hired a housekeeper for his elegant apartment with 12-foot ceilings, tall windows and marble fireplace mantle, the woman looked at the living room and asked, "Where's the rest of it?" There was no more. She'd seen all 250 square feet of his cocoon, located on a tony, tree-lined street in Chelsea near restaurants, art galleries and bookstores. His monthly rent: $2,500. "It's all that I need," says Blattner, 29, who moved in last year. "I feel very happy when I'm in this space," he says."The name of the game is being selective about what you hold onto. It's helped me stay away from being a hoarder." Though tiny has long been typical in Manhattan, mini-apartments are popping up in more U.S. cities where land is finite, downtowns have regained cachet and rents have risen. In a digital age when librarysized book collections can be kept on a hand-held device, more Americans see downsizing as not only feasible but also economical and eco-friendly. How small? Many anti-McMansions -- also known as "aPodments," "micro-lofts," "micro-units," "metro suites" or "sleeping rooms" -are about 300 square feet, which is slightly larger than a single-car garage and one-eighth the size of the average new U.S. single-family home (also shrinking in recent years). City officials often welcome this mini-sizing, which is common in Tokyo and many European capitals, as a smart-growth, lower-priced solution to a housing phenom: people living alone. Nationwide, the share of households occupied by a single person reached 27% in 2010, up from 8% in 1940 and 18% in 1970. The number exceeds ACCESSLASVEGAS

says, adding Millennials (typically younger than 30) are drawn to cities where they can both work and socialize. They'll sacrifice space for '"quality" location, says Doug Bibby, chief executive of the National Multi-Housing Council, a trade group, noting apartments overall are getting smaller. He says young city dwellers manage with less room by renting rather than buying stuff. "They rent everything," he says -- Zipcars, even wedding dresses. Mini-sizing "is not a fad," says John Infranca, assistant law professor at Suffolk University in Boston who's studied projects in New York, Washington, Denver, Austin and Seattle. He expects demand for tiny apartments will continue as more people, young and old, live alone. Yet he says building codes -- often requiring larger units -- were set decades ago when households were bigger and haven't kept pace with "radical" demographic shifts. OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2013


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Boston, Chicago and other U.S. cities are experimenting with change: • In the Big Apple, billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- who once lived in a studio for nearly a decade -- launched a micro-housing pilot project of 55 units that range from 250 to 370 square feet. The city usually requires apartments be at least 400 square feet. • San Francisco, where new studio apartments rent for at least $2,400 monthly, recently approved a trial run of 375 micro-units as small as 220 square feet. In September, Berkeley-based developer Patrick Kennedy plans to begin building 120 units, each about 270 square feet, with rents starting at $1,800. • In Austin, where rents are soaring as the population booms, the city's first affordable downtown housing project in more than 45 years breaks ground this week. It will be a complex of 135 studios, each 400 square feet. "We have Texas-sized micro-housing," says Walter Moreau of Foundation Committees, a non-profit group shepherding the project.

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monthly (including utilities and Wi-Fi) while regular, larger studios start at $1,200. "There's a substantial waiting list," says Evan Granoff, who has redeveloped the historic 1828 Arcade building in Providence to include 48 micro-lofts as small as 225 square feet. He says the units, which will open this summer, are modeled after efficient boat interiors and include built-ins such as a futon that converts into a table for four. "It doesn't feel cramped at all," he says. HOW DO MINI-DWELLERS DO IT? In Manhattan, where many itsy-bitsy apartments were either built before the current size requirements or illegally subdivided, residents speak with a bit of bravado about their space-saving savvy. "We don't necessarily look at them as mini-apartments, but as standard, live-in-New York apartments," says real estate agent Jason Saft. "I lived in about 250 square feet for five years. You really learn how to make it work," he says, recalling how he once held a dinner party for 10 and even cooked all the food in his tiny kitchen. Changing the ceiling height or flooring materials in different areas can make a studio feel larger, says Donald Albrecht,curator of the Museum of the City of New York. The museum's "Making Room" exhibit features a full-size, 325-square-foot studio with tricked-out furniture such as an ottoman containing four nesting chairs, a fold-out dining table tucked under the kitchen counter and a TV that slides away to reveal a bar beneath.

Developers say they can't build micro-housing fast enough. "We don't do any advertising, and we're 100% occupied all the time," says Jim Potter, manager of Seattle-based Footprint Investments. He's finished six buildings, each with 40 to 60 units, in Seattle and is developing similar projects this year in Portland, Ore., Oakland and Jersey City. "It's really about price point," he says, noting his Seattle units with a bed and bathroom but no private kitchen rent for $600 to $900

"What's important about New York is what's outside your door," says architect Eric Bunge, who shared a 350-square-foot unit with his wife for five years. He says they spent a lot of time in their East Village neighborhood and, when friends came over, moved seats around to accommodate them. Bunge, co-partner at the Brooklyn-based nArchitects firm, won Mayor Bloomberg's adAPT NYC design competition for the city's micro-housing experiment, which is directed at low- and middleincome residents. His units have built-in storage, 10-foot ceilings and 8-foot windows that open onto a Juliet balcony.

what are mini-apartments? what, all of a sudden, is the appeal? Originally named “efficiency apartments” a mini-apartment is a rental apartment that consists of a single room. The only additional room will be a separate bathroom. The apartment will have a kitchenette-style kitchen. The single room of the apartment must function as bedroom, living room and kitchen. FEATURES An efficiency apartment and studio apartment are often considered to be the same thing or very similar. Efficiencies may be smaller than studio apartments, and in some locations an efficiency will have just a microwave or hot plate and mini-refrigerator. A studio apartment is more likely to have a better equipped kitchen space. SIZE Studio apartments have a typical size of 500 to 600 square feet, according to Dimensions Guide. The size can range as low as 300 square feet. An efficiency apartment will be near the low number in most areas. LOCATION Efficiency apartments can be found in areas where there is a lot of activity for single people. These types of apartments will usually be prevalent in densely populated urban areas and near colleges and universities. If you are looking for this type of apartment, ads will list them as efficiency or studio apartments. CONSIDERATIONS Living in a single room requires organization and multifunction furniture. A futon sofa that converts into a bed allows both living and sleeping use. A dining set that folds up leaves more space when it is not in use. One benefit for the busy, single person is that cleaning tasks are kept to a minimum in an efficiency apartment.

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Perhaps because of its proximity to Japan, San Francisco has been at the vanguard of small building in the US for some time. Unlike NYC, who demands new apartments have a minimum of 400 sq ft of living space (adAPT NYC is receiving a waiver on that), San Francisco already allows new spaces to be built as small as 220 sq ft. The Cubix SF, which has units as small as 230 sq ft, has been around for several years. An upcoming project by SmartSpace at 38 Harriet St in the SoMa neighborhood will feature 4 stories of 300 sq ft units. "The whole building is your home," says Mimi Hoang, Bunge's co-partner, citing communal areas such as dens, rooftop terrace, fitness room and bike storage. She says the project, which will be built as prefabricated modules, aims to break ground before Bloomberg leaves office in January 2014. Severino, who has a 3,300-square foot house in New Jersey, says he and his wife had a "good experience" living in a 450-square-foot Manhattan apartment for three years when they were younger. Yet he adds, "It was nice to move back to the suburbs. I have to admit, I like my space." NOT FOR EVERYONE Though environmentalists say density can reduce pollution per person, some Seattle residents oppose micro-housing as "density on steroids." They say the lilliputian units cause crowding in already congested neighborhoods and the month-to-month leases don't encourage people to put down roots. Also, opponents say developers circumvent a design review process that entails community input. No such review is needed for projects with a limited number of units, and Seattle allows each unit to house up to eight unrelated people if it has a communal kitchen and living quarters for each. "It's a severe bending of the rules," says retired resident Bill Bradburd, adding one residential lot can house 64 residents without any parking spaces. Seattle doesn't require ANY parking for such a development? In certain areas, no. He says he favors affordable units of about 400 square feet but says these units often charge more, per square foot, than regular apartments.

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Seattle planning official Bryan Stevens says the city, which has permitted 28 such projects since 2008 and has 17 more under review, has responded by drafting rules that would require a public design review for each building. Potter, the Seattle developer, says his micro-product provides an affordable option without government subsidy. "It's not for everyone," he says. "This is intended for people who are busy and want a place to sleep and take a shower." He says the units attract a mix of people, but the average age is mid-30s. Joe Rose, 27, a college student, loves his 190-square-foot space that -- in his words -is "smaller than a hotel room" and rents for $880 a month. He shares a balcony with a neighbor, cooks in the communal kitchen and, for the first time in his adult life, gave up his car for public transit. "My father is a buy-everything-gadget guy. I'm the opposite," he says. "I'm very minimalist."

Are MicroUnits Helping or Hurting Our Cities? By David Friedlander; Life Edited In San Francisco, the South of Market Community Action Network (Somcan) took to the steps of City Hall to protest a proposed change in housing code that would permit dwellings as small as 150 sq ft.

We’ve seen SmartSpace before with a tour of their 160 sq ft experimental apartment, and we can’t help but suspect that this initiative is influencing the proposed legislation change. What Somcan is protesting is the city’s ostensible shifting focus from family-friendly affordable housing to housing for affluent, childless singles and couples. They might have a point: mico-units are not family friendly. They are primarily for singles and couples without children. The construction of micro-units could be construed as an elevation of their needs over those of families. And while there are no protests (yet), the same could be said of adAPT NYC. What complicates Somcan’s argument is: 1) Market demand. Singles and couples need affordable housing too. SF micro-units will start around $1300/month, far lower than the $2300 median price for a studio in that neighborhood. 2) Smart design actually makes these spaces more livable than comparable, larger spaces. 3) As cities grow denser, a fundamental shift in living spaces will have to be made. NYC, for example, expects nearly 1M new residents by 2030. The city says 85% of the housing stock for those people is already built, so redistribution of current spaces and new types of buildings will be essential to accommodating these people -- whether they are singles, couples or families. It’s a tough situation. Indeed, many cities like San Francisco and NYC are becoming prohibitively expensive for families. Yet singles and couples need affordable places to live. Then again, maybe 150 sq ft is just too damn small. OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2013


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Are Multifamily Investor Preferences Shifting to B and C Class Properties? By Luis Mejia; Multifamily Executive Recent multifamily investment volumes indicate an early but potentially growing emphasis on low-rating properties. Indeed, as the chart below shows, from the first quarter of 2010 through the first quarter of 2013, Class B and C sales transactions were substantially higher than those for Class A properties. (The data does not reflect the recent, $16 billion Archstone/AvalonBay/Equity Residential transaction, in order to avoid skewing the results.) A further look at the Class A and B transactions shows that their shares have changed gradually over time. In 2010, following the recession, the percentage of Class A transactions was close to 30 percent of all sales, and Class B transactions represented close to 40 percent. Between 2011 and 2012, however, the proportion of Class A transactions slipped toward the 20 percent to 30 percent range, while the portion of Class B transactions moved up, fluctuating above 40 percent.

Conversely, lower-end properties may still be priced reasonably and perform well when properly marketed and managed. These properties appeal to young households with sizable student and consumer debt who are willing to trade luxury for cost and location. The communities may also attract renters who continue to rebuild their finances after transitioning out of the recession’s distress situation. The potential shift between the class transactions, does, however, seem to be supported by the gradual compression in cap-rate spreads between high- and low-end–property transactions. Between the first quarters of 2012 and 2013, the cap-rate spread between Class B/C and Class A property transactions shrank by about 25 basis points, and the cap rates associated with Class B and C transactions declined by more than 50 basis points. The compression, which is also observed using preliminary second-quarter 2013 data, suggests that investors have progressively bid up the prices of low-rating properties. ISO ROI Although volume variations will likely be gradual and continue to fluctuate from quarter to quarter moving forward, one thing is clear: As the multifamily cycle peaks, especially in the top-tier property segment, investors will inevitably search for additional return opportunities by turning to more-basic, less-stylish, but well-occupied properties. This change will become even more evident if financing continues to be affordable and available.

More recently, between the last quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of this year, Class A transactions represented only, on average, 19 percent of all multifamily sales, while the average Class B transaction share during these two quarters was 47 percent. In the first quarter of 2013 alone, the Class A and B numbers were 13 percent and 53 percent, respectively. Preliminary second-quarter 2013 data roughly support these observations, with a split of 20 percent and 48 percent, respectively, between Class A and B transactions. THE MEANING BEHIND THE NUMBERS More data are needed to establish a trend, because although the slippage in Class A sales may seem significant, the change may be due to the gradually shrinking number of top-quality properties available for sale. Investor preferences may be shifting toward less-sophisticated properties because high-end properties may not now offer the return opportunities they tendered early in the recovery. ACCESSLASVEGAS

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The Best and Worst Rent Growth Markets This Year Las Vegas lagging (still) in rent growth By Lindsay Machak; Multifamily Executive

Two of the nation's largest states have seen the largest rent growth over the last year. Three major metros in California, and three in Texas, dominate the rankings of the Top 10 rent growth markets so far this year, according to Carrollton, Texas-based MPF Research. San Francisco tops the list of the 50 largest metropolitan areas with rent growth at 7.8 percent in the first half of 2013, while its neighbor across the bay, Oakland, comes in second with 6.9 percent. San Francisco also posted the nation's largest rent growth for all of 2012 with 8 percent. The Las Vegas market fell to the bottom of the pack right behind New York City. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Nevada having an unemployment rate of 9.5 percent in July, the highest in the nation. However, coming in with 0.2 percent rent growth is a step in the right direction for the struggling city, since the Las Vegas market saw negative rent growth overall last year. Some industry professionals are watching markets like Washington, D.C. for signals of overbuilding as the area's rent growth decelerated to less than 1 percent. Check out how the rest of the largest 50 areas stacked up. TOP 10 San Francisco 7.8% Oakland 6.9% Denver-Boulder 6.1% Seattle-Tacoma 6.0% San Jose 5.0% Portland 4.4% ACCESSLASVEGAS

Houston 4.3% Austin 4.1% West Palm Beach 4.0% Fort Worth 3.6% BOTTOM 10 Las Vegas 0.2% New York 0.3% Hartford 0.7% Washington, DC 0.8% Memphis 0.9% Sacramento 0.9% Cleveland 1.2% Virginia Beach 1.3% St. Louis 1.4% Fort Lauderdale 1.5%

336-Unit Garden Style Community in Las Vegas Acquired by Bascom Group for $36,575,000 By Scott McClave; PRWire The Bascom Group, LLC ("Bascom") has acquired Broadstone Montecito ("Montecito"), a 336-unit Class-A garden style community located at 9745 Grand Teton Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada for $36,575,000, or $108,854 per unit. The property was listed and sold by Christopher Bentley and Melissa Salas of ARA. Built in 2007 by Alliance Residential, the Class-A property consists of 17 three-story buildings across 15 acres in the Northwest Las Vegas Submarket. The property is ideally located in close proximity to numerous job centers and growth areas.  The 354,000 square foot Centennial Hills Hospital is located less than three miles from Montecito.  The property has easy access to the I-95 and Hwy-215 beltway while being adjacent to the nationally recognized master-planned community of Providence and the newly announced master-planned community of Kyle Canyon. Scott McClave, Principal for Bascom, comments, "We are excited to be extending our presence into Southern Nevada. Montecito represents a great opportunity to purchase a well built, high quality property in the trough of a rebounding market. Market fundamentals will continue to improve dramatically in the Las Vegas market and we look forward to creating a place where our residents can call home." Jerome Fink, Managing Partner of Bascom, adds, "Montecito is the ninth multifamily acquisition that we have completed in 2013, and the first in Las Vegas.  We see a strong recovery in the Las Vegas market and look forward to growing our presence there." OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2013


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Top 10 Resident Complaints in the Multifamily Industry By Michael Fazio; Nevada State Apartment Association Complaints come with the territory in the multifamily industry. After all, you can't please everyone all the time. What are the common threads in everybody's complaint box? After analyzing 10,000 customer satisfaction surveys from residential communities nationwide, J Turner Research has provided a list of complaints most likely to be on the tip of your tenants' tongues. The surveys were completed over the last two years, and not surprisingly, rental rates are the No. 1 tenant complaint. Here are the top 10 results from the survey: 1. Rental rates 2. Poor grounds/common area upkeep 3. Disorganized staff/lack of communication with staff 4. Quality of response to maintenance requests 5. Overall customer service of management staff 6. Quality of parking/parking availability 7. Concerns over security/safety/lighting 8. Lack of upgraded amenities 9. Pets not on leash/poor pet waste removal 10. General lack of preventative maintenance

How to Manage the Industry’s Top Complaint By Joe Bousquin; Multifamily Executive Apartment pros poised to keep increasing rents in 2013 stress that presentation, as well as product and service, are critical to raising rents in the right way. That means educating existing residents about the costs to move, and even the alternatives they have to your property, while keeping common areas and other amenities sparklingly enticing. Nicholas Dunlap, vice president of Fullerton, Calif.–based Dunlap Property Group, is aiming for a 5 percent increase in rents for 2013 across his 1,000-unit portfolio. To Dunlap, the main point to get across when selling a rent increase is simply to outline where it’s coming from. “It amazes me to see the landlords that take the ‘throw the stone and hide the hand’ approach to rental increases,” Dunlap says. “We make it a point to share with our residents some of the rising costs we’re facing: utility increases and the new taxes and fees associated with owning and operating a multifamily property. We explain that we ACCESSLASVEGAS

shoulder the burden as best we can and only pass through a little of it. We let them know where we are relative to our comps. We’ve found our residents appreciate the transparency.” Many operators are still cautiously optimistic about their ability to push rents going forward, even though many temper that enthusiasm by emphasizing a need to return to the core fundamentals -- superior customer service, continued maintenance, upgrades to common areas and amenities, and an intimate knowledge of your submarket and comps. “Rent increases are still best accepted by residents where there is visible evidence of continuous improvements and upgrades at the property,” says Barbara Gaffen, co-CEO of Northbrook, Ill.–based Prime Property Investors (PPI), which has seen 22 percent rent growth since 2010. The firm is projecting continued growth of 3 percent to 4 percent in 2013. “You’ve got to keep on top of your common­areas, building exteriors, and amenities, as well as pay attention to what you’ve got in your individual units,” Gaffen remarks. Even if you do all that this year, though, residents may still bolt. MPF’s Greg Willett emphasizes that while demand should remain strong, resident behavior will start to change from the stay-put attitude of recent years. “We are entering this phase of the cycle where people are just going to move a lot more than they have been,” says Willett. RETENTION ATTENTION As competition increases, you’ll have to keep working to keep your residents from going elsewhere, whether to their own home or to someone else’s apartment community. That means keeping exteriors looking sharp and giving residents a reason to stay. “Every year, we invest millions of dollars into our properties by painting exteriors, replacing roofs, sealing and striping parking lots, and adding desired amenities,” says Kevin Finkel, executive vice president at Philadelphia-based Resource Real Estate, which is projecting 5 percent rent growth across its 24,000-unit portfolio in 2013. “Our No. 1 priority is to provide our residents with well-maintained, safe homes.” Germane to running and maintaining your properties in a professional manner, of course, is keeping a close eye on your comps. A push to raise rents based on projected demographic trends without keeping fundamentals in mind isn’t what running apartments is about. “No matter what the market is like, you still have to constantly monitor vacancy, turnover, and rent growth,” says Ken McElroy, author of The ABC’s of Real Estate Investing and principal of Scottsdale, Ariz. -based MC Cos., which runs 8,000 units. “If you push out a resident over a $10 rent increase, then you have made a bad business decision, but if it’s $100, it may be a good one, if your vacancy is low. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2013


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Attract More Than Just Residents With the Right Branding Power By Les Shaver; NMHC Generation Y has grown up with an inherent understanding and appreciation for brands and strong loyalty to the ones they feel best align with their values. This loyalty is increasingly being applied to the companies behind the apartment communities they live in and the companies they work for, with many seeking out a reputation for quality and integrity. For the apartment market, this means residents care more than ever about the reputation of a community and the company behind it. Developing an authentic brand can help an apartment firm differentiate its product from a competitor -- a factor many industry executives say ultimately benefits the company’s bottom line through higher occupancies and rent premiums. Few industry leaders believe in the power of magnetic branding more than Kevin Thompson, senior vice president of marketing for Greensboro, N.C.-based Bell Partners. According to Thompson, for many renters, selecting an apartment home is becoming less of a logical exercise and more of an emotional experience, he says. All the latest and greatest features are important in a competitive market, but with a growing selection of products and communities in the market, how a home shopper feels about where he or she lives can

trump even the shiniest stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops. “We are in a commodity business. We make boxes that people live in. The only difference is our boxes may be a little bigger and they have a few more bells and whistles,” Thompson says. “[But] the thing that can make our box different is the brand experience.” But a good, authentic brand is more than a magnet for just residents. Job seekers, trade partners, investors and even local municipal players all are paying close attention to what a company’s brand says about the way it does business. The most successful firms treat a company brand a lot like a personal reputation -- it really does matter. EXPANDING THE CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE WITH BRANDING POWER Similar to how a compelling brand can attract new residents and help keep existing ones feeling like their rent money is well spent, Thompson says a strong brand also resonates with potential employees. “It leads to improved recruitment of new associates and increased retention of existing associates,” he says. Cindy Scharringhausen, senior vice president of human resources for Camden, a

Houston-based REIT, would agree. She says Camden’s brand came out of the company’s commitment to creating a great workplace -- a mission and value shared by all team members. And the effort has paid off. This year, Camden earned the No. 10 slot on FORTUNE Magazine’s 16th annual “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, marking the company’s sixth consecutive year on the list and its fourth consecutive year in the top 10. “This consistent approach to providing excellent service to both internal and external customers has been essential in creating the magnetic brand that attracts people to Camden today,” Scharringhausen says. Done right and supported by good business practices, a strong brand can extend interest in a company to the investment community and beyond. From attracting new capital to better navigating often long and complicated local approval processes, a trusted brand can give a firm a jump start on any number of new opportunities. “Having a brand makes them feel more comfortable investing with you,” Thompson says. “It strengthens your platform for future business opportunities.” GETTING TO WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME But getting to the point where all key stakeholder groups -potential customers, employees, investors and more -- know and respect your name and your brand is the result of numerous strategic decisions, consensus building and importantly, consistent application of the brand throughout the entire organization from the corporate

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level to the individual properties. While a logo is an important part of a brand, a brand is much deeper than that and there must be perceived authenticity for a brand to be successful. Any misalignment between a brand and reality can have catastrophic results for a company. Some of the most successful brands, such as Apple, Mercedes, Nike, Shell and Starbucks owe their branding success to a lot of hard work including strategically identifying their company values, creating a physical manifestation of those values in the shape of company marketing, and then consistently reinforcing the values and the marketing throughout the entire organization. Given the importance and value of an authentic brand, Thompson recommends bringing in an agency to help facilitate the process and maximize the results. Consumer research is integral to the development of a strong brand identity. All of a company’s supporting brand platforms must also be developed in concert with the central brand. Employee training is one of the final steps in the execution of a branding process. However, some companies are able to grow their brands organically using core competencies as a spring for further brand growth. Camden, for example, is looking for new ways to leverage its reputation as a desirable place for people to work. “Camden is building on the foundational practices that made us successful and actively communicating our brand,” Scharringhausen says. OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2013


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Top 4 Multifamily Technology Trends for 2014 By: Donald Davidoff; President of D2 Demand Solutions, Inc. It’s conference season in the multifamily apartment industry, and recently I traveled to Turnberry Isle, Miami for the Apartment Revenue Management Conference followed by a trip to Park City, Utah to attend the Property Solutions International user’s Summit. As a speaker and roundtable moderator at both events, I was lucky enough to be exposed to a broad cross section of multifamily owners, marketers, technologists, pricing managers, property managers, asset managers, and executives -- and picked up on quite a number of developing trends, opportunities, and challenges facing our industry now and into next year and beyond.

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PUMPING UP THE VOLUME ON RATINGS AND REVIEWS I believe resident satisfaction is at the heart of our industry’s current obsession with online ratings and reviews. Sure, ratings and reviews within consumer behavior broadly have shown a demonstrable impact on purchasing decisions. The problem inherent in the multifamily industry is a comparative lack of ratings and reviews. Because of slow transaction volume (compare annual apartment leases to the daily turnover in hotels, airlines, and restaurants), the average number of reviews for any given property is still extremely low. I’m interested in watching how our industry -- particularly with our traditional customer survey and satisfaction partners -- works to increase that volume to meaningful levels while maintaining an authentic view, and whether or not when we get to that point we’ll still find the investment of resources into this area as critically important as we do now.

For those who were unable to benefit from either of these meetings of your industry colleagues and peers, I’ve collected four important emerging trends (among many) in apartment technology. By no means an exhaustive list, the subjects below seem to be top of mind for most apartment executives and are worthy of following in the months to come. NET PROMOTERS AND BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE While an era of Big Data and its manipulation via Business Intelligence tools may not have quite arrived yet, certainly our industry seems to be headed in that direction. Most technology firms are hard at work figuring out ways to let customers access data that to this point was locked up inside property management and revenue management systems. While some of the user interfaces in development already look great, what remains to be seen is how the tug of war between wanting to get at the data versus not wanting to invest heavily in (or paying to outsource to) full-time data analysts will play out. Certainly many vendors are trying to make analytics more easily accessible to operators. One exciting prospect will be the impact of Business Intelligence on Net Promoter Scores, and developing a more quantifiable method of answering questions like  "Are my residents happy?" to “Will my resident renew?” to “What will satisfied residents do to help me improve my business?”

RENEWALS AND ENGAGEMENT A much more obvious measure of resident engagement is likely to be found in renewal conversions and the ability of revenue management systems to improve rental rates with satisfied customers. There's probably a great discussion to be had about how we prepare for renewals and whether resident engagement in the 21st Century is more than simply 60 and 30 day out renewal letters. Technology is making the success of operations, maintenance, capital improvements, curb appeal as well as front office staff amicability all the more transparent. Coupled with transparency in online marketing and apartment availability and pricing, I’m interested in seeing if anyone can successfully tie all of these ideas together. REVENUE MANAGEMENT AND APARTMENT LEASE-UP With all of the new supply coming on-line, it’s also no surprise that we’re revisiting the strategic application of revenue management to new community lease-up. Some of the more established methods have been to mask exposure (i.e. extremely low occupancy) from the revenue management system as well as to “stage” releases of floors or otherwise pre-lease a community to reach appropriate demand levels where revenue management can work efficiently. We’re also seeing more operators “turn on” revenue management sooner after property stabilization and optimizing revenue lift instead waiting 60 or 90 days to ease properties into full-blown, systemized operations. In short, new developments are more likely than ever to be using revenue management, and using it sooner than in years past.

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OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2013


ACCESSLASVEGAS

OCCUPANCYCORNER PAGE 10

Y O U R A C C E S S T O T H E L A S V E G A S M U LT I - F A M I LY H O U S I N G M A R K E T

Tech Warning: All Eyes on You

The all-eyes-on-me mentality has changed the balance of power in the leasing office and means that your associates’ actions are constantly scrutinized, and open to critique.

With online review sites, you’re always “on”

Alliance Residential, based in Phoenix, specifically trains its employees to engage with residents using social media and review sites.

News flash (sort of): Online reviews don’t just happen online. Just as the Internet has changed nearly every aspect of our daily lives, online reviews have changed the way apartment operators approach prospects -- and how they act when they meet them in person.

Training staff in the basics of maintaining a friendly and welcoming attitude, too, while emphasizing the need to be candid and transparent about lease terms and pricing, has become more important than ever. “Our unwritten policy is to treat everyone as if they are a Yelper,” Rubin says.

“At our sales meetings, we stress the importance of treating each prospective tenant as if they are going to publish their experience with our firm on one of the major apartment review websites,” says T.J. Rubin, founder of Chicago-based Fulton Grace Realty, a third-party management and brokerage firm.

Las Vegas Metro Occupancy Results September 2012 through August 2013 September 2012

89.88%

October

90.05%

November

89.77%

December

90.01%

January 2013

90.17%

February

90.28%

March

90.83%

April

91.10%

May

91.05%

June

90.78%

July

91.07%

August

91.28%

87%

88%

89%

90%

91%

92%

2013 Occupancy Average: 91.82% Source: Spencer Ballif and Jeff Swinger of CB Richard Ellis (Las Vegas) (117,573 Apartments Surveyed in August 2013) ACCESSLASVEGAS

OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2013


ACCESSLASVEGAS

MARKETACCESS PAGE 11

Y O U R A C C E S S T O T H E L A S V E G A S M U LT I - F A M I LY H O U S I N G M A R K E T

Las Vegas Multifamily Access Third Quarter 2013 Source: ApartmentUpdate.com VACANCY & RENT

PERMITS & CONSTRUCTION

EMPLOYMENT GROWTH

VACANCY & RENT COMPARISON

HIGHLIGHTS - Government additions led overall job growth as Las Vegas employment expanded by 1.4% in the previous six months. The 4,000 hires in the government sector were a part of 11,700 new jobs in the metropolitan area. The professional and business services industry also added 3,300 workers. Not every employment sector posted gains in the last two quarters. The information and financial activities industries shed a combined 5,100 jobs. - The unemployment rate was 9.7% at the end of the third quarter, unchanged from June. Nevertheless, joblessness was down 110 basis points since September of 2012. - The median existing single-family home price dipped 2.1% in the third quarter to $160,700. Even with the recent decline, home prices were up 17.1% from one year prior. During the same time, existing home sales increased 13.8% with 54,860 annualized transactions by the end of the third quarter. - After a surge in rental demand in the second quarter, absorption turned negative with 430 newly vacant units in the last three months. In the preceding three months, 2,030 units were absorbed. - No units came online in the last three months, leaving year-to-date totals at 430 units. Construction was underway on Westcliff Pines II at Silver Sky Drive and Roland Wiley Road, with completion scheduled for the second quarter of next year. - Multifamily permitting activity through the first three quarters nearly matched the all submissions in 2012. Developers filed permits for 1,210 multifamily units year to date, on pace to surpass the 1,270 units requested last year. - Vacancy rose to 8% in September, up 20 basis points from June. Even with the latest uptick, the rate was down 30 basis points from one year ago. - With increasing vacancy, average asking rent lowered 0.2% to $822 per month in the third quarter. Rents have lowered 0.5% from one year ago.

ACCESSLASVEGAS

OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2013


ACCESSLASVEGAS 4496 South Pecos Road Las Vegas, Nevada 89121 702.699.9261

ACCESSLASVEGAS

Y O U R A C C E S S T O T H E L A S V E G A S M U LT I - F A M I LY H O U S I N G M A R K E T

“The Move” Better Serves Owners, Owner’s Needs and Owner’s Communities employees which help manage and serve 6,625 units on 62 properties. “We just out grew our old space and needed to invest in something bigger, better and more Advanced to ensure our owners were continuing to receive close, personal service we promise them”, stated AMG President Bret Holmes. “This gives us the competitive advantage our owners are looking for and the first class service they deserve”, Holmes concluded.

Advanced Management Group’s Company goal is to provide each client with the closest attention and bundle it with the most Advanced resources available. Locating a residence, even for a business, is like renting an apartment. The location has to be Advanced, the ability to service our current and future clients has to be Advanced and maintaining privacy within our corporate culture to benefit you has to be Advanced. They have successfully become more Advanced in their move to better serve owners, owner’s needs and owner’s communities. Advanced Management Group (AMG) started in 2006 with just 27 employees and 3 properties. Today, in what has arguably been considered “tough economic times”, AMG has grown to 274 ACCESSLASVEGAS

AMG’s management style is right for any asset. They are not only Advanced in their thinking, they are Advancing their clients thinking to levels never before seen in Las Vegas. Just ask their owners. AMG genuinely cares about their owners assets. Why? Because they think like owners and give owners the attention most property management companies can’t ... Don’t you want your asset to be Advanced? Contact Advanced Management Group directly at 702.699.9261. In a market that changes daily, sometimes hourly, your asset can’t afford anything less than being Advanced. For information, article consideration and featured columns ACCESSLASVEGAS can be contacted at 702.699.9261. The publisher of this newsletter is:

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