My Apartment Leasing Experience

If this had been your experience, would you have rented?

My current lease ends at the end of September, so I spent the last month doing the usual research: searching Craigslist, calling apartment management companies to inquire about their current availability and driving through the area where I want to live looking for For Rent signs.

The main issue with my search is that my criteria were very narrow: I was looking for a 2nd floor in a specific area with a small price range to work with. Because of this, there weren’t too many options, ultimately leading me to Red Brick Management, the management company that owns/manages a large chunk of the real estate in my neighborhood.

Being that I work in the apartment management industry and have rented more than a few apartments in my day, I have certain expectations about how I think the leasing process should run.

1. Friendly and Welcoming:

It’s not that they weren’t, it’s just the first time I can remember not being walked through an apartment with a member from the office, which I find to be somewhat unfriendly and impersonal. Given the choice, I’d prefer to be given a tour, not just an address and a set of keys.

2. Professional and courteous:

Instead of a tour through their available apartments, I got a set of keys, signed a waiver stating I would not damage anything in the apartment, that I would be responsible for locking the door behind me and that I would be back before they close. Shouldn’t I be getting the paycheck…I mean didn’t I do all the work?

3. Timely

I will say they were timely with my application process. In fact, they were very timely, running my application and approving me before I ever even submitted my income verification. On the other hand, on my “tour”, there were 3 or 4 maintenance repairs not yet completed with little post-it notes next to them that read: “This will be completed.” Since I already paid all my move-in fees, all I can do is hope that the maintenance will be as timely as the application process.

4. Smooth and Easy

From the first phone call or e-mail to the lease signing, the process should be 100% easy for the prospect. I think it is easy to fall short on this, as there are many steps to the leasing process and prospects have lives outside of leasing and have to fit within “normal office hours” when getting things done (unless the whole process can be done online). Red Brick is open on Saturday, which is convenient. They also allow credit card payments for application fees and deposits and their application is very simple, only taking a couple minutes. Overall, the application process went pretty smoothly and was very easy for me.

Now I’m not through the whole leasing process yet, and they did mention to me that they only allow lease signings a couple days a week (neither of which is Saturday), and that is not convenient.

I think the takeaway here is ultimately quality customer service. In my case, there weren’t a lot of options, but we all know that’s not usually the case. How the prospects feel treated and how easy we make the process for them is usually what makes or breaks a lease.

If this had been your experience, would you have rented?

Using Social Media to Market Apartments Redux

Assiduity – constant or close attention to what one is doing.

Back in 2009 I penned a post about using social media to market apartments. Back then the groundswell was happening and everyone had an opinion about it. And, over the past three years, I think we have all learned a lot. Some of it good. Some of it bad. Some have taken the lessons and left the conversation. Others have bet the farm. While others dipped their toe in, listened, learned, participated, grew and are now providing real value. And, while we were all quietly churning away in our social media bull pens another more than mentionable groundswell was taking place. Fewer multifamily starts and a generation ripe with numbers that we have not seen since the baby boomers hit the scene.

Fast-forward to the second half of 2012, the coastal markets are booming again while the somewhat insulated Midwest lays in wait. In St. Louis specifically, most sub-markets that have hit bottom and are now bouncing along. Some city central, mid-city and west county properties are sporting occupancy gains and rent growth they have not seen in three years plus.

Get these two things (marketing apartments using social media and the near perfect storm of fundamental metrics) in a room together and you have the makings of a home run. At least in my opinion.

Not Using Social Media to Market Apartments?

Now might be a good time to rethink that position. Don’t take my word for it. Take a look at this recent post over at Business Grow (a great blog by the way – subscribe and read every word). I pulled out a quote that I think speaks to my real point.

If you think about, using social media at the university level is the perfect test case for what all our organizations may be seeing just a few years from now:

  • Its primary audience uses the social web as its primary tool for communication.
  • It is an essential strategy for connecting with, and nurturing, its “customers.”
  • The relatively low-cost effectiveness of social media fits with programs under constant budget pressures.

Assiduity and The Why Behind the What

How many of you knew what that word meant? Me either. But, I fell in love when I looked it up. Assiduity – constant or close attention to what one is doing. As I read the word then the definition and then the word again it made me think – get off your ass-n-do-it.

To the point: your near now, now and future residents are growing up digital. Miss the point and miss some real opportunity.

Your big believer in using social media to market apartments,



Apartment Lease Termination Fees

What are lease termination fees? The fee is applied if a current resident decides to break their existing lease contract prior to the lease end date.

Apartment Lease termination feesIt’s time for another installment of our series on apartment budgeting. Today we are tackling the top of apartment lease termination fees.

Lease Termination Fees Defined

What are lease termination fees? The fee is applied if a current resident decides to break their existing lease contract prior to the lease end date. I have seen the fee vary in amounts – some as low as one months rent and others as high and two and one half times the amount of the monthly rent.

Budget Strategy

The apartment lease termination fee is a line item that you can simply use history to forecast forward. If you collected three of these fees last year, it is fair to say that you might do the same in the coming year. Or, if you have more history to pull from then do so. If you have three to five years of history, go back and consider the number of fees you collected over that time and simply average it out.

Once you have determined the number you have collected, space them out over the course of the year. Feel free to pick your months at random as there is no absolute way to predict when someone might need to break their lease.

Charge and Beware

This is likely the second most contested apartment related fee standing close behind late fees. A quick search yielded more than a few Q&A sites that advised everything from – pay it to challenge it.

The fee is perfect legal and it is agreed to at the time of the lease signing so feel compelled to stand your ground.

Your lovin’ other income multifamily manic,


Selling – One for All Apartment Professionals

Apartment friends and family, it is no secret that selling starts with the ability to love yourself. If you don’t love yourself then you haven’t the slightest chance of getting anyone to love you back. And, in my head, getting people to fall in love with you first and your content second is the master-key to riches when it comes to selling.

Master Key to Riches in Four StepsMaster Key Apartment Marketing Selling

1. Love your heart [Read: Stay away from those that would bring you down. And, get real close to those who amp you up].

2. Love your mind [Read: Think well enough of yourself to read literature that makes you think deeply. Talk to people who challenge your intellect and blow you away].

3. Love your body [Read: Eat well and exercise regularly].

4. Love your soul [Read: Find purpose. Find meaning. Find mindfulness. Find that deeper meaning that amps you. Find that deeper meaning that gives cause for you to wake without the aid of an alarm despite the early hour. Find that thing that keeps you on task and in motion despite any and all setbacks].

Bonus Step: Get clear on the definition of riches. Hint: It has nothing to do with money.

Your – in constant practice of the four steps – multifamily maniac,



Choosing Not To Do

mike brewer says no to apartment marketing“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael Porter

You may want to read and reread that last line a couple of times. [It’s okay – I’ll wait…..]

I think for many of us, me included, it’s usually more along the lines of what do we do next? What is the next thing to tweet? What is the next platform to try? What is the next marketing idea stone that needs to be turned over? How do we differentiate? How do we compete?

All good questions and likely good stimulates for conversation. But, what we leave out is equally if not more advantageous in forming an effective strategy.

What are you choosing not to do this year?

Related material: Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning

Pic Props: TSLBO

What Apartment Marketing is Not

What you’re saying in all of this is that people mean nothing to you.

Apartment marketing is not thinking about every person as a renter or a renewal –

Apartment marketing is not about viewing people in the context of residing in your apartment communities –

Apartment marketing is not about getting people to celebrate you through a; Like, G+, Tweet, RT or the such –

Apartment marketing is not about broadcasting the right message at precisely the right to the right influencers –

What you’re saying in all of this is that people mean nothing to you. And, when they don’t respond you just don’t understand why….

Your thinking people-centric multifamily manic,



Multifamily #Trust30: Tiger by the Tail

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

For today, trying asking yourself often, especially before you make a choice, “What do I know about this?”

(Author: Jen Louden)

It’s an attention economy and there are a plethora of messages competing for your interest every second of the day. Not only that marketers are getting more creative and more clever as it relates to sucking you in. Marry in some ADD or ADHD and you have the ingredients for never having to think for yourself again.

Multifamily Think

Anyone who has worked for or with me in the multifamily space knows that I expect you to think for yourself when it comes to running your business. Early in my career someone said, “I am handing you keys to a multi-million dollar business, I expect that you know how to tie your shoes.” Made a ton of sense to me then and it still does to this day.

Anymore whether it be a hiring agent or me personally, you better believe the homework will been done. That is to suggest the background has been explored, the questions have been asked and the references have been checked. And, while I don’t use FB or LinkedIn as a part of the hiring process, I do look you up.

The over-riding point here is that I expect to think for myself and I expect those that come to work for me to think for themselves. And, asking yourself what you know is just half the battle. The even more important part is believing the answer. Even on the tough stuff. I expect to fail fast. I expect people to fail fast. I expect to learn fast. And, I expect people to learn fast. 

What I don’t expect is to light fires – if I have to do that then it’s time to move on.

Your always looking to catch a tiger by the tail contributor,



Multifamily #Trust30: Five Years

Keep family front and center to all decisions you make and trust that honesty and forthrightness are your friends even when they feel like they are not.

Hey, nice to meet you!

#Trust30 – Day Five

Great questions coming out of the #Trust30 challenge. Today, the prompt is what would you say to the person you were five years ago? And, what would you say to the person you will be five years from now?

There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Growing up Multifamily

I’m entering year seventeen in the multifamily business and I think it goes without saying that I have met some amazing people and learned a ton about our business. Five years ago marks a point of significance in my life that really defined some things for me. I had become so consumed by my work that I lost touch with those that mattered most to me.

What would I say to that person? It’s time to grow up.

What would I say to the person I will be five years from now? You have a long way to go; take care of your health and welfare so you can take care of those you care about. Keep family front and center to all decisions you make and trust that honesty and forthrightness are your friends even when they feel like they are not.

What about you – what would you say to these respective persons?

Your thinking these questions are not getting any easier contributor,


Multifamily #Trust30: Build More Lego Apartment Buildings

I would play more monopoly with them, I would build more lego apartment buildings with my son

St. Louis Apartment Living
Mindful Living

Day three of the #trust30 hits us with the NOW…

Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now?….(Author: Jonathan Mead)

Live More Mindfully

I think the otherwise simple answer to this question is; I would spend more meaningful time with my family. I would play more monopoly with them, I would build more lego apartment buildings with my son, play more ‘Ken and Barbie find their first Apartment’ with my daughter and I would go out on far more date nights with my girl. It’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek with the point that being mindfully present with the ones you love and the ones that love you back is where the real wealth of life extends itself.

Your short and to the point contributor,


Property Management: You Think You’ve Seen it All. And, then….

Car thieves are now using tow trucks to tow vehicles that have expired tabs or look otherwise derelict. And, apartment community parking lots and garages seem to be hotbeds for the action. Apparently they move them straight crushing facilities where they sell them for scrape metal prices. Brilliantly awful!

This serves as one of those; if that person(s) would just use that kind of thought process in a productive the world would be a better place.

What else is going on out there? Any weird new twists on crime in your portfolios?