Month: February 2021

Make or Break Maintenance

Maintenance teams have a direct impact on residents’ decision to renew. Here is some insight into bettering your odds.

Maintenance teams are the unsung heroes of apartment communities: When a resident has a problem with their home, it’s the maintenance technicians who come to the rescue. But how much does the work of the service team factor into resident satisfaction and their decision to renew?

Probably more than you think.

NAA’s APTVirtual session, “Make it or Break it Maintenance” delved into the role that maintenance service plays in renewal rates—for better or worse.

A SatisFacts survey gauging residents’ reasons for nonrenewal pinpointed several controllable community maintenance factors.

While 44% of residents reported that they were not likely to renew, 27% listed apartment appearance and condition as a primary factor. Another 23% named community appearance and cleanliness and 21% cited pest or insect problems. An additional 14% listed maintenance staff themselves as their reason for leaving.

“We’ve always known that our maintenance teams are essential. They’re the face of our communities,” said Mary Gwyn, session expert and chief innovator at Apartment Dynamics. “There was talk at the beginning of the pandemic about laying people off. The people they didn’t even talk about laying off were our maintenance people because they’re essential to maintaining the property, to retaining our residents.”

Though the survey shows that unsatisfactory service and upkeep levels can cause residents to leave, proactive and attentive maintenance service also has a direct and positive correlation to renewals.

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    Why 2021 is the Year of Tangible Assets

    It’s no secret that 2020 was a difficult year for many industries. The Covid-19 pandemic all but destroyed industries such as travel, hospitality, sports and entertainment. The stock market was at an all-time high, came crashing down and then built its way back up.

    In the midst of all the economic turmoil came instability in housing. Millions of families struggled to home-school their kids, work remotely (if that was even an option for them), and put food on the table. Even worse, many families lost their income and are still struggling to get back on their feet.

    This resulted in land lords struggling to collect rent payments, which in turn, affected their income, as well. The whole thing has been a vicious cycle, but medical experts are hopeful that we are over the hump.

    In the wake of such instability, many investors are left wondering what to do next. There are two or three basic strategies that seem to be emerging and savvy investors need to know which one to employ.

    Strategy #1: High Risk Stocks

    There seems to be a crowd rushing towards bitcoin, cryptocurrency and other high-risk stocks. Although there is certainly a ton of money to be made in the stock market, there’s also a risk of losing it all. Experts are referring to both bitcoin and the stock market in general as huge bubbles right now.

    The stock market rollercoaster of 2020 saw an epic crash in March, but also a surprising and historic recovery. Tech stocks like Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Google were collectively up by double digits. In fact, by the end of November, Amazon was up 70% for the year!

    Many experts are predicting that tech and other volatile stocks will become stagnant or even come crashing down as the world slowly returns to normal. I have my doubts about that, but it’s worth noting that investing in high risk stocks in a time of such uncertainty in the world is risky business. Some investors have the tolerance and the money to do so, but others are less confident, or at minimum, more conservative.

    Strategy #2: Sit Back and Watch

    Those who don’t have the stomach to chase high-risk investments or try to time the market are choosing to do nothing. These are the investors who may have done fairly well in the past, but were burned by the 2020 situation. Maybe they panicked and pulled their money out of the market in March and missed out on the 60% recovery.

    Needless to say it’s impossible and almost foolish to try to time the market just right. This has never been a great strategy for the majority of investors. That’s why financial managers typically encourage their clients to keep a low-risk, diversified portfolio and to keep it going over time.

    In a year that will hopefully bring new beginnings, I’m not sure that sitting on my hands is the right move. This strategy is a no-win situation regardless of your investing experience. You can’t win if you don’t play and the sideliners stand a lot to lose if they spend another year watching from the wings while the rest of the world invests.

    Strategy #3: Tangible Assets

    In case you’re unclear on the difference between tangible and intangible assets, let’s talk about the key differences first. Every smart investor should be well versed in the assets available and what the benefits are of each. Depending on market conditions and the overall economy, different types of assets are better choices for different people and different times.

    Tangible Assets

    Tangible assets are physical property that can be purchased and owned by a company or person. Some examples of tangible assets are:

    • Land – Real Estate
    • Structures
    • Equipment
    • Machinery
    • Jewelry
    • Artwork
    • Inventory
    • Securities such as cash, stocks and bonds

    Some tangible assets are much more volatile than others. For example, investing in art or antiques could prove to be incredibly profitable. On the other hand, you could also get stuck with them for a long time. Experts in this field typically advise investors to be smart with their choices. You should love whatever it is that you’re investing in, just in case you are unable to resell it later on.

    Real estate is a more secure tangible asset, assuming you purchase in a good area for a good price. Real estate can still be volatile with property values rising and falling, but it’s a generally stable investment to make. You can feel good about investing in real estate as opposed to material items that may or may not produce a profit over time.

    Intangible Assets

    As you might’ve guessed, intangible assets are the opposite of tangible ones. These are things that you can’t physically see or touch, but they have value and could potentially produce income. Some examples of intangible assets are:

    • Copyrights
    • Patents
    • Trademarks
    • Intellectual Property

    Although these can also be great investments, it’s rare that private investors would focus on them. If you’re trying to build an investment portfolio that will produce a passive monthly income, real estate is safe and it will get you there much faster in most cases.

    Trends Impacting Tangible Assets

    In an uncertain market where pharmaceutical companies might rise and tech companies might crash, it’s smart to consider the third strategy, which is to invest in tangible assets. It’s highly likely that the real estate market will continue to see some churn. As an investor, you need to know where to buy and where to sell.

    As the world continues to recover from the pandemic and people search for their new normal, it goes without saying that there will be some big changes. The real estate market has seen major changes in buying and selling patterns over the past twelve months. Here are some of the things impacting real estate and some ways you can make them work for you.

    Mass Migration
    The Covid-19 pandemic has spurred a wave of migration from cities in California, New York and other high-cost areas. People are instead opting for locations with a lower cost of living and more favorable tax laws. As a result, properties in some areas of the country are becoming easier to buy or sell.

    Additionally, many families may have been forced to foreclose on their homes and may therefore be looking for rentals. This could be the perfect time to capitalize on your investment property income, as well. Regardless of your current investing portfolio, there are two basic strategies in this category that will be affected by the mass migration throughout the country.

    Buy and Hold
    This could stand to impact your investing decisions in a few different ways. One school of thought is to employ the buy and hold strategy. Continue purchasing investment properties as you normally would, use an aggressive pay down strategy, and rent them out to cover the mortgage.

    This has always been a smart strategy for building wealth over time. If you have the money to invest and the time to accrue wealth over the following years, this is a great option. Housing will always be a need. You just need to find the investments that make the most sense for you.

    Buy and Flip
    On the other hand, if you’re handy with power tools, or have access to someone who is, you could also benefit from this strategy. Buying a house, doing some repairs or renovations and selling it off is a great way to make some quick cash that you can then use to put down on the next property. However, you have to buy low and sell high for this to work.

    In states where there is a mass migration of people into the area, selling these homes shouldn’t be an issue. The more likely obstacle you will encounter is the ability to buy low. Since so many people are moving into Florida and other low-cost Southern states, it can be hard to find homes for good prices right now. It is definitely a seller’s market.

    Low Interest Rates
    While we’re on the subject of buying and selling, let’s talk about interest rates. They are at all-time lows right now and it appears that they will stay that way for a while. This means borrowing costs should remain low, allowing consumers and investors to purchase properties more easily.

    When borrowing costs are low, many investors employ the concept of leverage, in which they expand their debt in order to increase their potential for higher returns. This strategy can be a smart one to employ if you have the financial status to do so. Here’s a simple example of how it works:

    Let’s say you own a $250,000 home and you want to use a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to purchase an investment property. A HELOC will allow you to borrow up to 80% of the home’s value, minus the amount that you still owe on the mortgage. So on this home, you can borrow $200,000. If you owe $100,000 on the mortgage, that leaves $100,000 for you to purchase an investment property.

    Taking that money to purchase an investment property when rates are low and things are good is a smart investing strategy. Yes, you are borrowing against your home and it can be risky, but it can also be really profitable. Only you can decide what your level of risk tolerance is.

    Presidential Transition
    It goes without saying that any transition in power at the top of our ranks is going to have an impact on the housing market. From tax rates to interest rates, everything has the chance of being altered in one way or another. Since each presidential cabinet has different views on what’s best for the country, this will impact investors in various ways.

    So far, polls have shown that both buyers and sellers are becoming more and more uncertain about the real estate market. History shows that uncertainty in the market can make it harder to sell a home. If your strategy is buy and hold, this could work out perfectly for you.

    Studies also show that millennials are becoming more and more confident in buying homes. Given that they are the largest generation to date and they are of family-rearing and home-buying age, investors could flip houses fairly easily and make quick cash with each transaction. The key, as previously mentioned, is to buy low and sell high. If they are snatching up homes left and right, there’s no reason to buy and sell unless you just want the passive income vs the quick cash.

    Quarantine Boredom
    We also need to address the elephant in the room, which is quarantine boredom. 2020 saw an historic amount of job loss, turmoil and basically solitary confinement for millions of Americans. During that time, it’s not surprising that the tech stocks rose to crazy-high levels. What else were Americans supposed to do with their time?

    Now that we are mostly out of the weeds, experts are predicting a slow but full recovery of the economy. As the Covid 19 vaccine continues to roll out and be circulated to the masses, businesses will start to reopen and new ones will emerge. People who were quarantined for months on end will hopefully have the opportunity to get back to work and back out into the real world.

    As a result, there could be a rise in home purchases from people who might’ve had plans to do so prior to the pandemic, but were unable to follow through for one reason or another.


    Regardless of what type of investor you are, there is no sense in spending an entire year doing nothing. In fact, choosing to do nothing with your investments is a conscious decision to become stagnant for a period of time. I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely not my goal.

    Instead, consider looking at the various investment properties available in your area. Consider whether the buy and hold strategy will work for you, or if you would prefer to flip properties. Both can be a brilliant strategy if you play your cards right.

    Gen Z Renters Drawn to Vibrant Smaller Towns over Urban Centers

    Unlike their millennial peers, Gen Z renters seem to favor vibrant small towns concentrated in America’s heartland, far from the ubiquitous coastal cities, according to a new study from RentCafe.

    “Younger people are willing to trade off living in a crowded, bustling city for having more space at home. Many of these heartland places are also much closer to their hometowns, too, enabling a tighter intergenerational connection, which is more valued among younger adults today than with Gen X,” said Jill Ann Harrison, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Sociology, University of Oregon, in the release.

    According to the most recent national apartment-application data, the share of Gen Z renters jumped by 36 percent in 2020 compared to the prior year. At the same time, the number of apartment applicants from every other generation decreased. And, “some cities saw spectacular increases in rental applications from the youngest generation to enter apartment life.”

    “With the ongoing shift towards remote work, Gen Z may become the poster child for economic revival in the heartland if they’ll be able to work from home after the pandemic,” RentCafe says in the study.

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      Retailers trade Fifth Ave. for Worth Ave. as Palm Beach scene thrives with Americans heading South

      Retailers, restaurants, and other business owners are opening up around Palm Beach, Florida, eyeing tax and lifestyle perks, as more people look to call South Florida home during the Covid pandemic and beyond.

      WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Retailers, restaurants and other business owners want to be where the people are. And people are moving to South Florida in droves.

      Some are taking a temporary retreat during the Covid pandemic, away from the cold weather up North. Others are making a longer-term change, and businesses are following by committing to decadeslong leases.

      At Rosemary Square, an outdoor shopping mall situated close to downtown West Palm Beach, a West Elm furniture store and Urban Outfitters are slated to open in the coming months. They’ll be joined by a slew of new eateries, including a recently opened, local fast-casual taco shop, health-driven chain True Food Kitchen and the hip plant-based restaurant Planta.

      Lucid Motors, an electric car company known as a Tesla competitor, opened its second South Florida location last month at Rosemary Square, which is operated by New York-based developer Related Cos. It joined Lululemon, Anthropologie, Yeti, Tommy Bahama, Sur la Table, RH and more than a dozen other retailers that, on most weekends, are filled with visitors. After shopping some grab a smoothie from Pura Vida, another recent addition to the complex, and listen to live music on a central grass lawn.

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        5 Ways to Increase Rental Housing Revenue or Rents in 2021

        By Justin Becker

        With 2021 finally here, it seems like we might finally be moving toward some semblance of normalcy. In recent months, landlords and building owners were just thankful to receive regular rent from their tenants. Now, however, it might be possible to increase rents and rental housing revenue to start covering your losses.

        Raising the rent might not be the best way forward, especially as the pandemic is still going on in most parts of the world. We don’t want to punish anyone simply because they’re renting from us. But it might be possible to generate rental housing revenues in other ways.

        Let’s have a look at some of these methods now and decide upon the best ones for your needs.

        1. Rent Out an Amenity

        Amenities are something you have to provide to renters. But you can provide some extras at an additional price. If any amenity is particularly in demand, such as parking space, you can rent it out to get additional revenue.

        You can get even more revenue by charging more for parking during days when the area is more crowded than usual. For instance, if a city has a monthly or yearly festival going on, parking can become a precious commodity. The rates of parking will go up everywhere. So, there’s no reason why the space on your property will remain the same.

        Keep in mind that you can offer parking to people who are not your tenants. If the tenants have an issue with cars taking up space so close to their living places, you can offer them a fraction of the revenue collected.

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          Self Storage Off to a Strong Start

          The year-over-year street rate performance was positive in 87 percent of the top markets tracked by Yardi Matrix.

          Thanks to positive fundamentals, 2021 is off to a good start for the self storage sector. Street-rate rents rose 3.5 percent for the average 10×10 non-climate-controlled and 2.3 percent for the climate-controlled units of similar size, year-over-year as of January. Overall, annual street rate performance was positive in about 87 percent of the top markets tracked by Yardi Matrix for the standard 10×10 non-climate-controlled units, whereas month-over-month rent rates remained unchanged for both climate- and non-climate-controlled units.

          California metros took the lead in rent growth, with some markets experiencing almost double-digit year-over-year growth for climate-controlled units. Over the past 12 months, street-rate rents for the standard 10×10 climate-controlled units increased 9.7 percent in the Inland Empire, 9 percent in San Jose and 8 percent on the San Francisco Peninsula and the East Bay.

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            Credit Scores for Lease Applicants Are Rising

            Good credit is becoming increasingly crucial for renting an apartment and according to RentCafe’s latest report, the credit scores of renters and lease applicants has been going up one point each year since 2018.

            “Specifically, according to our analysis of more than five million lease applicants nationwide, the average credit score of renters in the U.S. was 638 in 2020,” the report says.

            Some key findings:

            • Baby boomers have the highest scores (683), while the youngest renters, Gen Z, are at the other end with 586. Still, it’s worth noting that, of all age groups, Gen Z increased their scores the most in the last three years, by 55 points since 2018.
            • Renters in San Francisco boast the highest scores in the nation, 719, followed by those in Boston (716), New York (715), and Seattle (706).
            • Nationwide, the average credit score of renters clocked in at 638 in 2020. Those living in high-end buildings are the only ones boasting above-average credit scores of 669.
            • Those with less-than-ideal scores can still find nice apartments in Arlington, TX, or Memphis, TN, cities where renters’ average scores hover around 580. Moreover, an extra 20 points would get them in a luxury building in places like Mesa, AZ, Las Vegas, or Houston. In these cities, the average credit scores for high-end buildings are the lowest in the country.

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              MBA RIHA Study Reveals Progress, but 5 Million Renters and Homeowners Missed December Payments

              Adam DeSanctis
              [email protected]
              (202) 557-2727

              WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 8, 2021) – Five million households did not make their rent or mortgage payments in December, and 2.3 million renters and 1.2 million mortgagors said they feel they are at risk of eviction or foreclosure, or would be forced to move in the next 30 days. That is according to fourth-quarter 2020 research released today by the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Research Institute for Housing America (RIHA).

              The new fourth-quarter 2020 findings on housing and student loan payments come from RIHA’s study, Housing-Related Financial Distress During the Pandemic, which was previously released in September 2020 (second-quarter findings) and October 2020 ( third-quarter findings).

              The percentage of homeowners and renters behind on their payments has decreased since last year’s second quarter. In December, 7.9% of renters (2.62 million households) missed, delayed, or made a reduced payment, while 5.0% (2.38 million homeowners) missed their mortgage payment. The proportion of student debt borrowers who missed a monthly payment climbed to approximately 43% of borrowers in December from the steady share of around 40% since May.

              “Gradual improvements in the labor market and economy helped more renters and homeowners make their housing payments at the end of 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause financial stress for millions of Americans, and particularly for those who rent and have student loan debt,” said Gary V. Engelhardt, Professor of Economics in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. “Despite 5 million renters and homeowners not making their December payment, fewer believe they are at risk of eviction, a foreclosure, or would be forced to move in the next 30 days. This confidence is perhaps an indication that direct checks and enhanced unemployment benefits, rental assistance, mortgage forbearance programs, and a federal eviction moratorium have so far been effective in keeping people in their homes.”

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                Want to own an apartment building? Buy a distressed hotel for pennies on the dollar

                Real estate developers are buying distressed hotels for bargain prices and converting them to more lucrative and much-needed affordable housing.

                Communities are desperate for more affordable housing, but the cost for developers is just too high. Land, labor and materials were pricey before the coronavirus pandemic, and they are even more so now.

                That is why some creative developers are now turning to hotels – and it appears to be a match made in real estate heaven.

                The stay-at-home culture of the pandemic has hit the hotel sector hard. The share of hotels behind on their mortgages rose to just over 18% in December, up from less than 2% a year ago, according to Fitch Ratings. Hotels are suffering even more than retail real estate.

                But that creates an opportunity for investors, like David Peters in Minneapolis, who is buying distressed hotels at bargain basement prices, and converting them to affordable apartments.

                “Apartments around here, you might pay $120,000 a door, and we can purchase these hotels probably $30,000 to $40,000 a door, and maybe put $10,000 a door into the renovations,” said Peters.

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                  24% of Active Forbearance Plans Scheduled to End in March, When More than 600,000 Homeowners Face 12-Month Expirations

                  JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Feb. 1, 2021 – Today, the Data & Analytics division of Black Knight, Inc. (NYSE:BKI) released its latest Mortgage Monitor Report, based upon the company’s industry-leading mortgage, real estate and public records datasets. As the final, 12-month expiration point for many forbearance plans quickly approaches, this month’s report looks at how the slowdown in improvement in recent months may present new challenges to recovery for seriously delinquent homeowners. According to Black Knight Data & Analytics President Ben Graboske, the end of March 2021 is shaping up to be an inflection point for the industry.

                  “For the roughly 6.7 million Americans who have been in COVID-19 related mortgage forbearance at some point since the onset of the pandemic, the programs have represented an essential lifeline,” said Graboske. “The vast majority of plans have a 12-month cap on payment forbearance, though. And the various moratoriums which have kept foreclosure actions at bay over the past 10 months may be lulling us into a false sense of security about the scope of the post-forbearance problem we will need to confront come the end of March. Last year saw the largest number of homeowners – nearly 3.6 million – become 90 or more days past due since 2009, and as of the end of December, 2.1 million remained so.

                  “When nearly a quarter of all forbearance plans come to an end on March 31, at the current rate of improvement there would still be approximately 1.5 million more such serious delinquencies than before the pandemic. With that rate of improvement slowing in recent weeks, current trends suggest more than 2.5 million homeowners would still in forbearance at that point. While early in the pandemic roughly half of homeowners in forbearance continued to make their monthly mortgage payments, that number has steadily declined. Today, it’s about 12%, which suggests the people who are taking the full forbearance period afforded to them may well be experiencing prolonged financial distress, and face extended challenges as they return to making payments.”

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