Triple Win Property Management Blog

How to Build a Lead Generation Engine for a Property Management Company

Navigating the world of property management can often feel like a high-wire balancing act, particularly when it comes to property management lead generation. But fear not! The path to success becomes clear when you understand your target market, communicate effectively, and employ savvy lead-generation strategies. More good news: We know a guy who happens to be an expert in scaling up residential property management companies – Jeremy Pound, CEO of RentScale. We reached out to Jeremy to talk about the ins and outs of how to approach successful customer acquisition strategies for residential property managers. In this article, he’ll help guide us through key steps, providing actionable insights to help you attract and secure your ideal property management clients. Let's turn those potential leads into lucrative opportunities! Meet the Expert: Jeremy Pound, CEO of RentScale Jeremy Pound is the CEO of RentScale, the largest sales consulting and coaching company in the residential property management industry. They’ve trained over 400 companies on how to successfully grow their property management business by becoming “new customer machines.” He is also the publisher of Strategic PM - The Magazine for Property Management Entrepreneurs and Executives. 1. Define your ideal target market Not every prospect is a fit. And the key to growth is targeting the right people with your marketing strategies. When first starting out, a property manager might focus on pure hustle and price. But eventually, that’s no way to scale for profitability. (On that subject, Pound recommends the excellent management book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,” by Marshall Goldsmith.) “Something I talk about all the time is that the opposite of ideal fit client is a misfit,” says Pound. “You want to work hard to avoid those misfits, which means you need to label the right-fit clients, know who they are, and describe them. That's the best way to grow: not just getting more net clients, but getting better and better quality clients.” In short, build high-quality leads by defining your ideal customer. Pound outlines the specific types of property management investor clients: Experienced investors: “There are different types of experienced property owners. Are you going after those who value risk aversion and peace of mind? Maybe you're charging a little more and adding more ancillary services, but you're protecting them from all the things that can go wrong. Or are you going after really aggressive risk-takers who are looking to optimize every dollar possible?” Accidental landlords: “Are you built to serve accidental landlords? Oftentimes homeowners move on, they move up, or they downsize, and they look to keep their very valuable properties as rental properties.” Working professionals: “Maybe you’re going after working professionals, such as high earners who are building a portfolio as property investors. They got the real-estate investing bug, they know that maybe they don't want to pull their money into 401K and index funds, and so they're actually using new property to build a portfolio for retirement.” Out-of-town investors: “Are you really built to serve out-of-town real estate investors? There are a lot of people, myself included, trying to build a diversified national portfolio of single-family rentals, and [some PMCs] are really built to serve that person because they need somebody local who's an expert and understands that local market. Once you define your ideal customer, which is the most important step, everything comes from there, Pound says. 2. Clarify how you are built to serve those clients best According to Pound, the simplest next step is to build your processes and procedures around that target ideal client. “Everything we do should be a story around why all of our policies, our pricing, our procedures are all built to best serve that client,” he says. “I like to call this ‘avoiding the commodity tax.’ If you go out and spend money on advertising, or if you're buying new leads, or you're trying to spend money on SEO as if you're just a commodity and you've got nothing exciting to say – no sharp story, no compelling positioning – then you're basically paying the commodity tax.” “You're going to have to buy all these leads, and most of those people are not going to buy from you,” he continues. “You might be buying 10 leads to close one deal, or you might be spending a bunch of money on advertising that's just going over everybody's head. Nobody's paying attention to it because it's not exciting.” This brings us to the next strategy… 3. Use dog whistle language Pound emphasizes that what catches our attention is the uncommon, the novel, and the specific. Our marketing should cultivate that specificity. Here’s how: “A term that we like to use around here is Dog Whistle Language,” Pound says. “If you know a dog whistle, only a dog can hear it. So when you know who your client is, it allows you to speak Dog Whistle Language – their language.” “I always try to enter the conversation that's already happening in their mind. If we have a very specific client, we know the problems that they're trying to solve, we know the frustrations they have and the goals they have. So let's just enter the conversation that's already happening in their mind! That’s going to make your content marketing less expensive and way more effective, and it's going to make your sales process even better.” “If we can say what our prospects are already thinking, but we can say it better with more clarity, then they're going to key into that.” Ask yourself: What are they already thinking? What is the problem they're trying to solve? What are the frustrations they have? Then, describe it even better than they can, says Pound: “That has been proven to create trust, to create authority. and to make them remember you.” 4. Understand demand generation vs. demand fulfillment “We want all our clients generating demand for their service,” Pound says. Demand fulfillment is “just going out and buying pay-per-click ads because people are already searching for your product.” This is a commodity-based approach. Let’s say something needs a new roof. They’re just going to type “roofer Boca Raton.” Pounds says that’s demand fulfillment: “You're just fulfilling the demand that's there, right? You're just hoping to get lucky. You're spending as much money as possible and just showing up.” Instead, Pound says, “Demand generation might be going out and talking to people about how if they've had any storm damage, they might be able to get their roof replaced through their insurance.” “There's a lot of examples of this in property management,” Pound says, “especially when you're going out, and you're teaching people to invest in real estate – actually going out there and creating the market for your product. It's more sophisticated, but it's way more profitable, and you have way more control over that than just sitting around and playing the demand fulfillment game.” Pound gives an example of a PMC going after high-net-worth individuals. “Let’s say you’re in Florida, where Publix is headquartered, you might be going after all the executives at Publix. You’re basically saying, ‘Look, there are other ways to pay for your kids' education. There are better ways to save for retirement. You can live a better life if you get involved in real estate investing.’” That’s demand generation. 5. The Buyer’s Pyramid: Have campaigns for each level of the buyer’s journey Source: "The Ultimate Sales Machine" by Chet Holmes ‍ Time to get into the Buyer’s Pyramid. The top 3% are in the demand fulfillment mindset. They know what they need, they’re searching for the service or product, and they’re ready to buy. Then there’s 7% that are loosely open or becoming open to the idea of needing a product or service. As Pound says, “Maybe they're kind of frustrated with their property manager, but they're not so frustrated yet that they're ready to go search on Google.” That’s the moment to hit them with direct mail, email marketing, cold calling, or messaging that enters the conversation that’s already happening in their mind. Pound says to aim to say what they were thinking better than they can say it. Then they may move up into the 3% who are ready to make a decision. Below that is 30% of the potential market that isn’t aware of the existence of your product. They may be renting their homes or about to sell and simply don’t know that property management services exist. Then there's another 30% of the market that just misunderstands. Pound elaborates: “Maybe they’ve been self-managing forever, and they think that property managers just take a piece of the pie rather than make the pie bigger.” “Really good property managers explain to their prospects that they don't just take a piece of the pie,” Pound says. “Really good property managers actually expand the pie. They get more money for the property either by being able to charge more through marketing or reduce vacancy and turnover – and therefore, they're able to actually reduce all the losses that you would have from a rental property.” In the end, you can focus on each of those separate types of prospects and build campaigns that speak directly to them. 6. Track the numbers and optimize: Unit Acquisition Cost & ACV To optimize your acquisitions, it’s key to understand your numbers. That’s obvious, but how do you do it, and what are the most important numbers to track? Pound points to unit acquisition costs (UAC), customer lifetime value, and annual contract value (ACV). “We have monthly recurring revenue for months and months, if not years and years,” Pound says. “So you have to understand some of these numbers.” Unit Acquisition Costs (UAC): “How much does it cost you to acquire a door?” Annual Contract Value (ACV): “How much does each customer bring me annually?” Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): “How much does each customer bring me over their entire lifecycle as my client?” Pound breaks down how CLV affects your judgment on UAC. If a customer stays with you for five years and you're making $200 a month, their lifetime value is going to be $12,000. “You start to understand that you're willing to invest a little bit more than you thought to acquire that customer,” Pound says. This brings us to…. 7. Build the list and lower your costs You want to be always building your list of potential clients and client referrals. “Think about that buyer's pyramid,” Pound says. “Think about attracting and courting those people that are lower in the pyramid before they're ready to buy. We can actually acquire those people for pennies on the dollar versus the really high expense of going after Google pay-per-click or buying leads.” “Let’s say one day, a major life or business event will happen that will turn a prospect into a buyer today. Instead of having to go to Google to look for you, where you have to spend $17 per click, they already look to you for advice and help because you’ve courted them over time. When the life or business event happens, they’re ready to buy from us.” 8. Sweat equity or check equity It takes investment to create clients. In the end, Pound says, that investment decision comes down to: “sweat equity or check equity.” Sweat equity = time spent Check equity = money spent “Some entrepreneurs and business owners have more time than money, and they're going to want to spend money on advertising that works,” Pound says. “On the other hand, some entrepreneurs or property management owners have more time than money, and they're going to want to invest their time.” Sweat equity could look like: Networking with referral partners Direct outreach (outbound) to investors Calling FSBOs Partnerships Facebook Groups Forums Hosting events or going where the investors are Social Media (LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, FB, Bigger Pockets) Organic online marketing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Webinars Check equity could look like: Direct mail Digital marketing (Google ads/PPC, YouTube, LinkedIn, Bigger Pockets, FB) Radio and TV Pay-per-lead Outdoor Hosting premium events with recognized speakers Final Thoughts In the end, getting qualified leads and new business is all about targeting and positioning. As Pound says, “The punchline at the end of the day is: If you’re going to spend money and time, you might as well be positioned. You might as well have the right language – the dog whistle – so you can get more out of every ounce of your sweat equity or every penny of your check equity.” For more insights from leaders like Jeremy, check out our Triple Win Podcast for residential property managers. Or, here are a few places to keep reading about growing your PMC: How to Create a Property Management Business Plan [Free Template] 15 Strategies to Grow Your Property Management Business Marketing Ideas for Property Management Companies

Calendar icon December 12, 2023

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Best property management associations to join

4 Best Property Management Associations to Join

A property management association is a membership organization that provides opportunities for networking, education, and advocacy for property management professionals. There are many advantages to being a member of one. The business and personal development opportunities available through the many conferences and educational opportunities present great avenues to grow and optimize your property management business. Here are four property management associations we recommend looking into. NARPM: National Association of Residential Property Managers NARPM is the single-family rental industry’s leading association. It’s a national organization dedicated to the SFR industry with countless regional chapters and over 6,000 individual members. NARPM’s National Conference and Expo every October is the largest event and trade show in the SFR industry, and the association hosts countless other events and trade shows that serve as networking opportunities in regional events, chapter engagement, and other national events. Joining your local NARPM chapter is one of the easiest ways to further yourself and your property management business. Learn more about NARPM National Rental Home Council The National Rental Home Council (NRHC) is a national trade association specifically for single-family rental property managers. It's a newer association, but it's one of the few aimed at the single-family industry. Its goal is to strengthen the rental market by helping property managers provide high-quality homes to residents while educating the public on the societal of a strong SFR market. The association’s main event, the Industry Leaders Conference, will be held for the fourth time in April of 2024. Learn more about NRHC Information Management Network Information Management Network is not technically an association, as it does not offer membership. What IMN does do is host a wide variety of networking events all across the country for both single-family and multifamily property managers. IMN hosts real estate events both in and out of the property management industry. It's single-family forum will be in its 12th year in 2024, and it also hosts the Single Family Rental Property Management, Operations, and Tech Forum, which is will be in its sixth year. Learn more about IMN National Apartment Association If you’re in multifamily property management, the National Apartment Association is an advocacy and trade association with excellent member benefits including advocacy, exclusive content such as the units magazine, and more. NAA also hosts a number of events and trade shows for multifamily managers and other professionals in the apartment space including an advocacy event, a national trade show, and a senior leadership networking conference. Learn more about NAA

Calendar icon December 11, 2023

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Property manager talking on the phone

20 Ways to Get More Property Management Leads

Here's something that might seem surprising about today's housing market: High mortgage rates for buyers could actually mean better property management leads for property management companies. That's right, we said it! Consider this: As high rates cut into the ultimate value a seller can get for their property, many homeowners are renting out their properties rather than selling them. That in turn creates a growing demand for skilled property management. The situation presents an advantageous landscape for property managers looking to expand their client base and get property management leads. And that's exactly what we're talking about in today's article: property management lead generation. We're exploring 20 effective strategies to tap into this market potential, from leveraging referrals and business networks to harnessing the power of digital marketing. Let's dive into how you can capitalize on the current market trends through property management marketing and secure more clients for your property management business. 1. Referrals This is a great step for new businesses. You can get referrals to new clients from friends and family, local BNI groups, realtors, and other clients. Leverage your existing network and ask for referrals. Satisfied clients and professional contacts can often provide recommendations to potential leads. You can also create ancillary revenue by charging a referral fee for your own referrals. 2. LinkedIn Another good one for new business, use LinkedIn to connect with potential clients, join industry groups, and share valuable content. It's a powerful platform for B2B lead generation. 3. Event Marketing New companies can host or attend industry events to network with potential property management clients. These can range from local real estate meetups to larger industry conferences. 4. Cold Calling While it may seem old-fashioned, cold calling can still be effective, especially if you’re just getting started. Just ensure you're targeting the right property owners and property investors in your local market and offering clear value. 5. Facebook Facebook, and other social media marketing, is effective for new and growing companies. Use targeted Facebook advertising or post in local groups to reach potential clients. Consider running ads targeting landlords or real estate investors. For growing companies, use advanced targeting options in Facebook Ads to reach a larger, more specific audience. Consider retargeting ads to website visitors or people who have interacted with your content. 6. Podcasts Podcasts also work well to launch your first marketing strategies or to help boost a growing company that has plateaued, or just needs a fresh take and new leads. Start a podcast or guest on existing ones (like our Triple Win Podcast). Discuss industry topics to establish your expertise and reach a larger audience. 7. Local Businesses & Strategic Partnerships When you’re just getting started, it’s a great idea to partner with local businesses that serve the same market. For example, a local moving company might recommend your services to new residents. You can also join local clubs and the Chamber of Commerce and attend meet-ups to build a network that refers high quality leads and clients. 8. Direct Mailing New companies should send targeted direct mail campaigns to potential leads. This could include newsletters, postcards, or informational brochures about your services. 9. Niche Forums Launching a new business requires support and community. Participate in online forums related to property management or real estate. Answering questions and sharing insights can help attract potential clients. 10. Read Local Listing Reviews Looking for your first few clients? Monitor local listing reviews such as on Google and Yelp to find landlords who may be having trouble with their properties. Reach out to offer your services. 11. Browse Newspaper Ads Another great way to find those first 10 or 20 clients is to look for rental listings or properties for sale. Reach out to the owners to offer your property management services. 12. Content Marketing Now we’re getting to a strategy for a growing and established company. Create valuable content on your website and social media channels. This can include blog posts, infographics, or eBooks that provide insights to property owners. A good example of content marketing for lead generation is Realty Medics. 13. Google Ads (PPC) Established PMCs can run pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on Google to appear in search results for relevant keywords. This can help attract landlords or property owners searching for management services. This is one of the best online marketing strategies. 14. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) A great step for companies looking to keep growing is to optimize your website for SEO and content with relevant keywords to rank higher in search results, increasing visibility and attracting organic traffic. 15. Email Marketing Worried about your company’s growth plateauing? Nurture your existing email list with regular newsletters or updates, providing valuable information and promoting your services to encourage conversions. 16. YouTube (Videos and Ads) Create educational videos on property management topics or advertise on relevant channels to reach a wider audience on YouTube. This is ideal for a company that already has a network of clients, but could also help you start out. 17. Webinars Once you have an audience established, host webinars on relevant topics to provide value to your audience. This can help position your company as an industry expert and attract potential leads. 18. TV Ads Depending on your budget, consider TV advertisements. Although more costly, they can reach a wide audience and increase your brand visibility. These are ideal for large companies. Single-family rental property managers aren't typically going to go this route. 19. Billboard Ads Like TV ads, SFR property managers likely won't be using TV ads, but it certainly is a strategy in the larger property management world. Outdoor advertising, like billboards, can help increase local visibility for companies that already have an established reputation. However, it’s best suited to companies targeting property owners in specific geographical areas. 20. Pay-per-Lead Services Use services that sell qualified leads. While this involves upfront costs, it can provide a stream of potential clients who are actively seeking property management services. Final Thoughts For more insights about lead generation strategies, check out our Triple Win Podcast for residential property managers. Or, here are a few places to keep reading about growing your PMC: How to Create a Property Management Business Plan [Free Template] 15 Strategies to Grow Your Property Management Business Marketing Ideas for Property Management Companies

Calendar icon December 6, 2023

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Woman on laptop reading PM forum

10 Best Property Management Forums to Discuss PM Business

A property management forum is an excellent place to connect with other property managers in order to gain insight and expertise. These forums can be anywhere on the internet, although the most active ones tend to be on Facebook, and they can focus on anything from broad discussion on property management to specific accounting software. Here are our top 10 property management forums. Triple Win Property Managers Triple Win Property Managers is a private group with over 1000 members, and it’s exclusive to single-family rental professional property managers. There are a lot of property management forums out there today, some better than others. Not many are specifically designed for professional SFR operators. What you get in Triple Win Property Managers is the opportunity to engage with professionals across the country who own and work on companies of varying sizes. The SFR industry as a whole needs to demonstrate a commitment to elevating what it means to be a property manager. If you believe that, Triple Win Property Managers is a way to connect with others who share that view. Reddit r/propertymanagement is the leading Reddit forum for property managers. It’s a great place to get questions answered about a wide variety of property management topics. Really any question about property management can be asked, including questions residents or investors have about their property managers. Go to r/propertymanagement Bigger Pockets Bigger Pockets is generally aimed more at the real estate investor, but there is publicly available property management discussion there as well. The property management forums there are pretty active, with multiple daily posts. Go to Bigger Pockets Property Management Mastermind Property Management Mastermind is the largest property management Facebook group at over 12,000 members, and it’s among the most active. The group tends to lean single-family, but it’s not exclusive to professional property managers. Most of the discussion centers around property managers helping other property managers with issues, but the group has no express purpose other than connecting PMs. You can raise conversation regarding whatever you want. Go to Property Management Mastermind Buildium Users Unite/Appfolio User Group/Rent Manager User Forum Many of the property management accounting softwares have Facebook groups specifically for users to communicate with each other regarding the platform. They’re generally pretty active. Both Appfolio User Group and Rent Manager User Forum have over 2,000 members and multiple posts per day. Buildium Users Unite has almost as many members and gets about three posts per day. Go to Buildium Users Unite Go to Appfolio User Group Go to Rent Manager User Forum PM Health PM Health is a Facebook group that’s very different from the rest of the Facebook groups on this list. It is specific to property managers, but focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and finding time to exercise and be active. Owning a business, especially a property management business, can be high-stress and time consuming. PM Health was created for property managers to support each other in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Go to PM Health NARPM Discussion Group NARPM is the industry’s leading association for single-family property managers, and their Facebook group has over 2,500 members and is pretty active at about a post per day. It’s a great place to reach and engage with property managers specifically in the SFR industry, as NARPM is SFR specific. Go to NARPM Discussion Group Local groups There are lots of property management Facebook groups that are regionally specific, and these are great places to check out as well, especially if you have questions about local law and matters pertaining to regional or state ordinances. Your local NARPM chapter probably has a group, and there are lots of unaffiliated groups as well.

Calendar icon December 4, 2023

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Security Deposit Alternatives for Property Managers and Residents

Thirty-billion dollars. That’s a lot of money! It's also how much is currently sitting, collecting dust, doing absolutely nothing for property managers across America. Where is this money hanging out? If you guessed security deposits, you win. What is a security deposit? A security deposit is a one-time, refundable payment made by a tenant before moving into your single-family rental home. It acts as financial insurance against potential damages, unpaid rent, or cleaning fees incurred during their tenancy. Security deposits represent an enormous amount of money, constantly changing hands in the SFR community. Traditional security deposits exist for good reasons but aren’t ideal for everyone. They can cost well over the first month's rent for residents and can be a hassle for property managers and investors. If you’re at all familiar with our Triple Win approach and resident benefits, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that, yes, there is a different way. That's why today, we're talking about security deposit alternatives: What they are and, in particular, how to choose one over the other. Types of security deposit alternatives Security deposit alternatives that are beginning to go mainstream aim to lower the barrier to rental for residents. This lower barrier, in turn, increases ROI for the owner and boosts the PMC’s bottom line. It’s one of the best examples out there right now of a triple win. First though, what are they? Alternatives to security deposits are not one size fits all. They can vary based on business size, strategy, and state and local laws, and there are several different ways to apply them. The general concept is roughly the same, though. Offer your residents a small recurring fee that buys them the privilege of not having to pay a lump-sum security deposit. You can achieve this goal in four different ways. Pure insurance Surety bonds ACH authorization In-house program Insurance, surety bonds through a bond company, and the ACH authorization are all available through third-party vendors, which are increasing in popularity. Pure insurance This is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of a deposit covering potential damages, the resident takes out a policy with an insurance company to cover any damages. The resident pays a small premium, and on move-out, the policy covers any damage to the property up to a certain amount. Pure insurance is great for the resident, who pays a premium and then bears no financial responsibility for damages after move-out. Inherent in that approach, however, is a flaw that makes the pure insurance play tough to buy into as the industry's future. It doesn't incentivize the resident to take care of the property, as they won't owe any additional money for any damage they cause. This flaw leads to higher premiums, leaving insurance as a less effective way to keep costs down. Surety bond The surety bond business model is not new. Still, it's become more popular as vendors have modernized the enrollment experience thanks to over $150M of VC investment into the category. Surety bonds are agreements between two parties managed by a third party, known as the surety. In the case of property management, the contract is between you as the property manager and the resident. It states that the resident agrees not to damage the property and agrees to cover damages should they be responsible. In case of a contract breach at the end of the lease, the surety pays out the sum required to the property manager, then bills the resident the cost of the damages. Surety bonds attempt to incentivize the resident to take care of the property, which is more than a pure insurance program will do, but there's not a definitive set of evidence yet that this is highly effective. It's still a challenge to educate some residents that this isn't an installment plan or insurance product. In many cases, that falls on the property management team. Another concern with the surety bond model is the post-move-out collection results. The majority of damages due from the resident never get collected, which leaves the model with potential recourse ahead: Vendors figure out how to collect a higher percentage Vendors increase monthly pricing Vendors expand into other, more profitable products Less reliable claims payouts Layoffs or other financial controls More investment requested for more runway The jury is still out on whether surety bonds have the unit economics to win the category. ACH authorization The ACH (Automatic Clearing House) authorization is a popular alternative. It mirrors the method hotels have used for years to compensate for incidentals and applies it to long-term rentals. Residents permit a financial institution to directly draft money up to a certain amount to cover damages and draw from your bank account. The ACH authorization does check the box of incentivizing proper treatment of the home, and the vast majority of money due from claims is collected. So far, this method seems to be getting the best results in post-move-out collections. A fair critique is not 100% of residents qualify for this, and the ones that don't must pay a traditional deposit, so it isn’t a complete solution in some people’s minds. In-house program Todd Ortscheid, CEO of Revolution Rental Management, built his alternative program in-house. Ortscheid spoke on this topic in an episode of Triple Win LIVE in February. “We offer the resident two different options. You can either pay the security deposit amount based on your [application] score, or the alternative is you can pay a monthly security deposit waiver fee,” says Ortscheid. “What the waiver fee is doing is buying you the privilege of not having to pay a security deposit upfront.” Ortscheid clarifies that his implementation of this program is neither insurance nor a refundable installment towards a security deposit. However, there is debate among other PMs and their attorneys about what compliance risks there could be here. Some property managers also struggle to get comfortable with the financial liability. When deciding to outsource or DIY, we recommend considering three things: How much of a difference can scale make now? Over time? How large is the skill or expertise gap here? Over time? Is this the best investment of my time? Will it be later? Security deposit alternative companies and what they offer The traditional security deposit is the OG of rental insurance, a reliable one-time payment typically equal to one month's rent. It works like a financial handshake between resident and property manager/owner, acting as a safety net for unpaid rent or damages beyond normal wear and tear. While it carries no monthly cost for residents and offers full refunds for responsible renters, it also doesn't offer revenue sharing for investors or the flexibility of newer alternatives. Here's what to expect from a traditional security deposit product, and the baseline we'll be comparing alternatives to: Model: Traditional Up-front cost to resident: Equal to established cash deposit Monthly cost to resident: None Unpaid rent & damage coverage: Equal to established cash deposit Revenue share with property investor? N/A Payments refundable to resident? Yes Resident held accountable for funds? N/A We reached out to Peter Lohmann, co-founder and CEO of RL Property Management, to get the rundown on security dispositive alternative products. Here are some of the most popular security deposit alternative services, the type of product they offer, and pros and cons of each. Note: The major downside for most of these security deposit alternative products is that they focus on multi-family rental (MFR) communities rather than single-family rentals (SFR). Most also have nonrefundable fees. 1. LeaseLock LeaseLock is a popular security deposit alternative program. Here’s how they stack up: Model: Lease Insurance Up-front cost to resident: None Monthly cost to resident: $29 for standard plan Unpaid rent & damage coverage: $5,000 for standard plan Revenue share with property investor? No Payments refundable to resident? No Resident held accountable for funds? Yes but Lease Lock says they don’t pursue 2. Obligo Obligo is a billing authorization alternative to security deposits. Here’s how they stack up: Model: Bill Authorization Up-front cost to resident: First year’s total fee (variable) Monthly cost to resident: None Unpaid rent & damage coverage: Equal to established cash deposit Revenue share with property investor? No Payments refundable to resident? No Resident held accountable for funds? Yes 3. Rhino Rhino offers the surety bond model for security deposit alternatives. Here’s how they stack up: Model: Surety Bond (non-pooled) Up-front cost to resident: None Monthly cost to resident: Variable Unpaid rent & damage coverage: Equal to established cash deposit Revenue share with property investor? Yes, if over 10K units Payments refundable to resident? No Resident held accountable for funds? Yes, but Rhino says they don’t always pursue 4. TheGuarantors, Jetty, and SureDeposit These three companies – The Guarantors, Jetty, and SureDeposit – all offer an alternative to security deposits in the form of a surety bond. Here’s how they stack up: Model: Surety Bond (pooled) Up-front cost to resident: 17.5% of month’s rent Monthly cost to resident: None Unpaid rent & damage coverage: Equal to established cash deposit Revenue share with property investor? No Payments refundable to resident? No Resident held accountable for funds? Yes The cost of a security deposit alternative Security deposit alternatives costs don’t necessarily save money for the resident, but they offer a choice that many residents prefer – not giving up a big chunk of cash right at the start. In general, the cost structure for security deposit alternative companies is either a low monthly fee or an annual fee. For most PMs, you can include the cost in a Resident Benefits Package, or it’s billed directly to them by a vendor. The cost can depend on the property's value, the rent and deposit amount, the resident’s credit, etc. Fees are calculated based on the amount of rent, amount of deposit, credit score of the renter, and the value of the client. Security deposit alternative fees can often be as low as 5% of rent. So, for a rent of $1500 a month, a resident might pay: $75 per month (5%). In some larger apartment communities, residents may pay even less – typically $8-$30 per month. Advantages of security deposit alternatives The concept of a security deposit alternative is that is helps lower the barrier of entry for residents who may not want to put down a massive one-time chunk of cash – and it helps protect the investor by filling vacancies more quickly, and incentivizing good care of the property. Here’s a breakdown of more specific advantages. 1. Avoid large deposits for residents Ortscheid says: “When I first started doing this, my assumption was the only people who will take this are the people with the worst scores. “What we actually found was our very first person who signed up for it was someone with an 800+ credit score. He was the CEO of a publicly traded company and had millions in the bank. So I asked why he took the waiver option, and he said, ‘I would rather pay monthly than give you a big chunk of my money.'” 2. Get more options All of these programs can be relatively simple to administer and offer choice to the resident. They can choose options and payment methods like credit cards, ACH, etc. According to Ortscheid: “About 70% of the people we rent to now select the security deposit waiver option.” Giving residents more options helps them feel more secure and in control and boosts their satisfaction overall. 3. Reduce vacancies Perhaps the investor sees the most significant win from security deposit alternatives. And, given the PM’s fiduciary responsibility to the investor, an investor win is usually a win for you. The biggest thing here is the attractiveness of the program to the resident. A security deposit alternative is something you can and should advertise in your listings. It adds a differentiating factor to your listing that moves the needle for many prospective residents, which helps keep your days-on-market low. Revolution Rental Management has been sitting at an average of about ten days on the market over the last year. And as we all know, minimal vacancy equals increased ROI for investors. 4. Get fewer damage claims at move-out Additionally, some property managers claim the lack of a deposit drives fewer damage claims at move-out. This reduction in claims helps to protect the investor’s assets more than a deposit does. Again, this may seem counterintuitive, but Birdy Properties reports this scenario playing out since they moved away from security deposits two and a half years ago. “There is this philosophy out there from residents. Most people believe ‘you’re not going to give me my money back. And since I’m not getting my money back, I’m not going to clean up too well because if I do all that work, you’ll still keep my money anyway. Well, now, you were nice enough to let me move in and not have to give you all this money. Everything has gone well, and now it’s time for me to leave and I can recognize that if I don’t leave the property in good shape, I’m going to have to pay for it.’” “We’ve watched the numbers,” continued Birdy. “We have seen a reduction in overall move-out claims. What it’s costing to turn a property over has gone dramatically down, and we have almost eliminated the turnover cost to the owner. That is the most vulnerable time for us as property managers because that’s when the investor decides if they want to keep this asset any longer.” The speed with which Birdy Properties can roll in another resident with minimal costs keeps the property investors happy, which prevents the PM from losing inventory while maintaining great service and relationship with the client. This great relationship comes from a service residents love, so it all works together to benefit every party. Best practices are developing that will drive triple-win experiences. Disadvantages of security deposit alternatives Of course, there are also disadvantages to security deposit alternative services. These issues may effect your residents' overall experience or your investor's satisfaction with their margins. Before signing up for any alternative security deposit product, you need to be sure you know what you’re getting into. Do your research and ask question to evaluate things like: what happens if a resident ends their lease early; what damages are owed after move-out and who pays them; how to dispute charges; monthly or yearly fee obligations; etc. Here are a few disadvantages to keep in mind. 1. Payments are not refundable While the advantage to residents is that they don't have to pay it all right away, the disadvantage is that they won't be refunded for their payments. 2. Disputes may be more difficult to resolve Since security deposit alternative programs involve a third party, you must involve another agreement with the lease and contracting stage. If there is an eventual dispute, it may be tough to get it resolved. Residents may not be held accountable in the way you and your investor needs. Or, from the resident side, they may not get the service they want. 3. Security deposit alternatives don't save money Some products may seem like they're advertising dollars saved. But ultimately, these alternatives aren't intended to save money. They simply help residents' keep money in their savings for a longer period of time, rather than making one big deposit all at once. Despite these disadvantages, we've seen security deposit alternatives pick up in popularity recently. As long as residents, investors, and PMCs know exactly what is and isn't promised, it can be a benefit to everyone involved. ‍ How 1,000+ professional management companies create Triple Win experiences Security deposit alternatives are an innovative solution that solves problems for residents, investors, and property managers. For residents: A quality alternative lowers the barrier for residents and give them more choice and agency in the rental process. For investors: A quality alternative can boost your listings’ marketability and reduce vacancy costs. For property managers: A quality alternative with more relevance for residents and investors – creates new value with an opportunity to monetize and eliminate administrative pains of traditional deposits. That’s what we call a triple win! Learn more about how we create resident experiences that people pay and stay for – and share your trips and tricks in our Facebook Group!

Calendar icon December 1, 2023

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10 Property Management Goals to Set for the Year (with examples)

Goal-setting is critical to planning for a changing industry. Before we dive into specific property management goals we recommend for the coming year, let's take a minute to define how to approach goal setting in property management. Think long-term Dr. Stephen Covey’s 2nd habit is “Begin with The End in Mind,” the principles of which should be applied to your property management strategies as a single-family rental property manager. This is especially true now as we enter 2024 with an industry that continues to evolve. Goal-setting should start with an understanding of where you want to be in several years, not just at the end of this year. It forces you to consider industry trends that you may not feel the impact of immediately but will definitely affect the viability of your business in the future. Short-term goals should ladder up to long-term goals. They should serve as pieces to the long-term puzzle. It’s important not to lose sight of what that puzzle is supposed to look like when it’s finished. Identify opportunities to improve resident experience and retention The most important property management industry trend continues to be the evolution of demand from a simple service to a more complex experience. Thus, you should be identifying opportunities to improve resident experience and setting goals based on how you want to achieve said improvement. What can you do this coming year to improve the living experience for your residents? This could include new programs to be developed and implemented, new roles on the team specifically focused on experience, or a number of things, depending on your answer. The best way to identify opportunities is to listen to your residents. It sounds simple, but they’ll tell you what they perceive as a great living experience, and that becomes data you can act on. Consider a list of services you think a resident may like, some of which could be rental rewards, home-buying assistance, credit reporting, holiday gift certificates to local businesses, etc. You can survey your residents on these ideas pretty easily, or you can simply roll them out and gauge resident response. Identify opportunities to improve investor experience We talk a lot about the triple win here at Second Nature. The third branch of the triple win is a win for your clients. Typically, this is laddered up to by a resident win, which minimizes vacancy to the benefit of the client. There is more you can do, though, to really deliver something irreplaceable to your clients. A popular takeaway from PMLX was the value of communication with clients. Scheduling quarterly meetings with your clients has proven valuable to the companies that pioneered this concept. Launching these quickly became a popular short-term 2024 goal for many attendees. Clients leave with an extensive understanding of what is happening with their investments. That’s an additional win for them and for you, as investors are not only more involved, but they tend to appreciate the time you take to communicate with them and can gain deeper insight into the full value that your company provides. Plan sustainable growth initiatives Like thinking longterm, creating sustainable growth initiatives involves expanding your business in a manner that's not only profitable but also manageable and responsible. This means considering how growth will impact all facets of your business, from your operational capacity to the quality of service you provide to residents and investors. Start by analyzing market trends and potential areas for expansion, whether it's by increasing the number of properties you manage or venturing into new geographical regions. Balance ambition with practicality. Ensure that any expansion doesn't stretch your resources too thin or compromise the high standards of service that have contributed to your current success. Automate and streamline operations to build efficiency James Clear says in his book Atomic Habits, "You don't rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems." In some ways, setting goals is secondary to ensuring you have the right processes and procedures in place. Mark Cunningham shares that he has a KPI to achieve 6 percent quarter-over-quarter net income growth. It's not about setting new goals for a number of new doors each year; it's about focusing every quarter on that consistency. If you aren't confident in your processes yet, that should be an area to focus on when you are goal-setting. For example: Identify areas where manual processes are slowing down operations. This could be anything from rent collection and lease renewals to maintenance requests and property inspections. Or, look into streamlining communication channels. Efficient communication tools not only facilitate better interaction among team members but also improve the way you engage with residents and investors. Data management and reporting can also be significantly enhanced through automation. Think about who you want in the room with you Who are the most strategic thinkers in your company? What personalities will be at the table? Set the rules of engagement for the meeting to help your team be successful when you are actually setting goals. You should also decide your approach: Do you want to be deeply collaborative and get everyone's opinions or if you want to hear from your team and then make the executive decisions on your own. (Our recommendation!) Goal-setting isn't a time to give everyone an equal voice. Know your "who" and make sure they're the ones in the room. Ask: What should we stop doing? For you as the leader of your company, ask, "What should I stop doing and delegate away?" But, just as importantly, you should also be asking a broader question: "What does my company need to stop focusing on?" This may be about refocusing your niche, the types of properties you want to handle, the clients you want to focus on, etc. What are the things you're doing that don't qualify as "absolutely killing it." It might be time to cut those out. If you're contemplaing stopping, you probably should. Follow the opportunity Another way of saying this is to pay attention to the market. For example, five years ago, focusing on accidental owners would have been a bad strategy because the market was being flooded with investors. But, going into 2024, the market has changed. Now accidental landlords are the majority of new opportunities. Homeowners are hesitant to sell because of high interest rates and have found themselves needing property management for a property they hadn't intend to keep. In short, be ready to pivot to follow the biggest market opportunities. Get your KPIs organized before you set goals It becomes a very expensive goal-setting meeting if you don't have all your metrics and year-in-review numbers prepared beforehand. Have your SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) ready, as well. Review all of your numbers before you sit down to set your next year's goals. It's critical to measure against last year's goals, see where you succeeded, where you hit below the mark, and how that might affect your coming year. Review your financials, dashboards, KPIs, etc., before setting goals. This could include anything from average management fee, to number of google reviews, open work orders, average rental rate, profit margin, number of employees, etc. This pre-review will help you assess where you actually are and where you want to go. Are you ready to take bigger risks? Do you need to double-down on some goals from last year? Your team should come to a goal-setting meeting prepared with all of these numbers ahead of time so you don't waste time. Be specific Your goals should have specificity or they set you up for failure. Get really clear on what is possible and what you really want to accomplish. Be clear and concise about your goals and what would constitute success. That may mean setting different levels that you target: things that must be accomplished, things that are a stretch, etc. If anyone on your team could read one of their goals and ask, "What does that mean?" you need to keep digging into more specificity. Example goals for property management companies Here are some examples of smart goals to set for a property management company. For your company, you should find ways to make these extremely specific and time-bound in a way that make sense for your team, your niche, and your focus. Our examples are more general so they apply to most SFR property managers who are in our audience. But remember that these can be made more specific for your own business. 1. Grow property portfolios Increasing your portfolio signifies not just an increase in business scale but also an enhancement of market presence and revenue potential. To achieve this, focus on networking with property investors, leveraging marketing strategies to attract new clients, and providing exceptional service to encourage word-of-mouth referrals. It’s also essential to identify emerging markets or areas with high rental demand. Careful market analysis and strategic partnerships can be instrumental in uncovering opportunities for portfolio growth, ensuring that each new addition aligns with your company’s strengths and long-term vision. 2. Increase resident satisfaction KPIs Great property management success is all about improving resident experience and satisfaction. Focus on understanding and addressing the needs and concerns of your residents. Implement regular feedback mechanisms like surveys to gather insights into their living experience. Prioritize swift and effective responses to maintenance requests, and explore ways to add valuable services that residents want, like those offered in a Resident Benefits Package. Training your staff in customer service excellence can also play a significant role. 3. Improve ROI To enhance ROI, focus on optimizing rental rates without compromising occupancy rates. Conduct market research to ensure your pricing is competitive yet profitable. Explore ways to reduce operational costs, such as negotiating better deals with vendors, implementing energy-saving measures in properties, or implementing new services that can increase your ancillary revenue. Regularly reviewing financial performance and identifying areas for cost savings or revenue enhancement can lead to significant improvements in your overall ROI. 4. Increase occupancy rates It's just math: Higher occupancy directly correlates to more stable revenue streams. To achieve this, focus on making your properties more attractive to potential tenants. This can involve the obvious like ensuring your properties are well maintained. But it also means providing services that residents are excited to pay for and stay for. Boosting occupancy rates and increasing retention are two major benefits of a resident benefits package. Understanding the needs and preferences of your target market is crucial. Tailor your services and communication to meet these needs, thereby making your properties more appealing. 5. Improve maintenance quality and speed Implementing a streamlined process and/or software for receiving and responding to maintenance requests can significantly reduce response times. Consider adopting technology solutions like maintenance management software to track, prioritize, and dispatch maintenance tasks promptly. Regularly sourcing feedback from residents post-maintenance can also help in continually assessing and improving the quality of your services. High-quality, quick maintenance responses not only keep residents happy but also contribute to the long-term upkeep of your property. 6. Enhance digital marketing efforts A strong online presence can significantly increase your property management company's visibility and appeal. Focus on building a user-friendly website, optimizing it for search engines (SEO) to improve your ranking in search results. Use social media platforms to engage with your audience, showcase properties, and share valuable content. Consider leveraging email marketing to keep clients and residents informed and engaged. Additionally, exploring online advertising options such as Google Ads or social media ads can help target potential clients more effectively. 7. Improve client satisfaction KPIs Enhancing the satisfaction levels of your clients – the property owners – is as crucial as focusing on tenant happiness. To improve client satisfaction KPIs, start with transparent and regular communication. Keep your clients updated with comprehensive reports on their property's status, including occupancy rates, financial performance, and any maintenance issues. Implement client feedback mechanisms to understand their expectations and areas of concern. Tailor your services to meet these specific needs, whether it’s providing more detailed financial analysis, offering advice on property upgrades, or improving tenant screening processes. Demonstrating proactive problem-solving and value addition can significantly boost your clients' trust and satisfaction. Remember, a satisfied client is more likely to retain your services and refer you to others, enhancing your business growth. 8. Adopt automation Automation can streamline various aspects of your operations, from tenant screening and lease management to rent collection and maintenance scheduling. Investing in property management software can significantly reduce manual tasks, minimize errors, and provide real-time data analysis. This not only frees up time for your team to focus on more complex tasks but also improves the overall tenant and client experience. Automated communication tools can keep tenants and property owners updated, while automated reporting can provide insightful analytics for better decision-making. Embracing automation is about staying ahead in a competitive market and offering a more responsive, efficient service. 9. Increase convenience Convenience has become one of the most significant deciding factors for clients and residents. Start by evaluating your current processes from their perspective – how easy is it to pay rent, report maintenance issues, or get updates about their property? Implementing online platforms for rent payments and maintenance requests can greatly enhance convenience for tenants. For property owners, providing easy access to property performance reports and financial statements through a client portal can make a significant difference. Additionally, consider adopting mobile solutions that allow both tenants and owners to access services and information on-the-go. The goal is to make every interaction as seamless and hassle-free as possible. A little twist? Implementing a Resident Benefits Package can make life more convenient for them and for your team. We're all about making things easier. You can learn more about how we do it on our benefits page. 10. Reduce rent arrears To achieve this, start by implementing proactive rent collection strategies. Set up automated reminders for rent payments and offer multiple, convenient payment options to make the process as easy as possible for residents. Implementing a strict but fair rent collection policy can also help in minimizing delays. Educating residents about the importance of timely rent payments and the potential consequences of falling behind can foster a sense of responsibility. In cases where residents are consistently late, consider personalized communication to understand their situation and, if possible, work out a payment plan. A great strategy to hit this goal is to increase incentives for on-time payments. Credit reporting is a great way to incentivize on-time monthly rent, as are resident rewards. The importance of goal setting in property management Setting clear and strategic goals is essential for steering your company towards success and growth. Goals act as a roadmap, guiding your decisions and actions, ensuring that every effort is aligned with your broader vision. Effective goal setting in property management also allows for measurable progress. It enables property managers to track performance against specific benchmarks, making it easier to identify areas that need improvement or adjustment. This process of continual assessment and adaptation is key in an industry that is constantly influenced by market trends, regulatory changes, and evolving tenant expectations. Moreover, well-defined goals can motivate and unite your team. They provide a sense of direction and purpose, fostering a proactive work culture where every team member understands their role in achieving the company's objectives. This collective effort not only drives the company forward but also contributes to a more rewarding and engaging work environment. In essence, goal setting is not just about envisioning a successful future for your property management business; it's about creating a structured approach to make that vision a reality. It's a vital tool for navigating the complexities of the industry and securing a competitive edge in the market.

Calendar icon November 27, 2023

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Property manager using computer

10 Best Property Management Maintenance Software

In the property management world, tech solutions abound. There are so many different players on the market, but sometimes, that wealth can be tough to navigate. When it comes to property management maintenance software, single-family property managers have to identify, first, how they approach maintenance and, second, what tech solution will best support their team, workflows, and operational structure. It’s a daunting task! That’s why Second Nature builds integrated solutions to support residents in preventing issues from ever developing. These solutions reduce maintenance needs through preventive maintenance strategies and take work off the property manager’s plate. But no matter how much prevention you build in with tools like our Resident Benefits Package, you’re always going to need some maintenance management. So, today, we’re going to look at some of the best approaches you can take and the best software available to you for property management maintenance. Property management maintenance software solutions come in two basic categories: Platform Solutions: Property management operations platforms or accounting software that include maintenance support, among other full-service property management solutions. Dedicated Point Solutions: Property management software designed to tackle one specific problem – in this case, maintenance. We’ll explore solutions that fit into both of these categories and how to weigh the pros and cons of each. 1. Property Meld Property Meld is a leader in the small to medium-sized property management business space. It’s a maintenance point solution to optimize work order management, response time tracking, vendor and resident communication, scheduling, and analytics. Its built-in “Owner Hub” helps provide the right amount of transparency to your clients. Perhaps the best feature is the Insights Tool, which helps you track metrics like the median speed of repair, average resident satisfaction, vendor health score, total spend per unit, and more. Pros: The user interface is intuitive for PMs and residents Opening repair tickets takes just minutes Tracking repairs and resident satisfaction is easy and transparent Powerful analytics help you see your success at a glance Cons: If you’re looking for a full-service operations platform, Meld won’t be the solution for you. 2. Lula Lula is another dedicated point solution focused on property maintenance technology. They leverage a network of vetted contractors to make finding the best technicians easy. Lula’s team becomes an outsourced extension of your property management company, troubleshooting, coordinating, and managing maintenance tasks. They operate in over 30 markets in the US and boast results like 80% one-trip resolutions and a net promoter score of 80. Pros: They do the work to vet and provide the vendors You can bring your own vendors in if you want to Integrates with any software Customizable plans for self-service or full-service Cons: May not yet be available in your market Only focuses on maintenance 3. Buildium Buildium is a popular all-in-one solutions platform and property accounting software with excellent management features. The web-based solution and app provide support in accounting and invoicing, communications, leasing, and maintenance activities. Their portals provide tenant support, maintenance management, and templates to make every part of property management easier. Pros: A near-complete solution for property management Excellent tenant and owner portals and communication hubs Analytics and tracking to streamline operations and results A 14-day trial helps you evaluate if it’s a fit Customizable packages Cons: Lack of transparency for owners The listing process isn’t as comprehensive as some users want Can be pricey 4. Mezo Mezo is an AI-driven, cloud-based property maintenance management software. The aim of the app is to take work off your plate by automating maintenance ticket responses, resolutions, and insights. Mezo takes requests directly from residents and uses conversational AI to ask questions in real-time, identify problems, and diagnose the issue. It will support residents in resolving the issue on their own or integrate with your management system to get work orders quickly sent. Pros: Residents can get help immediately when they have issues and potentially resolve themselves with Mezo’s chatbot support Technicians arrive with Mezo’s analysis and diagnosis, allowing them to come prepared and resolve issues quicker Integrates with most PMS options Cons: Doesn’t integrate with all other PM tech solutions As a newer technology, still has some bugs and gaps 5. Lessen Lessen, formerly SMS Assist, is an enterprise-level solution providing tech-powered renovations and maintenance at scale. It’s an end-to-end platform for maintenance operations with a vetted vendor network and provides everything you need for maintenance or turning projects. PMs simply use the app to request projects, deploy Lessen network pros, track progress and checklists, check for quality control remotely, and process payments – all in one slick tech solution. Pros: Excellent, seamless tech that’s easy to use and deploy A fully vetted vendor network takes that work off your plate An established brand that has worked out the “kinks” in service Cons: More ideal for more enterprise companies who need scale (rather than smaller SFR PMs) 6. AppFolio AppFolio is a full-service rental property management platform solution that is very popular with single-family property management companies. The web-based app streamlines and automates every stage of real estate management, including management, training, marketing and leasing, maintenance, accounting, reporting, and communications. For maintenance, AppFolio includes workflow automation, work order managemen toolst, online maintenance request, mobile inspections, and more. Pros: Easy-to-use technology with great UX Fully mobile and automated Customizable dashboards and advanced reporting Cons: An expensive platform if all you need is a maintenance point solution Customer service is not always available for maintenance line 7. Rentvine Rentvine is a full-service property management platform that focuses on communication support between PMCs, residents, and clients. The platform streamlines application and tenant screening, inventory management, accounting with a manager’s ledger and client money tracked separately, marketing, leasing, and – of course – maintenance. The app tracks all your work orders from start to finish and supports communication between residents, property managers, and vendors throughout. Pros: Easy to use with excellent customer support Owner and tenant portals work seamlessly Excellent accounting process Cons: Has fewer features than some competitors but is continuously improving 8. DoorLoop DoorLoop is another full-service property management software that provides all the features a property manager needs to manage their portfolio. You can handle accounting, maintenance, listings, marketing, client success, and more, all from the app. For property management maintenance, their software helps manage work orders, handle vendor payments, and track the process from start to finish. Pros: Intuitive, streamlined UX that’s user-friendly Great customer service Excellent integrations Cons: Expensive if all you need is a maintenance point solution rather than a full platform Some functionalities are still being developed 9. FTMaintenance FTMaintenance is a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) point solution platform designed for maintenance managers, executives, and technicians. While it’s not specifically designed for property management, the software streamlines work order management, vendor payments, tracking, and more. For some PMs, this could be the added solution they need to focus simply on complex maintenance jobs. Pros: Robust work order tracking Excellent mobile app for vendors and maintenance managers Analytics and organization Cons: Not designed specifically for property managers, focused more on commercial properties Complex if you are not tech-savvy 10. Latchel Latchel is a property maintenance point solution that helps automate maintenance communication, scheduling, work orders, etc. Your residents message the Latchel team directly on the Latchel platform and get an immediate response to begin troubleshooting the issue. If the problem requires a maintenance visit, the Latchel team will deploy that and follow up with the resident. Pros: Fast response times Easy to use for maintenance communication Cons: Many reviews say the issues didn't get fixed correctly App is great for communication but sometimes requires the PM to step in and manage How Second Nature Helps with Property Management Maintenance When it comes to maintenance, at Second Nature, we’re always looking to empower the resident. Our Resident Benefits Package provides solutions that minimize maintenance needs and costs in the first place. From HVAC/air filter delivery to on-demand pest control to rental rewards, we aim to incentivize residents to care for their property and take work off the property manager’s plate. We also work closely with other property management software providers to ensure you have everything you need for success in your SFR property management business. Learn more about the Second Nature RBP and how it can bring ease to your work.

Calendar icon November 17, 2023

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Tenant Screening Tips for PMs: Streamline Tenant Background Checks

Screening renters is an essential part of a property manager’s job. But all too often, the approach is strictly transactional: Forms must be scanned and uploaded, data must be entered manually, and property managers and tenants alike can find the process cumbersome and frustrating. This legacy approach isn’t enough in today’s fast-moving experience economy. Companies like Google, Uber, and Amazon have changed how consumers think. Convenience isn’t a luxury anymore; it’s an expectation. And for a property management company, convenience can be a strategy. When approached through the lens of a holistic experience, tenant screening is one of the best ways to set yourself apart. Related: State of Resident Experience Study Tenant Screening Tips The first step to improving a process is to ensure you can structure it. What follows is a best-practice approach to tenant screening, complete with tips for success at every step. 1. Understand tenant screening laws With a Triple Win mindset, PMs will seek tools that help them remain objective and fair to all applicants. That’s why every professional PM should be familiar with tenant screening laws in their area. Tenant screening laws are regulations put in place to protect tenants from discrimination, unfair eviction, etc. They govern interactions between real estate investors, property managers, and tenants. One of the best-known regulations is the Fair Housing Act, which protects tenants from discrimination on the basis of: Race Color Religion National Origin/Ethnic Background Gender Familial Status Mental/Physical Disability 2. Create tenant screening criteria Creating tenant screening reports is an important part of the rental property management process. Here are the steps to take: Define your target market: Identify the type of tenants you want to attract based on factors such as property location, size, price, and amenities Set minimum requirements: Determine the minimum criteria that all potential tenants must meet, such as a certain credit score through ResidentScore or other tools, or income level. Consider additional factors: Other factors may be important to you, such as employment history, rental history, criminal background, and references. Establish a scoring system: Create a system to evaluate potential tenants based on the criteria you've established. For example, you may assign points for positive credit history or deduct points for a criminal record, taking care to evaluate each person individually and fairly. Apply the criteria consistently: Ensure that you apply the screening criteria consistently to avoid discrimination and potential legal issues. Review and update regularly: Review and update screening criteria regularly to ensure that they remain relevant and effective for your rental property. 3. Check credit report and background Some screening providers are leveraging financial data APIs or "open banking" tools to automate income and employment verification. Tenant screening services like Plaid, Finicity, Pinwheel, and more are being applied to rental screening and replacing manual document upload and review. You can also find tools for getting a full credit report and credit background. Credit reporting should be compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). As identity fraud becomes more prevalent, identity verification tools are becoming more sophisticated. Some can even effectively identify past rent transactions in the bank account ledger. Most of these tools are being built for large apartment operators, but more innovation is coming to SFR, too. Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package includes a $1 million identity protection program and credit building for tenants. These programs protect your tenants and help draw people who want to build responsible financial security. 4. Verify employment and income A big question on every PM’s mind is how to evaluate a prospective tenants’ ability to pay rent. Is what matters the income? Credit history? The cash balance a tenant carries? Or just their history for prioritizing rent payments? The traditional (and oversimplified) answer is to slap on the widely accepted income-to-rent ratio of 3-to-1 or to look for a specific credit score. But neither of these tell the whole story of a tenant’s ability, or even likelihood, to pay rent and to pay on time. A much more telling number is a potential renter’s net income. Net income is true spending power. A net income of 2.5 or 3 times the monthly rent is a good starting point. But how do you quickly verify this information? Pay Stubs will work, but experienced property managers know a simple pay stub template is a Google search away. This is where an automated income verification tool can provide an advantage, reliability, and speed. You’ll have much more accurate insight into tenants’ ability to pay rent and get them verified in much less time. 5. Review rental history and evictions As a follow-up to background checks, property management companies should have a process for reviewing an applicant’s rental history and potential evictions. Don’t just accept a letter from previous landlords – call and ask about their experience. Getting their perspective is one of the best ways to check on rental and eviction history. 6. Check criminal record with multi-state search When it comes to tenant screening, one crucial aspect is conducting a criminal record check that includes a multi-state history report. This step is vital to safeguard you and your team from legal headaches or disruption down the road. A multi-state search provides a broader view of an applicant's history, as it covers more than just the state they currently reside in or are applying from. This is particularly important because individuals may have lived or committed offenses in different states. By implementing a comprehensive background check that spans multiple states, you can uncover any criminal history that might not be evident in a local or state-only check. This process helps in making informed decisions about potential tenants, ensuring you're not inadvertently overlooking important information that could affect the security of your property or the neighborhood. Of course, this doesn't mean denying anyone with a criminal record. Fair housing laws will have established rules on this that property managers should know well for their area. 7. Interview tenants before signing a lease Property managers should ensure someone on their team conducts an interview with potential tenants, particularly in SFR property management where lease terms are usually longer. Here is a list of questions that property managers may consider asking potential tenants during the screening process: What is your current occupation and monthly income? Have you ever been evicted from a rental property or broken a lease agreement? How long have you been at your current job, and what is your employer's contact information? Do you have any pets, and if so, what type and how many? What is your desired move-in date and lease length? Will you have any roommates or co-tenants, and if so, what are their names and contact information? Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or had any outstanding debts? Do you have a good rental history, and can you provide contact information for your previous landlords and previous addresses? Are you willing to undergo a tenant credit check and background check as part of the application process? Again, please note that investors and property managers should be careful not to ask discriminatory questions that could violate fair housing laws. Additionally, it may be helpful to provide potential tenants with information about the property, such as move-in costs, lease terms, and any rules or restrictions that apply to the rental property. After all, the property manager’s goal is to create an experience that caters to tenants in order to create the best value for their investors. 8. Follow a fair policy when accepting or rejecting tenants A consistent and objective set of screening criteria goes a long way to simplifying the acceptance or rejection process. Here are some steps to follow when accepting or rejecting rental applicants: Evaluate the applicant's information: Review the application and any supporting documentation, such as credit reports, employment verification, and rental history. You may also charge an application fee. Compare the applicant to your screening criteria: Compare the applicant's information to your established screening criteria and determine if they meet the minimum requirements. Consider any additional factors: Consider any additional factors that may impact the applicant's suitability as a tenant, such as their behavior during the application process, their responsiveness to communication, and any references provided. Communicate your decision: Communicate your decision to the applicant in writing, providing clear and specific reasons for your decision. Be sure to also inform the applicant of their rights to request a copy of an applicant’s credit report and to dispute any errors. Keep accurate records: Keep accurate records of your tenant screening process, including copies of all applications and supporting documentation, as well as notes on your evaluation of each applicant. Maintain consistency: Apply your screening criteria consistently to all applicants to avoid any potential discrimination claims. Remember, it is essential to treat all applicants fairly and to follow fair housing laws and state-specific regulations to avoid discrimination. Example tenant screening checklist Here is an example of a comprehensive tenant screening checklist template, based on the best tenant screening services: 1. Basic Information: Full name Current address Contact information (phone, email) 2. Income and Employment: Proof of income (pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns) Employment history (length of employment, job title, employer contact information) Gross income (should be 3 times the monthly rent) 3. Credit History: Credit score (should be above 650) Credit report (to check for bankruptcies, late payments, collections) Outstanding debts 4. Rental History: Previous rental history (landlord contact information, length of stay, reason for leaving, address history) Evictions (any prior evictions, eviction records, eviction reports) 5. Criminal Background: Criminal history (felony convictions, sex offender status) 6. References: Personal references (contact information for at least two personal references) Professional references (contact information for at least two professional references) 7. Other Factors: Pet ownership (type, size, breed, and number of pets) Smoking policy (whether or not smoking is allowed in the rental property) Other specific requirements (e.g. credit checks, criminal background checks, rental history checks, etc.) The criteria on this checklist may vary based on the specific needs and requirements of the investor or property manager – and local laws. Benefits of screening tenants Why screen tenants? The answer might seem obvious. You can Google “tenant screening,” and you’ll see any number of articles giving the common reasons for screening tenants: protecting your property, protecting your financial situation, etc. And yes, all of that is important. But elite property managers know that protecting yourself is the bare minimum. The best PMs consider the tenant screening process the first chance to make an impression and win the best tenants. Success is about creating and delivering the best experiences for tenants, investors, and property managers. At Second Nature, we call this the Triple Win. Property managers should be thinking: “How do we design the screening process for a Triple Win?” Here’s what we mean by that. A win for investors What do real estate investors want? Bottom line: To maximize their investment by having all residences occupied by good tenants. But there’s tension when you’re aiming to maximize investment. Investors have two primary needs when filling a rental property, and they can seem opposed: How do I select a quality tenant who will pay rent on time, stay a long time, take care of the home, and be generally cooperative? How do I fill the property as fast as possible? Every day a home is vacant, it generates zero revenue and incurs costs. Investors win when they have a screening process that can deliver quality tenants, fast. A win for tenants What do tenants want? Bottom line: To be approved quickly and easily. Think about when you’re applying for a job. The employer honestly can’t work too fast to get you in a good seat. The faster, the better. As we mentioned before, convenience is no longer a luxury; it’s an expectation. Tenants want to move quickly toward the lease agreement without too much effort. Therefore, building convenience into the screening process is a crucial strategy for a successful property manager to attract the best business. A win for property managers Professional property managers stand out by providing experiences that are consistent, convenient, and rewarding for investors and tenants. But they also need to design the process with the experience of their team in mind, too. PMs focused on a Triple Win can align qualified tenants’ desire for convenience with an investor’s desire to be protected from risky applicants and vacancy costs. As if that’s not enough of a challenge, they also need to accomplish this in a way that complies with fair housing regulations. Therefore, an enterprising property manager will design the screening process to create experiential value and better monetize each property. Ultimately a Triple Win for tenant screening is introducing speed, accuracy, and convenience to a legacy process. Let’s dive into that concept in the next section. Tenant screening services Tenant screening services can help perform identity verification, an assessment of the prospective tenant's financial situation, and evaluate any factors that may be relevant. They typically access information from a wide variety of sources to compile a current and precise tenant portrait. Most tenant screening services offer their services online, where property managers can supply the identifying information of an applicant to get a full report within minutes. Here are just a few: National Tenant Network TransUnion Experian Findigs Rent Butter Snappt Verifast Which tenant screening solution is right for you? When selecting a tenant screening solution, begin by assessing your specific scope as well as budget constraints. Bear in mind that some solutions are limited in scope in that they primarily provide credit reports, while others may be geared toward landlords rather than property managers. In all cases, seek out providers with reputable customer support (as indicated on popular software comparison sites as well as app download stores) and user-friendly interfaces to streamline the screening process. Additionally, consider any legal requirements or industry standards relevant to your situation. By weighing these factors, you can select a tenant screening solution that aligns with your requirements and helps mitigate some of the risks associated with property management. How does Second Nature help with the tenant screening process? Like we’ve said – and as most PMs recognize – legacy “tenant screening” systems are the worst. They’re clunky. They’re long and tedious. They require a ridiculous amount of manual work to upload pay stubs or other documents. Think about how seamless an experience it is to find a listing on Zillow. It works smoothly on desktop or mobile, and the app is clean, easy, and responsive. You can find 3D tours, self-showings, and all kinds of innovations happening in the discovery process. Then you hit "click to apply.” Whomp whomp. Suddenly, you hit a mediocre (or worse!) experience that feels a decade old or more. It can take days from that initial button click for submission, review, and official approval/declination. But imagine if this was all designed through an experience lens instead of an accounting or transactional lens. PMs who want to stand out will have a screening process that works like an Easy Button. So how might we make it as easy as possible for the best tenants to get approved same-day by the best property managers in the country? Think about your current screening system. You can see if a tenant paid rent, but can you see if they changed their filters, reported minor maintenance issues, how they treated and communicated with staff, what condition they left the property in, and the security deposit status? Do you have a Resident Benefits Package that attracts tenants who care about good habits and supports them in those habits? The screening process sets the tone and the standard for the rest of your relationship with a tenant. Property managers can be part of helping build good habits right from the start. Learn more about what tenants are looking for today and how PMs are innovating in response.

Calendar icon November 16, 2023

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Preventive Maintenance Checklist for Property Management

A big part of property management is prevention. Property managers anticipate issues, plan for problems, and execute solutions. For some, a key part of this prevention is to develop a property management preventive maintenance checklist. For multi-family property managers, a regular preventive maintenance check is standard–and easy. Their properties are often all contained to one apartment building or community, and it’s easy to do a walkthrough to ensure everything is as it should be. For single-family property managers, it gets a lot more complicated. With scattered-site properties, regular inspections are impractical and expensive. In fact, one of the best ways to approach prevention is to help equip residents to take preventive measures themselves. At Second Nature, that’s our approach: “How do we make it easy for residents to handle preventive care of the property?” In this article, we’ll explore both approaches to preventive maintenance: Doing inspections as a property manager – or finding solutions where residents support the process. Let’s dive in. What is Preventive Maintenance? Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach to keeping a property in good condition with the purpose of preventing unexpected failures and maximizing longevity. This type of maintenance encompasses a broad range of activities, from routine inspections (more common in multifamily) to air filter delivery services that keep HVAC systems running smoothly. By implementing preventive maintenance tactics, property managers aim to prolong the lifespan of property components, maintain property value, and provide a safe, functional, and appealing living environment for residents. What is a Preventive Maintenance Inspection – and Who Conducts It? A preventive maintenance inspection is a regularly scheduled, systematic evaluation of a property designed to identify and rectify any emerging issues before they escalate into serious problems. In other words, a preventive maintenance inspection is like a health check-up for a property. A well-documented inspection also provides a record of maintenance that can be valuable for insurance claims, move-outs, etc. Generally, SFR property managers find themselves in three different camps when it comes to property inspections: Those who visit sites only when an issue arises. Those who conduct scheduled annual preventive inspections, whether there are issues or not. Those who conduct biannual or seasonal preventive inspections, whether there are issues or not. In fact, we conducted a casual Facebook poll to see what single-family property managers said about the frequency of their property inspections. Most PMs who responded said they conduct an annual inspection. A smaller amount said they conduct two inspections per year, and another group said they do it only when needed. A very small amount of property managers polled said they conduct quarterly inspections. (To get more community insights and tips like this, join our Triple Win Facebook Group.) But there’s also a fourth option: Those who rely on a partner who helps manage prevention for them. There is so much residents can do themselves to prevent larger issues from ever developing – they just need a little support. For example, if a resident is changing their air filter on time, the property manager is going to get fewer HVAC tickets, and the HVAC system is going to last longer. If you can provide scheduled air filter delivery, residents can stay on top of their filter changes. Whichever of the camps you fall into, we want to provide you with resources in this article to make preventive maintenance easier. If you’re the type of property manager who prioritizes regular preventive maintenance inspections, we have a checklist template for you below. If you’re the type of property manager who prefers to react when issues arise (often more cost-effective), we have some suggestions for how to help residents manage preventive measures on their own. What to Include in a Preventive Maintenance Checklist Let’s say you do prioritize regular inspections. Crafting a preventive maintenance checklist for property management is all about anticipating needs and averting potential issues before they arise. Building your checklist begins with a thorough assessment of the property's unique features and vulnerabilities. By understanding the life cycle of various components of a property across the seasons – from HVAC systems to appliances – you can prioritize tasks and schedule maintenance in a way that minimizes wear and tear. Your checklist will likely include the following categories: Structural Maintenance Electrical Systems Plumbing & Water Systems HVAC Systems (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) Appliances (if provided) Lawn & Outdoor Areas Pest Control Safety & Security Systems Interior Checks Miscellaneous (Garage, waste disposal, etc.) Sample Preventive Maintenance Checklist for Property Management Companies With input from OnSightPROS, we’ve built a preventive maintenance checklist template for single-family rental property management companies. Use this template as-is or tweak it to fit your property needs! If you want a downloadable and more in-depth template for all types of rental inspections, check out our original post on rental inspection checklists and Get the download here. Structural Maintenance Roofing: Inspect for leaks, damaged tiles, or shingles. Check gutters and downspouts. Foundation: Check for cracks, water damage, or shifting. Walls and ceilings: Look for cracks, dampness, and signs of mold. Electrical Systems Safety checks: Ensure that outlets, switches, and wiring are in good condition. Lighting: Regularly test all indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures. Inspect circuit breakers and panels. Plumbing & Water Systems Drains and pipes: Check for leaks or buildup. Water heater: Test hot water temperature and pressure relief valves and inspect for signs of wear. Faucets and fixtures: Ensure proper flow and check for leaks. HVAC Systems (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) Filters: Ensure they are up to date. With Second Nature’s Air Filter Delivery, you’ll have the date stamped right on the filter itself. Ductwork: Check for mold or leaks. Seasonal checks: Ensure the heating system is ready for winter and cooling for summer. Appliances (if provided) Oven, range, microwave: Check for cleanliness and ensure they are working efficiently. Refrigerator: Check coils and inspect seals. Washer and dryer: Inspect hoses and ensure the resident is keeping lint and drainage clean. Lawn & Outdoor Areas Landscaping: Ensure that the landscaping is tidy and up to HOA standards, if applicable. Paths and driveways: Check for cracks or tripping hazards. Pools: Ensure safety measures are in place. Pest Control Notice any signs of pests With Second Nature’s On-Demand Pest Control, you can be sure residents can call a professional immediately if they ever have issues. We handle it for you. Safety & Security Systems Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Ensure residents have kept up to date and they are installed properly. Fire extinguishers: Check expiration dates and ensure they're easily accessible. Emergency exits and paths: Ensure they're clear and well-marked. Interior Checks Floors: Look for damaged tiles, caulk problems, carpet wear, or wood floor issues. Windows and doors: Ensure they open and close smoothly, and check seals. Miscellaneous Garage and parking areas: Check for proper lighting, security, and cleanliness. Waste disposal: Ensure trash bins are clean and in good condition. The Importance of Preventive Maintenance Did you know that something as simple as getting air filters delivered on time can reduce HVAC costs by hundreds of dollars annually? More on that in a minute, but it’s clear that for property managers, preventive maintenance isn’t just about keeping the property in good shape—it's a strategic approach that yields all kinds of benefits. By prioritizing prevention, you can: Minimize costly repairs: Regular maintenance can prevent small maintenance issues from escalating into expensive emergencies. Extend asset longevity: Helping residents proactively care for components like HVAC systems extends their lifespan, saving money in the long run. Enhance resident satisfaction: Supporting a resident in maintaining their property means fewer complaints and issues, leading to higher retention rates. Ensure safety: Regular checks keep safety hazards at bay, reducing the risk of accidents and liability. Improve property value: Consistent upkeep maintains or even increases the property's market value. Stay compliant: Keeping up with building codes and safety regulations is non-negotiable, and preventive maintenance ensures compliance. By incorporating a preventive maintenance strategy, property managers not only safeguard the property's physical health but also its financial viability and desirability in the market. It's a proactive measure that resonates well with residents and investors alike. Best Tools to Support Preventive Maintenance Here’s the big question: How can property managers for single-family homes make preventive maintenance easier? Scattered-site properties don’t lend themselves to regular inspections. So, the best solution, as we mentioned above, is to help your residents do it themselves. Here are three of our favorite products to get that done. Second Nature We’ve built a Resident Benefits Package with proactive property management in mind. Each feature – from renter’s insurance to on-demand pest control to air filter delivery – aims to address ongoing needs and prevent common issues from escalating. Let’s take air filter delivery as an example. In the largest HVAC data study of its kind, filter delivery service reduced HVAC ticket requests by 38% Just by including a filter subscription for your residents, you can help them cut energy costs and ensure your HVAC system lasts for the long term. Learn more about all of the features of our Resident Benefits Package and how it delivers results for residents, property investors, and property management companies. RentCheck RentCheck is a property inspection app built to help residents do inspections on their own. The property manager can request and track routine inspections from the resident. You can set up any cadence you want and customize the self-guided inspection requirements. RentCheck will fully automate reminders and support residents in completing a video inspection that then gets sent to you as a shareable report. zInspector zInspector is another very popular rental inspection app in the SFR property management space. Like RentCheck, property managers use zInspector to schedule, customize, and receive inspections conducted by residents themselves. The app also includes a toolkit with an evolving set of property and task management tools. You can get 360 photos and virtual tours with a compatible 360 camera and printable, customizable inspection reports. FAQs Q: What are the benefits of preventive maintenance? Preventive maintenance offers a multitude of benefits, including: Cost Savings: It reduces the likelihood of incurring expensive emergency repairs and extends the life expectancy of property assets. Efficiency: Regular maintenance ensures that all systems and appliances are running at optimal performance, which can lower energy costs. Tenant Retention: A well-maintained property leads to higher tenant satisfaction, which can decrease turnover rates. Safety: It helps identify potential safety issues before they become hazardous, promoting a safer living environment. Value Preservation: Ongoing care maintains and can enhance the property's value over time. Compliance: Ensures that the property remains in compliance with the latest building codes and safety regulations. Overall, preventive maintenance is essential for maintaining a property's integrity, ensuring tenant satisfaction, and optimizing operational budgets. Q: What is included in basic preventive maintenance? Basic preventive maintenance for property management typically encompasses: Routine Inspections: Regularly checking the structural integrity of the property, including roofs, walls, and foundations. HVAC Maintenance: Ensuring heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are clean and functioning properly. Plumbing Checks: Looking for leaks, clogs, or wear in pipes and fixtures. Electrical System Audits: Inspecting electrical panels, wires, and safety systems to prevent malfunctions. Groundskeeping: Checking outdoor areas, including landscaping, gutters, and drainage systems. Appliance Upkeep: Servicing provided appliances to prevent breakdowns and extend their lifespan. Safety Inspections: Verifying that all safety equipment, like fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, is in working order. These tasks are designed to identify and address issues before they develop into more significant problems, helping to ensure the property remains safe, functional, and appealing to tenants. Q: What’s the ideal schedule for preventive maintenance? The ideal schedule for preventive maintenance can vary depending on the specific needs of a property, but a general guideline is as follows: Weekly/Monthly/Quarterly: Regular checks on a weekly to quarterly basis are more common for multifamily properties and apartment buildings, with quick checks on high-usage areas and equipment, such as communal spaces and gardening upkeep. Quarterly maintenance inspections could include more in-depth inspections of HVAC systems, plumbing and electrical systems, and seasonal preparations. Annually/Seasonally: A small number of SFR property managers will conduct seasonal or semi-annual inspections. A few more conduct annual inspections (unrelated to move-in or move-out, which always includes inspections). These are more in-depth inspections to keep an eye on potential issues.

Calendar icon November 15, 2023

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Property manager filling out rental inspection check list

Property Management Rental Inspection Checklist [Free Template]

In single-family property management, there's a hero tool that stands between you and potential disputes, wear and tear issues, and even costly oversights. It's not a fancy gadget or software for single-family property management – it's a Property Management Rental Inspection Checklist. Now, someone who isn't in property management might think, "It's just a checklist, right?" But professional property managers know that without it, everything can kind of fall apart. Throughout this article, we'll dive deep into what rental inspections are, their undeniable importance, the key items you shouldn't overlook, and – because we love making your life easier – we're gifting you a comprehensive checklist template. Stick around to have all your pressing questions answered in our FAQ section and discover how Second Nature can be your partner in acing rental inspections. What is a Rental Inspection? A rental inspection is a systematic evaluation of a rental property's condition carried out by the property manager, landlord, or a dedicated inspector. It’s not just a casual walkthrough of the premises. The inspector will thoroughly assess, every nook and cranny of the property – from the foundation to the roof, from the plumbing to the electrical fittings – is thoroughly assessed. The primary goal? To ensure that the property meets all safety and maintenance standards, that the residents are complying with their lease agreements, and that potential issues are identified and addressed before they escalate into major, costly problems. Think of it as a health check-up, but for properties. It provides an objective snapshot of the property's current state and offers insights into areas that might need attention or repair. Why Are Rental Inspections Important? Rental inspections play a crucial role in the property management world, and here’s why: Resident Experience: A well-maintained property is a happy home for residents. When renters see that the property management company is proactive about upkeep, it fosters a sense of value and respect. This can translate to longer tenancies, on-time rent payments, and even positive word-of-mouth referrals. (Learn more about this in our State of Resident Experience Report.) Protection of Assets: Your rental property is a significant investment on the part of your client. Regular inspections ensure it remains in top condition, preventing minor issues from escalating into costly repairs, and protecting your clients’ real estate investments. Safety Assurance: By checking everything from electrical fittings to potential structural issues, inspections make certain the property is safe for habitation. No landlord wants to be on the receiving end of lawsuits or liabilities. Lease Compliance: Regular inspections ensure that tenants are adhering to the terms of their lease, such as not making unauthorized alterations or keeping pets when they aren’t allowed. Predictive Maintenance: Rather than always being in a reactive mode, inspections help in predicting potential issues. This way, you can schedule maintenance tasks before problems arise, which can be more cost-effective in the long run. Property Value Preservation: A well-inspected and maintained property not only attracts and retains quality tenants but can also help maintain or even increase its market value over time. In essence, rental inspections aren’t just a formality; they're a pivotal tool in ensuring the long-term success of your property management endeavors and in enhancing the overall resident experience. What to Include in a Rental Inspection When you're planning a rental inspection, your approach should be methodical and thorough. As Janet Sprissler, Broker/Owner at Rent 805, puts it: “There are no optional parts of the checklist. That’s why it’s a checklist; you have to check everything off. I don’t have any nice-to-haves on my checklist because everyone is treated the same. We don’t do for one resident what we won’t do for the other.” Organizing your checklist by room or space is a practical way to ensure no corner is overlooked. For each item listed within these spaces, always include a status, such as "Good," "Requires Maintenance," or "Replaced." This helps in keeping track of the condition and any changes over time. You should also consider what type of inspection you’re conducting and may want to tweak what you include depending on where the property is in its rental cycle. Different types of inspections include: Move-In Rental Inspection: Conducted right before a resident moves in, the move-in inspection serves as a benchmark for the property's condition at the start of a lease. It helps to document the existing state of the property, from the functionality of appliances to the appearance of the interior and exterior. This documentation can be invaluable in resolving potential disputes over damages when the resident eventually moves out. Move-Out Rental Inspection: Carried out once the resident vacates, this inspection compares the property’s condition to its state during the move-in inspection. It identifies any damages or changes that have occurred during the tenancy. Based on this, you can decide what portion of the security deposit needs to be returned. Routine Rental Inspections: These are regular checks conducted during a resident’s lease period. Typically done every six to twelve months, routine inspections monitor the ongoing condition of the property. They're also a great way to catch and address issues early, as well as to ensure lease compliance. “Drive-By” Rental Inspections: These are less invasive checks where property managers drive by the property to ensure its exterior is in good shape and being maintained appropriately. This type of inspection is less about detailed checks and more about getting a general sense of the property's outward appearance and ensuring no major lease violations are visible. For single-family property managers, these inspects may be less frequent since properties are often spread out from each other geographically. As you create your rental inspection report, remember that every property is unique. While categorizing by room ensures thoroughness, it's essential to adjust and add specific items tailored to each property’s unique features and needs. And always remember, communication is key. Ensure that residents are aware of inspections, their purpose, and the schedule to foster a transparent relationship. Property Management Rental Inspection Checklist With the help of OnSightPROS, we've developed a rental inspection checklist template for single-family rental property management companies. Use this template to build out your checklist. General Overview Date of Inspection: Inspector Name: Tenant Name: Address: Previous Inspection Date: Front Exterior Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Mailbox: Functional door and flag, no damage Lawn and garden: Well-maintained landscaping free of debris, no bald grass spots Driveway and walkways: No cracks or obstacles Fencing: In good condition, no damage Exterior lighting: All bulbs functioning Windows/Screens: Clean, no cracks, seals intact, screens intact Walls/Siding: No damage or cracked/peeling paint or caulking, no insect damage Downspout/Splash Blocks: Attached properly Light Fixtures: No missing bulbs or broken fixtures Roof/Trim/Gutter: No visible damage or leaks, discoloration, holes, clogged or loose gutters Rear Exterior Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Lawn and garden: Well-maintained, free of debris, no bald grass spots Patio/Walkways: No cracks or obstacles BBQ Grill: Set away from house, not under awnings Rear Door: Weather stripping intact, locks installed as needed Possible Hazards: Trampoline, open fire pit, swing set Pool: Clean, clear water, no damage, fence and lock in place Fencing: In good condition, no damage Exterior lighting: All bulbs functioning Windows/Screens: Clean, no cracks, seals intact, screens intact Walls/Siding: No damage or cracked/peeling paint or caulking, no insect damage Downspout/Splash Blocks: Attached properly Light Fixtures: No missing bulbs or broken fixtures Roof/Trim/Gutter: No visible damage or leaks, discoloration, holes, clogged or loose gutters Entry Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Patio/Porch: No cracks in concrete, railing, stair intact Front door exterior: No scratches, chipping, stains Locks/Keyless Deadbolts: Check for installation, functioning correctly Front door interior: No gaps in weather stripping, clean Walls and ceiling: Clean, no signs of mold or damage Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Lighting fixtures: Operational Electrical outlets: All functioning, no visible damage Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Living Room Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Walls and ceiling: Clean, no signs of mold or damage Ceiling fans: Working properly Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Lighting fixtures: Operational Electrical outlets: All functioning, no visible damage Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Kitchen Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Walls and ceiling: Clean, no signs of mold or damage Lighting fixtures: Operational Cabinet under sink: No leaks with running water, no standing water Countertops/Backsplash: Clean, no damage, caulking intact Cabinets: Doors/drawers work, no damage Sink/Faucet: No leaks, drains well, spray hose works Pantry: Shelves intact, walls clean, lights functioning Appliances (oven, fridge, dishwasher, microwave, etc.): Clean, functional Exhaust fan: Functional, no excessive noise Electrical outlets: Functioning, GFCI where required Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Hallway/Stairway Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Railings: No loose or missing spindles Walls and ceiling: Clean, no signs of mold or damage Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Lighting fixtures: Operational Electrical outlets: All functioning, no visible damage Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Bedrooms (repeat for each bedroom) Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Walls and ceiling: Clean, no damage or mold Ceiling fans: Working properly Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Lighting fixtures: Working Door/Door stops: Fully functional Electrical outlets: All functioning Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Bathrooms (repeat for each bathroom) Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Flooring: No damage, no sagging floorboards or discoloration Walls and ceiling: Clean, no damage or mold Exhaust fan: Working properly Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Lighting fixtures: Working Toilet: Flushes correctly, no leaks Sink/Faucet: Drains well, no leaks Cabinet under sink: No leaks with running water, no standing water Shower/bathtub: Drains well, faucets work, no mold Towel bars: Present and functional Mirrors: Clean, no damage Electrical outlets: Functioning, GFCI installed Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Utility Spaces (if applicable) Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Flooring: No oil stains or cracks Electrical outlets: Functioning, GFCI installed Lighting fixtures: Working Walls and ceiling: Clean, no damage or mold Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Cabinet under sink: No leaks with running water, no standing water Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Washer/dryer: Functional, no leaks Water heater: No visible damage, no leaks HVAC system: Operational, air conditioning filters clean, no moisture issues around drip pan Satellite dish: Attached to house correctly Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Garage (if applicable) Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Interior door/Door stops: Fully functional Garage door opener: Functions correctly Flooring: No oil stains or cracks Walls and ceiling: Clean, no damage or mold Lighting: Functional Electrical outlets: Functioning, GFCI installed Windows: No damage, hardware intact, no evidence of moisture Storage areas: Organized, no damage Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Additional Notes: Space for the inspector to make any additional comments or observations. Signature: Inspector’s signature, date. FAQ Here are a few frequently asked questions about rental inspections. Q: How often should you conduct rental inspections? A: The frequency of rental inspections can vary based on several factors, including local regulations, lease agreements, and the specific needs of the property. Generally, here's a recommended guideline: Move-In Inspection: Once, right before a new resident moves in. Move-Out Inspection: Once, immediately after the resident vacates. Routine Rental Inspections: Typically, every six to twelve months. It's a balance between ensuring the property is being maintained without being overly intrusive to your residents. Drive-By Rental Inspections: These can be conducted more frequently, perhaps quarterly, since they are less invasive and don’t require entering the property. However, always consult your local laws and regulations, as some areas might have stipulations on how often you can inspect a rented property. Also, it's crucial to provide residents with proper notice before any inspection, respecting their privacy and rights. Q: Can a tenant refuse a rental property inspection? A: While rental inspections are essential for property managers, tenants have rights, and their privacy must be respected. Generally, a resident cannot outright refuse a rental property inspection if: It's Stipulated in the Lease: Most rental agreements or leases have clauses that allow for periodic inspections by the property manager or landlord, given proper notice. Adequate Notice is Given: Many jurisdictions require landlords to provide a specific amount of notice (usually 24-48 hours) before entering the property unless there's an emergency. The Inspection is Conducted at a Reasonable Time: Inspections should be scheduled during reasonable hours, avoiding early mornings, late nights, or any time that might intrude on the tenant's reasonable expectation of quiet enjoyment. However, if a resident has a valid reason like health concerns, religious reasons, or personal issues, it might be possible to reschedule the inspection to a more convenient time. Always be sure to check local laws and regulations as tenant rights can vary by jurisdiction. Open communication and understanding between both parties can help mitigate any concerns or conflicts. Make Property Management Easier with Second Nature At Second Nature, our goal is to make property management easier for professional property managers. We built our Resident Benefits Package to support property management companies in delivering the best resident experience on the market. From a move-in concierge to air filter subscriptions to rent reporting, we deliver the services that residents will pay for – and stay for. Learn more about our RBP today!

Calendar icon November 6, 2023

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Property Maintenance Guide for Property Managers

Property management maintenance is one of the most important parts of the resident experience. But it’s also costly and difficult to control. We’ve heard from hundreds of property managers that maintenance can be one of the most unpredictable parts of their job – and one of the biggest headaches for residents, property managers, and real estate investors. Triple headache! Of course, the unique frustrations and challenges of rental property maintenance also mean that an effective strategy can become one of the most outstanding differentiators for a property management company. So how do leading PMCs take their routine maintenance practices to the next level? How can PMCs turn that triple headache into a triple win? Here’s what we’ve learned from years of working with PMCs. What is property maintenance? Property maintenance is everything involved in ensuring your properties are in excellent shape and any issues are repaired in a timely manner. Property managers take responsibility for maintenance in most cases, and their tasks include both preventive and responsive maintenance. Property maintenance may include: Resident maintenance requests Servicing and repairing HVAC systems Pest control Landscaping Painting and repairs Maintenance is critical to the resident experience, to keeping a property fully functional, and to ensuring safety and quality of life. Failure to follow through on maintenance can result in serious consequences. Property managers must balance their residents' needs and their investors' goals. For example, what if an investor isn’t interested in putting a whole lot of maintenance or repairs into a specific property – but the resident wants a higher level of service? Another layer of complexity is the round-the-clock nature of maintenance tasks. You don’t know when a roof will spring a leak, an HVAC system will go haywire, or a dishwasher will give up the ghost. Property managers have to juggle on-call hours, after-hours, increasing work orders, and emergencies all the time. Benefits and challenges of property management maintenance That’s all easier said than done! Property management maintenance is uniquely challenging. It’s unpredictable, almost always urgent, and involves several stakeholders and fluctuating pricing. Bottom line: How do you build solutions that support your team, the resident, and your investor? Let's look at both the benefits and challenges of property management maintenance. Benefits of property management maintenance: Extending the life of properties and equipment Reduced costs Ensuring resident health and safety Boosting the resident experience with high-quality homes Avoiding liabilities and accidents Increasing property value Happier tenants! Challenges of property management maintenance: Prioritizing reactive and preventive maintenance Increased expenses and maintenance costs Delegating tasks to your team Managing resident expectations After-hours and emergency work is 24/7 Balancing investor's goals and resident's needs Examples of maintenance in property management Here are some top examples of property management maintenance company services for single-family homes. Spring property maintenance checklist: Check gutters and downspouts for blockages left over from the winter Check interior for any mold or mildew growth Start prepping landscaping for summer with new flowers or shrubs Summer property maintenance checklist: Clean window wells, gutters, and downspouts Find and fix any gaps in windows, doors, and walls (to keep out pests and ensure HVAC efficiency) Maintain yard and landscaping if that's within your responsibility Increase watering frequency Prune trees and any hazardous limbs Lawn care Check outdoor lighting Pressure wash and repair outdoor areas/decks Fall property maintenance checklist: Check the roof and exterior for leaks or repair needs Clean chimney for cold weather Clean gutters and downspouts again Prep landscaping for winter Remove dead leaves, branches, etc. Prep sprinkler system for winter Winter property maintenance checklist: Ensure roof is in good state for winter Check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors Ensure pipes, windows, and doors are insulated Cover and winterize outdoor areas, including pools and pipes What to look for in property maintenance workers? When property management companies consider hiring in-house maintenance workers or contracting with property maintenance services and technicians, there are several key qualifications and skills to look for. These not only ensure efficiency and quality in maintenance tasks but also contribute to the overall safety and longevity of the property. Here’s a checklist of what to look for: Experience in Managing Repairs: Look for a proven track record in handling a variety of repair tasks. This includes the ability to diagnose issues quickly and provide effective, long-lasting solutions. HVAC Systems Expertise: Essential knowledge in maintaining and repairing HVAC systems is crucial, given their complexity and how important they are to resident comfort. Boiler Maintenance Skills: Expertise in maintaining and repairing boilers, especially in regions with colder climates where heating systems are in constant use. Installation Abilities: Proficiency in installing various types of equipment—ranging from basic fixtures to complex machinery. Electrical and Plumbing Knowledge: A solid understanding of basic electrical and plumbing systems ensures that routine issues can be addressed promptly and safely. Certifications and Training: Relevant certifications or completed training courses in property maintenance or specific systems (like HVAC or electrical work) add credibility and assure competence. Problem-Solving Skills: The ability to think on their feet and creatively solve unexpected problems that arise during maintenance work is key. Communication Skills: Clear communication with property management team and tenants is essential, especially when coordinating repairs and addressing tenant concerns. Attention to Safety: A strong focus on safety protocols to prevent accidents or property damage, including adherence to all relevant regulations and guidelines. Customer Service Orientation: Since maintenance technicians often interact directly with residents, a friendly demeanor and strong customer service skills are important for maintaining tenant satisfaction. By ensuring that your property maintenance workers or contracted technicians meet these criteria, property management companies can maintain high standards in property upkeep, leading to satisfied tenants and well-maintained properties. What should an ideal property management maintenance solution have? We’ve spoken with leading property managers across the industry and collected some of their best tips for taking the puzzle of property maintenance and delivering next-level service and experiences. Here are three key steps they’ve shared for leveling up when it comes to property maintenance. 1. The right team Getting the right “who” is critical before addressing the “how.” We spoke to leading property management consultant Kevin Hommel about what he looks for in his property management team. He looks for people who are proactive, self-driven, and resilient in the face of complex problems. Maintenance is no exception. A self-driven team will always aim to be proactive rather than reactive. Hommel says: “I would rather find somebody who is going to come in and hustle – even if I have to teach them everything about property management – than find somebody who's a property management expert but has the wrong attitude. It's going to be a completely different experience.” The benefits of finding the right full-time or part-time team are twofold: First, you’ll produce better work and better service. Second, a trustworthy team helps you focus on bigger strategic opportunities. As a property management business owner, you should be free to focus on 10X opportunities rather than get bogged down in day-to-day tasks. Peter Lohmann, Co-founder & CEO of RL Property Management, says it this way: “In property management, a lot of us are in the habit of wanting to know what's going on at all times – every rental application, every maintenance request, works orders, every disbursement amount. But I would challenge everyone to step back from that and ask yourself, ‘Why?’ The need to ‘stay plugged in’ is not going to help you unlock growth for your company. Time to work on 10x opportunities instead.” By hiring a team you can trust, you’re setting your residents up for success. You know they’ll be taken care of, and you can focus on higher goals to improve your resident experience overall. 2. A clear process for managing requests After setting up your team – and before we get to the tools you can use to support them – we need to talk about the process. Every property manager we’ve spoken to is bullish when it comes to getting your processes right. Lohmann again: “(It’s important to) do things in a standard way throughout your business. The more exceptions and one-off arrangements you make with the property owner and tenants, the harder this becomes. Your priority should be to standardize all your contracts and operating procedures so you can innovate around a small number of core processes that apply to every unit you manage.” This is more than just having a maintenance checklist. The best way to build a process is to approach it from the lens of the resident experience. The most successful property managers set up maintenance processes by asking themselves what the resident wants and needs: What’s the easiest way for a resident to report an issue? In what way do residents like to communicate with me or hear from me? How can I best keep residents informed? How can I bring speed and convenience to residents? Using an experience lens to build or update property maintenance processes can help you see new opportunities. 3. The right tools and technology Automation and AI are some of the newest ways to support your team and improve functionality. No-code tools and app integrations help connect workflow, client management, communication, and task tracking. No-code tools are products that enable those of us with no coding experience to build digital solutions for every part of our workflow. Property managers can use no-code tools to design their websites, build online content, create email campaigns, or set up automated task tracking, communication, and more. In terms of property maintenance, PMCs can now use accounting platforms with native portals for maintenance requests or adopt maintenance solutions platforms like Meld. These solutions offer customizable automation where you can track tasks, deadlines, time, vendors, costs, and employee responsibilities. With just a few clicks, automation helps cut out manual work like: Creating a New Property Checklist every time you add a new door Populating data fields in your CRM Assigning the correct tasks to the correct people Sending an email to a property investor with updated information Sending maintenance reminders Tracking safety checks and code enforcement Etc. Property management software and partner solutions run the gaut. They can include features like: Tenant portals for maintenance requests and more 24/7 and after-hours call center services Accounting platforms Self-help video libraries and knowledgebase platforms Technology ultimately brings greater speed, convenience, and ease to you and your residents. 4. A resident benefits package Whether you’re already implementing automation or if that feels a long way off, we still haven’t addressed one of the best tools for boosting resident experience: the resident benefits package or RBP. An RBP is considered by many property managers as the most powerful, profitable step to impact the resident experience. And it is the only one that generates revenue while also creating operational efficiency. RBPs provide tools like filter delivery service, identity protection, rewards programs, on-time rent incentives, credit building, move-in concierges, insurance, and more. Here’s just one example: The National Rental Home Council (NRHC) surveyed 7,772 single-family residences over 18 months to analyze the frequency of resident HVAC service requests with and without HVAC filter delivery service. Second Nature delivered HVAC filters every 60 to 90 days in a date-stamped box with illustrated instructions and sent emails with tracking information and educational content before each delivery. Overall, there was a 38% reduction in HVAC-related ticket requests among the group that received filter delivery—a result achieved without creating any additional work for the property management company. Resident benefits packages help standardize benefits in a cost-effective way across all your properties. With an RBP, you know every resident is getting a level of service that feels high-touch but doesn’t create any extra work for your team. RBPs strengthen communication, transparency, self-service, and speed – in other words, the resident experience and relationship. How to effectively manage a property maintenance team Managing a property maintenance team efficiently is key to ensuring your properties are well-cared for, and your residents remain satisfied. From scheduling tasks to fostering teamwork, every aspect plays a crucial role. In this section, we'll break down essential tips into actionable strategies to help you lead your maintenance team effectively. Establish Clear Communication Channels Effective communication is the backbone of successful team management. Establishing clear channels for reporting issues, discussing solutions, and sharing feedback ensures everyone is on the same page. Use digital tools like email, messaging apps, or property management software to streamline communication. Implement a Scheduling System A well-structured scheduling system is crucial for organizing maintenance tasks. Make sure your maintenance team uses digital calendars or maintenance management software to allocate tasks, set deadlines, and track progress. Ensure their schedules are flexible enough to accommodate emergency repairs while maintaining routine maintenance work. Prioritize Tasks Based on Urgency and Importance Not all maintenance tasks carry the same weight. Prioritize issues that directly impact resident safety and comfort, such as HVAC problems or plumbing leaks. Regular maintenance can be scheduled around these more urgent tasks to ensure efficiency without compromising on critical repairs. Use Technology for Efficiency Leverage technology to automate reminders, maintain records, and manage work orders. Property maintenance software can significantly reduce manual administrative work. Regularly Evaluate Performance Conduct regular assessments of your maintenance vendors. Use these evaluations to identify areas for improvement, acknowledge accomplishments, and set goals for future growth. Encourage Feedback from Residents Residents are often the first to notice maintenance issues. Encourage and facilitate easy ways for them to report problems. This feedback can be invaluable in identifying areas that need attention and enhancing resident satisfaction. Plan for Preventive Maintenance Instead of always being reactive, schedule regular preventive maintenance checks. This proactive approach can significantly reduce the frequency of emergency repairs and extend the life of property assets. Building in solutions like a Resident Benefits Package can bring residents on board with prevention strategies, too. Balance Workload Fairly Ensure that the workload is evenly distributed among team members if your team does the maintenance work. Overburdening certain individuals can lead to burnout and reduce the overall efficiency of the team. How does a Resident Benefits Package help reduce maintenance needs and costs? Managing single-family properties presents unique challenges, particularly due to the fact they're generally scattered-site management. This setup can make regular maintenance a logistical and financial burden for SFR property managers. But a well-structured, fully managed Resident Benefits Package (RBP) can make a huge difference in alleviating those challenges. At Second Nature, we built an RBP with integrated solutions that support and empower residents to take better care of the properties themselves. This helps reduce maintenance needs over time. Take air filter delivery: Simply subscribing to HVAC filter delivery can reduce HVAC ticket requests by 38% and save hundreds in energy bills. Another example is pest control. On-demand pest control can ensure residents deal with pest issues immediately. Instead of paying for expensive prevention, you can be sure actual issues are dealt with before they escalate. Or, consider resident rewards. With a built-in rewards program, property managers can customize the behaviors they want to encourage. Small preventive tasks or maintenance checks can be included in those incentives. Maintenance, tracking down vendors, invoicing work orders, etc., will always be a part of the property manager's life. But with an RBP, you can significantly cut down on the time and money you spend on a maintenance team. Why property maintenance can make or break your success as a PMC You’ve heard this from us before, and you’re going to hear it again – it’s all about the resident experience. Retention depends on it. Consumers today are looking for products that can offer them: Ease and convenience: Thanks to companies like Uber and Amazon, consumers are now used to having solutions at their fingertips – or the click of a button. Personalization: With our data everywhere, we’ve all become accustomed to brands that know us more intimately than ever before. Automation or speed to answer: Smart homes and connected devices can solve problems remotely and quickly. Even though PMs aren’t robots, we see more PMs solving with digital solutions and proactive services like resident benefits packages that anticipate and deliver on residents’ needs before they become problems. The modern resident has different expectations than the generation before. The “convenience economy” has come for us all. Residents don’t just expect to have maintenance issues resolved. They expect management services to provide a certain level of ease, comfort, familiarity, and convenience. Of course, maintenance work has obvious urgency: Nobody wants to live with a clogged toilet, a leaky faucet, no hot water, backed-up gutters, etc. But emergency repairs are now the minimum that property managers provide. Property management maintenance is integral to the resident experience – and one of the primary ways to set your business apart. We’re not just looking for “good enough” – we’re looking to answer the question: “How do we create experiences so good that residents never want to leave?” Regarding rental property upkeep, delivering on that question will involve many factors: Safety first: Safety is the baseline for all properties. If residents don’t feel safe, they are not likely to stay. Staying on top of carbon monoxide detectors, leaks, etc., is paramount. Timeliness: According to Ray Hespen, “the biggest leading indicator for resident satisfaction is speed.” Transparency: Whether through an online dashboard, text communication, or other tools, residents expect to know what’s going on with their homes. Preventive maintenance: We have to go beyond reactive maintenance. Processes that prevent issues from occurring can save time and money and boost the resident experience. We’ll talk about how resident benefits packages can deliver this for PMCs. First-time fixes: Nothing is more frustrating than getting something fixed only to realize the maintenance team didn’t actually resolve the issue. Communication: Residents don’t want to explain themselves or the problem several times to different parties like the property manager, the vendor, etc. Self-service: Many residents like the control and convenience of self-service options like air filter delivery or online payment portals. These are the characteristics we’re seeing across some of the most successful property management companies – the PMCs standing out from the crowd. How to reduce property maintenance costs Maintenance costs can quickly spiral if not carefully managed, but with strategic planning and smart practices, you can significantly reduce these expenses without compromising on quality or resident satisfaction. Let's dig into a few practical tips that will guide you on how to efficiently lower your property maintenance costs, ensuring your operations remain both cost-effective and top-notch. Implement Preventive Maintenance Proactive maintenance can significantly reduce long-term costs. By implementing services that protect key elements like HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical circuits, you can prevent minor issues from becoming major expenditures. Services like air filter delivery create excellent return on investment when it comes to prevention like this. Use Energy-Efficient Solutions Invest in energy-efficient appliances, lighting, and HVAC systems. These not only reduce energy costs but also tend to have a longer lifespan and lower maintenance requirements. Consider LED lighting, energy star-rated appliances, and smart thermostats to boost efficiency and cut costs. Train Staff on Basic Repairs Equip your team with the skills to handle basic repairs in-house if it makes sense for you in terms of time and cost. Training staff to fix common issues like minor leaks, electrical faults, or appliance glitches can save on expensive contractor fees. However, ensure more complex tasks are left to professionals. Negotiate Contracts with Vendors Establish long-term relationships with trusted vendors and negotiate contracts for regular maintenance services. Buying services in bulk or agreeing to long-term contracts can often result in significant discounts. Ensure these vendors are reliable and offer competitive rates for their services. Monitor and Manage Inventory Efficiently Keep a close eye on your inventory of maintenance supplies if that's something your team manages. Bulk purchasing of frequently used items can save money, but be wary of overstocking, which can lead to waste. Use inventory management software to track usage and avoid unnecessary purchases. Optimize Use of Technology Leverage technology for maintenance management. Use property management software to track maintenance requests, schedule work orders, and monitor expenses. This can help in identifying patterns or areas where costs can be trimmed without compromising on service quality. Conduct Regular Financial Audits Regularly review and audit your maintenance expenses. This practice can help you identify areas where you may be overspending, spot inefficiencies, and adjust your maintenance strategies accordingly to ensure cost-effectiveness. How thousands of property managers are approaching the future of maintenance and resident experience A property manager’s ability to respond to maintenance needs proactively can have a massive impact on renewals and referrals. We’re sure every property manager has stories of how maintenance can make or break the resident experience and company growth. Innovative property managers set themselves apart by building teams and systems that go above and beyond for the resident experience to create a Triple Win. They create systems that proactively address maintenance, apply technology to support their teams, and provide fantastic benefits to residents. If you want to build a differentiated resident experience people pay for and stay for, learn more about our Resident Benefits Package or subscribe to our podcast for regular insights from the PMC world.

Calendar icon November 2, 2023

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Property manager meeting with future tenants

10 Strategies to Become a Successful Single-Family Property Management Business

Navigating the world of Single-Family Property Management requires a blend of industry know-how, proactive strategies, and a keen understanding of both investors and residents. What is a single-family property management business? At its core, the business revolves around managing standalone properties for individual property investors, ensuring the rental property is maintained, tenanted, and profitable. But how do you optimize for success in this space? In this post, we'll uncover 10 pivotal strategies to elevate your single-family property management business, from staying updated on industry trends to streamlining your operations for maximum efficiency. 1. Keep up with the trends in Single-Family Property Management The dynamic landscape of single-family property management is constantly innovating and growing in response to various economic, technological, and societal factors. Property managers in the single-family space (vs. multifamily properties or even commercial real estate) also tend to be entrepreneurial, innovative, and adaptive. It’s what we love about this community! But some "trends" have staying power, and the key to long-term success is identifying those and adapting your services to the modern consumer. Over the past decade or so, the way we do commerce and services has been upended by technology and the convenience economy. The same is true in property management. In the words of Jonathan Cook at Revolution Rental Management: “I think ten years ago, property managers were only concerned with collecting rent and keeping tenants from doing damage to properties. It was a much more adversarial relationship than it is today. Today, the best PMs know that resident experience is vital to minimizing vacancy and creating a resident that strives to be a higher quality tenant.” So, let’s look at several trends that have emerged that are shaping the industry’s direction. The Convenience Economy: Sometimes we call this "the Amazon effect." Consumers and residents alike are looking for the easy button. They're looking for everything from online rental listings they can scroll from their couch to online rent payment services that make paying as easy as the click of a button. Technological Advancements: Today, property managers are leveraging technology more than ever. From smart home systems that enhance resident experience to advanced, AI-driven property management software that streamlines operations, staying abreast with technological trends is crucial. The key to staying on top of these transformations is to ask the right questions. Pay attention to general business trends. What are consumers demanding? What is new in technology that you could adapt to your business strategy? Running a property management business is just that: a business endeavor. Keep your eyes sharp on trends in commerce and get involved in the conversation of how that affects good property management. (Check out our Triple Win Podcast for regular interviews, updates, and tips from experts in the SFR property management industry!) 2. Understand your ideal investors in single-family property management When diving into professional property management, just like any other business, it's essential to identify your ideal customer profile (ICP) early on. You will get so much further by "niche-ing down" than spreading your company too thin. What kind of property and client are you ideally set up for or prepared to work with? Once you define your target audience, you can then be ruthless in saying no to anyone who falls outside that definition. Here are a few ways to explore the various dimensions of property investor clients: Level of Experience: Property investors are not all created equal. Individuals get into property ownership for different reasons. You can see experiences ranging from an accidental landlord who never intended to be an investor all the way to a sophisticated or institutional investor, and every shade of the spectrum in between. It's very difficult to build a business that serves all customers across all levels of sophistication. They'll have different needs for how much education they need, how they want you to handle things, and how they want pricing to work. Property Types: You should also define what type of property you want to manage, which will help you assess if a new investor is a fit or not. We're assuming since you're reading this that you're interested in single-family rentals. But within that category, there is still so much variation. Are you looking to manage luxury homes with higher rent, lower demand, and longer vacancies? Are you more interested in workforce housing with more demand and lower rents? Or maybe you're a specialist in Section 8 housing. Whether Class A, B, or C housing, it's very hard to specialize in all property types. Sure, all SFR homes are unique, but it's key to identify the general characteristics of the homes you'd like to manage (or already excel in managing). Then, you and your team are dealing with more consistent situations. Compatibility Fit: You also need to make sure the investor as an investor fits with your approach. And we don't just mean personalities. Have a list of questions that help define what type of investor you can work with. In his podcast Owner Occupied, Peter Lohmann (co-founder & CEO of RL Property Management) talks to Marc Cunningham (President and Owner of Grace Property Management & Real Estate) about their lists, which include questions like: 1) Is the investor financially stable? 2) Is the investor emotionally stable? 3) Are they realistic in expectations? 4) Are they willing to trust us as the expert? Cunningham says his company can manage any property if the owner is right. Define what's important to you and stick to your guns. As Lohmann says in the podcast, "The easiest way to deal with a horrible owner client is to never onboard them in the first place." The goal is to filter out the people who are not a fit before you get into a contract with them. "When you're first starting out in this business, you chase everything," Cunningham says. "But as you grow and become successful, you need to slide that bar on your 'yes' and 'no' and start saying no." In short, nailing the definition of what type of investor and property you want to work with will help you find the right clients and ultimately succeed with them. You're not saying yes to every person who is looking for property management; you're looking for a specific type of customer. 3. Make sure your rental application requirements are clear Are you getting applicants who don't end up being a fit for your properties? It's possible the requirements are not clear on the listing or application. Is your advertising penetrating where it's going to reach qualified residents? Do potential applicants know what credit score they need, income requirements, and more? Of course, how you advertise and where varies widely by the market in your area. Some property managers say they would never use Craigslist, and others swear by it. Understand the market in your area and make it clear from your listings what is required to be accepted as a renter. You'll save everyone frustration with transparency and clarity. 4. Simplify rent collection and accounting processes You know the old saying, "Time is money.” It's particularly true in the rental property management game. Think about it: Every hour you spend chasing down a rent check or struggling with complex accounting software is an hour taken away from growing your business, networking, or improving other operational aspects. Simplifying your rent collection means introducing online payments, setting up auto-pay options, and even mobile payment methods. Modern residents love the ease of digital transactions. Making their lives easier often equates to faster, on-time payments and a heightened sense of trust. One way to simplify rent collection is to incentivize on-time rent payments. Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package does just that by offering credit reporting and rental rewards to ensure that residents receive value for paying on time. As the property manager, it’s work off your plate! It's also a good idea to standardize your rent collection and use tools to support your team. New tech services like and EliseAI can fully automate your rent collection communications. As for accounting, streamlined property management software solutions can auto-generate reports, offer real-time financial insights, and make tax season a breeze. By embracing these upgrades, you’re not just benefiting internally by saving time and resources – you’re showing current and potential residents that you value efficiency and are in tune with modern conveniences. The result? Higher resident satisfaction, a more enticing pitch to potential property investors, and an overall smoother business operation poised for growth. 5. Prevent vacancies with effective resident communication and engagement activities Remember when you first fell in love with your favorite coffee shop or that little bookstore around the corner? It wasn't just about the coffee or the books—it was the overall experience, the atmosphere, and the feeling of being recognized and valued. The same principle applies to a residential property management company. Resident communication isn't just about sending rent reminders or maintenance updates. It's about cultivating a relationship. Providing resident benefits, gifts, support services, and timely communication go a long way to showing residents you care about their home. Engagement programs like loyalty rewards or recognizing special occasions can also be game-changers. Looking for more inspiration on resident retention? Dive deeper into our resident retention ideas article to explore various strategies that will help keep your properties filled and your community thriving. 6. Automate single-family property management workflows Ever find yourself drowning in spreadsheets, buried under a to-do list a mile long, or juggling multiple software platforms? Surely we all have! The solution? Breathe easier with automation. The beauty of running a full-service property management firm in the 2020s is that there's likely a tool or system for nearly every task in property management, from rent collection to resident communication. Our property management tech stack article is a treasure trove of tools and platforms designed specifically for property managers. By implementing these solutions, you can automate repetitive tasks, reduce human errors, and free up time to focus on more value-driven aspects of your business. Think about it: a streamlined application and screening process, automated rent reminders, and digital maintenance requests—all working like clockwork without your constant intervention. Beyond the tools themselves, consider the integration possibilities. When your property management company software talks seamlessly with your accounting system or marketing platform, the result is a cohesive and efficient workflow. Need more insights into the power of automation? Dive into our in-depth automation-related articles to discover how you can revolutionize your day-to-day operations. 7. Invest in regular rental inspections Investing in regular rental property inspections isn't just about ensuring your property is in good shape—it's also a strategic move to bolster the relationship with your residents and maintain the value of your client’s investment. Here's the deal: Consistent inspections offer a proactive approach to property maintenance. They can catch small maintenance issues before they balloon into costly repairs. Got a minor leak? Catch it early, and you're saving both money and potential damage to a resident's belongings. But it's not all about damage control. Regular check-ins also send a clear message to your residents: you care about their well-being and the condition of the property they call home. It's an opportunity to foster open communication, showing residents that their feedback is valued. Moreover, well-maintained properties tend to attract and retain quality residents. Those who know their property manager is on top of things will likely stay longer and treat the property with respect. Plus, when it's time to find a new resident, you've got a spotless track record of upkeep to show off. In short, consider inspections as a small investment now that can yield big returns in resident satisfaction, property value, and overall peace of mind. 8. Create a referral program to increase your portfolio Word of mouth? It's powerful. And in the property management game, it's gold. Imagine this: your current clients, satisfied with your stellar services, singing your praises to friends, family, and colleagues. Now, what if you could incentivize that process? Enter the referral program. Happy real estate investors are your best brand ambassadors. They've experienced firsthand the quality of your management, and their endorsement carries weight. So, why not reward them for bringing in new business? A referral program can do just that. Start by offering incentives. For your investor clients, perhaps it's a discounted management fee for a month. The point is to offer something tangible that'll get folks talking and referring. But there's more to it than just the direct business benefits. A referral program demonstrates that you value the relationships you've built. It tells your clients that their trust and loyalty don't go unnoticed. Lastly, an added bonus: with every successful referral, you not only grow your portfolio but also create a network of investors who are invested in your success. It's a win-win, driving growth for your business while strengthening the bond with your current clientele. 9. Find new investment properties and pitch them to your current clients You're already managing a portfolio of properties for your investors, ensuring they get solid returns and have few hassles. But here's the question: What if you could amplify those returns for them and simultaneously grow your business? Actively seeking out new investment properties is more than just scouting real estate; it's an art of opportunity. By identifying lucrative properties that align with your investors' strategies, you're essentially providing them with golden opportunities on a platter. And guess who they'll want managing these new assets? That's right, you. When you present these potential investments to your current clients, it accomplishes a few things. Firstly, it reinforces your role as a trusted partner in their financial journey, showing them that you're proactive and always on the lookout for ways to amplify their wealth and boost their cash flow. It's not just about maintaining what they have; it's about growing it. Secondly, every new property they acquire based on your pitch naturally expands your management portfolio. This approach helps scale your business, fostering client trust and loyalty along the way. Remember, in the property management world, being static isn't an option. By constantly seeking growth opportunities for your clients, you're also carving out a pathway for your own business's expansion. 10. Invest in marketing activities for short vacancy cycles Imagine a prime property in a stellar location, decked out with all the bells and whistles...sitting vacant. The eerie silence echoing in those empty halls isn't just the sound of missed opportunities – it's also the sound of revenue trickling away. Maybe that was a little dramatic. But the real estate game is as much about visibility and appeal as it is about bricks and mortar. The quicker you can get a property off the market and into the hands of a reliable resident, the better for everyone involved. This is where strategic marketing steps in. Investing in a robust property management marketing strategy does more than just showcase a property; it strategically positions it in front of the right eyes. With targeted campaigns, engaging visuals, and compelling copy, you can ensure your property doesn’t get lost in the sea of listings. Use social media, virtual tours, and local advertising to create a buzz. Moreover, effective marketing helps paint a lifestyle. When potential residents can visualize themselves in a space, they're more likely to take the leap. By consistently shortening vacancy cycles through effective marketing, you not only ensure a steady revenue stream but also enhance your reputation as a go-to property manager who gets results. In essence, marketing isn't an expense; it's a pivotal investment. It's the bridge that connects empty properties with eager residents, ensuring your business always stays on the move. Increase revenue from your SFR property management business with Second Nature Optimizing your single-family property management business is not a one-size-fits-all solution. From engaging with the right investors to fine-tuning marketing endeavors, the path to success is paved with multifaceted, dynamic approaches. But the key to it all is creating a better experience: for residents, investors, and your property management team. That’s why, at Second Nature, we’ve built a Resident Benefits Package that supports SFR property management businesses. Each benefit is designed to meet resident needs and investor priorities while taking work off your team’s plate. In the dynamic world of SFR property management, adaptability and efficiency are kings. With Second Nature by your side, you’re not just keeping pace with the industry; you’re setting the benchmark. So, as you work towards crafting a business that stands tall and resonates in the market, remember: Your success is our second nature.

Calendar icon October 31, 2023

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2023 NARPM National #SecondNatureVIP Recap

#SecondNatureVIP returned this October for the 35th NARPM National in Atlanta, Georgia. This is one of our favorite weeks of the year, when we get to give back and show our appreciation for property managers who are chronically underappreciated. Check out some highlights below! 👑 355 Second Nature VIPs Second Nature welcomed over 350 property managers, nearly half the conference, as Second Nature VIPs. The VIP Shuttle got these PMs to the hotel in luxury, with no need to call a rideshare app or wait around. VIP Shuttle saved property managers approximately $9,500 in Ubers and 14 miles of walking with luggage. 💟 59 Second Nature attendees Second Nature sent 59 purple suit-wearing experience creators to Atlanta to man the VIP shuttle, the VIP check-in, meet with property managers, set up and help run the Second Nature party, and ensure that VIPs had an unforgettable experience. 🛍️Swag bags! VIPs each received a swag bag featuring Cards Against Property Managers, our take on Cards Against Humanity specifically for PMs, Department of Chaos Control hats, a personalized bracelet, and much more! 🚁 32 helicopter rides, 1 incredible party, and $3,496 raised for charity VIPs showed off their creativity at the Second Nature party, where costumes were encouraged. We met the Tinman, Barbie and Ken, the PowerPuff Girls, several other Barbies, and more! The party also featured a raffle that raised almost $3,500 for charity, and winners received a helicopter ride over downtown Atlanta. 32 rides in all were taken. 🏆 Sixth consecutive NARPM Affiliate of The Year! Second Nature was named NARPM Affiliate of The Year for the sixth consecutive year. We're incredibly honored and humbled to receive this award, and while we're grateful, what we really hope to accomplish is to be your personal vendor of the year through outstanding service and value creation! Check out the full highlight video! Energized from NARPM National and looking for more educational opportunities? Check out Triple Win Leadership Xchange!

Calendar icon October 25, 2023

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Announcement: On-Demand Pest Control Added to RBP

Your resident benefits package from Second Nature just got stronger. We’re excited to announce the addition of On-Demand Pest Control, a convenient service for residents courtesy of our brand-new partnership with Pest Share. What is On-Demand Pest Control? On-Demand Pest Control is a service made available to residents through their RBP that allows them to request pest control services when needed, allowing for quick response and convenient timing instead of routine sprays. Treatment and coordination costs are included for all covered claims, so you can rest assured that you're getting the best possible service. How Does On-Demand Pest Control Work? The process is simple and easy, and is managed for you by Second Nature. Residents submit a request for pest control services through and Pest Share assigns a service provider that will communicate directly with the resident in order to schedule service time. How Much Does On-Demand Pest Control Cost? As mentioned, the cost for these services are built directly into the RBP, so there is no bill for you or the resident. It’s simple, easy, and on-demand for the resident, and it’s a useful service you can provide them without adding admin hours. It also helps protect the assets of the investor, as residents are more likely to request pest control services when they aren’t concerned about footing a bill. It’s a triple win. Residents don't have to worry about the lease saying who is responsible for pest control, it's already built-in for them. It's an easy button. - Brian Phelt, Forefront Property Management What Pests Are Covered? Pests that are often a resident's responsibility that PMs offer on-demand coverage for include bed bugs, fleas, ticks, mites, and cockroaches. Coverage can extend to other pests as well, and Pest Share offers different packaged coverages with certain packages that allow for customization to account for regional differences in common infestation problems. What about pests that aren’t covered? Pests that are not covered under the on-demand pest control service within the RBP can still be requested by the resident through the same process. The only difference is that the resident will be responsible for payment to the service provider themselves. Ready to add on-demand pest control to your resident benefits package? Get a demo today!

Calendar icon October 11, 2023

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8 Best Property Management Podcasts

As incredibly busy single-family and multifamily property managers, staying informed on the latest industry trends and resources on top of your ever-increasing list of to-dos can feel near impossible. But thankfully, there is now a wealth of excellent industry podcasts to do the hard work of staying up to date. All you have to do is tune in. Property management industry podcasts make it extra easy for you to gain insight, advice, and practical tips while commuting, cooking dinner, or working out. By listening to industry thought leaders and experts, you'll learn new ideas and perspectives on improving your strategies and ultimately growing your business. We've combed through all of the property management podcasts to find you the eight best ones. And we've made sure they meet the following criteria: The podcast's relevancy to your role as a single-family property manager – With so much information tailored to multi-use property managers, it can be hard to find industry insight into your particular challenges and industry issues. The caliber of the hosts and their guests – we looked for those run by reputable sources endorsed by trusted associations, organizations, and professionals in the property management business. Content quality and diversity of topics – We wanted to see that the podcast covered a wide spread of topics—from real estate investing to leasing challenges to tips like building your cash flow—and provided a well-rounded perspective on the industry. Actionable insights – We looked for podcasts that provided practical tips, strategies, and advice you can readily implement in your day-to-day work as a property manager. Length and accessibility – We all know how tiring it can be for a podcast to drone on and on. We looked for ones that were under an hour and were accessible, engaging, and even entertaining. 1. Triple Win Podcast The Triple Win Podcast is hyper-focused on the needs and challenges of single-family property managers. With each topic it addresses, The Triple Win Podcast looks at how property managers can create and monetize value for their company while also building strong working relationships. Its core focus is finding solutions that are a win-win-win for everyone involved—residents, real estate investors, and property managers alike. The Second Nature team hosts the podcast and invites experts across the industry to discuss topics such as using Practical AI for property management, turning customers into superfans, and tips for revenue building, annual goal planning, and more. The Triple Win Podcast is released twice a month and can be listened to here. 2. Owner Occupied with Peter Lohmann Owner Occupied is an interview-style podcast. Each week, Peter Lohmann invites experts from across the industry to discuss the business side of property management. Lohmann covers super granular topics (like competing with the 3% management fee) and ones that look at the big picture (like how to know which opportunities to pursue and which to let go). Lohmann interviews experts such as Michael Girdley of the Complete HoldCo Course, Todd Ortscheid of Always There Repair, and Brandon Scholton of Key Renter Denver. The best part of this podcast is that Lohmann lists the time stamps in the description. So, if you don't have time to listen to the full interview, you can easily skip to the parts that most interest you. Find Owner Occupied on Spotify here and tune in weekly for valuable information and insightful interviews. 3. Property Management Business with Marc Cunningham Marc Cunningham of PM Build works tirelessly to help property managers build their people, profit, and processes. And he shares a wealth of industry tips in his podcast Property Management Business. Each episode is less than 30 minutes, making it incredibly accessible and easy to fit into your day. Marc brings an optimistic and grounded perspective to the industry, inspiring property managers to build strong working relationships with property owners, tenants, and realtors. He also encourages property managers to simplify maintenance and discover the industry's exciting future. Tune in for new episodes each month and be inspired to grow your business here. 4. The Profitable Property Management Podcast Do you love to hear success stories of non-stop go-getters? Well then, The Profitable Property Management Podcast is for you. The host, Jordan Muela, has worked in the industry for over ten years, started three businesses, hiked the Grand Canyon to raise money, launched two podcasts, and released the industry's first financial benchmarking study. And he brings all of that energy and expertise to his interview-style podcast. "This podcast is dedicated to the property manager entrepreneurs that refuse to settle in life and business," says Muela. And it's clear he's walked the talk. Tune in to his weekly podcasts on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen. He'll inspire you to find meaning at work, boost your profit margins, and stay resilient as you navigate the daily challenges of property management. 5. 300 to 3,000 300 to 3,000 is hosted by Matthew Whitaker and Spencer Sutton of Evernest. The episodes vary from 30 minutes to over an hour and a half, but because they are chock-full of tips for adding new properties to your portfolio, we decided to include it in our round-up. Evernest is a national property management company that grew out of necessity. When the 2008 economic crisis happened, Matthew Whitaker owned 30 investment properties he was desperate to sell but couldn't. Using all of their creativity and gumption, Matthew and Spencer launched their property management company. They have grown from the rockiest start to a thriving property management business that oversees 15,000+ properties across the U.S. Every week, Matthew and Spencer provide industry insight from an incredibly thoughtful perspective. They cover interpersonal dynamics (Episode 82: Trying to Build a Great Team? How Trust and Conflict are Essential), the emotional strain of property management (Episode 61: How to Find Clarity in the Middle of Painful Problems), and practical business tips (Episode 55: How to Grow Your Maintenance Department). Tune in here. 6. NARPM Radio The industry's most trusted association is the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM). NARPM hosts conferences and trade shows, provides courses and webinars, advocates for policies that affect property managers, and offers ample networking opportunities for PMs. It's no surprise that their podcast is also an excellent resource. Twice a month, host Pete Neubig interviews different industry experts and provides invaluable insight into the various aspects of property management. Learn how to identify your business's core values, stay focused while growing your business, navigate property management taxes, and more. Connect with the organization on social media and catch the latest episodes here. 7. The Property Management Mastermind Show Like The Triple Win Podcast, The Property Management Mastermind Show focuses on single-family property management and is thus a valuable resource for those in that specific sector. Host Brad Larsen owns RentWerx, one of the fastest-growing property management companies in Texas. Brad brings his own hands-on experience to each episode and provides listeners with insight into the latest trends, best practices, tips for vendors, and more. Catch his weekly episodes here and take your property management strategies to the next level. 8. Property Management Brainstorm This podcast focuses primarily on maximizing your property value and raising your income while maintaining strong relationships with your tenants. Host Bob Preston brings his experience as a Silicon Valley technology executive to the property management space, guiding PMs on using the right technology and implementing effective operations to streamline and scale their businesses. Every week, Bob interviews other industry experts to help property managers think through business strategies and operations. Earlier this summer, Bob re-released our conversation on pest control in rental properties. It was such a delight to chat with Bob and I'm honored they have dubbed it one of their best episodes ever. Tune in to the full Property Management Brainstorm podcast here. Alright, there you have it—our eight favorite industry podcasts. We would love to hear which ones you enjoy the most and which ones you would add to the list. Happy listening!

Calendar icon October 10, 2023

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How to Calculate Tenant Turnover and Tips to Reduce It

Tenant turnover is the process that occurs when a current tenant vacates a rental property, and a new tenant moves in. It’s just the natural process of residents moving in and moving out. Sometimes, it’s a sign of a challenging property, but often, it’s just a natural part of the renting journey. While tenant turnover is a standard part of the rental business, the downside is that it often comes with associated costs and potential revenue loss due to vacancy periods. Tenant turnover costs can exceed thousands of dollars per month and hurt your cash flow. Understanding the ins and outs of tenant turnover meaning is essential for effective property management and profitability. It’s key to reduce the time of a turnover and to know the average tenant turnover rate in your area. Second Nature's Outlook: "Tenant turnover” is an industry term used from time to time. But we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve the word "tenant." We’ve seen the incredible work property managers do day in and day out to make renters feel like they’re so much more than just a tenant – they’re residents. Making renters feel like residents isn’t just philosophical, it also encourages them to invest in care for their home and add value to the property. This is why, at Second Nature, we prefer to call renters “residents.” Like you, we think of them as people first – making your property their home. How to Calculate Tenant Turnover Rate Getting the tenant turnover rate calculation correct is essential for property managers and landlords to understand their property's performance and the effectiveness of their management strategies. The good news? The math isn’t complicated! Go through these three simple steps in our tenant turnover formula to get your rate: Determine the number of move-outs in a year: First, identify the total number of tenants who moved out of your property during a specific period, usually a year. Identify your average number of total units: Calculate the average number of rental units you have available for that same period. For example, if you started the year with 10 units and ended with 12, your average would be 11 units for the year. Calculate the turnover rate: Divide the number of move-outs by the number of total units and multiply by 100 (to get a percentage). Tenant Turnover Rate = (Number of Move-outs) / (Number of Units) X 100 For instance, if you had three move-outs in a year and an average of 11 units, your tenant turnover rate would be: (3/11) X 100 = 27.27%. This means that 27.27% of your units experienced tenant turnover that year. Understanding this rate can help you set targets and measure the success of your retention initiatives. Understanding Tenant Turnover Costs Vacancies create disruption to your income stream and your investors' cash flow. The longer the vacancy, the more you're spending on marketing and management to find a new tenant. Here are four ways tenant turnover costs property managers. 1. Maintenance & Repair After a tenant leaves a property, you have to restore it to a marketable condition. Ideally the tenant leaves it in excellent condition. But you'll still likely need to pay for deep cleanings, some light repairs, and some updates like fresh paint, patching holes, etc. Additionally, as a property sits vacant, it will slowly deteriorate to some degree. The longer the vacancy, the more need for maintenance, upkeep, or repair. 2. Showings Whether you do in-person showings or virtual/remote showings, there is a cost to prepping and opening the property to prospective tenants. You may need team members on site, or to make time to set up virtual showings. 3. Marketing A vacant property is a property that needs to be filled. You may primarily use services like Craigslist or Zillow, which require time and cost within your own team to build and maintain listings. Or, you may also pay for ads to get more viewings. And, of course, in some cases you'll need to include real estate agent commissions in your budget. 4. Overhead The whole process of turning a property involves hands-on effort from yourself and your team (if you have one). The cost in time and team member's salaries can add up. How to Reduce Tenant Turnover We don’t have to tell you that high tenant turnover is a property manager's nightmare. It incurs significant costs, from marketing the property and screening new tenants to potential lost income during vacancies. Tenant turnover costs can add up to thousands for each unit each month. However, with the right strategies in place, reducing tenant turnover is more than achievable. Let’s explore these tenant retention strategies that not only enhance the resident’s living experience but also boost the value of your client-investor’s assets and your business’s reputation. 1. Offer Competitive Rent Prices Ensure your rent prices are in line with the local market. Overcharging can lead to tenants seeking more affordable options elsewhere. Fortunately, with the interconnectedness of the real estate market, and a proliferation of software and apps that help track it, property managers can easily stay on top of the latest market trends. 2. Foster a Strong Property Manager-Tenant Relationship Regular communication and a respectful attitude can go a long way. Make tenants feel valued and heard. Address their concerns promptly and maintain transparency in all interactions. Clear and consistent communication goes a long way to protect this relationship. A Resident Benefits Package is an excellent way to prioritize the PM-resident relationship. It shows them you really care about their lived experience and offers solutions to their most common pain points. 3. Address Maintenance Requests Promptly Swiftly responding to and resolving maintenance issues demonstrates that you care about the tenant's comfort and safety. Regular maintenance checks ensure small issues don't become major problems. When tenants see that the property is well cared for, they’re more likely to stay – and to take care of it themselves. Another important factor is offering on-demand pest control, not just preventive care. Residents will rest easy knowing that, should any issues arise, they know exactly who to turn to and that it will be dealt with promptly. 4. Update and Renovate Modernizing appliances or adding new amenities can make the property more attractive and encourage tenants to stay longer. Modern, functional amenities can be a significant draw. Periodically update or add amenities like a dishwasher, laundry units, or improved outdoor spaces to enhance the property's appeal. 5. Offer Lease Renewal Incentives Consider providing discounts or other benefits for those who renew their lease, making the option more enticing. A resident rewards program can accomplish this along with incentivizing on-time rent payments and extra TLC for the property. 6. Ensure Security One of the top priorities for any resident is feeling safe in their home. This extends beyond just locking doors; it involves well-lit outdoor areas, potentially installing security cameras, etc. But did you know that identity theft has actually surpassed home burglaries as a risk to renters in the past two years? That’s why our Resident Benefits Package includes identity protection and renter’s insurance. Insurance protects your property, and identity protection preserves the resident’s financial stability – and, therefore, their ability to continue making rent. By proactively ensuring that security measures and insurance are up-to-date and effective, property managers can instill trust and peace of mind in their tenants, encouraging them to stay longer. And by providing identity protection, you can ensure that payments are safe, too. 7. Conduct Regular Inspections Routine inspections aren't just about ensuring that tenants are treating the property well; they're also an opportunity to identify and address minor issues before they escalate. By regularly checking in and maintaining open communication, property managers demonstrate commitment to the property's upkeep and the tenant's well-being. These inspections also give residents the confidence that they're in a proactive environment. They know you’re looking out for them and likely won’t feel the need to look for alternatives that might be less proactive. 8. Implement a Rewards System Resident rewards are an integral part of an RBP for good reason. Recognizing and rewarding responsible behavior can play a significant role in fostering loyalty among residents. By introducing a rewards system, property managers can incentivize timely rent payments, property care, and long-term leases. Whether it's a discount on a month's rent, a gift card to a local establishment, or points that can be redeemed for various perks, rewards make tenants feel appreciated. Over time, this builds a positive relationship, encouraging them to renew their leases and view their rental as more than just a temporary dwelling. 9. Vet Tenants Thoroughly One of the best proactive steps in ensuring long-term tenancy is by meticulously vetting potential tenants. The process of screening new tenants, with background checks, evaluates a tenant's rental history, financial stability, and overall fit for the property. By identifying individuals with a history of timely payments, respect for previous rental properties, and stable employment, property managers increase the likelihood of having residents who will care for the property, abide by lease terms, and remain for extended periods. This approach not only minimizes potential conflicts and evictions but also fosters trustworthy and transparent relationships with your residents. 10. Seek Feedback and Act on It Actively seeking feedback from tenants provides invaluable insights into areas of improvement and showcases a genuine commitment to enhancing their living experience. Whether it's through regular surveys, suggestion boxes, or casual conversations, understanding tenant concerns and promptly addressing them helps build trust and rapport. When residents see that their opinions matter and lead to tangible changes, they feel valued and heard. This proactive communication strengthens your relationship and often encourages longer stays as residents recognize the effort made to optimize their living environment. Tenant Turnover Checklist for Property Managers Here’s a checklist template for managing tenant turnover at your properties. 1. Pre-notice Period Review lease expiry dates. Initiate renewal conversations with tenants. Survey tenants on reasons for move-out if they choose not to renew. 2. Once Notice is Given Provide move-out instructions to tenants. Schedule a pre-move-out inspection. Inform maintenance team of upcoming vacancy. 3. Inspection and Repairs Conduct thorough move-out inspection. Document and photograph any damages beyond normal wear and tear. Get estimates and schedule repairs and upgrades. Clean or replace carpets if necessary. Paint walls where required. 4. Marketing the Property Update online listings with current photos and features. Set competitive rent based on market research. Host open houses or private viewings. 5. Tenant Application and Screening Collect applications from prospective tenants. Conduct thorough background and credit checks. Check references from previous landlords. 6. New Tenant Onboarding Prepare and sign a new lease agreement. Offer a welcome packet, gift, and orientation for new tenants. Hand over keys and ensure they understand property rules. 7. Post-move-in Seek feedback on the move-in process. Provide information on reward programs or other incentives. Remind new tenants of maintenance request procedures. 8. Financial Matters Finalize any previous tenant's security deposit returns, accounting for any deductions. Set up new rent collection methods with the incoming tenant. 9. Continuous Improvement Analyze reasons for turnovers. Update property features based on tenant feedback. Consider conducting a yearly review to address potential concerns before they lead to turnover. Print or save this checklist to ensure a smooth tenant turnover process and mitigate potential challenges. By following these steps, property managers can streamline the transition period and maintain a high standard of service for all residents.

Calendar icon October 10, 2023

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What is Tenant Retention and 15 Ways to Improve it

What is tenant retention? Tenant retention refers to the ability of property owners or managers to keep their current tenants renewing their leases rather than having them move out and needing to find new renters. In the world of property management, retaining tenants is often more cost-effective and efficient than constantly finding new ones. This practice not only ensures a steady cash flow of rental income but also reduces expenses associated with vacancies, marketing, and new tenant screenings. To maximize tenant retention, you need a combination of value-driven services, proactive management, and strong tenant relationships. In this guide, we'll delve into 15 top tenant retention strategies. Second Nature's Outlook: "Tenant turnover” is an industry term used from time to time. But we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve the word "tenant." We’ve seen the incredible work property managers do day in and day out to make renters feel like they’re so much more than just a tenant – they’re residents. Making renters feel like residents isn’t just philosophical, it also encourages them to invest in care for their home and add value to the property. This is why, at Second Nature, we prefer to call renters “residents.” Like you, we think of them as people first – making your property their home. 1. Offer a Resident Benefits Package It’s one of the biggest trends in property management for a reason! Offering a Resident Benefits Package (RBP) is a strategic move to elevate the overall resident experience. And nothing is more critical to tenant retention than their experience. An RBP typically bundles various services and amenities that cater to the modern tenant's needs and desires. This can range from convenience-driven offers like an air filter delivery service or move-in concierge to value-driven aspects like resident credit building and renters insurance programs. By incorporating such a package, property managers not only enhance the perceived value of living in their property but also position themselves as being attuned to the evolving demands of today's renters. That’s what makes an RBP such a significant differentiator in the competitive renter’s market, making tenants more likely to renew their leases and stay longer. 2. Address Maintenance Requests Promptly When it comes to rental experience, property maintenance is a top priority – and, unfortunately, often a top pain point. One of the chief concerns for tenants is how swiftly and efficiently their maintenance requests are addressed. Quick and effective responses to these requests demonstrate a property manager's commitment to the well-being and satisfaction of their tenants. Delays or negligence can lead to a feeling of being undervalued or overlooked, pushing renters to look for alternative accommodations where their concerns might be treated with greater urgency. Moreover, swift repairs prevent minor issues from escalating into major, costlier problems. In essence, by prioritizing and promptly attending to maintenance requests, property managers not only ensure the structural integrity and safety of their property but also build trust and rapport with their tenants, encouraging longer stays. 3. Incorporate a Renter’s Insurance Program Offering or even mandating a renter's insurance program is a proactive measure that benefits both property managers and tenants. This insurance covers tenants' personal belongings in cases of theft, fire, or other unexpected events, granting them peace of mind. For property managers and owners, it offers an extra layer of protection, as tenants are less likely to pursue claims against the property for personal loss. Additionally, when damages or accidents occur that aren't the property owner's responsibility, having an insurance policy ensures that costs are covered without disputes. For owners, it protects their property and protects them from financial losses. They can also often get lower premiums on their own insurance if they can prove their renters are covered with their own policies. Second Nature addresses this benefit by offering a renter’s insurance program as part of our RBP. 4. Focus on Security In today's evolving risk landscape – with digital threats, increasing weather risks, etc. – ensuring tenant safety should be a paramount concern for property managers. In turn, tenants are more likely to stay in a property where they feel safe and secure. By installing high-quality security systems, surveillance cameras, weather safety plans, or generators, and by regularly updating and maintaining these systems, property managers can provide an environment where residents feel their well-being is prioritized. It's not just about the physical infrastructure either. Identity theft has surpassed home burglary in the level of threat to renters. At Second Nature, we provide $1 million identity protection as part of our RBP. That ensures that residents feel safe – and that their financial stability is protected. That, of course, protects their ability to pay rent. A steadfast commitment to safety fosters trust and is a clear indication to tenants that their welfare is taken seriously, thus making them more inclined to renew their leases. 5. Offer Incentives We all like a nice incentive now and then! Incentives play a pivotal role in tenant retention, acting as a value proposition that goes beyond just the living space itself. For example: By incorporating a credit reporting program, property managers can incentivize on-time rent payments, helping tenants build a positive credit history in the process. This not only promotes financial responsibility but also offers a tangible benefit to the tenant. Lease renewal incentives, such as discounted rent for the first month of renewal or free amenity usage, further encourage tenants to stay longer. Incentives create win-win solutions where tenants feel they're receiving added value while the property manager and owners benefit through consistent occupancy. 6. Implement a Rewards System Building a robust tenant relationship goes beyond addressing their needs; it also involves rewarding their loyalty. Programs in other industries maximize this type of value – think of Starbucks Rewards or Delta SkyMiles. A Resident Rewards program is similarly a strategic approach to foster customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty. Unlike direct incentives, these rewards programs offer points or credits for consistent on-time payments, renewing leases, or even care for the property. Over time, these points can be redeemed for tangible benefits or perks like gift cards, discounts on amenities, or special privileges within the property. By providing a continuous system of recognition, property managers can cultivate a positive tenant culture, making residents feel appreciated and thereby more inclined to renew their leases. Such a system also nudges tenants to adopt behaviors beneficial to both them and the property management, leading to a harmonious rental ecosystem. 7. Conduct Regular Inspections Regular inspections are a cornerstone of proactive property management and are essential for maintaining tenant satisfaction. By periodically assessing the condition of a rental property, managers can identify and rectify potential issues before they escalate. Whether it's a minor leak or wear and tear, addressing them early on reduces long-term maintenance costs and demonstrates a commitment to providing tenants with a well-maintained living space. Furthermore, these inspections offer an opportunity for open communication with tenants, understanding their concerns, and building trust. While it's crucial to respect a tenant's privacy by giving proper notice and scheduling at convenient times, these inspections emphasize the property manager's dedication to preserving the property's value and ensuring resident comfort. 8. Update and Renovate In the competitive world of rental real estate, properties that remain stagnant quickly lose appeal. By making periodic updates and renovations, property managers can significantly enhance the rental's desirability and rental rates and keep it aligned with current housing trends. Whether it's a modern kitchen makeover, a bathroom upgrade, or simply a fresh coat of paint, these changes can breathe new life into a space. Not only do renovations increase property value, but they also communicate to tenants that their living experience is valued and considered. Tenants are more likely to renew their leases when they see active efforts being made to improve their living environment, ensuring they always feel they're getting the best value for their money. 9. Offer On-Demand Pest Control One of the fastest ways to sour a tenant's experience? Leaving them to deal with unwanted pests. It also might put you or the owner at risk of legal action, depending on the state. Whether it's ants in the summer or mice in the winter, pest issues can quickly escalate if not addressed immediately. By offering on-demand pest control as part of the tenant package, property managers demonstrate a proactive approach to potential issues and ensure that tenants feel their well-being is a top priority. This service minimizes the likelihood of recurring pest problems and showcases a commitment to maintaining a clean and habitable environment. It’s also a better ROI than preventive sprays that don’t necessarily address real issues. On-demand services ensure that actual issues are addressed as soon as they pop up (or crawl out!). Tenants will appreciate the quick response and effort to ensure their comfort, further solidifying their decision to stay long-term. 10. Include Valuable Services like Filter Delivery Property managers know that it’s often the small touches that leave a lasting impression – and nip bigger problems in the bud. One such valuable service is offering filter delivery. Regularly changing air filters not only ensures a healthier living environment by improving air quality but also boosts the efficiency of heating and cooling systems, saving significantly on energy bills. In fact, a study by the National Rental Home Council (NRHC) found that filter delivery could reduce costs by up to nearly 80%. By offering filter delivery, property managers remove a common chore from the tenant's list, demonstrating attention to detail and a commitment to their comfort. This proactive approach to maintenance, coupled with the convenience of direct-to-door delivery, can enhance the overall resident experience, making them more inclined to extend their lease. 11. Offer a Move-in Concierge The moving process can be one of the most stressful experiences for new tenants, filled with a myriad of tasks and uncertainties. In fact, most renters have already made their decision to renew or not within the first 30-60 days. By offering a Move-In Concierge service, property managers can significantly ease this transition. This service assists new residents with tasks like utility setups, mail forwarding, local service recommendations, and even scheduling movers or rental equipment. Beyond just the practical help, a Move-In Concierge communicates to the tenant that their comfort and smooth transition are a priority. This initial positive experience can set the tone for the entire duration of the lease, making tenants feel valued and well cared for from the outset. 12. Use Digital Solutions It’s just the reality of 2023 and beyond: Tenants expect digital convenience. Whether it's online rent payments, a tenant portal for logging maintenance requests, or virtual property tours, embracing digital solutions can greatly enhance the tenant experience. These platforms not only streamline administrative tasks, reducing the possibility of human error but also provide a more responsive and efficient service to residents. For younger generations especially, the ability to manage their tenancy online can be a significant deciding factor in choosing a rental property. Property managers who keep pace with technological advancements in the industry not only improve tenant retention but also position their properties as modern and forward-thinking. 13. Vet Tenants Thoroughly The process of tenant retention begins even before a lease is signed. By thoroughly vetting potential tenants, property managers can ensure they're selecting responsible individuals who are more likely to be great tenants – tenants who will respect the property, adhere to lease terms, and foster a positive community environment. This involves conducting comprehensive background checks, verifying employment and income, and checking references from previous landlords. By choosing good tenants who have a track record of timely payments and good behavior, you set the stage for a longer, more harmonious rental relationship. It's an investment in time upfront that can save countless hours and resources in the long run. 14. Seek Feedback and Act on it Among the best tenant retention tips: Tenant feedback is an invaluable tool for understanding what you're doing right and where there might be room for improvement. Actively seeking out tenant opinions through surveys, feedback forms, or simply open-door policies can shed light on aspects of property management that might otherwise go unnoticed. Of course, collecting feedback isn't enough on its own; the crucial step is to genuinely act upon the insights gathered. Whether it's a minor repair, upgrades, or better communication methods, implementing changes based on tenant feedback not only improves the living experience but also shows residents that their voices matter, fostering trust and encouraging longer tenancies. 15. Foster a Strong Property Manager-Tenant Relationship The foundation of tenant retention often rests on the relationship built between the property manager and the tenant. This bond goes beyond mere transactions and lease renewals. It's about understanding, respect, and open communication. By being approachable, responsive, and genuinely caring about tenants' well-being and comfort, property managers can foster a sense of community and belonging. Regular check-ins, prompt responses to concerns, birthday or anniversary gifts, and occasional gestures of appreciation can make tenants feel valued. A strong relationship not only reduces the chances of tenants seeking a new place but also encourages positive word-of-mouth recommendations, benefiting the property's reputation and bottom line. Tips for Successful Tenant Retention Program At the heart of tenant retention is a simple yet profound realization: tenants, much like any consumers, are looking for value, ease, and assurance in their choices. When it comes to exploring the topic of tenant retention meaning, for us, it’s all about the resident experience. The key question for tenant retention is simply: “How do we create an experience so good that residents never want to leave?” Answering this question helps property managers identify exactly what residents are willing to pay for and stay for. Here are a few tips for approaching the resident experience. Get a much more in-depth look at it through our 2023 State of Resident Experience Report. Focus on convenience: Today's residents value convenience more than ever. Be it quick maintenance solutions, easy-to-access amenities, or streamlined communication, the easier you make life for your tenants, the more likely they are to stay. A resident benefits package or on-demand services are ways to weave in this convenience. Embrace digital transformation: The digital age has transformed tenant expectations. Online rent payments, digital lease signings, AI-powered helpdesks, and smart home integrations are just a few avenues where digitalization can significantly enhance the resident experience. Aim for the Triple Win: True success in tenant retention is realized when all parties involved – the residents, property managers, and owners – feel they're gaining value. Implement strategies where each party stands to benefit, ensuring harmonious, long-lasting relationships. By grounding your tenant retention program in these principles, you not only meet resident expectations but often surpass them. How Second Nature Helps with Tenant Retention Navigating the world of tenant retention can be intricate, but Second Nature simplifies the journey. Our comprehensive Resident Benefits Package (RBP) is meticulously designed to cater to modern tenant needs, offering unparalleled convenience and value. By focusing on strategies that drive resident satisfaction, Second Nature ensures both property managers and owners achieve higher tenant retention rates. Embrace the RBP, and witness the transformative impact it brings to your property management endeavors.

Calendar icon October 10, 2023

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How Resident Benefits Packages Benefit Owners and Investors

In today's competitive property market, ensuring a standout resident experience isn't just a nicety—it's a necessity. Enter the Resident Benefits Package, an innovative tool embraced by savvy property management companies to elevate the living experience for residents. But the advantages aren't limited to just happy residents. For property owners and investors, these packages can translate into tangible, profitable outcomes. From reducing overall costs to bolstering a property's reputation and value on the market, the strategic deployment of a Resident Benefits Package can directly contribute to a stronger return on investment for owners. In this article, we'll delve into the top ways that a Resident Benefits Program not only benefits residents but also significantly boosts the bottom line for property owners. Why Focusing on Resident Experience is the Key to Success At Second Nature, we’ve seen that when residents win, investors also win. Here’s why: Resident retention is key to winning in real estate investing. And the cost of resident turnover is increasing. In rental management, expenses are up, and the cost of turning a property has almost doubled in four years. Hard materials and labor costs have gone up precipitously. With rent also increasing, it means greater lost revenue while a home sits vacant. At the same time, the market from the owner’s side is getting more competitive. The pandemic days of properties getting snapped up within hours are no longer. The demand has cooled, and it's taking longer to fill properties, and it’s more expensive with each turnover. What does all this mean? Resident retention is increasingly important. Studies continue to show that resident retention and lease renewal is influenced by renter satisfaction. But creating an excellent resident experience is HARD. There are hundreds of experience-critical moments happening over the course of a long-term customer journey, and each of them poses its own unique challenges and opportunities. That’s where the Resident Benefits Package comes in. An RBP is a collection of innovative solutions to some of the most persistent problems in resident experience. A Resident Benefits Package is an answer to the question: How do we make an experience so good that residents never want to leave? By packaging solutions that improve resident satisfaction, the RBP also drives results for investors. The Second Nature RBP includes the following services: Filter Delivery Service Identity Protection Resident Credit Building Renters Insurance Resident Rewards Move-in Concierge On-Demand Pest Control Let’s dive into how each of these services leads to better outcomes for property owners. The Value of a Resident Benefits Package for Property Owners While the Resident Benefits Package is a resident-facing product, the benefits extend beyond residents to generate value for property managers and property owners, too. It’s a Triple Win. Here are six of the top benefits to owners of implementing an RBP. 1. Drives Resident Retention A Resident Benefits Package (RBP) isn’t just a set of perks—it's a holistic approach to improving the living experience of residents, ensuring they stay longer in your property. By focusing on resident experience, property managers can earn better returns on investment for their investor clients – because of resident retention. Here's how each feature of your RBP impacts retention: Air Filter Delivery Service: The National Rental Home Council (NRHC) found that a filter delivery subscription reduced HVAC-related work orders by 38%. Reducing 38% of no-air calls in hot summers and cold winters means reducing 38% of negative experiences that could make residents want to move. Also, average savings of $177 per year on energy bills alone more than pays for the program cost. Clean air being as easy as opening the front door helps residents breathe easy and stay healthy. Happier, healthier residents make for healthy investments, too. Resident Identity Protection: Identity theft actually passed home burglary in 2021 and continues to rise. In an age where identity theft is a pressing concern, offering residents an identity protection service is a critical way to keep them safe. Advanced AI technology actually monitors the dark web and helps prevent issues before they occur. A $1M policy and a team of restoration specialists are there to keep good residents protected from a bad situation turning into delinquency or even eviction. In short, it protects residents’ ability to pay rent and support a long-term lease. Resident Credit Building: This service actively helps residents improve their financial health. Our credit building program is shown to save residents hundreds to thousands per year on car payments and credit cards. Plus, renewing residents can get back reporting up to 24 months at no extra cost, which puts even more incentive on renewing. Renters Insurance Program: OK, so there’s insurance, then there’s triple win-surance. Our purpose-built master policy covers property damage and legal liability but also coverage for residents' personal belongings. There are even unique coverages not often found in retail policies, like rental income loss in the event a covered peril leads to rent concession. And residents get the benefit of bulk pricing, saving a few dollars off the average premium. If residents want to get their own policy, our program monitors any 3rd party policies so there are no lapses in coverage. Closing that compliance gap means eliminating risk and exposure for you and your property. Resident Rewards Program: Second Nature’s rewards program incentivizes positive behavior like timely rent payments. Just by paying rent on time, residents avoid late fees and earn $150+ in gift cards and rewards points. Instead of feeling like rent is a drain, now they are building and earning. Move-In Concierge: Property managers know an important insight: Within the first 60 days of renting, barring a life event, many residents have already decided whether they will renew or not. That’s why move-in and the first few weeks are so critical to retention. By offering a move-in concierge service, you're easing this transition. This service can assist with utilities, internet, TV, and more, making the move smoother and setting a positive tone right from the start. On-Demand Pest Control: A comfortable living space is one free of pests. But preventive sprays are really a luxury, not an ROI. On-Demand Pest Control eliminates disruptive, big expenses – and brings fast, quality service to stop infestations at one-third the cost of preventive sprays. This high-value approach ensures responsibilities are transparent and accounted for so owners don’t get stuck with bills that shouldn’t be their responsibility. In essence, every feature of the RBP is carefully chosen to add value to the resident's experience. When residents perceive value, feel protected, and benefit financially, they're much more likely to renew their lease, underscoring the importance of a comprehensive RBP in property management. 2. Reduces Costs Yep, you heard us correctly! Integrating a resident benefits program is an effective way to reduce investor costs over the long run. For residents, the benefits of the RBP save them money over their alternatives. Here's how it works in terms of cost reduction: Lower turnover costs: With added benefits that cater to residents, turnovers become less frequent. The cost of finding new tenants – think advertising, showings, and screening – can quickly add up, not to mention potential lost revenue from vacant units. An RBP can keep existing residents happy and more likely to renew, thereby minimizing these costs. Maintenance savings: One of the most cost-saving pillars of the Second Nature RBP? Our Filter Delivery Service. The average cost of HVAC repairs has increased by nearly 50% year over year. Preventing emergency maintenance issues has never been more important. An HVAC filter delivery subscription can cut costs up to $300 per property per year and reduce HVAC maintenance requests by nearly 40%. Emergency expense savings: Services like on-demand pest control ensure residents get transparency and cover their lease responsibility, so owners don’t get stuck with a bill they aren’t supposed to. Reduced premiums: With a renters insurance program that ensures 100% compliance, many investors are able to get a discounted rate because there’s less risk of expenses falling on their policy. 3. Increases On-Time Payments On-time and early rent payments are critical to the overall success of your financial investment in property. A Resident Benefits Package is a tool to increase the resident behavior you want to see – starting with consistent, timely payments. For example, by implementing a rewards program for early or on-time rent payments, property managers tap into a powerful motivational tool. While late fees provide an important incentive, a carrot approach helps drive the best outcome for everyone. Everyone appreciates acknowledgment for their timely actions, and residents are no exception. The prospect of earning rewards serves as a tangible incentive for current residents to ensure each month’s rent is paid promptly. Rent day becomes rewards day. Of course, on-time rent payments don't just benefit property investors, they can also bolster the credit profiles of residents. With a credit building program built into an RBP, each punctual payment is reported to credit bureaus, allowing residents to progressively build or enhance their credit scores. Knowing that their timely payments contribute to their financial well-being provides residents with another compelling reason to always pay on schedule. The savings residents get on rewards, auto loans, credit card interest, etc., makes it easier for them to be able to afford rental payments – and increases – over time. Credit reporting protects both the residents and property owners. 4. Protects Your Assets Let’s jump into a story for a minute. A landlord we know onboarded a new resident last year and asked that resident to show proof of insurance before they moved in. All good to go, they signed the lease and moved in. The problem? The policy later lapsed. After that date, there was a house fire. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the home was a total loss. A triple-lose situation of the biggest proportions – for the resident, the property manager, and the property owner. Maybe you know people who have been through similar situations. Or maybe you have yourself. That’s why the Second Nature Benefits Package includes a renters insurance program that ensures 100% compliance. We specifically designed it to generate triple-win protection. The program includes a master policy that residents can opt into or requires them to carry their own insurance policy. 96.3% of Second Nature residents are enrolled in a master policy or the custom HO4 we offer in our program. 3.7% of residents bring their own approved policy. In addition, our renter’s insurance includes protections for the property owner, like Rental Income Loss protection. Another benefit is that you can generally get a discount on your own property insurance if this kind of program is in place. Wins all around. 5. Improves Financial Value Real estate is obviously an asset. But consider this, too: The asset to a rental property owner is your revenue from the property. Sure, real estate itself can appreciate, but you can also look at it a different way – your residents’ income and ability to pay rent is also an asset you want to protect. That’s where identity protection comes in. In 2021, cybersecurity threats passed home burglary in the level of risk it poses to Americans. In 2021, one in eight Americans were victims of identity fraud, equaling up to $52 billion in losses. Identity theft has a massive impact on people’s financial security and their ability to pay rent. Our $1 million identity protection, with proactive dark web monitoring, is there to protect your residents and keep you from having to penalize or even evict a resident who is affected at no fault of their own. Another bonus: Residents at your properties have peace of mind. 6. Increases ROI A Resident Benefits Package focuses on the most streamlined ways to get residents products and services that make leasing rewarding, effortless, and predictable. Bundling services together in a benefits package results in substantial cost and time savings compared to procuring each service individually. A bundled approach minimizes administrative burdens and streamlines processes, further reducing operational costs. The savings generated from this efficient approach can be passed on to the residents, thus boosting the property's value and, consequently, the investor's ROI. An example of this is on-demand pest control. Pest control is often buried in lease agreements and is unclear. Some agreements cover preventive sprays (which are expensive!), but less than 20% of issues are dealt with through those services. It’s a luxury cost that some people will want to pay for, but it’s certainly not an ROI proposition. An RBP with on-demand pest control, on the other hand, protects the investor for 50-70% lower cost. Residents get the kind of pest control they really need – on-demand – so when they have an actual issue, they can immediately file a claim. This prevents issues from escalating into bigger issues and infestations – situations where the cost too often falls on the investor. Costs are lower, residents are happier, and your properties and financials are safer. These services also manage compliance for you. Different states have different laws regarding who is responsible for pests, the resident or the investor. Pest control services through an RBP will ensure you are always in compliance. Why RBPs are Essential to Triple Win Rental Experiences A Resident Benefits Package isn't just a compilation of services – it's a holistic approach to property management services that replaces negative resident experiences with positive ones. For property investors, the advantages are clear: cost savings, increased retention, timely payments, protected assets, and an elevated return on investment. Beyond the numbers, it’s about cultivating a relationship where residents feel valued, supported, and eager to stay. As the landscape of property management evolves, those who prioritize resident experience are looking at long-term returns on those investments. A peek into the future: An innovative and parallel service that property managers can provide is an Investor Benefits Package (IBP)™️. The IBP should provide an investor experience platform™️ that unlocks scalable product and service customization, digitized onboarding, accounting policy automation, and more. Learn more at the link.

Calendar icon October 10, 2023

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Property management experts

20 Top Experts Weigh In On Optimizing the Resident Experience

In today's ever-evolving property management landscape, the focus on resident experience has taken center stage. It's not just about the bricks and mortar anymore; it's about building meaningful experiences, fostering connections, and ensuring residents truly feel at home. And have you heard? We published a comprehensive report on just that: The 2023 State of Resident Experience in Single-Family Property Management. The report includes in-depth studies and impact data on the most innovative strategies in property management right now. You can download it for free – it’s on us! Download the Report In the meantime, we’ve curated the top 25 insights about resident experience from 20 experts in the property management industry. These pros have been there, done that, and seen it all. We’ve been fortunate enough to chat with them on podcasts, document detailed interviews, and have in-depth conversations across the country. Whether you're curious about the rise of resident benefits packages, seeking inspiration on innovative revenue streams, or want to learn more about automation and AI, read on to hear directly from the experts – or go directly to our in-depth, downloadable report. Why Focusing on Resident Experience is a Strategic Goal Centering your property management strategy on resident experience isn’t just a nice-to-have – it’s a strategic imperative that drives success and sets industry leaders apart. Here’s how… ‍ “Property Managers who are on the cutting edge realize that by focusing on the resident experience, they will earn better returns on investment for their investor clients.” -Gregg Cohen, Co-Founder of JWB Real Estate Companies ‍ “Resident retention is a direct reflection of your customer experience. If people enjoy working with you, they'll stay. If they don't, they won't. We use resident retention as a key benchmark for measuring our customer service. In our market, we renew 72% of our leases annually. A standard PM benchmark historically is that about a 70% renewal rate for residents is a huge success.” -Melissa Gillispie, Director of Leasing & Property Management at JWB Real Estate ‍ “As the operator of a business, how can I get from something transactional to something transformative – so that people are getting something from me that they aren’t getting from most other businesses.” -Jordan Muela, CEO of LeadSimple ‍‍‍ “We’ve really started to notice that the better experience we can make with the tenants, the more they want to come to us as opposed to our competitors. It's all about the experience. Think about Starbucks. It’s essentially the same cup of coffee as McDonald's. But it's the experience that Starbucks gives you. So we’ve held onto this idea that we want to provide the experience that residents gravitate to.” -Chenoa Stark, Property Manager at American Leasing and Management ‍ “When you're giving that great experience to your residents, you're also giving that great experience to your owners. They have less lost vacancy, they have more care and more respect given to their property, and that's going to protect their assets. That shift in the industry is already happening, and those that are able to make that pivot quickly are going to be able to level themselves up and really get ahead of the curve.” -Kelli Segretto, K Segretto Consulting ‍ “Happy residents stay longer, take better care of the home, and provide better long-term stability and return on investment for clients. They also spread the good word locally and refer more renters to you. And happy residents are usually nicer, leading to happier staff!” -Melissa Gillispie, Director of Leasing & Property Management at JWB Real Estate ‍‍ “When people come into my office and say this is the best experience I’ve ever had, I know we’ve done our job.” -Janet Sprissler, Broker/Owner, Rent 805 ‍‍ Changes in the Property Management Industry The evolution of the property management sector has been remarkable. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all solutions and impersonal transactions. Today, as these insightful quotes highlight, the industry is transforming to meet the increasing demand for personalized, consumer-centric experiences that elevate convenience and satisfaction. ‍ “[W]e’re seeing a huge culture shift in the housing space. How do we provide ease? The Uber or Grubhub mentality of We want it now: How can you do that in the real estate space as well?” -Phil Vera, CEO of Paragon Property Management ‍‍ “I think ten years ago, property managers were only concerned with collecting rent and keeping tenants from doing damage to properties. It was a much more adversarial relationship than it is today. Today, the best PMs know that resident experience is vital to minimizing vacancy and creating a resident that strives to be a higher quality tenant.” -Jonathan Cook, Community Manager at APM Help ‍ “The younger generations we’re dealing with in property management, they want experiences and simplicity, and they’re willing to pay to have things taken care of for them.” -Eric Wetherington, VP of Strategic Initiatives, PURE Property Management ‍‍ “What I'm seeing from our residents – whether they're paying $3,000 a month in rent or $1,000 a month in rent – the number one thing that they look for is ease and convenience. They don't want complicated instructions. They just want simple, they want right now. They want contact-free, they don't want to talk to people. So everything we do from showings to move-in to the experience after they move in is all revolved around design for that expectation.” -DD Lee, PURE Property Management Why More Property Managers are Choosing a Resident Benefits Package (RBP) Professional property managers are increasingly adopting the multifaceted advantages of the Resident Benefits Package. The quotes below highlight why this holistic approach is rapidly becoming the gold standard in property management – emphasizing the RBP’s value for both residents and property owners alike. ‍ “A resident benefits package – you hear people call it the easy button. That’s because it is essentially all of these different services and all of these different, valuable add-ons for your residents that are done for you.” -Kelli Segretto, K Segretto Consulting ‍‍ “As RBP services have evolved to include more products and services – like credit building, identity theft, etc. – they are providing value that affects everyday people. I’ve found that, beyond helping us to stand out in our industry, an RBP means we're actually doing something good for the people that we interact with. It's not just about beating our competition, it's that we're actually providing value that they can really use – services that actually help them for their long-term goals.” -Chenoa Stark, American Leasing and Management ‍ “A resident benefits package alone can result in a 10% bump to revenue per unit, which can result in that 100% increase to profit per unit. This profitability can result in more fuel to your freedom, more fuel to your mission, and realizing all the things you went into business for in the first place.” -Daniel Craig, CEO of ProfitCoach Implementing an RBP Adopting a Resident Benefits Package might seem daunting, but as the insights below will reveal, it’s not as difficult as you might think. ‍ “The fear (that residents or owners will push back against change) is normal. No one ever wants to say, ‘Hey, you need to pay more money.’ I was the same. But I slowly introduced things like filter delivery, renter's insurance, and ancillary services. What I found was astonishing – nobody pushed back! Out of 300 residents at the time when we first started introducing this, maybe two or three asked, ‘Why why do I need this?’ And we simply explained to them, ‘This is going to make your life easier, and it's not going to cost much more than if you went to the store, spent all that time in the car, and bought it yourself. Plus, you might forget.’ It just made sense to them. Now, we sign residents up as they move in.” -DD Lee, PURE Property Management ‍ “Be ultra-transparent and get it done in the beginning, just saying, we're not hiding anything. This is what you're being enrolled in. This is what it is. I think that helped the adoption rate a little bit. And if people did call in with questions, we were happy to answer them and talk to them about it.” -Kyle Hendricks, VP of Hendricks Property Management ‍‍ Automation & AI in Property Management Leading experts emphasize the pivotal role of automation and artificial intelligence in reshaping the property management industry. Professional property managers are embracing these technologies not just to stay competitive but to elevate the overall resident experience and streamline operations. AI in property management is a big trend to watch. ‍ “People who are against automation say, ‘I don’t like automation because I lose that relationship with my clients.’ I would flip that and say: If I can automate eight of the ten tasks that need to be done, that means I have more time to build the relationships.” -Pete Neubig, CEO of VPM Solutions ‍ “Automation is the great equalizer. It allows us to compete with nationwide companies and to provide not only the same level of service but to be able to pivot and adapt much quicker than those larger companies can. If you're a smaller company, AI and Automation Tech is that equalizer that's going to allow you to shine just as well as these larger companies.” -Wolfgang Croskey, Founder & President of How’s My Rental ‍‍ “One of the things I want my clients to think about is that our tech is not just for our benefit. This is not just to make our lives easier and our jobs easier. It's to really be able to reposition our time so that we're focused on value creation.” -Rhianna Campbell, Property Management Consultant, Proper Planning LLC ‍ Innovative Revenue Streams & Ancillary Income By offering value-added services that residents genuinely need, property managers not only boost their profitability but also create a win-win situation where both parties benefit from added convenience and value. ‍ “Prop tech companies are making the mechanics of property management easy – rent collection, maintenance, screening, the day-to-day mechanics of property management. Thirty years ago, that’s what a property manager did. Now, though, when it comes to things like benefits packages, pet guarantees, and rent guarantees with security deposit alternatives, we can offer much more value.” -Todd Ortscheid, CEO of Revolution Rental Management ‍ “There are so many of these things – when you look through all of the different revenue-generating ideas – that are just good across the board for everybody. [The Triple Win] is where you should focus your efforts when you’re trying to bring in the most revenue and do the most good.” -Todd Ortscheid, CEO of Revolution Rental Management ‍‍ “When considering a service like pest control, our approach is, 'How can we take this off the property manager’s plate?’ We aim to create ancillary revenue for them, take an annoying task off their list, and enhance the resident experience.” -Landon Cooley, Co-Founder & CEO at Pest Share ‍ “Security deposits and tenant screening are two fascinating areas of real estate that tech companies are attempting to disrupt. Traditional security deposits are starting to become passé in some jurisdictions.” -Peter Lohmann, Co-founder & CEO of RL Property Management ‍ “I think the type of initiatives that we're having success with are those things that provide an enhanced lifestyle for our tenants or residents. And that's all often driven via surveys and input from residents. So instead of us pretending that we know every potential amenity they would like, we’re actually reaching out to them and asking them what the value proposition would be from their perspective.” -Steve Pardon, CEO of JMAX Property Management ‍ Hiring for Single-Family Rental Property Management (vs. Multifamily) Looking to hire this year? Single-family rentals have their own unique set of challenges and nuances that set them apart from multifamily units. Here’s a great tip from Matthew Whitaker to close us out. ‍ “When you add multiple investors and then the logistics of single-family, it becomes a much more complicated business. If you’re going to pull from the multifamily industry, you’re going to have to make sure that you’re hiring some of the best and brightest from that industry because, again, dealing with 300 homes and 50 investors is way more complicated than a 300-unit apartment community all together with one investor.” -Matthew Whitaker, Founder & CEO at Evernest ‍ Ready to Learn More? Wrapping things up, it's clear: nailing the resident experience is the secret sauce to elevating property management services and driving value for residents, investors, and your property management company. If you want even deeper insights into driving resident retention and investor value, check out our State of Resident Experience Report. The report deep-dives with studies on the value and impact of innovative property management services and explores the changing shape of the property management industry.

Calendar icon October 10, 2023

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