Q: I live in small resident-managed HOA. Our reserves are very low. Is there a minimum amount or percentage of reserves required by law? Also, is there a legal requirement for a regular audit? Is there a resource I can access for basic legal requirements for HOAs? My sense is we are not fully complying with regulations and laws. Read the Q&A………………..
If you’re attending the California Assisted Living Association (CALA) 2018 Spring Conference & Trade Show, along with 800 other professionals who will engage in important issues and explore opportunities for the assisted living industry, Yardi is excited to see you there. With the theme “elevate,” to acknowledge that senior living professionals are continually seeking ways to improve and enhance their services, the event is set for June 4-6 at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento and Sacramento Convention Center in California.
Assisted living, memory care and continuing care resident community operators come together at CALA’s spring conference to participate in active learning, engage in critical discussions, and hear from outstanding presenters with a broad range of expertise within and outside the profession. Sessions will cover resident and dementia care knowledge and practices, legal and regulatory awareness, leadership and staff culture along with sales and marketing strategies. Attendees expect to walk away with ready-to-use information, ideas, and best practices that both challenge and inspire them.
In addition to not-to-be-missed educational sessions, the conference also provides networking and socializing opportunities including a wine tasting event on Monday, June 4 and a cocktail reception on Tuesday, June 5.
Yardi is sponsoring the luncheon general session on Wednesday, June 6 at 12:15, where featured speakers Matthew Emerzian and Cindy McCann will discuss “Creating a ‘You Matter’ Culture” that touches both residents and employees in assisted living organizations. View complete details about the luncheon, speakers and sessions in the conference brochure.
While exploring the trade show exhibitors, you’re invited to discover Yardi’s single connected solution for senior living by visiting Booth 50, and while you’re there, enter for a chance to win a Bose Bluetooth Speaker. We look forward to meeting you in Sacramento!
When it comes to year-end financial obligations of associations, most boards are aware of general requirements, such as providing financial statements to the owners, finalizing a budget for the upcoming year, and completing a board-review of the association’s financial records. From time to time, boards may also opt for a more thorough assessment of the association’s finances by engaging a Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”) to conduct an annual audit or review. Some boards may not, however, be aware that their governing documents actually mandate a CPA audit or review be performed annually. Read the article……………….
Apartmentalize powered by NAA is the apartment industry’s biggest annual event. If you’re going, you won’t want to miss out on hearing great speakers and getting energized by discovering what’s possible for your business. Apartmentalize will take place from June 13-16 in San Diego, and is the premier source for educating professionals of all job functions within the rental housing industry. The event is designed to help attendees take their careers, companies and residents’ experience to the next level.
Be Sure to Attend
Visit Yardi at booth #1019 in Hall E to get energized and discover what a single connected property management solution can do for your business. And while you’re there, enter for a chance to win a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses!
When it comes to making informed decisions for your business, you’ve likely heard about advances in artificial or machine intelligence. To “get smart” as BI evolves through artificial intelligence, don’t miss “The Age of AI: Business Intelligence Today and Tomorrow.” The panel will discuss BI for multifamily with great insights from analytics experts from Yardi, Bozzuto, Bridge Property Management and Berkshire Communities. The session will take place on June 14 at 10 a.m.
Aspiring marketing geniuses should be sure to attend the Learning Zone session “Reach Your Audience and Elevate Marketing Results with Prescriptive Analytics” presented by Yardi’s Dhar Sawh and Nima Farkhak on June 14 at 2:45 p.m.
To share ways to better connect with your customers and truly understand how prospects find you, Yardi’s Esther Bonardi will moderate “How Did You Find Us? Tracking Today’s Multi-Touch Renter Journey” on June 15 at 9 a.m. Bonardi will be joined onstage by marketing experts from Greystar, EC Smith and Monarch Investment and Management Group.
And finally, get enlightened about the impact of energy efficiency on multifamily property marketing, leasing and retention. Yardi’s Martin Levkus will join “Get Residents and Keep Them with Energy Efficiency and Engagement” and will discuss findings from the recent NAA/Shelton Group Energy Efficiency Study on June 15 at 9 a.m.
We look forward to meeting you at Apartmentalize to explore all the exciting possibilities for multifamily businesses. View the complete Apartmentalize schedule for more details.
If you’re a small to midsize company, Yardi has a great solution for you, too — check out Yardi Breeze at booth #1823, Hall E to learn about our refreshingly simple software.
Next week, the Yardi Advanced Solutions Conference returns to the East Coast for a week of in-depth training, networking and fun! The annual user conference, also known as YASC, will be hosted at the Washington Hilton from May 30 – June 1.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming clients to DC! We listened to client feedback and have expanded the number of unique class offerings and networking opportunities,” said Tim Hoover, creative director for Yardi.
Features of YASC Washington, D.C. include:
- Conference App
We’ve gone green with a new conference app! Attendees can access all conference information, venue maps, class materials, social networking and in-app messaging, and more on the Yardi Events app. It’s designed to enable attendees to custom-tailor their daily schedule with classes, demos, panels, and roundtables, and to set up one-on-one meetings with Yardi staff. The Yardi Events app is available for download in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. A browser-based version, synced to the mobile app, will also be available, so attendees can access all these features from their desktop. User log-in details have been emailed to all registered YASC attendees. Questions? Email our team at email@example.com.
- Gain Insight & Get Your Questions Answered
Knowledge Central is the place to be if you want to learn more about new products and upgrades, or if you have questions about your current software. We’ve gathered the experts in one place, so you’ll know where to go to get all your questions answered. Bonus: attend a 15-minute product preview in Knowledge Central and be entered in a daily giveaway for a Bose travel speaker!
- Expand Your Network
YASC is all about learning, but we also want our clients to have a good time! The conference will offer several opportunities to connect with peers in your industry, including networking receptions and focused table topics at lunchtime.
New to YASC DC this year, the Networking Lounge will host industry-focused “Meet & Greets.” Stop by the Networking Lounge, located in Columbia Hall West on the Terrace Level, to network with others in your market:
Wednesday, May 30
10:45 – 11 a.m. Specialty Residential
3:30 – 4 p.m. Multifamily
Thursday, May 31
10:45 – 11 a.m. Public Housing & Affordable Housing
3:30 – 4 p.m. Commercial
For all conference activities and receptions, bring your conference name badge and get ready to network!
- Get Social
Share your conference experience on social media using the event hashtag #YASC2018. We’ll be running contests throughout the conference, so be sure to post often and follow Yardi on your favorite social networks for conference news, prizes and more! Connect with Yardi on our corporate blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
We’re excited to see our clients and staff in Washington, D.C. next week! As one past YASC attendee shared, “I always learn something. I like to improve and streamline our processes.” What are you hoping to learn at YASC?
Yardi and Property Week assembled five property investment experts to discuss low-risk ways to find value amid fierce competition for prime property. Industrial, traditional PRS, build to rent and student housing were seen to offer opportunities, with a tough retail climate and political risk on the downside.
- Ian Benson: Finance Director, Kier Property
- Meg Brown: Director of equity placement, Colliers
- Howard Freedman, Partner/head of real estate and construction, RSM
- Jamie McCombe, Partner/head of IM, Cluttons
- Kris McPhail, Co-fund manager, Lime Property Fund, Aviva
- Moderator: David Parsley, Property Week contributing editor
With prime property yields tightening and investors looking for value without too much risk, our think tank participants addressed the key issues of where funds should place their cash and what factors – both positive and negative – may affect their decisions and returns.
Where are the hot sectors in real estate investment?
MB: This is something we think about a lot, as we typically advise pension funds and groups where risk really matters, as they are investing money they can’t really lose. So right now we’re fans of things that are not correlated to economic cycles, and that’s largely mega-themes such as student housing, PRS and BTR, micro living and, to some degree, the co-working concept.
JM: We feel capital growth is going to be more muted in this market, so there has been a flight to income return. We’ve been looking at some of those long-term income plays, such as hotels and student accommodation. The industrial sector has obviously been improving in the past 12 months, predicated on investors seeing some future rental growth, so yields have fallen quite significantly, but in the right areas and at right rent, there is still something to go for in terms of return. The prime end of the market has become very competitive and the gap between prime and secondary is widening, but there is a flight to the prime end because of the kind of market we’re in.
HF: We did a survey at the end of last year measuring sentiment and what investors were looking at. The areas of particular interest were industrial and distribution centres. PRS, build-to-rent and student accommodation are other popular areas that interest people.
People are moving away from traditional offices, particularly in London, as there’s no value there at the moment. People are looking at offices in places like Manchester, which is particularly hot at the moment, although yields are narrowing somewhat. People are moving away from retail, as it is considered a particularly risky area.
IB: Industrial is certainly one of the hottest asset classes and I can’t see how the yields there can compress any further. Student accommodation is one area where we’re seeing a lot of competition for sites, but we’re quite choosey about what cities we go to. As for retail, while it is struggling, bulk goods and stores, such as Lidl and Aldi, are still doing really well.
KM: We are, to an extent, sector agnostic, but are focusing on centres where people want to live, work, learn and play. Some of the core, balanced funds are selling out of towns and cities where they may not have a lot of holdings and focusing on places such as Manchester, Birmingham and Cambridge. There’s been a real focus on those areas and economies, because of the diversity of demand. We’ve done a fair bit in the BTR sector recently, and in offices. We’re doing a few office investments in Cambridge.
What are the key issues to consider when managing investment risk?
JM: We’re acting for long-term investors with a long-term horizon. For them, it’s all about capital preservation. We’re managing endowments that have been with the organisations for years and want to make sure that they keep producing what they need to meet their objectives. For example, we act for an educational institution, and money from that fund supports fellows of the college to produce world-renowned academic research. So capital preservation is vital and the investments we’re looking at are pretty low-risk, prime, vanilla type stocks, to minimise income voids.
IB: We manage risk by managing the amount of development stock we speculatively release. So we’re looking to pre-let before commencing a development. We pre-let most of it, so we might develop around 25% of our portfolio speculatively. But we’ve been doing our Trade City brand of small industrial units speculatively for a number of years, as they’re less risky. We view it like houses, as people need those sort of units and they will always let, in the right area. Funds are buying them even if they are not fully let. But we wouldn’t even consider retail without pre-lets.
MB: We never compromise on location and it’s always a very liquid location. We always look at the asset very closely, so if you lose your tenant you know what the land value is and if you can reposition quickly. If you lose your tenants, can you look at repositioning the planning quickly and change to a use that will work in that location? Because prime is so expensive and there’s a flight to quality, there is a theme of people moving to an illiquid product in a secondary market, which is exactly what happened leading up to the global financial crisis. People went for better value, but in an illiquid property, and that is being repeated, which is a little bit shocking. We focus on location, liquidity and not going crazy on leverage.
HF: Because there’s so much capital around and some of the funds are under pressure to invest, I wonder whether they’re having to look at stock other than prime assets.
KM: We still have to look at the tenant’s credit rating, so the first port of call is research and credit reports, and then looking at the underlying real estate values and the fundamentals in the markets we invest in. But you’ve got to look at the portfolio and it comes back to portfolio management. Diversification is still one of the best ways to manage risk: not having any over-exposure to any asset or particular tenant or particular sector, and being disciplined in what you’re buying, making sure anything you buy is accretive to the fund’s portfolio returns.
How has reporting on assets changed and is real-time reporting something investors are looking for?
KM: There is definitely a shift in the frequency of reporting, with a need for quick, real-time reporting. Typically, we try and get back to clients in 24 to 48 hours. But also, in your investment decision making, you want up-to-date, real-time reporting on the portfolio, so you can make a decision with conviction. We’ve taken on Yardi [products] because of the ability it gives us to extrapolate data that we can provide to clients, and the accuracy of the data it holds.
MB: On the private equity side we are seeing a huge push in technology in terms of internal reporting. So we now have asset managers who go and see sites and they input data on an app – say, this needs doing, or tenants are saying x, y, or z – and that feeds into an internal system and uploads a cashflow. This means we don’t have analysts spending time on cashflow modelling, so the efficiency and connectivity internally is super-powerful now.
If the core London office market is not offering value, where is – and what do investors want?
HF: Bristol is very hot and Edinburgh is also becoming increasingly popular. There’s a wider discussion to be had around offices, demographics and what’s happening. People are working a lot more flexibly and the shared office and co-working trend is taking up some of that demand – companies like WeWork are really plugging into this.
JM: In London, we’re seeing younger people want to settle down, buy a house, start a family and that’s proving more and more expensive to do, so they are looking to go elsewhere. So companies can attract talented young people who don’t want to live in London and that’s one of the drivers for firms to look at other cities. Wellness is also a big office market theme at the moment. The days of going to work every day and sitting in a boring office that zaps your energy are probably dying. There’s definitely a move towards more flexible working.
KM: We’ve identified places around the UK where fundamental demand is diversified and not reliant on any particular sector. In the regions, it’s Birmingham, Manchester and Cambridge where we’re focusing.
What are your positive and negative points on the health of real asset investment now?
MB: I think capital flow will continue and it’s the strongest it’s been in a long time. Equities are extremely volatile at the moment and overpriced, while with fixed-income, you’re lucky if you get a 2% return these days. So real assets are very attractive. Even if things are getting pricey, you still get a better return. On the negative side, there’s probably more geo-political risk now. There are also economic challenges, but you can still find value if you work hard.
JM: On the optimistic side, the consequences of Brexit will be more muted and less disastrous than many people predicted. I think the economy will fare better than everyone expects. For the property market, a lot of it has been priced-in. On the pessimistic side, it’s difficult to see how the UK retail sector is ever going to recover. I think the structural changes in retail are here to stay.
HF: Looking at the real estate market generally, I think it’s still very good as a long-term play. If you look at how it has recovered since the financial crisis, it’s proven to be pretty good. On the pessimistic side, I am concerned about a potential change in government.
IB: I think the BTR sector will continue to get stronger. Demographic changes have shown people are more geared up for renting, whether in retirement or during their working life. So I think that sector will continue to go from strength to strength. Also, one thing the past 10 years have proved is that the sector is very resilient and proved to be very attractive to investment. On the downside, retail is in pain, and there’s the uncertainty around political issues – whether it’s another referendum or a general election, they’re more likely to cause a shock than anything else.
KM: I’m optimistic about real estate demand from investors and the return arbitrage it offers over fixed-income investments, and the consistency of return versus the volatility you’re seeing in the bond and gilt markets. But I’m pessimistic about retail and leisure; the changing demand landscape and consumers being more demanding; geo-political risks worldwide; and a possible change in government.
In December, we named blockchain technology as one of the major trends for 2018. We were on to something. Even though blockchain technology is most often associated with cryptocurrencies, it has exceeded those applications.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a digital ledger that records transactions in a series of blocks. It exists in multiple copies spread across multiple computers (nodes), impossible to tamper with thanks to the fact that each block of transactions (data) is linked back to previous blocks.
Once you learn more about blockchain, it becomes clear that there are a vast number of uses available for the technology. Cryptocurrencies were only the beginning.
Blockchain in the Real World
The City of Austin is among the governments and private entities seeking ways to use blockchain technology to solve some of society’s biggest challenges. Currently, there are about 2,000 people struggling with housing insecurity in Austin. Several thousand more live in poverty.
For people facing housing insecurity, identification documents are a serious challenge. Without safe storage, documents are easily stolen or lost. Securing housing, employment, and services becomes more difficult. The lack of documentation results in high costs, re-traumatization and diminished motivation.
In July 2017, Austin received a $1.25 million three-year grant for research and development to improve existing homelessness services. With the funds, officials launched a pilot program that uses blockchain to help homeless persons protect their identities in the event that their IDs are lost or destroyed. Dubbed MyPass Initiative, the program is a partnership between the city of Austin, Austin-Travis County EMS and Dell Medical School at the University of Texas.
The blockchain initiative will enable users to store information such as identification cards, social security numbers and medical history all in one virtual space. No matter where users show up to receive services, the information is easily accessible. With blockchain, the City can replace paper records with encrypted electronic records that could be more reliable and secure.
The blockchain platform might even create a decentralized authentication mechanism to verify a person’s identity, medical history, and special needs. Users could have their medical history stored so that when they walk into a clinic, the blockchain ID would provide medical history information of to the provider.
The development of MyPass Initiative will require the effort of multiple organizations from sectors of social services and health. But if the Austin pilot is successful, the City is eligible for a $5 million grant. More importantly, there is hope that something similar can be done at a larger scale.
Online reputation management matters. How masterfully a company handles feedback can give it a huge advantage over the competition as prospects shop around for a new rental.
ORA Power Ranking shifted through the online reputations of 75,000 rental properties. The following list represents the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) top 10 best-ranked managers by online reputation.
The companies below received the highest ORA scores. For perspective, the national average is 60.39. Each of the companies below ranked 71.58 or higher, earning top marks for online reputation.
Yardi client The Bozzuto Group once again took home the first place title. The Bozzuto Group has ranked number one in online ratings for four years. To maintain its ranking, Bozzuto increased its score by 2 percent from last year, improving from an ORA rating of 79.13 to 80.76.
That 2 percent was needed to stay ahead of second place performer AvalonBay Communities, another Yardi client. With an ORA score of 80.17, it was a close call for the top two positions.
In third place comes Gables Residential. This Yardi client received an ORA score of 76.98. This is a noteworthy, 4 percent improvement for the Atlanta-based company.
MAA nips at the heels of Gables Residential with a score of 76.44. Its 3 percent improvement in the ORA score kept the organization in the top five.
Rounding out the top five with a stellar performance comes Cortland Partners, a Yardi client. This underdog improved its ORA rating by a whopping 10 percent, reaching 75.20 this year.
The following companies complete the top 10 rankings.
6. Camden Property Trust
7. RAM Partners (Yardi client)
8. Pegasus Residential (Yardi cient)
10. Greystar (Yardi client)
Congratulations to all of the NMHC Top 10 Managers, especially our valued clients!
Responding to inquiries about the monetary amounts owed to the Association on a particular property (also known as estoppel certificate requests) are relatively easy. The shared ownership statutes mandate a certain form be used and outline the maximum fees your Condominium, Cooperative or Homeowners’ Association board may charge to provide those estoppel certificates. However, when it comes to other information being demanded these days from lenders and their title/closing agents, the waters are not so clear.
Just how much does your association need to facilitate sales and refinancing activity in your community?
The requests for information other than estoppel requests usually involve one or more of the following items:
1. Lender Questionnaires. These forms are typically overly broad and require the board or manager to confirm information that might not be accessible to them. For example, many communities are not certain of the exact number of units currently being leased because some owners hide leasing activity from the board. These forms require the board to function as a quasi loan risk officer to help the lender determine whether or not a loan in a particular community is a good risk. There is little upside to the board or its manager in attesting 100% to answers for which there is not 100% certainty. Any questionnaire which does not frame the information being provided as being done so “to the best of the signer’s knowledge” is a big no-no. If your board is inclined to fill out a lender questionnaire, work with association counsel to modify the language as needed to best protect the association’s interests.
2. Litigation Information. Far too many associations are sued in routine “slip and fall” and water leak cases. Those cases are then usually turned over to insurance defense counsel to handle. Closing agents may want certain assurances from the board or the association’s general counsel that the amount of potential loss or damage is known and can be covered by the association without the need for a special assessment or a loan from the reserves. Also, they will want to confirm that the litigation has no impact on the safety, structural soundness, habitability or functional use of the building and that the amount of the litigation is covered by the association’s insurance policy. Unfortunately, it is often not possible to fully assuage those concerns particularly if settlement negotiations are ongoing with no immediate end in sight. If you are confronted with this issue in your community, see if defense counsel can prepare a brief statement about insurance coverage for the claim(s) in question. While this option is rarely if ever used, counsel for the purchaser or the seller is also able to pull and read the court pleadings and draw their own conclusions about the potential impact in order to facilitate the closing.
Multifamily marketers gathered in Huntington Beach, California, for the 2018 Apartment Internet Marketing (AIM) Conference on May 6-9. This year’s event focused on the latest digital marketing trends and technologies.
“Marketing executives are increasingly called on to shape the resident experience and manage the pace of innovation,” shared Steve Lefkovits, executive producer of AIM. “We’re delighted to have Yardi and RENTCafé as partners in educating the industry about the future.”
Some conference highlights for multifamily marketers:
Customer Experience Matters
Customer experience is the new marketing. At the AIM keynote, Charlene Li, principal analyst at Altimeter and co-author of Groundswell, challenged marketers to examine relationships and experiences. “If you’re not focusing on the customer experience, you’re working on the wrong things,” emphasized Li.
Why does customer experience matter? Because the data says so! According to resident satisfaction data from J Turner Research, Q1 2018 apartment reviews grew by 78% as compared to Q1 2017. The average number of reviews per property has grown 20% since Q1 2017, averaging more than 86 reviews per property. The study found a strong correlation between online reputation and resident satisfaction. Resident experience matters, and it influences renter and prospect purchasing behavior.
In a session on customer engagement and loyalty, Joseph Batdorf, president of J Turner Research, stressed, “Resident satisfaction matters. Making sure they’re happy affects their willingness to renew a lease.”
Customer Engagement Also Matters
To create a better customer experience, you need to engage your customer from the get-go and keep them engaged throughout their time with you. Where can you innovate your customer engagement strategy?
- Create a well-rounded engagement strategy. Implementing a multi-source lead attribution model can help marketers more accurately assign value to each touchpoint in the buyer journey.
- Market to common values to bolster your engagement. Sticking to common themes, such as social responsibility, storytelling and local content, will help build a brand reputation that is
grounded in core values and authenticity.
- Engage customers and track interactions on multiple digital channels. Data is power and with analysis, you can understand the types of content and experiences your residents crave.
- Use your current technology to cultivate positive customer experiences. Extend your CRM system into a long-term relationship machine. Thoughtful interactions, such as text
message updates and satisfaction surveys, can go a long way.
Marketing Automation Should Be Working for You
AIM speakers Jamie Gorski, chief marketing officer at Bozzuto, and Esther Bonardi, vice president of marketing at Yardi, explored the many benefits of marketing automation to create a more engaging customer experience. Marketing automation reduces repetitive tasks, tracks user behavior and delivers targeted content. It can be used to enhance resident experiences and optimize prospect outcomes.
“There’s so many channels where we can use automation. It’s not one channel, it’s across the board,” said Gorski.
Automating parts of your website with nudge marketing and online tour scheduling can help improve the lead-to-lease experience for prospects. Simple changes, such as automating review and survey requests, can help expand your brand’s footprint while also collecting resident feedback. “With automation tools designed to check in with residents, conduct surveys, provide contact support and offer timed renewal savings, both your retention rates and your bottom line will improve,” explained Bonardi.
Download our free eBook to take your marketing automation to the next level with simple strategies you can implement today.
Never Stop Learning
As marketers, we’re continually learning, and our industry is everchanging. “If you ever get to a point where you feel you’re done learning, you’re in a bad spot,” said Maria Banks, president and CEO of AMLI Management Company. We couldn’t agree more, so we suggest you mark your calendar for the next AIM Conference in May 2019!