Real Estate Management News - 04/19/2017

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April 19, 2017
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LEADERSHIP SPOTLIGHT
Good Leadership Begets Good Leaders

IREM® HEADLINES
Mentally Ill Tenants and Fair Housing Concerns
Reclaim Lost Revenue: 6 Steps to Better Debt Recovery (Free Webinar)
IREM Members to Speak at 2017 Building Energy Summit

INDUSTRY HEADLINES
Five Eco-Friendly Solutions for Your Apartment Weed Control Woes
Young Talent Drives Office Users to New Downtowns
Opportunities for Franchisors as Malls Evolve
Survival of the Retro-Fittest
Imagining the Retail Store of the Future
Want to Bring the Renters to Your Apartment Buildings? Consider These Amenities
Outlet Malls Thrive as Shoppers Search for Bargains and Experience
The New Shopping Hubs for Cities: Warehouse Distribution Centers
Capturing Prospects Through Virtual Tours
New Sensor From Honeywell Helps Building Owners And Consumers Monitor Air Quality
Lawmakers Balk at Requiring Sprinkler Systems
What's in Your Custodial Closet?


 

Leadership Spotlight


Good Leadership Begets Good Leaders

For his April NREI column, IREM president Mike Lanning tackled the highly nuanced issue of hiring as a primary trait of the successful leader. In fact, he writes, “hiring and retaining top talent is one of the most critical capabilities of a successful leader. For indeed, a good leader must also be a good judge and manager of people.”

He points out that time is working against us. “Our research shows that the average age of a Certified Property Manager is 52. And while that is by no means ancient, it does speak to our aging population. And the rest of the industry is not much younger, with the age of real estate practitioners from all disciplines averaging out to 50.

“This month, IREM is releasing its Leadership Handbook for Real Estate Professionals,” he continues, and the qualities that are prime in a successful leader’s toolkit pervade its content. “In the skills that are a must for success today are the ability to cultivate leaders and the ability to assess and implement both organizational and individual leadership strategies. The Handbook also provides leadership competencies as identified in What Property Managers Do: IREM Real Estate Job Analysis, a report based on a survey of more than 1,400 executives.”

Faced with significant retirements among Boomers, “now more than ever it is vital to attract and retain rock-star talent for both current and future success. And managers who hire simply to fill a current position are selling short their newly hired employee, their business and indeed their future.”

But hiring, he says, is only half the battle. “New recruits—no matter the age—need to be cultivated, trained and introduced from day one to the mission and values of the company for which they are now working. Successful leaders groom the successful leaders of tomorrow by helping them to develop their leadership and interpersonal skills. In fact, IREM research also shows that these two assets rank higher by our membership than property management know-how.

“This brings us to the question of mentorship,” he states. “Companies and professional organizations with solid mentorship programs stand a higher chance of cultivating successful, long-term employees. This is how great future leaders are developed. It is also a sign that they, in fact, were hired by a great leader.”
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IREM Headlines


Mentally Ill Tenants and Fair Housing Concerns

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all types of housing transactions, and defines persons with a disability to include those individuals with mental impairments. The following is an excerpt from the recent JPM article, Working with Mentally Ill Tenants.

Lynn Dover, a partner in the fair housing practice group of the Kimball, Tirey & St. John law firm in San Diego, California warns that, “A common mistake managers make is not recognizing there may be a mental disability under the eccentric behavior. Look for red flags, such as a tenant who’s making claims so outlandish that they couldn’t possibly be true, such as rays from outer space coming through the TV or neighbors bugging their apartment.

The knee-jerk response may be to serve formal legal notice, but that’s not the appropriate response. While you’re not expected to diagnose a tenant who’s exhibiting strange behavior, you should contact an attorney who is knowledgeable in fair housing law before serving any notices on the tenant. The focus should generally be on trying to accommodate the tenant by giving extra chances to comply with the lease, rather than on getting the tenant off the property. If you don’t handle the situation correctly, you can end up with fair housing liability.”

Fair housing advocates and enforcing agencies generally take the position that before a mentally disabled resident can be evicted, the landlord must try to accommodate the tenant’s disability. It’s important to connect with family members or other emergency contacts whenever possible, but be careful not to reveal confidential information about the tenant. Social service agencies can be helpful too, although they’re rarely able to make the tenant get help.

Dover advises managers to write warning letters over and above the number of warnings a manager would ordinarily give to a non-disabled tenant, offering additional opportunities to modify the tenant’s behavior. Each step, it goes without saying, should be documented as to time and date, who was involved, the discussion and the result—the goal being to keep a paper trail for protection against fair housing complaints.
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Reclaim Lost Revenue: 6 Steps to Better Debt Recovery (Free Webinar)

Date: Thursday, April 20, 2017
Time: 11:00 a.m. PT, 12:00 p.m. MT, 1:00 p.m. CT, 2:00 p.m. ET
Price: Free

Recovering delinquent tenant debt is a challenge for many property managers. For most, it’s not worth the extra time and money spent tracking debt down, and millions are lost every year as a result. Don’t let past tenants take advantage of your situation: you can take steps to reduce your property's delinquent tenant debt and increase your odds of successful recovery.

Join us for a conversation with Tracy Legg, VP of Business Development for Hunter Warfield, as she explores six essential steps to creating and streamlining your debt collections process. Learn more about:
• Implementing consistent policies for your delinquent accounts
• Streamlining and simplifying debt collections with technology
• Moving quickly to keep accounts receivables from aging
• How to track, analyze, and tune your collection strategy

Register for this free webinar now!
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IREM Members to Speak at 2017 Building Energy Summit

IREM Members will speak at this year’s Building Energy Summit in Washington DC on April 27. Nick Stolatis, CPM, RPA, LEED AP, Vice President, EPN Real Estate Services will moderate a panel discussion that features Regina Mullins, CPM, CCIM, past national IREM President, Vice President, Cushman & Wakefield, AMO and Brenna Walraven, CPM, RPA, BOMA Fellow, former Chair and Chief Elected Officer, BOMA International, Founder and CEO, Corporate Sustainability Strategies (CSS). Jim Landau, LEED AP, MAI, Director, MetLife Real Estate will also participate in the panel discussion.

Panelists will discuss the IREM Energy Efficiency Survey and the report Building Performance That Pays: Insights from the First IREM Energy Efficiency Survey. They will address how owners, property managers, and consultants can use the survey results to benchmark their own energy efficiency practices and protocols and gain insights into the practices and perspectives of their agents, clients, and stakeholders. They will also look at emerging trends in sustainability, including the focus on health and wellness and new technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced data, and how those trends and technologies could enable advances in building energy efficiency.

The Building Energy Summit is an annual conference designed to educate building owners and operators on energy-efficient technologies and solutions, collaborate on best practices, share successful case studies, and provide the resources needed to take action.

This year’s Summit focuses on the integration of new technologies into building operations — from smart building solutions, to advanced data and analytics, to cloud-based monitoring and controls. Senior real estate executives will join technology and energy experts to present new approaches to efficiency in buildings, as well as the added benefits associated with creating a better workplace.

Register to attend the 2017 Building Energy Summit at http://2017.buildingenergysummit.com/registernow/. A discount is available to IREM Members. For the discount code, email sustainability@irem.org.
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Industry Headlines


Five Eco-Friendly Solutions for Your Apartment Weed Control Woes
Property Management Insider (04/10/17) Vaughan, Erin

Apartments owners and managers need to know that it is possible to curb unsightly crabgrass and dandelions without dumping a ton of toxins onto your grounds. The article's author details five apartment weed control tips, with the first being "get the right grass for your climate." Tip two, use epsom salts as an all-natural fertilizer. Chemical runoff from conventional fertilizers are hugely destructive to marine life. In stark contrast to commercial fertilizers, epsom salts dissolve easily into lawns. They also add necessary magnesium to up soil pH and balance out excess calcium and potassium. A third tip entails eviscerating weeds "with a liberal corn gluten application."

Four, wayfaring weeds can be zapped with a mixture of organic white vinegar and water. For a really potent spray, property management staff can stir a gallon of vinegar together with a cup of table salt and a tablespoon of dish soap. After mixing it together well, pour it all in a spray bottle and fire at will at your targets. Just be sure to spray carefully to avoid disturbing the grass around the weed. Finally, if all else fails, dig it out. According to the article's author, "sometimes the best herbicide you can get is a little elbow grease and some time with a spade. Particularly virulent specimens of weeds, like blackberry brambles, can return unless their root structure is totally removed and destroyed."
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Young Talent Drives Office Users to New Downtowns
National Real Estate Investor (04/13/17) Kirk, Patricia

JLL is reporting that technology held onto its No. 1 ranking as the urban office sector's dominant industry, capturing 24.2 percent of leasing volume during the first three months of this year. By comparison, the second and third biggest occupiers in the sector are insurance and finance firms, which represented 14.2 percent of leasing volume during 2017's first quarter. The trend of office users "right-sizing" their space for cost efficiency, which emerged during the Great Recession, has continued. According to JLL National Research Director Julia Georgules, office users are renewing their leases. However, many are downsizing, shedding excess space, or allocating less square footage per worker than previously to cope with rising rents in urban markets.

The biggest shift during the current real estate cycle has been the movement of companies back into cities to access new talent, Georgules adds. Today's young professionals have shown a clear preference to the city lifestyle. "Influenced by the sharing economy and the reduced desire for ownership, Millennials moved back into urban areas where they are renting, taking public transit, and accessing the multitude of amenities available in a dense, vibrant city," she explained Early in the cycle, it was San Francisco and New York City that drove the lion's share of that activity. More recently, the trend has expanded to other big cities like Boston and Seattle. Still, as tenant demand increased in these core urban markets, it sent rents upward and diminished the supply of available office space. Consequently, growing companies in search of Millennial talent have had to look to new markets to access those worker pools and take advantage of better economics like reduced real estate costs. Fortunately, many young professionals are starting to make their home in some of these smaller markets, because of lower housing costs and better quality of life.
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Opportunities for Franchisors as Malls Evolve
Franchise Times (04/14/17) Kaiser, Tom

The nation's shopping malls are changing in reaction to a radically different retail landscape. To meet the new challenges, the more progressive mall owners are re-imagining their facilities as mixed-use destinations that cover a lot more ground beyond just apparel stores and places to eat. As this evolution gains momentum, there may be some major opportunities for franchisors of all stripes. For those shoppers who do frequent malls, most go to those destinations with a plan and an intentionally limited timeframe. While more people are buying things like socks and shirts and underwear online, the exception is major clothing purchases like suits. Meanwhile, as franchising diversifies and malls transition toward more broad mixed uses, they are looking to attract traffic-generating tenants like walk-in clinics and urgent care centers, childcare centers, and fitness facilities. Newer specialty retail centers -- those exempt from the "Amazon effect" -- are adding tenants like electronic repair shops.

The editors of Franchise Times say they expect new-wave medical, senior care, and home service franchises "to become a much bigger piece of the franchising industry in the coming years." After all, demographics support these categories, commercial landlords want their regular traffic draws, and they are inherently immune to the impacts of Web-based shopping. Envisioning a mixed-use mall of the future boosted by franchised retail shouldn't be a difficult undertaking. "Add some of the aforementioned daily-need franchises like The Joint," concludes the article's author, "include childcare and senior services, something like American Family Care for the sick kiddos and maybe even a grocery store if traffic flow and parking allows. Throw in a food hall with more interesting choices than your run-of-the-mill food court and the job is largely done."
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Survival of the Retro-Fittest
Multi-Housing News (04/15/17) Bulman, Mallory

A growing list of financing options is making it easier to turn existing apartment communities into green ones. Fannie Mae upgraded its Green Rewards program this past fall, and Freddie Mac launched its own Green Advantage program to compete. There are also the Federal Housing Administration's PowerSaver Energy Rehab loan and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing options for energy-saving apartment retrofits. Hilary Provinse, senior vice president of customer engagement at Fannie Mae, states, "We really do want to encourage borrowers to make these enhancements to their property . . . to make it more efficient, because it's better for us; it's better for the sustainability of the property; it's ultimately better for the tenants." The latest Urban Land Institute research estimates that whole-building energy retrofits can cost anywhere from $2 to $7 per square foot. The study also found it can take two to 15 years to achieve a full return on investment, depending on such factors as the property's age, design, and targeted savings.

But the savings can be significant, to say nothing of the improved property value and competitive standing against new apartment communities, which increasingly feature energy-saving appliances and systems. A U.S. Department of Energy study found that an estimated $16 billion in possible energy cost savings go unclaimed nationwide each year. But in a sample of more than a dozen apartment properties in Chicago with a median age of 95 years and an average of 30 rental units, the study found that -- post-retrofit -- buildings saw an average decrease of nearly $200 per square foot in natural gas expenditures and an average 2.95 percent increase in net operating income.
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Imagining the Retail Store of the Future
New York Times (04/12/17) Paton, Elizabeth

Retailers are currently investigating a wide range of technologies for use in future stores, including robot sales clerks that feature built-in facial recognition technology to adjust each sales pitch to the individual shopper. Innovations that are close to making their way into some brick-and-mortar stores are voice-activated personal assistants and 3D-printing stations. Technologies still under development include floating checkout counters, as well as holographic product displays on the shop floor that change when a customer walks by.
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Want to Bring the Renters to Your Apartment Buildings? Consider These Amenities
REJournals.com (04/10/17) Rafter, Dan

The National Apartment Association (NAA) provides some hints in its latest report, titled "Adding Value in the Age of Amenities Wars," as to what amenities today's renters are looking for in new apartment buildings. The report lists the top amenities in apartment buildings nationwide, with a focus on 11 key cities. Researchers found that the most important amenities are community ones. Everything from clubhouses to outdoor kitchens remain key amenities for multifamily housing developers hoping to attract a steady stream of renters. According to the research, fitness facilities have become the most popular community-wide amenity in apartment settings followed by business centers, clubhouses, and common areas for socializing. Pet-friendly apartment buildings also rank high on the list. The next most popular community amenities include improved landscaping in common areas and swimming pools. Play areas and rooms for holding packages delivered to residents are also desired.

Renters were shown willing to pay a bit more each month for certain community amenities. NAA researchers found that 46 percent of apartment residents are willing to a pay rent premium for access to on-site fitness classes, for instance, while 42 percent are willing to pay more for walking trails and tracks. With regards to in-unit amenities, the most sought-after one since 2014 is a washer/dryer, followed by high-end kitchen appliances; hardwood floors; and upgrades to units' lighting, plumbing and electrical systems. Renters also sought energy-efficient appliances, ceiling fans, and garbage disposals. Finally, the NAA determined that community-wide amenities brought in higher average rent increases, $77 more per unit each month. Unit-specific upgrades brought higher rents, too, but a smaller average of $52 a month.
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Outlet Malls Thrive as Shoppers Search for Bargains and Experience
Marketplace (04/12/17) Schrank, Aaron

Many of the nation's shopping malls are struggling as anchor stores close and online shopping continues to gain a foothold. But at least one part of the bricks-and-mortar retail industry continues to thrive: outlet malls. These centers remain a surging source of profits for retailers and have effectively positioned themselves as shopping destinations for both tourists and cost-conscious brand hunters. In the last five years, sales at outlet malls have doubled to nearly $50 billion, reports Green Street Advisors. According to experts, that growth shows that shoppers are eager for experiences like the bargain-hunting thrill that outlets provide. "The outlet store malls that you don't see every day maintain much more of a mystique," reasons Lars Perner, a USC clinical marketing professor. "They don't have the same familiarity, and there's something new to be found every time."

Developers have been savvy, building outlets in locales where people are already in the market for experiences, such as near major amusement parks. They've also made them easy to travel to, putting them just off busy highways and major interstates. CoStar research director Suzanne Mulvee remarks, "Since 2013, we've added about 30 new outlet centers around the U.S. We've probably built three malls." At the same time, outlet stores have become the most profitable distribution channel for some brands. Moving forward, most retail analysts agree that the challenge for outlet malls will be to maintain shoppers' excitement. After all, it wasn't long ago that traditional malls were the place to be.
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The New Shopping Hubs for Cities: Warehouse Distribution Centers
Wall Street Journal (04/16/17) Phillips, Erica E.

Warehouse distribution centers could be major retail hubs in the not-so-distant future. Instead of spending an afternoon browsing, choosing items off store shelves, and then standing in a long checkout line, the shoppers of tomorrow will tap a few buttons on a hand-held device and a part-human, part-machine warehouse crew in a nearby industrial district will handle the transaction from beginning to end. The weekly shopping is done in a few minutes, and the shopper never has to leave his/her home. Adie Tomer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, forecasts that the growing network of e-commerce sites, warehouses, and delivery services will "function like a utility."

Unlike the shopping centers of today and yesterday that have drawn shoppers in with lighted signs, ample parking, and public-transportation hubs, these neighborhood fulfillment centers are not being designed with the general public in mind. In fact, they are often plain and located in areas most people wouldn't think of going to shop: industrial parcels in vacant pockets close to and inside cities, adjacent to railroad tracks, and just off freeways. Such areas are experiencing "a bit of an economic renaissance," observes David Egan, head of CBRE Inc.'s industrial market research. "Industrial corridors that used to be centered around manufacturing. Now they're centered around distribution."
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Capturing Prospects Through Virtual Tours
Property Management Insider (04/12/17) Blackwell, Tim

Virtual reality technology is producing new apartment marketing opportunities. Most apartment hunters want to see units before agreeing to rent them. For many, though, circumstances such as work, travel distance, and other factors make a conventional tour impossible. Virtual reality -- via high-quality, 360-degree views of apartment interiors -- enables prospects to tour apartments otherwise unavailable to see in person. The new technology allows apartment owners and managers to market units before and after lease-up with custom, digital journeys that complement traditional floor plans and gallery pages. Prospects love 3-D virtual tours because they can get a sense of the apartment from their mobile device, laptop, or desktop before scheduling an in-person visit.

While virtual tours don't explore an actual rental unit, they do show high-quality 3-D renderings of furnished or unfurnished floor plans that include walks down halls, into bedrooms and bathrooms, and around living areas and kitchens. Different from video tours, virtual viewers can proceed through rooms at their own pace without the need to click pause. In addition, they can explore the apartment in whatever order they want rather than clicking fast forward to get to the room they want to see. Finally, 3-D tours also eliminate the notoriously shaky camerawork that comes with a low-quality video tour. Virtual tours also help relieve doubt for prospects in markets heavy on relocation. For instance, roughly 35 percent of WC Smith's business comes from renters who are moving to the Washington, D.C., metro area, and they don't always get to see the unit until moving day. For situations like those, virtual reality tours supplement photos and videos that apartment seekers may feel only show what apartment operator wants them to see.
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New Sensor From Honeywell Helps Building Owners And Consumers Monitor Air Quality
PRNewswire (04/11/17)

Honeywell last week announced a new particle sensor designed to help building owners and managers monitor the air for potentially harmful particulate contaminants caused by dust, soot, and smoke. The company's HPM series particle sensor is designed to work in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and such consumer products as air purifiers to measure air quality in buildings, public spaces, and elsewhere. The sensor has already been incorporated in Honeywell's new PM2.5 Indoor Air Quality Detector, a portable air monitor for consumers in China. Graham Robinson, president of Honeywell's Sensing and Internet of Things business, comments, "Honeywell leveraged decades of expertise in sensing technology and connected solutions to develop this state-of-the-art, affordable sensing solution to help prevent building occupants from developing health issues that could be caused by poor air quality."

The new sensor utilizes laser technology to accurately and cost-effectively monitor for fine inhalable particles that are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. According to the EPA, fine particles can settle deep into lungs or even enter the bloodstream and pose health risks. The sensor outputs an electrical signal that can be fed into HVAC control systems in buildings or other air monitoring devices. This information can alert building management staff that air purification systems should be activated or if outdoor air could be used to improve indoor air quality. It can also alert operators when an air filter needs changing or early maintenance should be performed on indoor air delivery systems.
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Lawmakers Balk at Requiring Sprinkler Systems
Greenville News (SC) (04/15/17) Hyde, Paul

Safety experts agree that fire-suppressing sprinkler systems in apartment buildings save lives and protect property. Unfortunately, many South Carolina apartment complexes do not have sprinkler systems on account of money. According to observers, installing sprinkler systems in older apartment buildings requires a substantial outlay of cash. Both Gov. Henry McMaster (R) and GOP-led state Legislature are hesitant to place any further burdens on business, so a legislative answer is unlikely anytime soon. The issue pits often low-income apartment tenants against corporate and individual apartment owners. State Rep. Bill Chumley (R-Spartanburg) is among those who is unsure how he stands on the issue. "Saving lives is always a good thing," he stated, "unless it's a burden on people having to deal with so many regulations."

Meanwhile, McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes, when pressed on the issue, focused on the cost of sprinklers. He wrote in an e-mail: "Governor McMaster does not support any undue, costly government mandates that hurt South Carolina business owners." One state up in North Carolina, though, sprinklers are required in "all buildings used for sleeping purposes" except one- and two-family dwellings unless units that were built before the code went into effect are separated by a two-hour firewall, according to the North Carolina Fire Code. An unnamed official with South Carolina's apartment association said the group does not encourage apartment owners to retrofit older buildings with sprinkler systems, then declined to answer any further questions on the matter.
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What's in Your Custodial Closet?
Cleaning & Maintenance Management (04/04/17) Bowman, Nicole

Building service contractors (BSCs) and facility managers who are serious about implementing green cleaning practices would be wise to perform an audit of custodial closets to determine exactly what health and environmental hazards, or beneficial materials, are inside. If they find any aerosols, floor strippers and finishes, products that clean whiteboards, and graffiti removers that contain irritants or other hazards to human health, the environment, and indoor air quality, they should be flagged and replaced with a green-certified alternative. Depending on the size of the facility, they should also consider using concentrated chemicals that can be diluted or generated on site versus ready-to-use products.

If they have already switched to concentrated, green-certified products, they should consider their paper and plastic supplies -- maximizing the amount of post-consumer recycled content and considering those that are certified by independent third parties to indicate environmental impact -- and consider microfiber tools that are reusable, require fewer chemicals, and need less frequent replacement. In addition, they should flag equipment for replacement that requires large amounts of chemicals, is clunky and heavy for operators to use, and is not certified as energy efficient. Finally, it is important to bring the data collected during the audit to budget discussions and perform audits regularly moving forward.
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