National Recycling Day - State of Recycling and Multifamily Real Estate
by Christin D. on 11/12/2019 11:32:00 AM
National Recycling Day is November 15th!
This year, National Recycling Day (America Recycles Day) falls on Thursday, November 15th, and encourages communities and their members to spread the word about recycling. America Recycles Day is a “Keep America Beautiful” campaign program focused on educating, motivating, and encouraging recycling, with the goal of engaging and promoting participation in practices to reduce the amount of non-recycled waste. To that extent, many multifamily communities have been hosting events and educating residents about recycling, and best practices to help reduce the environmental impact caused by waste produced at their community. In addition, multifamily I recycling initiatives have evolved substantially since the early days. Below we will take an inside look at multi-family waste management practices, recycling initiatives, and additional benefits created through best practices.
2001: EPA multifamily specific study
In 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) embarked on a study focused primarily on the discovery of the extent to which the multifamily industry was employing recycling programs across the nation. Prior to the EPA study, multifamily did not have a clear definition of recycling practices due to falling under a commercial real estate classification. The EPA study sampled 40 communities across the nation and compared single family to multifamily community recycling practices, and their success and shortfalls. The EPA then defined what a successful recycling program should look like in the multifamily business, and how this was accomplished in what was called the “Multifamily and High-Rise Recycling Assessment”. The results of the 2001 survey brought about significant adjustments in multifamily recycling requirements to various jurisdictions throughout the country.
2016: State of curbside report study
In 2016, the State of Recycling report was published by The Recycling Partnership, which analyzed single family and multifamily best practices and effectiveness for recycling. The findings yielded some of the original challenges the EPA uncovered in the 2001 study, primarily due to a large portion of local governments not defining multifamily outside of the commercial sector. In the 2016 study, 465 communities comprising about 36 million residential units (Single family homes and multifamily units) were considered, and the study found that only 25 million units were eligible for curbside collection including recycling as an option. This means that 11 million units of multifamily were still not included as a part of curbside recycling program. Since that point in time, many local jurisdictions have started to require mandatory recycling in multifamily.
Benefits of recycling
Why does our country donate so much time into supporting recycling as an initiative on so many different levels? A plethora of benefits are realized when communities choose to recycle rather than toss waste into landfills. The practice of recycling conserves natural resources such as water, saves energy, prevents pollution, and increases economic security, including the development and creation of jobs available in the manufacturing and recycling industries in the United States. The Recycling Economic Study done in 2016 revealed that 1.57 jobs and $76,000 in wages were generated per 1,000 tons of materials recycled. Recycling also saves the number of trees that need to be cut down to make new paper products when paper is recycled by households. A 2015 survey discovered that 25% of municipal solid waste is due to paper products alone, while plastics accounted for 35 million tons and glass 11.5 million tons of waste. Reducing the amount of waste from these 3 materials alone would have a substantial impact on the environment if more households practiced recycling as a regular activity, especially those in the multifamily sector.
Challenges in Multifamily recycling
As previously stated, multifamily recycling programs have been ambiguous and difficult to measure due to data captured. This is due to multifamily properties being defined as commercial property in many local municipalities, although that is not the only challenged faced. Multifamily communities have little control over what type of waste is thrown into community trash compactors, and the addition of a recycling receptacles beside waste containers and compactors has created confusion for residents. Recycled materials often wind up contaminated by those who don’t know how to recycle properly, or by utilizing inappropriate containers with or without realizing it. Another challenge faced is the practice of encouraging multifamily households to designate a separate container to just recycled materials, often in smaller living spaces. The monitoring of any of these challenges is difficult, and multifamily communities often end up spending more on recycling without seeing high success.
Challenges in U.S. recycling
Until recently, the United States had been sending most recyclable materials to China to be manufactured into goods such as plastics, clothing, and other products. In late 2018, China began restricting recycling imports of certain types, including paper and most plastics, two of the largest recyclable materials in the United States. Unfortunately, waste management companies are now being forced to raise rates, and municipal governments are faced with either paying the higher rates or throwing the recycling away as waste instead. This has left many communities without a choice. As a result, carbon emissions and methane released by recycling decomposing in landfills, and plastic being burned is having a large negative environmental impact on the ozone layer, propelling the environment into an even further undesirable direction.
What is the solution?
It seems like recycling is a thing of the past after researching and realizing the restrictions and costs now imposed on municipalities and consumers. So how can we do our part and continue to recycle? The first step is to be more conscious of the waste we are producing in the first place. Shopping bags, straws, and water bottles are 3 easy items to stop supporting, and by adopting re-usable options instead. Be more conscious of what is going into the recycling bin! Aluminum cans, foil, steel and tin cans, corrugated cardboard, office paper, and #1 and #2 plastics such as water, juice, and salad dressing containers are still encouraged if they must be used. The second part is to be more conscious of how the goods are when thrown into the bin. Cleaning recyclables of all debris and waste such as food residue is key in the expense of processing recyclables, making it a requirement for consideration.
Though there are many who are pessimistic about recycling and take and all or nothing approach, educating yourself and others on the facts is key to continuing any progress in our recycling initiatives, whether it be in a business or multifamily community environment.
Published by: Christin Daniels for Buyers Access® residential multifamily purchasing experts. To connect with Buyers Access and obtain a complimentary purchasing analysis, visit us at www.buyersaccess.com or email us at BASales@buyersaccess.com.
EPA (November 2001). Multifamily Recycling: A National Study. National Service Center for Environmental Publications (EPA530-r-01-018). Retrieved from https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/10000OV5.PDF?Dockey=10000OV5.PDFGreenblatt, Alan (Dec. 2018) Under China’s New Rules, U.S. Recycling Suffers. Governing: The States and Localities. Retrieved from: https://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/gov-recycling-trash-waste-sort-compost-china.html
EPA.gov. How Do I Recycle? Common Recyclables. Retrieved from: https://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/gov-recycling-trash-waste-sort-compost-china.html.
Cold, Flu, and You: Promote Wellness this Season
by Christin D. on 11/5/2019 4:00:35 PM
Flu Season and You
Flu Season is upon us and protecting yourself against contracting a cold or the flu is a high priority this time of year. From consistent hand-washing, to guzzling vitamin C, most of us do whatever we can to prevent ourselves from contracting the influenza virus. As multi-family industry professionals, we should consider the action items and steps that we can personally take to protect ourselves and others in the community. Below we will discuss some statistics of flu season, steps to take personally and professionally to prevent contraction and spreading of the flu virus, and ideas you can take to implement prevention.
Statistics on flu and cold season
Each year, cold and flu season is responsible for 44 million “sick-days” in the United States called, in by 11 million employed adults spread throughout the country. This statistically accounts for about a $9.5 billion-dollar financial burden on businesses, and even considers that 39% of the workforce will still report to work even when ill. Aside from work being the 3rd most likely place for individuals who have the cold or flu virus to frequent, according to the CDC, other locations that are highly frequented by sick individuals include local drug stores and grocery stores.
Where germs live
The flu and common cold are most contagious during the early onset. Unfortunately, this is also when people still may not realize there is anything wrong. They still feel well enough to go out in public and therefore can spread the virus without realizing the severity. As multi-family industry professionals, we work and operate where “home” is for many of these 11 million adults who do call in sick. This increases our exposure to their germs even when the resident opts to stay home to avoid spreading the virus. Since our place of work is their home, we must take extra caution to avoid getting sick. Below are some common places to consider taking extra precaution around when trying to avoid contracting the flu and common cold:
1. Building entryways- including elevator buttons, handrails in stairwells and access points, door handles to common spaces in a community.
2. Public restrooms in the gym or other common areas
3. Hospitality and snack areas, such as a coffee bar or resident appreciation event gathering
4. Common areas such as the local game room/tv lounge, business center, or conference room
5. On-site fitness centers, weight rooms, or spin/yoga studios
How to protect your community
As multi-family professionals, we have a responsibility to create an atmosphere of safety and cleanliness when possible. Though we can’t guarantee the effectiveness of our efforts, it is part of our responsibility. There are a few recommendations that property teams can do to help protect the visitors and dwellers of a community, and by directly making a few adjustments on-site during this time of year:
1. Supply paper towels instead of air dryers in common area restrooms to help reduce the number of bacteria left on hands after washing thoroughly with soap and water.
2. Install hand sanitizer stations at entrances, stairwells, common areas, and restrooms to make sanitation easier for residents and team members on the go.
3. Make microfiber cleaning cloths and sanitation wipes available to staff members so they can wipe down surfaces regularly with minimal additional effort.
In addition to the above recommendations, there are also other easy and fun ways to communicate and educate residents about flu season’s best practices. They may even create a heightened sense of resident satisfaction as you demonstrate your commitment to their community. Here are some ideas that may help spice up flu-prevention at your property:
1. Host a pre-flu season event. Invite a local flu-shot vendor or offer flu-shot passes with an incentive to residents. The incentive can be small and often stores will partner and provide a “perk” to those residents that show up and get the shot! Think a discount on “Emergen-C” or “Airborne”.
2. Include education in the monthly news letter for residents to read prior to the start of flu season. You could even announce the above pre-flu season event in the publication at the same time.
3. Have resident care packages in the office or distribute them in an appropriate fashion for your specific community. Vendor partners and Buyers Access team members can offer great ideas and resources to do this if you have a tight resident-appreciation budget to work with.
What to do if you get sick
Even taking all the right preventative steps, you can sometimes still wind up sick. Once contracting a virus, it’s time to look at measures that can be taken to protect yourself and others while it runs its course. Remember, the flu virus is stronger in the beginning stages and can spread easier during this time. Staying home from work may be a good idea to have minimal contact with others. If you must report to work or engage in regular activities on some level, follow the below recommendations to protect yourself and others from getting sick.
1. Wash your hands
2. Invest in a protective dust-mask to wear outside of your individual space to avoid airborne germs from spreading
3. Wipe down everything you touch with an antibacterial spray or wipe and allow it to dry naturally so it has ample time to kill bacteria and germs.
4. Drink plenty of fluid and use paper cups or personal drinkware that won’t be washed and re-used in the office or public area.
5. Rest more than you think you need to. Your immune system is already weakened substantially once you do get sick so this extra TLC can speed up recovery. If you reported to work and start to feel worse, re-evaluate your attendance and communicate any concerns to your workplace supervisor.
Getting sick is no fun and nobody ever wants to get sick. It’s important to remember the seriousness of the flu virus and consider that even mild strains can cause serious complications. Spreading bouts of sickness around the office or community can be decreased by following some of the above suggestions and preparing for the flu season accordingly. Buyers Access, and our supplier partners, are always available to help equip your team with the supplies needed to create an uninviting environment for germs associated with the flu virus and other bacteria. One of the best parts about being a part of the Buyers Access program is that you have an abundance of additional resources and extra sets of hands to call on when you need them. Contact our sales department at BASales@buyersaccess.com to get this support. If you are already a member, your account manager and the member services team can quickly help you get prepared by sourcing the best products and lower prices with additional savings on mass quantities when needed. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reach out to your team of support and make your property safe this flu season!
October is Fire Safety Month in Multi-family
by Christin D. on 10/14/2019 5:34:31 PM
Welcome to Fire Safety Month
The month of October brings about some of the Fall seasons best comforts, as the leaves turn and the temperature drops. This can mean more pumpkin spice latte’s, or s’mores nights, social gatherings over delicious home cooked meals, and maybe throwing a few logs on the fire place. With the increase in heating and cooking during this time of the year there also comes the increased risk of fire. Because of this, October is known as Fire Safety Month. Whether you are a service provider, CEO, or on-site team member, as multi-family professionals, we all play a critical role in the area of fire prevention, precaution, and safety. So, what are some of the industry’s best practices in terms of fire safety?
Causes of Fire in Multi-family
Residential fires made up 29.1% of total fires by property type in some of the most recent data available, making it the second most common fire type behind outdoor fires. Closer living quarters and adjoining walls in multi-family structures increase the risk of fire. Fire in these structures can also impact more people and cause damage on a larger scale at a more rapid pace due to the co-existence of many in a single building.
Cooking fires made up 51.6% as the leading cause of all residential fires, with heating being the second most prevalent. The kitchen and bedrooms are also statistically the most common places for fires to start in residential homes. Residential buildings that include baseboard heaters, space heaters, electric stoves, and fireplaces heighten the risk of both instances occurring. For all these reasons and many more, ongoing fire safety and preparedness is extremely important for multi-family sites during October, the colder months, and throughout the year.
Provide Information in Advance
What things can we do as multi-family professionals to decrease fire risk? One of the most important things we can do is provide residents and teams detailed and easily understood fire information for education, training, preparedness and prevention. Furthermore, property management teams should have detailed working knowledge and training on how to respond to these emergency situations. Partnering with local fire departments, or Buyers Access vendors such as Cintas, is a great source to conduct fire safety training sessions with employees and residents at community gatherings. Get everyone as knowledgeable and prepared as possible, and be proactive!
Drafting a Property Specific Fire Safety Guide
When developing a fire safety guide to provide residents and team members, include a building diagram that marks the location of fire extinguishers, evacuation routes, stairwells, and fire pulls. The diagram should also identify designated exterior meeting areas for residents, vendors, and staff when evacuating the building. Other things to include are alternate routes for evacuation, additional stair access, tips for handling various emergency conditions such as smoke, being trapped, pets, and any other property specific information that may be helpful.
Time is everything when it comes to fire. Every 30 seconds a flame can double, filling up a room in a matter of minutes and making each second crucial. Organization and confidence should be a priority when training staff members on fire protocol. There is no guarantee that the community manager or service manager will be available to guide other employees during a fire, so it’s also important to plan and train accordingly. Team members gain confidence through education, and communication, role playing, and fire drills. Working with Buyers Access account managers and vendors can assist in this training process.
Types of Fire Safety Inspections
Multifamily communities have a critical responsibility to ensure certain fire and life safety requirements are always being met. Because of this, annual inspections are often required by local officials to ensure that code requirements are being met. Inspections on building fire alarm panels, pull station operation, fire extinguisher expiration dates, fire sprinklers, and visual requirements such as clear pathways are some of the more important fire related inspection items. If a property is in violation of any of these areas, authorities can issue an “order to comply” and issue fines until repairs have been completed.
Fire Safety Every Day
There are many other things to consider when protecting a community from fire hazards, which should be considered daily. Any time any fire safety device is malfunctioning it should be addressed and remediated immediately. Preventative maintenance inspections can serve as a great time to inspect interior and exterior fire safety devices. Encouraging residents to notify management of any safety risks is also helpful in case it is overlooked or not caught immediately by property staff.
A very common fire safety issue is burnt out “Emergency Exit” signs in hallways. Changing these bulbs promptly or utilizing LED bulbs in Exit signs, can minimize this risk. Fire doors should be automatically self-closing when the alarm sounds. Paying close attention to anything blocking these doors or preventing them from self-closing should be a priority, along with ensuring ease of ingress and egress in common areas at all times. If the fire doors are always closed, make sure self-closing and latching hardware are operating correctly so they consistently close immediately behind users.
Fire safety awareness is crucial no matter what time of year, and the above recommendations are a good start to protecting your property from associated risks. We hope you will apply some of the aforementioned best-practices into your fire safety routine. Buyers Access supplier partners such as Cintas and SmartBurner, can offer members quality solutions and services associated with fire safety. If you are in need of additional support or are curious on the savings you can realize by gaining access to the Buyers Access program, contact us at 1-800-445-9169 or by email Basales@buyersaccess.com. If your already a valued customer and are in need of assistance, reach out to member services by emailing email@example.com or contact your account manager.
2019 Empower Conference Highlights
by Christin D. on 9/20/2019 11:27:00 AM
Have you ever been to a Buyers Access Empower Conference before?
The Buyers Access team hosted another memorable conference earlier this month where members and supplier partners spent 3 days collaborating on various industry topics while having a little fun. Breakout sessions, brainstorming, a reverse trade show, and face-to-face meetings between key industry professionals made this year’s EMPOWER event both productive and insightful for attendees.
During the 3-day event industry leaders explored topics such as industry trends, optimal use of resources and purchasing power, new product insights, and how to further utilize the Buyers Access teams in ordering, reporting, and streamlining bidding processes and partnerships. You could probably feel the energy from afar as the event burst with knowledge and genius, not to mention unforgettable fun. We can’t tell you all the secrets, but below we will share some highlights from the recent event and exciting new features to come.
Buyers Access Suppliers
Buyers Access partners with some of the industry’s best and most reputable suppliers to ensure we have the most relevant product offerings and selections available to members. With approximately 50 of the most well-known supplier partners on board, Buyers Access optimizes these relationships to leverage opportunities for members in purchasing, training, capital projects, standardization, and reporting, to name a few.
This year, Buyers Access suppliers from the below companies were able to work together with the Buyers Access team and members to present some of the newest innovative ideas and solutions for multi-family.
Suppliers in attendance included:
- The Home Depot PRO (formerly Wilmar)
- Ancillary Services Management
- HD Supply
- Bidders Access
- Energy Link
- Courtesy Connection
- Maintenance Supply Headquarters
- National Exemption Service
- BBC Lighting
If you are not currently a Buyers Access member but already purchase from any of the above, our team can easily integrate the Buyers Access advantages into your existing purchasing process. Our members get exclusive resources that add time back in their day, along with insights relating to multi-family MRO rollouts, and ongoing support to meet the new regulations and consumer trends.
Breakout Session Highlights
This year’s Empower 2019 breakout sessions were hosted by Home Depot Pro, Sherwin Williams, Staples, HD Supply, and Cintas. The sessions addressed many aspects relevant to keeping Buyers Access members ahead of the curve and at the forefront of competition in the multi-family arena. Innovation, optimization, standardization, and selection were common topics throughout the conference, which were more specifically addressed during these sessions.
Staples and Sherwin Williams provided innovative solutions to common challenges through service and product offerings, introducing and expanding on a variety of new additions to their product offerings. HD Supply and Cintas put a large emphasis on the many changing regulations and safety requirements directly related to multifamily properties. HVAC regulation changes, exclusive warranty programs, and other life-safety updates were discussed in detail. Home Depot Pro, formerly known as Wilmar, unveiled a Buyers Access member advantage program which addresses innovative technological offerings, product standardization, and maintenance optimization.
Brainstorming and the Reverse Trade Show
In addition to the informative workshops hosted by the leading national vendors listed above, Buyers Access members had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with suppliers and account managers during the legendary reverse trade show. During the event, teams were able to collaborate and strategize avenues for implementation of key topics covered at previous sessions. The trade show was fully equipped with a DJ, great music, an electrifying atmosphere, chocolate covered popcorn, and plenty of laughter.
The final day of the conference everyone gathered together over refreshments and coffee to discuss hot topics that were hand selected by conference attendees prior to the event. During this session attendees shared ideas, strategies, and gained new perspective on various industry topics. Maintenance and time saving technology was a popular area of choice among the group, and where Buyers Access account managers shared insight into standardization and the creation of product lists to promote savings and efficiency.The brainstorming session and breakouts were enticing, and everyone left with something new to apply and a team of support to execute for them on a variety of levels.
Until next time!
The Buyers Access program has proven to be of high value to any management companies looking to optimize performance, purchasing, and increase their bottom line. With industry changes constantly affecting the multi-family industry, creativity and innovation continue to stay at the forefront of our minds when providing value to our members. If you want to be a part of this “family” of thought leaders and become a member, contact us now and we will do a free purchasing analysis with no strings attached. We can be reached at BASales@buyersaccess.com or by calling 1-800-445-9169.
Refuse and Paint Expenses- Budget Edition!
by Christin D. on 8/9/2019 9:42:00 AM
This edition of the Buyers Access® budgeting series takes a look at two of the largest recurring expenses a property realizes in monthly operations; waste disposal services and property painting requirements. Here we will review some of the most complicated issues faced by management companies within these two categories and explore solutions that Buyers Access® can offer access to from vendors within our strategic partnerships network.
About waste, recycling, and valet services
Waste services are not a glamorous, value added benefit that can be seen in day to day operations on a property by residents or prospects. On the other hand, we can guarantee that the waste services (or lack thereof) will be immediately noticed when it goes awry. Receptacle overflows, jammed compactors, nasty smells, and bulk items sitting at the curb take away from a property’s curb appeal, and make for some unhappy residents in no time. Nothing is worse than conducting a weekend leasing tour, and the trash receptacle areas create a detraction to the property. Waste and recycling services may seem like an easy thing to manage from a resident’s perspective, but the behind the scenes “plan” can be a bit more complex.
Waste service needs are unique from property to property. One asset can contain multiple contracts and invoices to process and monitor depending on things like: property location, vendor selection, equipment needs, local ordinances, bulk item disposal needs. and valet recycling and doorstep valet waste services. All-encompassing waste services are sometimes hard to find depending on vendor offerings in the area, requiring management teams to keep track of separate contracts for each of the services. Everything from the hauling of half empty containers to “contaminated” recycling bins that the recycling company can’t haul, causing extra charges and fees for additional services outside of traditional scopes defined.
Buyers Access® and Refuse Specialists work together to offer Buyers Access® members a simple solution to their waste disposal services. Refuse Specialists is a team of waste consultants who analyze, renegotiate, and monitor invoices for property management companies. Their services have no upfront costs, and the savings Refuse Specialists realizes is passed on to customers, saving them 20%-40% on waste expenses without sacrificing services.
Refuse Specialists - 4 Step Solution
- Refuse Specialists contacts each waste company you are currently contracted with and renegotiates the contract keeping it to a minimum of a 5-year term to avoid annual expense increases.
- A waste analysis is conducted on the current waste activities which includes evaluating equipment on site, haul frequencies, and other aspects of the waste health of a property.
- Once the contracts are negotiated based on the analysis of the current health, the contracts are delivered directly to the property management team to review and sign off on when appropriate.
- After execution of the contract(s), Refuse Specialists continues to monitor every invoice that is received for waste and related waste services, extra charges, fees, inefficiencies, and other inaccuracies, saving you time and money!
All about paint
Budgeting for recurring and non-recurring paint expenses
Paint frequently accounts for a large portion of a property budget. Buyers Access®, provides members a competitive advantage through access to national supplier partners; PPG and Sherwin Williams. Members have access to lower pricing, additional design resources, and industry leading expertise through account management by both Buyers Access® and the chosen paint supplier. Through the Buyers Access® program, properties can effectively create a practical strategy to manage all painted surfaces and lower prices, while increasing quality and useful life.
Matching Existing Paint
Paint can vary immensely and create many challenges for properties when it comes to painting surfaces on the interior or exterior of the buildings. Newer properties with freshly painted walls at construction may be difficult to touch up when that first resident moves out because of the commonality of primer not being used when the fresh surface was painted at construction. Paint touch up becomes challenging with varying sheen and primer practices. Paint types must be evaluated considering such things as type of property, average length of resident stay, and even geographical location. Working with the paint suppliers in our program and Buyers Access® simplifies the development of paint programs for a property/company and aids in streamlining paint operations.
Varying Surfaces and Paint Selection
Exterior paint surfaces are diverse and require various textures, qualities, and finishes in order to last on surfaces for the expected life of the paint project. For example, using the incorrect type of paint for a site-wide front door painting project could be detrimental if the paint easily chips when residents enter and exit their homes. Not only do these peeling doors create an eye-sore, they can also cost the property even more money than originally intended if they all must be re-painted due to the improper paint being used originally. Both PPG and Sherwin Williams have a complete exterior paint program that includes such things surveying the exterior needs and photo imaging services. Keeping the exterior of your buildings looking fresh is an investment that can help attract and keep your residents!
Another example of potential shortcomings involved with improper paint selection can come in the form of increased risk and liability. It is common for properties to treat stairs and pathways in and outside the structures with paint as a surface, especially on concrete stairs and pathways. If the concrete is a smooth surface and the paint used is not porous enough or durable enough to withstand being on the floor, the property has increased its exposure to slips, trips, and falls along with the paint possibly peeling in an unreasonably short about of time. This can potentially cost the property money and time directly through re-touches or re-done paint projects, as well as liability issues.
Our team can help
Partnering with Buyers Access® eases the budgeting and decision-making process in waste and paint expenses. Buyers Access has key supplier partners: Refuse Specialists, Sherwin Williams, and PPG, who can aid in the budgeting process for these larger recurring expense categories. Not only do members have access to a full member services department and account management department within Buyers Access®, but they also have additional resources from industry leading experts specializing in streamlining paint and waste activities for multi-family communities. Contact our sales department today at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can help your team through a successful budget season. If you are a current Buyers Access® customer, reach out to your account manager for more information regarding the programs and how you can get started.
Renovations and Amenity Upgrades- Budget Edition
by Christin D. on 7/22/2019 3:22:20 PM
To renovate or not to renovate, that is a common question quite often pondered by operators and investors in the multi-family arena. Many attractive benefits can exist when contemplating an interior or exterior renovation, and amenity upgrades. Renovations may yield higher returns, improve aesthetic appeal, facilitate resident retention, and freshen up aging communities to better compete with modern trends. If you are planning on renovating, analysis of the local market, testing the product, and calculating costs vs. returns are all recommended steps to help forecast potential returns. Amenity upgrades should be comparable to the competition and allow a community to closely compete with surrounding properties. Below we will look at types of renovations, steps to take before the process begins, and what amenity upgrades have prospects and residents interested today.
Before you Start Renovating
According to Darren Williams of Portico Property Management, testing your product against current market conditions and projected future trends is key prior to starting any renovation project. Understanding the demographic nature of your property, along with local consumer tastes and preferences is imperative when choosing design and scope. Surveying current residents on the improvements and their additional expense toleration is critical in deciding on potential upgrades. Renovating and pricing a project’s needed return not based on current market conditions is not recommended. Taking these initial steps are important to anyone trying to achieve superior returns, and to avoid vacancies due to over inflated rents. Investors typically can realize a return of 10%-30% in rent growth post-renovations.
Choosing Interior Renovations
Visiting submarket competitors, both new construction and renovated product can provide information as to what upgraded characteristics yield the highest returns when comparing quality, age, pricing and occupancy. “Owners report that replacing carpeting with vinyl, tile, or wood flooring promises the greatest return on their investment” says Caufield for MultifamilyExecutive.com. Upgrading interior lighting is another desirable improvement due to its ability to brighten and refresh living spaces, especially those with limited natural light. Kitchen and bath upgrades such as wrapping cabinets with new finishes, replacing hardware, as well as upgrading appliances are also remodel activities that may yield superior returns.
Choosing Amenity Additions and Upgrades
The standard amenity package offering for multifamily communities use to include a couple of grilling areas around the property, a workout center, tennis courts, and maybe a business center. It was not unusual for on-site laundry services to be offered if residents didn’t have their own machines or did not have hookups available to them. Fast forward to today, the amenity package desired by renters has shifted substantially.
Today renter wants communal space for gatherings and can inspire other social benefits. Areas where residents and their friends can watch popular sporting events and shoot pool is becoming more attractive, as the sense of community can propel itself into an amenity category all its own. Other examples of communal amenity spaces encouraging residents’ creative capacities are painting and art galleries, pottery and crafting workshops, music studios, and co-working spaces. The offerings of these creative spaces tap into a desire for a lifestyle that is appealing.
Wellness and offerings geared towards healthy lifestyles are another category ranked highly on the desired amenity lists. Offering community cooking classes, nutrition seminars, and other engaging and educational sessions allows residents to bond with one another while engaging in positive initiative to benefit their overall lifestyle. From these gatherings, residents will often form their own relationships inspiring further community building in the form of running clubs, painting and art evenings, and pet play dates. This, creates an organic, thriving community that will help attract new residents through word of mouth and retain current residents that see the value in the relationships built by these offerings.
Upgrading Dated Amenity Spaces
Taking an existing business center with basic office equipment and transforming it into a coffee bar and lounge with free Wi-Fi would likely be more attractive to today’s renter. Multifamily fitness center amenities use to include only basic cardio equipment and a multi-purpose weight machine or two. Now, upgrading the space to include a yoga studio with virtual fitness instruction is highly attractive to those seeking a healthy lifestyle. Using any additional square footage to house free weights and functional fitness equipment can help an older community stand out. Upgrades to amenity areas can allow older properties to better compete with newer assets by looking and feeling the same.
Off leash pet parks are also a common amenity being included with newer developments. If a community has extra outdoor space, converting it into an off-leash pet park or a community garden can appeal to today’s renter who wants to be able to utilize outdoor space as if it was their own backyard. Community gardens are very attractive to renters who have previously resided in single-family homes and enjoy nurturing gardens and harvesting fresh produce. Offering an option that allows residents to enjoy outdoor space in a personal way can make the community feel even more like home, and encourage further social interaction between residents.
Ready for Renovations?
Renovating and upgrading may be a realistic and economical way to generate improved returns, particularly for older communities with dated interiors and amenity spaces. Renters are leaning more towards an overall experience, personalized space, and functional offerings when deciding on their next home. To stay competitive, older communities can upgrade existing spaces allowing them to realize returns faster than a new build. For more information about how Buyers Access can help your team with interior and exterior renovations, contact email@example.com, and we will be glad to offer you a comprehensive solution in every phase of your project using the best materials at competitive pricing.
Special Edition- Get Ready for Apartmentalize 2019!
by Christin D. on 6/21/2019 3:52:45 PM
Each year the National Apartment Association puts on an epic conference in a premier location featuring anything and everything multi-family! This year, Denver, Colorado, has been elected to host this amazing event and Buyers Access® cannot wait to see all our members, industry partners, friends, and future business partners at our booth, #1223!
If you are attending Apartmentalize for the first time, you are in for a treat! Get ready to network and interact with likeminded industry professionals and explore new potential resources at the Expo. Below is an overview of the various program elements you can partake in at NAA, and we encourage you to visit the event homepage online by clicking HERE!
Game Changer and General Sessions
Mindy Kaling, or “Kelly Kapoor” from the NBC hit show, The Office, will be kicking off Apartmentalize speaking at the opening General Session that begins at 12:45 p.m. on Thursday, June 27th.
Other “game changer” speakers that are going to be at this year’s NAA event include Brandon Stanton, David Rendall, Judi Holler, and Alli Webb! The show starts with Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York, delivering an epic message on the power of storytelling on social platforms, on June 26th at 4:30pm. Moving into June 27th, you can check out Heather McGhee who will speak on transformative organizational change, David Rendall, the hilarious stand up leadership comedian with strong messages on empowerment, or catch Judi Holler of HOLLA productions for some defining courage insight. Friday will wrap up with game changer, Alli Webb of Drybar, speaking about a uniquely fabulous approach to business that has gained her major success!
Catch a “Deep Dive” seminar session where you can learn from influential industry pillars such as Dr. Debbie Phillips, Ed Wolff, and Susan Sherfield about career development on Friday at 12:45pm. You can also catch the industry data mining optimization “Deep Dive” which features 4 brilliant sales and marketing experts who will show us how to use data to our advantage when interacting with residents and prospects at a higher level.
The main event, the moment we have all been waiting for is the NAA Exposition! The grand opening will be held at 2:15pm on Thursday, June 27th and you can visit Buyers Access® at booth #1223. At the Exposition, Buyers Access will be giving live demos of e-commerce, procurement optimization, and launching our exciting new program, Bidders Access. Come see us for fun interaction, learning, and a chance to win a $250-dollar Sunglass Hut gift card!
Apartmentalize is an amazing place to attend the apartment industry’s best breakout sessions, which include insightful information on various topics across the multi-family business. This year, NAA will have over 85 different breakout sessions dedicated to topics in areas like maintenance, industry trends, affordable housing, operations, and marketing, to name a few.
Another exciting portion of this years NAA conference is a focus on health and wellness, bringing functional wellness front and center in the multi-family industry. The Wellness Labs series will host quick 15-minute breakout sessions bringing attention and focus to physical and mental well-being, and tips that are applicable to a multi-family professional’s life. We love the focus on the whole picture in terms of optimizing your personal and professional lives with wellness strategies, and we can’t wait to see you there.
Open Space Series
The open space segments at NAA will be a peer-to-peer learning experience you won’t want to miss. Engage and interact with like-minded industry processionals on topics such as resident loyalty drivers, smart home technology, and maintenance focused conversations. Collaborating with the industry leaders lined up to host these peer training and engagement sessions will enrich your mind and inspire you to do great things moving into the tail end of 2019! Don’t miss it.
Got a topic that you have been wanting to learn more about in the multi-family industry? Check out the Express Education offerings kicking off on Thursday, June 27th which will offer 30-minute sessions on topics such as career development, industry trends, fair housing, leasing, and more. These sessions will run from 2:45pm-5:30pm on the 27th and pick back up from 10:30am-2:45pm on Friday the 28th.
Other things to know
Download the new NAA app or visit the online “map your show” tool by clicking here now and start mapping out your show experience. You can add the events that you want to attend to your outlook calendar with a click of the button, share it with your co-workers and friends, and access the master exhibitor list to plan your show visits. We hope you have safe travels to Denver, stop by our booth #1223, and have a great time at this year’s NAA Apartmentalize event in Denver, Colorado!
Bidders Access and Capital Projects for Budget Season
by Christin D. on 6/19/2019 9:49:37 AM
Capital projects are typically larger expenditures planned in advance by management teams in the multi-family industry. Without needed organizational systems in place for bidding projects, along with a comprehensive understanding of scopes required to complete the repair, comparing bids from various vendors can be a painful and time-consuming task. In this edition of our focus on Budget Season, we will discuss an example of how the Bidders Access bid solicitation platform is utilized at a property for a very large elevator modernization project.
Create and Solicit Bids to Vendors
One of the elevators on “XYZ” property has gone down a couple of times throughout the year, and it is getting more challenging to find parts to bring it back into operation. Since it’s the only elevator in the building, it is important that the management company get the elevator to a more dependable level. In addition, the scopes of work given on bids must also quite often coincide with a clearly defined plan of repair set forth by a city or county inspector, or other permit requirements. This could mean replacement of the entire elevator, modernization, or continuing to repair as needed. Any which way, the owners and managers of the property will want bids, detailed pictures, and clearly defined scopes of work. They will not want to pay for anything additional that is not imperative resulting in a dependable and functioning elevator. So how can Bidders Access help?
Bids come Quickly and Easily
Within 15 minutes a Property Manager can log into the Bidders Access system, a cloud-based work flow and document management bid solicitation platform and set up a new standardized RFQ/RFP (Request for Quote/Request for proposal). Once an RFQ/RFP has been initiated by the Property Manager, vendors immediately accept or decline the opportunity to bid on the project. This allows the Property Manager to know right away whether they need to request additional bids, or not. Once accepted, all details of the bid will be available to bidders in the same format. Bidders will be required to fill in line item detailed costs, answer questions created specific to the project, and to upload any necessary documents, like pictures warranties, insurance, etc. This saves the Property Manager and vendor substantial time and effort, standardizes process, provides for document management in one location, and organizes all communications by job and vendor. Nothing gets lost!
It is an industry best practice to obtain 3 bids for capital projects or repairs more than $5,000.00. Bidders Access makes the scheduling, bidding, and communication easy, and clearly defines the awarded vendor with the click of a button. This cloud-based bid solicitation platform keeps things organized and where you need them and when you need them, so you always have your bidding information at your fingertips. It provides for email alerts between all parties for an invitation or intent to bid, for bid updates or changes and for responses to bid requests, making everyone’s job easier.
By standardizing the scope information requested, Bidders Access ensures that information submitted back from the vendors can be easily reviewed, and is apples to apples. When collecting bids, the scope of work is critical in supporting the decision process, and ultimately the results. Typically, scopes and pricing can largely change if not well defined. Bidders Access makes it easy for vendors to reference what areas of the project they must supply pricing and detailed information, as well as questions relative to the defined scope of work to be completed. Upon completion of the bids, the Bidders Access system provides the capability for side by side comparison of every line item, as well as all required questions, and communications.
Simplicity in Awarding
Finally, once all information is gathered for the elevator modernization project, there will be multiple bids in the system for you to consider side by side. By going through each element, one can use the seamless design of the Bidders Access platform to compare, present, weigh in, and decide on a winning bid. With the click of a button a bid can be awarded, and the other bidders notified that their bid was not selected.
Based on the above it’s easy to see that Bidders Access system can add value to every on-site management team’s bidding process. By having everything organized and in one place on a cloud-based system you are always organized, and have immediate access to all your bid information, anywhere, anytime. No longer will you have to search and access information from multiple locations, numerous email attachments or hard copies. Have everything for your capital projects easily accessible, well organized, and ready to present with the Bidders Access program.
If you are interested in learning more about Bidders Access or any other components of the Buyers Access suite of services offered, please reach out to our team by calling 303-991-5550 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We know you will be glad you did.
Budget Season is Upon Us!
by Christin D. on 6/11/2019 4:06:00 PM
The next few months in multi-family management will be the busiest time of the year for many properties. The summer months typically include an influx of residents and prospects searching for new homes, a higher number of expiring leases up for renewal, employees cycling through vacation time, increased HVAC maintenance calls, and its swimming pool season. Then, as soon as you catch your breath, the first draft of your budget is due. Whether this is your first budget or your 50th, proper preparation can make the experience and budget season a success. In this article, we will help to define and provide some tools to inspire your quest with this year’s budget season!
Unit by unit inspections
If you haven’t done so already, it is a great idea to conduct an annual or bi-annual unit-by-unit walk of your property. This is especially important for properties 10 years or older. Unit-by-unit walks can help teams plan for recurring capital replacements, renovation projects, and turn costs. For turnkey costs, click on the following highlighted words to link to our flooring and paint estimation tool for budget expense forecasting.
Collecting serial numbers and appliance information can also make life easier in many ways and is good information to have on hand. You never know when you will have that on-call emergency refrigerator or stove malfunction over a holiday weekend, and you will need to look up relevant information. Unit-by-unit inspections and inventories are great for preventative maintenance, forecasting turnkey expenses, planning large capital projects, and to identify any hazards that may not have been reported. You may even catch a few unauthorized pets or other lease violations in the process.
Pricing for vendor services
Contact current vendors and see if they are going to be keeping their rates the same or if rates will be changing in any way. The Buyers Access® Account Management team and Member Services departments can obtain the best possible pricing for all your products and help to make this a much easier process. Wouldn’t it be great to have an advocate that is constantly focused on bringing savings into your budget, and a higher NOI?
Completing unit-by-unit inspections along with an exterior and interior common area inspection is required when building your short term and long-term capital project plan. The Buyers Access® suite of services includes access to Bidders Access®, a comprehensive capital project bidding platform. For more about Bidders Access and how it can help you this budget season, please click on the following link www.biddersaccess.com, or speak with your Account Manager to get started right away.
Recurring operating expenses
Completing an audit of all contracts is also a helpful budget tool. Click on the following highlighted words to access a contract audit spreadsheet to use when conducting a contract audit. Budgeting the necessary amounts for contracts currently in place, and that will affect the upcoming budget season, is key to maintaining accuracy throughout the year on property financial statements and variance reports.
When drafting the Income portion of your budget, it is important to look at historical rental increases, fees, and other income categories. and how they have performed over the past 5 years as well as the past 12 months in detail. Pulling reports on market conditions from apartment data sites and analyzing historical and current market data will help to forecast income categories such as application, administration, and pet fees, to name a few. Also, pulling industry data for your area can help forecast projected rental increases for lease renewals and potential rent growth on turns. Historically, most properties typically see between 3-5% rental increases, but some may realize higher gains if in a high demand market, or if there are other factors such as a substantial rehab.
Other expenses and bids
Click on the following highlighted words to access a payroll expense spreadsheet, which is designed to aid in the calculation of the annual payroll expenses by a property, or by portfolio. Also included is a standard budget worksheet and a bid comparison form to aid in the overall planning of recurring and non-recurring operating and capital expenses.
The document library below is for anyone to use as a tool to aid in preparing for an annual property budget. For a full property spending analysis contact our team at 1-800-445-9169, or email Buyers Access® at email@example.com.
- Standard Budget Worksheet
- Summary of Contracts per Property
- Capital Replacement Worksheet
- Flooring per Apartment
- How Much Paint Do You Need Per Apartment
- Payroll Spreadsheet for Budgeting
- Bid Comparison Form
Prepare for your Property Inspection!
by Christin D. on 6/4/2019 4:55:34 PM
You are sitting in your office and all of the sudden you get the email…your annual inspection is coming up! What do you do first? Managing residential property on behalf of property owners is a big responsibility. Protection and preservation of the asset, along with minimizing liability and associated risks, should always be at the front of any manager’s mind.
Property inspections can take on many forms. Inspections can be done for improvement grants, financing compliance, state and federal affordable housing programs, and annual property insurance. Depending on the extent of the inspection required and the organization conducting the inspection, there are some universal best practices recommended to help you prepare. Whether it be a lender, HUD, or an asset manager, it is always a good idea to make sure the property is operating at it’s highest potential. Let's take a look at some areas to touch on when preparing for a property inspection.
Is there a checklist?
Depending on what kind of inspection there is going to be on your property, there is a good chance that you can form a checklist yourself, or find one from your local apartment association, lender, or the inspection organization themselves. This list is a helpful piece of information to have, especially for those newer to the multi-family management industry who have not been through a property inspection previously.
If you are able to obtain a copy of the guidelines for the inspection, you can identify and spot check exactly what to look for. Preparing for inspection well in advance is a critical step to a successful inspection, and it is better to be over prepared by leaving plenty of time for unforeseen challenges.
Where to start
If you are unable to obtain a checklist, there are plenty of ways to strategize and form a plan of action. First, look for safety concerns posing potential risk. Second, focus on maintenance issues or possibly even deferred maintenance elements that may exist. Bidders Access®, the newest edition to the Buyers Access® suite of services, can easily help you obtain bids for large capital projects.
Finally, examine every aspect of your asset for general cleanliness and appeal. Look at landscaping. Make sure shurbs are manicured and overgrown hedges are cut low to create good visibility. Pressure wash all concrete halls, staircases and/or decking. Ensure these surfaces are level and no trip hazards exist. Repair cracked stairs and rotten wood as needed.
Place orders now
The last thing you want to do when it comes to an inspection is to be concerned with whether your replacement windows and doors will come in fast enough to make required repairs. Talk to your Buyers Access® Account Manager or contact our Member Services team to place an order. Another great feature of the Buyers Access® program is help in finding hard-to-locate items. Leverage the Buyers Access® team to perform research and ordering support, thus maximizing your time to focus on other critical elements.
Exterior hazard control
Completing property inspection walks on a weekly basis and documenting any needed repairs is a best practice many management companies require of their on-site teams. Before an inspection, complete a thorough walk of the property and notate any siding, sidewalk, or parking lot damages. Research and negotiate product purchasing by using your Buyers Access® Account Manager and Member Services teams. Doing so will ensure you get the best supplier pricing and the correct items delivered.
Meet with your team
Inform your team of items on the pre-inspection list that caused concern. Hold a team meeting to review the pre and post inspection checklists, and inform them of the outcomes, items discussed, and any feedback. This empowers everyone on the team to play “offense” and tackle for-seen property needs as they arise. By learning what to look for teams can work together to ensure the property is always in great shape.
Property inspections are important to do on a regular basis to avoid situations where you have to scramble to prepare. Above we have reviewed some key pieces to the puzzle when prepping for property inspections. It’s always tough to get ready for an inspection on a moments notice, especially when unprepared. Maintaining company and industry inspection best practices can prevent your property from needing an overhaul when it’s time for an inspection. What ways do you prepare for a property inspection on your asset? Leave your ideas and methods in the comments!