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Best Practices- Maintenance

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?

Capital projects

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, 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

Document Library

  1. Standard Budget Worksheet
  2. Summary of Contracts per Property
  3. Capital Replacement Worksheet
  4. Flooring per Apartment
  5. How Much Paint Do You Need Per Apartment
  6. Payroll Spreadsheet for Budgeting
  7. Bid Comparison Form


Best Practices- Maintenance

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!


Company News

Buyers Access® and NAHMA Announce Partnership

by Christin D. on 5/30/2019 12:37:27 PM


Denver, CO, May 30th, 2019
–Buyers Access® (BA) and the National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) today announced a strategic partnership, which will provide NAHMA-AHMA members purchasing optimization benefits through Buyers Access. NAHMA members who take advantage of this program will now have the ability to leverage limited resources, and to access additional programs to enhance their bottom line. As part of this strategic partnership, Buyers Access®will work closely with NAHMA in support of its training and education initiatives, and become much more actively involved with NAHMA and AHMA members at a regional and local level.

NAHMA and AHMA members, regardless of company or property size, will have the opportunity to experience cost savings through outsourced services, data analytics, reporting visibility, purchasing standardization, compliance education and training. Members taking advantage of this partnership can realize discounts below published market pricing on key expense categories including maintenance, repair and operating supplies, flooring, paint, office supplies and more.

Dan Haefner, President & CEO of Buyers Access® reiterated his excitement stating, “The entire team is both thrilled and honored to be entering into this strategic relationship. We sincerely welcome the opportunity to provide value-added services and support to the NAHMA and AHMA members, and the ability to positively impact their day-to-day operations. We look forward to working closely with NAHMA, the AHMAs and their associated members.”

“NAHMA is excited to be entering into this partnership with Buyer Access,” said Kris Cook, CAE, NAHMA executive director. “Buyers Access has been a supporter of our organization and members for many years, and this new relationship and program will allow NAHMA and the local AHMAs to strengthen as they continue to support their members.”

About Buyers Access
As the nation's leading Purchasing and Cost Control specialist for the multifamily housing industry, Buyers Access provides real estate owners and operators with full service purchasing solutions to help maximize the value of their real estate assets. Since 1986, Buyers Access has helped thousands of properties and hundreds of companies to reduce operating costs and drive improved cash flow, while leveraging substantial personnel time savings. For more information, visit or call 1.800.445.9169


NAHMA is the leading voice for affordable housing management, advocating on behalf of multifamily property managers and owners whose mission is to provide quality affordable housing. NAHMA supports legislative and regulatory policy that promotes the development and preservation of decent and safe affordable housing, is a vital resource for technical education and information, and fosters strategic relations between government and industry. NAHMA’s membership represents 75% of the affordable housing industry. Visit for more information.

Best Practices- Maintenance

3 Reasons to Convert to LED

by Christin D. on 5/30/2019 9:38:00 AM

Property utility expenses have become a line item on budgets that has been getting more attention in recent years. Causes of this attention include a rise in environmental concerns, focus on tighter cost controls when selecting fixtures for use in multi-family buildings, and studies showing significant time and cost savings by reduction of bulb replacements.
Together, property management teams, Buyers Access™, and supplier partners, have implemented extremely successful solutions to minimize the cost of utilities. Buyers Access™ has been instrumental in helping owners and operators complete several successful retrofits to LED lighting, and other energy conservation programs for assets built prior to the more economic and environmentally acceptable alternatives now available. LED retrofits and water conservation programs are two of the larger budgeted line items Buyers Access™ continues to see being considered across the nation.
Why fix something that isn’t broken? Here we will examine 3 reasons why you should include an LED Retrofit proposal with your next budget “wish list” items, and reasons to take the LED retrofit challenge.

Better control over electrical costs-
LED lighting lasts 15 times longer than the incandescent bulbs that were formerly widely used in new construction. Shifting to LED means less time spent by maintenance personnel changing bulbs with a higher frequency of burn out, as well as a lower cost of materials over time.
In 2008, LED bulbs were quite expensive. Since then, LED bulbs have reduced in cost by up to 90 percent. LED bulbs use significantly less energy and dramatically decreases common area electrical expenses. Substantial savings in energy consumption can be realized by properties electing to undertake an LED retrofit project with Buyers Access™.

Reduction in property carbon footprint-

Incandescent bulbs use an average of 70% more electricity than LED bulbs. Switching to LED bulbs preserves energy consumption and reduces the carbon footprint. Less waste is generated with the longer lasting LED bulbs as a result of less frequent bulb changes, which positively impacts the environment.
There are numerous grants and energy rebates which may also be available to your property if you choose to undergo an LED retrofit. Buyers Access™ and its supplier partners work diligently nationwide to plan these projects from start to finish, allowing properties to realize cost and rebate savings upon completion, and for years to come.

Reduction in property risk and increased aesthetic appeal-

Liability is dramatically reduced when areas are well lit and when bulbs burn out less frequently. Keeping up with lighting inspections and the constant replacement of bulbs gives any maintenance team concerns, especially on properties with interior hallways, or that have darker locational challenges.
Recently a variety of information has been published regarding LED lighting vs. other forms of lighting, and the potential correlation to productivity and mood. The change to LED lighting for increased productivity is something that could benefit the communities. Aesthetic appeal can also increase upon an LED retrofit project through nicely illuminated hallways and parking lots. This can potentially help to retain existing residents, and secure new prospects. Add this with the cost savings, and an LED retrofit will pay for itself over time.

Your next steps-
Buyers Access™ and its supply partners are dedicated to partnering with industry leading manufacturers specializing in LED retrofits. If you are currently a member of Buyers Access™ and would like a quote for a site wide LED retrofit project, contact your Account Manager and we will obtain a variety of pricing options and strategies to complete the project. If you are interested in learning more about how Buyers Access™ can help your team, please reach out to our sales department at and a specialist will be in touch with you and start a complimentary analysis on savings.



The Power of LED Lighting (2019, May) Rooflines Vol. 55 No. 5., p. 23-25. Aaron Smith, Senior Lighting Consultant at LFP Lighting.
Shaw, P. (2018, August 1). LED Lights the way to savings. Multi-housing Pro Magazine Online.


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