Archive for March, 2014

The Skinny of the Apartment Industry

That’s not a typo in the headline since this post really is about the comparatively skinny people of the apartment industry. According to this piece at  TheAtlantic.com the “real estate, rental and leasing” industry is one the less obese in the country:

Obesity Prevalence Percentage by Industry from TheAtlantic.com

It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to conclude that if you adjusted for age then the industry might not come out looking quite as good. In other words the industry is full of very young people and that likely helps at least partially explain the low numbers. On the other hand, the study tends to show a correlation between tough work conditions and the rate of obesity so it’s also not a stretch to see this as good news for the industry. No one’s saying property management is not a stressful job, but compared to working for the government or in the health care industry it seems like a pretty good deal.

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March 31, 2014 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

Rezoning Sought for 80-Unit Community Planned in South Greensboro

From the Greensboro News & Record:

An 80-unit apartment complex is planned for South Elm-Eugene Street near the Interstate-85 interchange. 

Richmond, Va.–based Halcon Companies is planning a $10.2 million complex comprised of five 16-unit buildings. The buildings would each be 11,830 square feet and have a maximum of three stories…

If granted, the rezoning would allow a maximum of 120 units, but the current site plan would only build 80 units on the 8 acres at 4104 and 4106 South Elm-Eugene St.

The request will go before the Zoning Commission at its April 14 meeting. 

 

March 26, 2014 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

Is Facebook About to Kill Your Page’s Reach?

So you’ve spent countless hours working on building up the “Likes” for your company’s Facebook page in an effort to engage customers and projects. You’ve reached some magic number you set as your goal – 100 or 100,000 or 1 million – and you’re excited about all the products and services you can tell them about. What if instead of reaching 100, 0r 100,000 or 1 million you’re actually reaching one or 1,000 or 10,000? That’s what might be happening unless you’re willing to pay Facebook to reach more according to this piece at Valleywag:

A source professionally familiar with Facebook’s marketing strategy, who requested to remain anonymous, tells Valleywag that the social network is “in the process of” slashing “organic page reach” down to 1 or 2 percent. This would affect “all brands”—meaning an advertising giant likeNike, which has spent a great deal of internet effort collecting over 16 million Facebook likes, would only be able to affect of around a 160,000 of them when it pushes out a post. Companies like Gawker, too, rely on gratis Facebook propagation for a huge amount of their audience. Companies on Facebook will have to pay or be pointless.

That 160,000 still sounds like a lot of people, sure. But how about my favorite restaurant here in New York, Pies ‘n’ Thighs, which has only 3,281 likes—most likely locals who actually care about updates from a nearby restaurant? They would reach only a few dozen customers. A smaller business might only reach one. This also assumes the people “reached” bother to even look at the post.

The alternative is of course to pay for more attention. If you want an audience beyond a measly one or two percent, you’ll have to pay money—perhaps a lot of money, if you’re a big business.

Here at PTAA we use Facebook to let our members and other “likers” know about upcoming events, changes to schedules, new job postings on our website, etc. It would truly stink to learn that only 1-2% of them were seeing what we put out there. We’d love to hear from our social media expert friends about what they’re seeing with their clients’ Facebook pages, and if anyone is seeing a serious drop in engagement on their company/community pages we’d like to hear about that too.

 

March 21, 2014 at 12:21 pm 1 comment

Former Resident Slapped with $1 Million Defamation Lawsuit by Property Management Firm

There’s a property management firm in Ohio that’s decided to get aggressive with a former resident who made negative comments online. Real aggressive:

A Central Ohio man is being sued for around $1,000,000, after posting comments online about living in an apartment complex. James Raney tells ABC 6/FOX 28 he was your average unhappy customer. He says some of his former apartment’s policies didn’t sit well with him. When he voiced his opinions online, he was slapped with a big lawsuit…

The suit accuses Raney of giving out false information and trying to hurt the company’s bottom dollar. The Connor Group gave ABC 6/FOX 28 a statement reading in part: “We think it’s our responsibility to accept factual criticism and act on it. But when that criticism is untrue, malicious and defamatory, that crosses the line. In those cases, we’re always going to stand up for ourselves.”   

The lawsuit asks for $25,000 for each of the dozens of statements Raney posted. Statements he says were posted a couple years ago. His lawyer says the whole thing is just an attempt to put a cap on how much you, the public, can criticize a company.

March 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm 1 comment

Congress 101 – What Does My Member of Congress Do and Who Works There?

The National Apartment Association has partnered with the Congressional Management Foundation on a very informative video about how Congress works. Definitely worth investing seven minutes to watch it:

March 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment

What About Fannie and Freddie?

This week members of PTAA were in Washington for the National Apartment Association’s Capitol Conference and on our last day there we were urged to meet with our members of Congress to discuss several issues, including housing finance reform. For the last few years NAA has urged its members to urge their members of Congress to not throw the multifamily baby out with the mortgage bathwater. Since the government had bailed out the mortgage industry when its near-collapse helped plunge the country into the Great Recession, Congress has been trying to figure out what to do with the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and the smart people at NAA and the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) had been pointing out that while housing finance reform is necessary, the multifamily sector had not had the problems that the residential home mortgage had. From the briefing papers provided at Cap Con:

The bursting of the housing bubble exposed serious flaws in our nation’s housing finance system. Yet, those shortcomings were confined to the residential home mortgage sector. The Government-Sponsored Enterprises’ (GSEs) (i.e., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) very successful multifamily programs were not part of the meltdown and have actually generated over $14 billion in net profits to the government since the two firms were placed into conservatorship.

More than just performing well, the GSEs’ multifamily programs serve a critical public policy role. Unfortunately, even during normal economic times, private capital cannot fully meet the industry’s financing demands. The GSEs ensure that multifamily capital is available in all markets at all times, so the apartment industry can address the broad range of America’s housing needs from coast to coast and everywhere in between. 

NMHC/NAA urge lawmakers to recognize the unique needs of the multifamily industry. We believe the goals of a reformed housing finance system should be to:

  1. Maintain an explicit federal guarantee for multifamily-backed mortgage securities available in all markets at all times;
  2. Ensure that the multifamily sector is treated in a way that recognizes the inherent differences of the multifamily business; and
  3. Retain the successful components of the existing multifamily programs in whatever succeeds them.

Relevant to those points made during the briefing session provided by NAA/NMHC staff members before we headed to the Hill they mentioned that leaders in the Senate Banking Committee had just announced a plan that the apartment industry could get behind, but let’s just say it was a little difficult for us in the audience to grasp. Too bad we didn’t have a chance to read this Wall Street Journal article that laid out the issue pretty well:

The plan, by Senate Banking Committee leaders Tim Johnson (D., S.D) and Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), calls for replacing Fannie and Freddie with a new system of federally insured mortgage securities in which private insurers would be required to take initial losses before any government guarantee would be triggered.

The agreement, which faces a long road to approval, represents the most concrete step so far to resolve the last major piece of unfinished business from the 2008 financial collapse.

“It would be a huge step forward,” said Phillip Swagel, who was an assistant secretary for economic policy under Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who oversaw the government’s seizure of the firms in 2008.

Yes, this is a complicated issue but at its core it’s pretty simple:

  1. There’s a lot of demand for apartments right now and not nearly enough are being constructed to keep up with it.
  2. Without adequate financing there isn’t going to be enough construction to catch up with that demand, and with low inventory comes high rent.
  3. It’s imperative that Congress not further constrict the housing market by instituting housing finance reform that cripples a sector, multifamily housing, that didn’t contribute to the economic problems caused by the residential housing finance sector.
  4. The early signs are that the Senate Banking Committee is moving in the right direction, but there’s a LONG way to go before they get committee approval, not to mention the full Senate and then the House.

In other words we have a pretty good idea what we’ll be talking about to our members of Congress when they’re back home in their districts and this time next year when we return to the Capitol.

March 14, 2014 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

Millions of Renters Dream of Buying, Probably Can’t

According to a Zillow survey there are plenty of renters who want to buy in the next year, but many of them won’t be able to. The main culprits are high prices due to tight supply, rising interest rates and stricter credit requirements. From the article:

Nearly 10% of renters nationwide said they wished to buy a home in the next 12 months, according to a newly-launched index from Zillow that surveyed thousands of residents in major metro areas. If all those renters were to buy homes, it would result in nearly 4.2 million first-time home sales…

And in some markets, like San Francisco, New York and Seattle, tight supply has translated into sky high prices few first-time buyers can afford. Nationwide, home prices are up some 11% last year, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller national home price index.

Meanwhile, mortgage rates have also been moving higher. The average rate for a 30-year fixed is about 4.3%, up about 0.8 of a percentage point compared with a year ago. That has made loan payments on a $200,000, 30-year mortgage about $90 a month more expensive.

Even when buyers find deals they can afford, they still may not be able to get a loan. Lenders these days require solid credit scores, well-documented incomes and job histories, as well as substantial down payments, of 20% or more, to qualify for the best mortgage deals.

 

March 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm Leave a comment

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