PTAA Reading List 8/24/11

Following are links to articles you may find of interest.  These links, and many more, can be found at PTAA’s page.





Student Housing Ain’t What It Used to Be (Also the Importance of Good Leasing Professionals)

In the end Michael opted for the property we originally favored. It was a close call but it was a single amenity, a pet-friendly policy of all things, that made his decision for him. Had he been with us on the initial tours I’m almost certain the choice would have been far easier and the pet-friendly policy wouldn’t have even mattered.

Recently my wife and I had the opportunity to be apartment consumers when we helped our son, Michael,  find a student apartment near his campus.  I’d lived in a few off-campus apartments when I was in college back in the, ahem, ’80s, so I was more than a little amazed at what student housing had morphed into in the past 25 years.  Your own room with a private bath? Granite counter tops? Stainless appliances? Your own washer/dryer? Flat screen TV in the living room? Free wi-fi?

“Good gracious,” I thought to myself, “maybe we should move in and let the kid stay at home.”  Sadly, we had to return to reality and let him enjoy the lap of luxury.

We weren’t originally planning on our son living off campus as a freshman, but since the school messed up his housing assignment (a long story for another day) we found ourselves scrambling to find him a place to live just two weeks before school was to start.  A couple of Sundays ago my wife and I did an initial visit to whittle down the list of potential places for Michael to live.  He had to work so we thought we’d do some leg work and then return the following day after he got off work and have him choose from a couple of pre-screened options.

We were able to whittle down the options to three communities based on the initial research we did online.  We made the hour drive about mid-day on Sunday and when we pulled into town we immediately knocked one of the communities off our list because of its distance from campus.  We then toured the two other communities and found that we had a pretty clear “winner” based on the tours, but thought we should have Michael tour both communities the next day so he could make up his own mind.

This is where it gets interesting.  The next day when we toured the property we weren’t real high on we were given a tour by a different leasing professional.  Her tour was far better than the tour we’d received the day before and what had been a pretty clear cut choice became a dead heat.  She showed us options that the first leasing pro had neglected; she gave us lots of background on the community and the school;  she gave us lots of competitive advantages her property had over its competitors without criticizing the competition in any way; in short she did a phenomenal job of putting her community in the best light.  The tour we received at the community we were originally impressed with was given by the same person on both days and she did an excellent job both times, so it was interesting to see what a difference one leasing person made in the process.

In the end Michael opted for the property we originally favored.  It was a close call but it was a single amenity, a pet-friendly policy of all things, that made his decision for him.  Had he been with us on the initial tours I’m almost certain the choice would have been far easier and the pet-friendly policy wouldn’t have even mattered.

— Posted by Jon Lowder, Executive Director, PTAA

Piedmont Triad Apartment Market News

Following are links to a few stories about some recent action in the Piedmont Triad markets. Click on the headlines to see the full articles:

News for Community Managers in Winston-Salem

According to the Mercer’s list of World’s Cheapest Cities for Expensive Living 2011 Winston-Salem is the cheapest city to live well in the country.  Here’s the description from the site, which ranks Winston-Salem number 18 in the world:

This city of 230,000 people is the least-expensive U.S. city in Mercer’s survey. Winston-Salem, home to Reynolds American (RAI)—the holding company of cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds Tobacco—as well as Wake Forest University, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center,Novant Health, and Hanesbrands (HBI), has a median household income of $41,979 and a poverty rate of 13.5 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Unfortunately the site also claims this:

Monthly rent, unfurnished 2-br luxury apartment: $500

I think that might come as a bit of a surprise to our members in Winston-Salem:)


According to this story on Fox8 when the temperature rises so does the number of uninvited guests to community pools:

Residents at Madison Place Apartments in Kernersville said the pool gets crowded early.

“You come in the morning, you don’t have a seat,” said one resident of the 204-unit complex.

Apartment Manager Jo Caton said she catches uninvited guests at the pool almost every day.

“If they have enough nerve to sneak into the pool, then it doesn’t bother them to get thrown out,” Caton said.

Caton said the trespassers will park in a different area and walk through the complex acting like residents. Caton said the pool crashers were so bad one day that she had to call police.

Residents at a Jamestown apartment complex said nobody really enforces the rules there, causing them to not be able to enjoy the pool  they’re paying to use.

Residents of several Triad apartment complexes said while the rules are similar, the enforcement varies widely.

More on Using Facebook

A second post at Aptly Spoken about engaging members on Facebook provides some helpful tips on building your Facebook presence, especially if you’re just getting started.  For instance, here’s some info Facebook places:

With Facebook Places, you can easily share where you are, what you’re doing, and the friends you’re with. . It helps people discover new places or businesses by seeing where their friends are.

Here are some benefits to adding your community to Facebook Places:

  • It will come up when people try to check in to anywhere nearby (building awareness)
  • By people checking in it will appear in their Facebook newsfeed (brand awareness)
  • You can add more information about your community to the check in description (website, phone number, address, etc.), so when they check in on their phone they find out more about your community instantly
  • If people find you on Facebook while on their computer they can get directions to your community

It is quite challenging to add your business to Places, especially without a smartphone!  The best description I found on the Internet that led me through it quite painlessly is the website for Dummies

Be Engaging on Facebook

There’s a good post by Tracey Heitzman at NAA’s blog on how to engage your residents on Facebook:

With its 600 million users and average daily session time of 25 minutes, Facebook provides an exceptional opportunity for visibility, Google indexing, live search ability, and fan engagement.

But, if you build it, will they come? And if they come, will they stay and engage?

She then provides lots of tips on how you can keep your Facebook presence interesting, timely and lively.  It’s definitely worth a read.

NAA/NHMC Guidance on “Credit Score” Disclosure Effective July 21

This important information is in the latest issue of NAA’s AIMS Update (you can now find AIMS Updates in the “News” section of PTAA’s website):

NAA/NMHC have issued a new members-only guidance document to help member firms understand new “credit score” disclosures that go into effect on July 21.  As a result of a provision in last year’s Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform law (P.L. 111-203), a firm using a “credit score” in the rental screening process that takes an adverse action against a rental applicant may have a new disclosure obligation.

If you or your resident screening service provider use a credit score and take an adverse action, you must comply with this new notice requirement.  Importantly, if you or your resident screening company do not use a credit score as defined, but use a scoring model specific to the rental decision (i.e., one not used in the loan process), then it is likely that you will have no additional notice obligations.

NAA/NMHC’s guidance highlights the key elements of the new credit score disclosure obligations.  NAA/NMHC encourage you to discuss this new rule with your provider and counsel to determine applicability to your specific rental screening process.

You Can’t Please Everyone

I’m constantly fascinated by the perceptions that different people will have of one business. For instance there’s a BBQ restaurant that I absolutely love, I think it’s the best in town, but during a casual conversation about weekend plans I had a relative tell me she thought the food was terrible.  I couldn’t for the life of me understand it.  On the other hand I have friends who LOVE a certain downtown restaurant that I think has mediocre food (at best) and terrible service.  I gave the place three tries and in my mind it failed to please all three times so it struck out with me.

From a business’s standpoint it just has to try and please enough people enough times that it can be profitable.  Of course it, or rather the people who run it, should always strive to improve and provide the best product/service possible, but they will never please everyone all of the time.  I was reminded of this when I read this comment at Consumerist about the service one family received from American Express:

In 1989, my father died while traveling in another country. We were told by the State Dept. that we needed to deposit $2500 into an account to cover all costs of cremation, processing, and shipping him and his belongings home. Any monies not spent would be refunded to us.

It was a Sunday and none of our banks were open. My mom was frantic. In the course of a conversation with… someone from one of the banks? I don’t remember… the woman whispered into her phone that if I had an AmEx card, I should call them, but not tell anyone she had suggested it.

So I called AmEx and spoke with an impossibly perky 15-year-old-sounding person who promised to take care of everything for me. Fifteen minutes later, she called with the transfer confirmation number and said that the State Dept. now had our funds. She also wanted to send the AmEx rep to take care of everything, but by then my poor dad was so wrapped up in red tape that no one could have gotten near him or his stuff.

In the course of the next few days, the State Dept. managed to lose my father in transit so he missed his own funeral, but that’s another story. During that time, I got two more calls from managers at AmEx, asking if there was anything they could do to help us…

I know a lot of vendors don’t take AmEx because their fees are higher, but I will never forget what they did for us when we had no other way out, and that they actually paid the substantial State Dept. fee for us and wouldn’t let us repay them.

We have a friend who has had similar experiences with AmEx.

It’s a pain to have to pay it all off every month, but well worth it to me, just to ensure that they are in my corner if, God forbid, I ever need them.

The same relative who disagreed with me about the BBQ place has a lifelong animosity towards AmEx for a reason I can’t remember, but I can tell you that hell will likely be frozen over before she ever uses an AmEx card again. There again we have the same company with two wildly divergent perceptions.  Obviously AmEx has pleased enough people to build a very profitable business so I suspect the ‘lovers’ outweigh the ‘haters,’ but it’s good for all of us to keep in mind that no matter how well we think we’re doing we absolutely have someone out there who isn’t pleased with us.

BTW, my wife and I just applied for our Costco/AmEx card.  Hopefully we’ll find our experience to be more like the Consumerist commentor’s and less like my relative’s.

Posted by Jon Lowder.


Have dog owners in your community?  Do they let their precious little pooch poop anywhere it pleases and then not bother to pick it up?  Well, we might have a solution for you:  a doggy doo-doo DNA testing service called PooPrints.  From the website:

We all love our pets. We also care about our environment and would do anything possible to keep our communities green and clean! With dog ownership rapidly increasing in the U.S., waste is really starting to “pile up” in communities like yours across the nation. We have the solution to your pet pollution, and we want you to get started today! 

Each property will have their own reference database to include all community dogs

To build your database, a DNA profile is created for each dog using a cheek swab collection kit

Samples are mailed to BioPet’s lab. DNA from cheek swabs are analyzed to create a unique genetic profile for each dog

Each genetic profile is uploaded to your property’s private and secure database provided through the DNA World Pet Registry

Once all genetic profiles are complete, PooPrints is fully enforceable by means of simple comparison