Real Estate Management News

March 11, 2020

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Upcoming Events and Deadlines

Next Gen CPM Leaders Program
Submission deadline is March 15, 2020

IREM Student of the Year
Submission deadline is April 15, 2020

Accelerators: Live Webinars

CAM Reconciliation Part III: Advanced Level Workshop

The Impact of Technology on Resident Satisfaction

Understanding Loss to Lease

Affordable Housing - Navigating the Owner's Goals

Promoting Your Personal Brand

Best Practices for Residential Property Managers – Before, During, and After a Tenancy

Classroom Course Offerings

Ethics for the Real Estate Manager (ETH800)
3/13/2020 – Addison, TX
3/23/2020 – Oakbrook, IL
3/23/2020 – Atlanta, GA
3/26/2020 – Englewood, CO

Financing and Loan Analysis for Investment Real Estate (ASM603)
3/23/2020 – Livonia, MI
3/23/2020 – San Diego, CA
3/23/2020 – Sacramento, CA

Performance and Valuation of Investment Real Estate (ASM604)
3/25/2020 – Livonia, MI
3/25/2020 – San Diego, CA
3/25/2020 – Sacramento, CA

Asset Analysis of Investment Real Estate (ASM605)
3/13/2020 –Tysons, VA
3/27/2020 – Livonia, MI
3/27/2020 – San Diego, CA
3/27/2020 – Sacramento, CA

Budgeting, Cash Flow, and Reporting for Investment Real Estate (FIN402)
3/25/2020 – Maitland, FL
3/26/2020 – Atlanta, GA

Managing Maintenance Operations and Property Risk (MNT402)
3/12/2020 – Holladay, UT
3/24/2020 – Atlanta, GA

Marketing and Leasing Strategies for Multifamily Properties (MKL405)
3/24/2020 – Braintree, MA

Marketing and Leasing Strategies for Office Buildings (MKL406)
3/25/2020 – Orange, CA

Managing Residential Properties (RES201)
3/16/2020 – Addison, TX

Leading a Winning Property Management Team (HRS402)
3/12/2020 - Holladay, UT
3/23/2020 – Orange, CA
3/25/2020 – Cranbury, NJ
3/26/2020 – Braintree, MA

IREM ® headlines

Taking On COVID-19: Tools and Resources for Property Managers

As the novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues to dominate news worldwide, IREM recognizes its spread is something real estate managers everywhere are concerned about. As its status continues to change at a rapid pace, the health and well-being of tenants and residents is top priority, as is preparing for the potential that COVID-19 has to create economic and operational disruption.

Yesterday, IREM partnered with the National Apartment Association (NAA) to host a sold-out webinar, presented as a panel discussion among commercial and multifamily industry professionals, about best practices for preparing for and responding to COVID-19; a free recording of the webinar is now available here. In addition, irem.org is hosting a page dedicated to resources for real estate managers, which includes a special video message from 2020 IREM President Cheryl Gray, CPM®, and a new pandemic guide that provides guidance for:

  • Creating a pandemic plan
  • Managing infection control
  • Identifying the impact of a pandemic on critical resources
  • Maintaining security and keeping technology operational
  • Evaluating possible legal implications

IREM will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation and issue updates as developments occur. Visit the World Health Organization (WHO) and and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) websites for more information about COVID-19.

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IREM Celebrates International Women’s Day with #EachforEqual

Did you know that International Women’s Day has been celebrated since 1911? It originated in the Soviet Union as “Woman’s Day”. In 1945 the name changed to “Women’s Day,” and in 1975, the United Nations recognized March 8 as International Women’s Day (IWD). Today, more than 100 countries honor the event, celebrating the achievements of women and recognizing that everyone has a role to play in a gender-balanced world.

IREM’s Diversity and Inclusion Succession Initiative, or DISI, was launched to challenge stereotypes and encourage inclusive behaviors. As 2020 IREM President Cheryl Gray, CPM®, says, “While we still need to focus on achieving better representation in the C-Suite and boards of real estate organizations, it’s more common today to see women in senior roles in our industry, and I am proud of the gains women have made over the course of my career.”

Learn more about IWD and how IREM supports this year’s theme, #EachforEqual.

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The Impact of Technology on Resident Satisfaction

After the price of rent, satisfaction with property management is a primary deciding factor in leasing and renewal for many renters. And resident preferences are shifting when it comes to how they want to interact with their property management companies. In fact, in a study conducted by AppFolio, an IREM Chairman Level Industry Partner, residents were polled for their satisfaction on maintenance resolution, responsiveness, friendliness, accessibility and ease of leasing. When comparing responses from those who had technology available for these needs vs. those who did not, across the board, residents without technology solutions reported lower satisfaction in every category. This means there is a great opportunity to improve the resident experience that lays at the intersections of residents, property managers and technology. Being able to electronically pay rent, submit maintenance requests, apply for a rental, sign or renew lease and communicate with the property manager are just a few of the ways technology can be used to increase resident satisfaction.

To learn more ways you can use technology to satisfy your residents, join us for an upcoming webinar presented by AppFolio on Tuesday, March 17 at 1pm CST. For more information or to register, click here.

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AMO of the Year Awarded to United Plus Property Management

United Plus Property Management, LLC, AMO® (UPPM), the management arm of The United Group of Companies, Inc., was honored with an IREM REME Award for AMO of the Year for advancing employees through education and training, and for creating unique residential experiences in active senior and assisted living communities, and in student housing. REME (Real Estate Management Excellence) Awards recognize exceptional companies and individuals as the best of the best in the real estate management profession.

The IREM AMO (Accredited Management Organization) accreditation is the nation’s original and most exclusive accreditation for property management firms; the first AMO firms date back to 1945. Today, only 560 elite firms can call themselves AMOs.

UPPM achieved AMO accreditation in 2018 and significantly grew their senior, student and multi-family third-party management portfolio, adding independent senior housing communities in Fort Myers, FL, Annapolis, MD, and Golden, CO, in 2019. The company also maintains a strong presence in IREM’s New York Capital Region Chapter. Since 2017, 16 of the 34 professionals who joined the chapter are UPPM employees. United Group’s president and CEO, Michael Uccellini, has formerly served as chapter president, and United Group’s vice president of senior and student housing and former chapter vice president, Michael DiGiacomo, is currently serving as chapter president.

Learn more here about UPPM and the REME AMO of the Year Award.

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Industry headlines

A Mall in Texas Closed Due to Coronavirus Concerns, and It Reveals How Shopping Centers Could Be Jolted by a Wider Outbreak
Business Insider (03/03/20) Peterson, Hayley

North Star Mall in San Antonio closed abruptly earlier this month after it was learned that a patient who tested positive for the coronavirus had visited the shopping center. The patient was allegedly released early from quarantine. Upon leaving quarantine, the patient visited the mall for two hours, shopping at Dillard's, Talbot's, and Swarovski while making a stop to eat at the food court. North Star quickly closed for 24 hours so that a deep clean of the entire mall could be done in a bid to limit the spread of the virus. "While the shopping center had been cleaned several times using CDC-recommended products, as an abundance of caution, we made the decision to close North Star Mall temporarily to allow for a further deep cleaning of the center," the mall stated on its Facebook page.

The incident marked the first time a shopping center has temporarily closed its doors because of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. "We want to reiterate that there is a low risk to the public, but we are taking extra precautions for the well-being of our shopping center community," the mall said in its statement, further promising to be transparent with its shoppers about the cleaning process. The North Star example could serve as a guide to other shopping malls and retail centers if the coronavirus outbreak worsens in the U.S.

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San Francisco Voters May Have Just Handed Office Owners a Gift
Yahoo! News (03/04/20) Buhayar, Noah

San Francisco voters just passed Proposition E, a city measure that would tie new office development to progress the city makes on building affordable housing. Experts said that while well-intentioned, Proposition E may actually end up handing a gift to office building owners while failing to make significant gains in affordable housing. San Francisco has a lack of affordable housing, contributing to a housing crisis in the city. Over the past decade, the city has missed its affordable housing goals by 30 percent. There are few indicators that San Francisco will suddenly make a significant improvement on the affordable housing front, meaning that Proposition E may actually be more helpful for building owners.

Green Street senior analyst Daniel Ismail said owners of existing office buildings will benefit from tying new construction to affordable housing. "If I’m an office landlord, that's pretty good for me. It means fewer new shiny buildings being built in my city, which should allow me to increase rates," Ismail said. So businesses could actually end up paying more in rent without a wider range of office space to consider. Meanwhile, funding for affordable housing may actually decrease, as office developers have long paid fees into pools that are then partially given to affordable housing construction. J.D. Lumpkin, executive managing director for Cushman & Wakefield, agreed that Proposition E may have been a well-intentioned mistake. "It will have real unintended consequences of hampering the city’s ability to grow and prosper," Lumpkin predicted.

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Digital Applications Can Improve Efficiencies for Property Managers
Multifamily Executive (02/27/20) Nguyen, Albert

The spring and summer seasons are typically the busiest for apartment management companies, as many residents move in and out of buildings during the warmer-weather months. Accordingly, purchase and rental markets will get busy, spurred in part by schools and colleges closing down for the summer and students vacating their apartments for the break or seeking short-term leases for their summer internships and jobs. The annual rush can be overwhelming for property management firms, who must effectively manage the move-out and move-in process while balancing the push and pull of supply and demand. In particular, property management firms must try to ensure that each unit is occupied for as many days as possible.

Property managers have long relied on spreadsheets, notes, and paper documents throughout the move-out and move-in process. These papers can be filed in designated cabinets, distributed throughout offices, or strewn across desks, maximizing the risk of improper filing or of something going missing. Digital documentation is a more helpful tool for apartment managers. Putting a move-out inspection checklist on tablets or phones, for example, reduces the need for paper copies and ensures that all employees have access to the relevant materials. Notes, including maintenance needs, can be instantly sent digitally rather than manually input later. In general, going digital will improve speed and efficiency for property managers, helping them navigate the busy spring and summer months.

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Office Space That's Good for Our Mental Health
Vator News (03/06/20) Shell, Anthony

As society continues to progress in its considerations and treatment of mental health, modern workplaces are evolving to maximize health. Mental illness struggles, once stigmatized, are now regarded as "nothing to be ashamed of" by 90 percent of Americans, according to a Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association. And with the country becoming more accommodating of such struggles, workplaces are not far behind. Studies have shown that offices designed specifically to boost mental health have significant benefits for workers in terms of more productivity, better quality of work, and higher attendance from their employees.

There is a middle ground to be found between putting out healthy snacks in the kitchen and going all-out with a sauna and nap room. Offices can go green and embrace natural light and fresh air for all employees. Sunlight has been linked to greater productivity and happiness among workers. In addition, buildings can create comfortable, friendly environments by bringing some home comforts to the office. This could mean putting in a ping-pong table for quick recreation, adding couches to let employees move around and get comfortable, and bringing plants into the office to connect employees to the outside world.

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Can More Entertainment Save America's Shopping Malls?
Realty Biz News (02/21/2020) Wheatley, Mike

Shopping malls in the United States are in the midst of a transition from retail destinations to entertainment centers. The shift grew out of the urgent need for malls to transform themselves as more shoppers opt to stay home and buy their goods and clothes online. With the image of malls as shopping havens now seen as slightly outdated, property managers are going all in on entertainment options to cultivate an image of malls as entertainment districts tailored for socialization. Accordingly, malls are transforming vacant retail space into everything from go-kart tracks and game arcades to movie theaters and brand experiences. They are also bringing more restaurants into vacant spaces.

The strategy has been implemented most effectively by New Jersey's American Dream Mall, which boasts an indoor ice rink and ski slope, as well as Ohio's Tuttle Crossing Mall, which has an indoor entertainment zone where a Macy's department store once resided. But experts said the push to entertainment may not be universally successful. "The A or B-plus level malls will survive," predicted Randy White, CEO of White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group. But he guessed that other malls would be better suited turning into Amazon distribution centers or other uses. "We've always had too many square feet of retail," White lamented.

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Making Suburban Office Parks Cool? They're Working On It.
Crain's Chicago Business (02/21/20) Ecker, Danny

The Chicago suburbs bled office tenants in 2017 and 2018, with more than 2.5 million square feet vacated over that two-year stretch. But in 2019, companies began looking back to suburban office parks, and companies added more than 1 million square feet of new leasing. Jones Lang LaSalle said 2019 was the best year for suburban office leasing since 2015, suggesting that suburbs may be poised for a strong run as companies look for offices. Landlords are jumping at the opportunity to give their properties a facelift, hoping that renovations and updates will attract occupants. They are increasingly turning to firms like Wright Heerema Architects, a Chicago-based business that has in recent years helped modernize a number of suburban office parks.

Steve Wright of Wright Heerema Architects said one easy way to give a suburban office park a fresh new look is to adjust the landscaping. He recently worked with developer Franklin Partners to transform the former OfficeMax headquarters, replacing large trees with smaller ones and strategically adjusting flower beds and gardens to give "a little better scale to the entrance." The primary goal, Wright added, is to create a sense of community at suburban buildings, so that workers there do not feel their offices are substandard compared to buildings in downtown Chicago. At the same time, suburban buildings are taking cues from urban office complexes, replacing grand front desks with popular amenities like coffee bars, fitness centers, and conference rooms. Finally, OKW Architects Chairman and CEO Jon Talty said everything should be constructed using a careful balance of supplies and materials, so that they look timeless but can also be easily updated or replaced in 10 years.

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Tesco Sells Its Asian Stores in £8bn Deal
BBC News (03/09/20)

Tesco has inked an £8 billion deal to sell its retail operations in Malaysia and Thailand to Thai conglomerate CP Group. The U.K. supermarket giant operates approximately 2,000 stores across both countries under the Tesco Lotus brand. Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said the deal's £5 billion of proceeds would be returned to shareholders via a special dividend. The company's only other overseas stores are in Ireland and across central Europe. The sale is also expected to slash debt and streamline the group, enabling a "stronger focus" on U.K., Irish and central European activities. The deal received unanimous approval from Tesco's board of directors, but still requires both shareholder and regulatory approval. Nevertheless, the proposed sale is on track to be finalized in the third or fourth quarter of this year.

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City of Tulsa Tweaking Retail Incentives to Help Struggling and Vacant Shopping Centers
Public Radio Tulsa (03/02/20) Trotter, Matt

Tulsa is exploring instituting new financial incentives to help rejuvenate the city's struggling retail centers. City officials have discussed expanding the eligibility requirements for a program that would give out up to $2 million over 10 years. That program is currently used for public improvements, including building new roads and maintaining sewer lines. But Tulsa officials believe applying it to redevelopment needs could help malls and shopping centers. Their ultimate hope is that the prospect of money being poured into redeveloping retail venues coupled with a loosening of geographic restrictions could pique interest among developers.

City Economic Development Specialist Spencer Mitchell said some of the struggling or vacant properties need renovations and redevelopment if they are to be realistically revived. He said it would take "a lot of different moving pieces to make sure that electrical and plumbing can be reconfigured" at the properties in question. There is some precedent for financial incentives attracting interest. For the most part, though, retailers have focused on the edge of the city to build their own new developments. City Councilor Lori Decter Wright, whose district includes several struggling or vacant properties, said improvements are sorely needed. "We are a major retail corridor, and we are suffering with big-box vacancies, and then that leads to strip malls becoming vacant and small businesses suffering," she said.

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Frisco Healthcare Company More Than Doubles Headquarters With Move
Dallas Morning News (03/03/20) Brown, Steve

Addus HomeCare is making a splash in the Frisco, Texas, commercial real estate market by moving its headquarters to a new building. With the move, Addus HomeCare will more than double the size of its headquarters from 31,000 square feet to 75,000 square feet. Dirk Allison, president and CEO, said in a statement that the move is necessary to match the company's "rapid growth." Addus HomeCare will move to its new location this fall. The healthcare firm, which has 42,000 customers in 26 states, plans to hire 200 new employees over the next two years.

The new headquarters will be located at the newly-completed Frisco Station Building, west of the Dallas North Tollway and close to the Star, the Dallas Cowboys' headquarters and practice facility. Now that Addus HomeCare has signed on to lease 75,000 square feet, Frisco Station only has about 52,000 of its 210,000 square feet available for future tenants. VanTrust Real Estate, Frisco Station's owner, has already broken ground on an additional Frisco Station office building, set to be the third in the complex. The mixed-use development will include apartments, a hotel, and office space. There is also a retail-and-entertainment hub planned for the development.

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Chicago Short-Term Apartment Rentals Prompt Potential Security Concerns in Some Tenants
ABC 7 Chicago (02/26/20) Knowles, Jason; Pistone, Ann

Some Chicago apartment residents have expressed serious concerns about the rise of short-term rentals, raising security objections to the presence of strangers in their buildings. Real estate experts have labeled the short-term rental arrangement "blended living," whereby people with extended leases live side-by-side with travelers treating apartment units like hotel rooms. Long-term residents of blended living buildings said they do not want their building management to allow short-term renters access to buildings, stairwells, and other common areas.

Marie DiStasio, who said security is her primary concern because she lives alone, pointed out that she had to undergo a background check and a credit check before she could sign her lease. "Now they are just renting these rooms out by the night," she said, objecting to short-term renters being able to access building amenities. Some blended living buildings have instituted new security policies, including photo ID verification and criminal background checks for short-term renters. Meanwhile, buildings have pointed to their full-time security teams as further evidence of their commitment to providing peace of mind for long-term residents.

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Big Box Stores Are Moonlighting as Industrial Warehouses
GlobeSt.com (02/26/20) Borland, Kelsi

Research from Newmark Knight Frank (NKF) has revealed that omnichannel retailers with a big-box presence are also using their retail locations as warehouse and distribution space. This trend is being driven by a tight retail market and the need to deliver goods to consumers in a timely fashion. Jim Linn, executive managing director at NKF, says not every big-box store can also feature warehouse space. The best candidates are stores located close to major freeways and arteries, but a good distance from residential neighborhoods and struggling retail centers.

Despite the rise in popularity, cities appear to be reluctant to the idea of retailers combining or converting retail and warehouse space. Linn notes that large delivery trucks do not mix well on city streets. Still, he believes the trend will continue. "The conversion of abandoned centers that are just off the freeway and proximate, but not adjacent to residential, will see conversions relatively soon. In parts of the country retail centers are being demolished and replaced with new, state of the art industrial buildings. The majority of these projects will occur in secondary markets," concluded Linn.

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Miami Rents Rise, Making the City the Eighth Most Expensive Place to Rent
Miami Agent Magazine (03/04/2020) Bhattacharya, Lydia

Zumper released its monthly national rent report, which ranks cities in the United States by how expensive each respective rental market is. In March, the national rental average for a one-bedroom apartment landed at $1,219, marking a 0.1 percent month-over-month decrease and a 0.2 percent year-over-year increase. Similarly, the national rental average for two-bedroom apartments reached $1,463, representing a 0.1 percent month-over-month decrease and a 0.9 percent year-over-year increase. Unsurprisingly, San Francisco ranked as the No. 1 city for high rental costs for both one- and two-bedroom apartments ($3,500 and $4,580, respectively), with New York coming in second ($3,000 and $3,320, respectively).

Miami moved up one place in Zumper's rental cost ranking and is now the eighth most expensive spot for apartments in the country. The report noted that the average price for a one-bedroom unit there is $1,800, and the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is around $2,350. Miami saw a mostly upward trend in the rental market, with one-bedroom rents increasing by 2.3 percent month over month and 0.6 percent year over year. Rents for two-bedroom apartments also increased 3.1 percent month over month, but they saw a 1.3 percent loss year over year. TurboTenant found that the average number of days that an apartment remained on the market in Miami was 20, putting it slightly above the U.S. average of 15.

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