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Disrupting Cliques In Multifamily Real Estate To Bring Innovation To The Industry

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Tapping into the property market

Dave Marcinkowski is a Founder/Partner in Madera Residential and Quext, focused on creating smarter, healthier apartment communities. 

There’s a problem inside the multifamily industry. I’m not the first person to point it out, but I will join the chorus of people speaking out about it. That problem is cliquish behavior.

If this was about everyone joining together to push the industry forward, that would be one thing. But that’s not what it’s about. Instead, it focuses on companies, either by choice or by default, tying their organization to a specific third-party vendor and only using that specific vendor or those vendors associated with them. This leaves the industry stagnant, without any push for innovation. That’s a problem. Once any organization joins a clique, that group essentially dictates how that organization is run.

While staying with one clique may seem like the best — or, in many cases, the only — decision, it can adversely affect your company and your ability to effectively run your properties and, ultimately, your ability to innovate. Here’s why.

The Data Problem

The issue has several causes, but it’s rooted in data and access to it. One problem is most of the data in the multifamily industry are siloed with a handful of prominent vendors, and those vendors control the data’s distribution.

First, those vendors make it prohibitively expensive to access that data. For example, if an innovative startup has an idea that requires integration, it must pay a hefty annual sum — $25,000 or more in some instances — to each vendor annually to be able to integrate with their database. For smaller companies, which are often where some of the most industry-advancing innovation comes from, these figures often mean the organizations can’t integrate with more than one of the major vendors. That’s joining a clique by default.

Additionally, even with the high cost, vendors are only offering limited access to their datasets. For example, they may share basic data like the resident’s name or address but not provide that resident’s more meaningful data, like their lease term, rental rate and other charges, credit score or payment history. This is information that could help improve a new offering’s products, but by withholding this information, the large vendors are stifling innovation.

Innovation Or Extinction?

So how do we lessen the impact of these cliques? By changing a few mindsets. First, we need to focus on creating true integrations between our management technologies. And that may mean forming an open collective that will not only revolutionize the space but encourage integration.

More prominent companies must acknowledge that they have to work inexpensively and collaborate with everybody else in the space, or it’s the customer who ultimately suffers. And if the customer is suffering then all these existing cliques run the risk of becoming extinct. Eventually, someone will come along who does not fear innovation but, instead, embraces it. This group will collaborate with other companies to create products that provide customers with the solutions they want. These synergies will provide the technology — and data — needed to make better management decisions to optimize our property performance.

That’s where the danger lies for the large fraternities or cliques of today. They must accept this new mindset and completely reinvent themselves, or, I would argue, risk being a dinosaur.

Can You Trust Your Group To Innovate?

Moore’s law essentially states that technology is doubling every two years. I would argue that in the multifamily industry it is more like once every decade. And I would also argue this is due to the few massive platforms dominating our industry. Let me ask you a question: Do you trust your vendor to tackle VR/AR, IoT, blockchain, cryptocurrency, remote work and the list of new technologies that goes on and on? All other industries are seemingly at the forefront of these new, developing technologies, while we just wish our residents could apply for, lease and completely onboard an apartment from their computer.

The Resident Is Always Right

Another crucial mindset change we need to embrace is making resident satisfaction the No. 1 priority. Residents are demanding that interactions be easy and convenient. Properties often put surveys in the field to find out what their residents and potential residents want. One thing we hear repeatedly is the request for an all-in-one leasing solution. Residents want the ability to view their future apartment, complete the application process and gain access to their unit from one online location.

So, if that’s what we keep hearing, why is nobody offering it?

Some companies claim to have a solution that meets this need, but what they really have is a minimum viable product that isn’t actually viable. And the reason it’s not viable is that cliques don’t play well with all the different vendors and products that go into the leasing process. Operators know leasing an apartment goes way beyond data collection, approval processes and e-signatures. Wouldn’t it be nice if a resident could completely onboard and get access to their apartment through a smart lock without ever coming into the office? Why don’t we have a marketplace for residents to select their utility provider, moving company, banking and financial service solution, furniture, etc.? This marketplace would give the resident what they want and need while also creating a revenue stream for the property owner.

Breaking Free

The multifamily industry cannot move forward unless we change our mindsets and rid ourselves of cliques. We can’t continue down a path of restrictive access to data and ignoring basic resident needs. Everyone is in a position to become a dinosaur, but we can foster an environment of true innovation with just a few simple changes. Suppose we focus on collaboration, low-cost integration and creating products that keep pace with new technology and are based on what our residents desire. If we did that, we would create a stable industry that allows every company, big or small, to thrive.


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How To Launch An Entrepreneurial And Investing Career When You’re Young

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Saving for properties

Canadian Entrepreneur with Global Invest, on a mission to help people invest in real estate to create generational wealth.

The best time to start entrepreneurship and investment is when you are still young because the longer your financial investments will be operating, the more substantially your savings account will grow. I receive many queries from young people who want to set up an entrepreneurial project and invest in real estate. I strongly encourage them to do so. Despite your young age, you can learn how to save and invest your money to yield additional income. Here’s how.

Save Money

You might be wondering right now how to save money without a salary or with minimal income. It is possible! Here are two smart ways to build up a savings account and generate returns. 

1. Tap into your own pocket money: If you are still a student or under the care of your parents, you may receive a monthly allowance from your parents or student financial aid. If this is the case, I advise you to start saving based on your available cash, at least $100 per month, in an individual savings account. The IRA is suitable for you at this point as it is tax-free.

2. Look for a student job: To save sufficiently for your investment project, search for a part-time job that will provide additional income you can direct toward savings. You will want to build up considerable savings as a first step in order to achieve a return on your future investment.

Build Your Business Online

In order to start a business and invest at a young age, you must recognize that the internet has created a global village where everything can happen with just a click. Indeed, the web is full of opportunities that should not be neglected. 

1. Build your own website: As a student or young professional, building up a substantial savings account can be quite difficult. One strategy I recommend is creating a website where you can offer your services. The internet is a massive customer niche where possibilities abound, from e-commerce to offering consulting services to writing sponsored blog content and more.

2. Brand yourself on social networks: Social networks have significantly reshaped the business world. It is difficult to succeed without creating a recognizable brand across social networks, especially if you want to start a business and investing career at a young age. In this respect, I advise creating Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts and even a YouTube channel. These accounts can significantly help you boost your eventual rate of return.

Invest In Real Estate

Once you have saved enough money through your business and savings plans, make your money work for you. Investing in rental property is one of the best ways to diversify your monthly income.

1. Invest with REITs: A real estate investment trust, or REIT, is a great stepping stone to entrepreneurship and investment for young people. Also sometimes referred to as real estate paper, this type of investment offers excellent possibilities in terms of rental management, especially if you are a student and school takes up most of your time. The REIT you invest with will handle all the leasing, renovation work, rent deductions, etc., and interest rates generally vary between 5% and 9% depending on the type of REIT chosen. 

2. Explore real estate crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is another interesting approach for young people who lack the required funds to obtain a mortgage and represents a supportive financing method for real estate projects. It plays the same role as a banking institution as it provides money to start your real estate project. The annual rate of return on this type of funding ranges from 8% to 10% depending on the size of the investment.

3. Purchase a parking space: It is wise to start out small and work your way up. For example, you can start by buying a simple property such as a parking space, something that may be much more attainable for young entrepreneurs. By starting on a small scale and planning for the short term, you can minimize your risk.

Improve Your Skills Through Training 

In order to achieve long-term investing success, you need to be an expert in your field. For example, if you intend to invest in rental property, I recommend taking a property investment course in order to build a good investor profile. You need to know how to invest in order to make the most profitable investments. Constant training provides a number of advantages, including:

• Staying competitive.

• Increasing your profitability.

• Acquiring new knowledge.

• Keeping up to date on industry trends.

• Increasing your credibility and building customer loyalty.

As I like to say: In rental investing, what you don’t know can cost you a lot in terms of money, opportunities and strategy. So, it’s important to keep training. Indeed, investing in real estate at a young age and improving your skills over time is an excellent strategy for those who aim to become rich faster, take an early retirement and live on generous retirement savings generated by your real estate investments. 

The information provided here is not investment, tax, or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.


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Ten Best Outdoor Design Trends Of 2021

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A picnic with rattan chairs, pillows, a table and other accessories in a woody outdoor space.

Summer is finally here. If you’re excited to see friends and family, you aren’t the only one. For many of us, this season is sure to be filled with pool parties, patio picnics, and backyard barbecues. So, there has never been a better time than now to refresh your outdoor space. Whether your backyard needs a major overhaul or just some sprucing up, here are the top outdoor design trends of 2021. From the colors you must accessorize with to the design elements that stayed popular from last year, these are all great ways to upgrade your outdoor space.

Painted Details

Bid farewell to the white picket fence and say hello to pink, aqua or any vibrant hue you choose because painted details outdoors is one of the newest trends of 2021 according to Danielle Blundell, Home Director of Apartment Therapy.

This includes everything from fences painted unique colors to custom murals and even painted pool decks. This is also a great DIY project to try. “Exterior paints can be different colors. And you don’t have to worry about the wear and tear. You might have to refresh it seasonally the same way do with decking or your driveway,” she tells me.

This trend may very well be inspired by the Instagram walls that we so popular prior to the pandemic. 

Rattan

We’ve been seeing rattan for several years right now and there’s no chance this trend is going away any time soon. There’s a good reason for this. Rattan is an eco-friendly, high quality material with a timeless aesthetic, according to Janelle Bowers, founder and CEO of Resol Beach. “Rattan is made from natural, sustainable materials that can weather the elements and will last over time. It has been a major trend in outdoor design because it allows us to spend more time outside while enjoying these products, which in turn creates value through memories and experiences.” 

The only caveat to keep in mind is that it can take a little bit of work to maintain. “The best way to care for rattan is treating it like any other piece of furniture. Proper care will ensure the longevity of the natural materials. To maintain the beauty of rattan, clean regularly with a damp, clean cloth and avoid harsh chemicals or oil-based products. When not in use, use a cover to avoid direct sunlight and store in a cool, dark place,” say Bowers.

Broken Plan Layouts

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the open floorplan home isn’t quite as appealing when everyone is home all day every day. The same rules apply to outdoor spaces as well, interior designer and HomeGoods Style Expert, David Quarles tells me. “This summer, creating designated spaces outdoors is just as important as it is indoors, as broken-plan layouts are rising in popularity.”

Fortunately, building out a separate layout for patios and backyards can be easy. “Just use your home’s interior layout as your inspiration. Designing outdoor kitchens, lounge areas and dining ‘rooms’ can be easy and affordable by shopping stores like HomeGoods. My favorite trick is to mix-and-match chairs within matching outdoor dining sets, like I did with this solid teakwood table set I found at HomeGoods, to creatively bring the indoors to your outdoor oasis” he says.

Yellow

We could all use a little extra sunshine and there’s no better way to do this than with the color yellow.

“Yellow is the color of optimism and a beautiful way to add a bit of cheer to any space. Try adding hints of your favorite shade of yellow with weatherproof throw pillows, ceramic vases, or handcrafted baskets like I have on my deck’s lounge area, that I purchased from my local HomeGoods for amazing prices! Yellow is also one of Pantone’s colors of the year,” says Quarles.

Fire Pits

Fire pits were a major trend last year and at one point most major retailers were seemingly sold out. Whether built-in or freestanding, they’re just as popular this year. According to broker Gerard Splendore of Warburg Realty, these accessories are the ideal way to get groups outside and reunite with friends and family.

“The fire pit is a gathering spot seen more frequently this summer, as neighbors and friends get reacquainted after isolating for much of the year. Lighting a fire for immediate family members is just as satisfying as it is for a larger group,” he says.

Outdoor Speakers

Whether it is a hardwired system or a portable Bluetooth speaker, as we say goodbye to Zoom happy hours, music is a great way to create an ambiance. “Outdoor music speakers or portable sound systems are a part of every summer gathering this season, which may not be to everyone’s liking. Loud music late at night is a part of the summer landscape, both urban and beyond, but is more prevalent this year as people congregate outdoors,” says Splendore. While you might enjoy the music, you should still be considerate of your neighbors unless you want to read about it on NextDoor.

Outdoor Kitchens

If you’re considering selling your home, there couldn’t be a better time to install an outdoor kitchen. And if you plan to stay, they’re an easy way to help entertain friends and families, agent Karen Kostiw of Warburg Realty tells me.

“What’s a party without the food? Outdoor kitchens have been built out with all of the bells and whistles: fancy grills and smokers, pizza ovens, refrigerators, etc. It’s still difficult for many people to travel, so they are making their outdoor living spaces into a special oasis.”

Greenery Everywhere

While plants have been a major trend for both indoor and outdoor spaces, it’s becoming popular to integrate greenery into other aspects of design. “A lot of cool treatments you’re seeing include stones and grass mixed together, or pavers and grass mixed together,” Blundell tells me.

In addition to this, she has seen a lot of people installing checkerboard floors outside with pavers. “That’s kind of another big trend [along the lines of a] return to classical motifs.”

If grass isn’t growing abundantly in your yard, Blundell suggests mixing it with a bit of faux grass “It’s hard to tell what’s real versus fake,” she says. After all, every home has a few secrets.

Bringing The Indoors Out

Bringing the outdoors inside has been one of the biggest design trends in recent years. Now bringing the indoors outside is having a moment. “At Apartment Therapy’s Small/ Cool Experience, it’s one of our top trends for 2021. And it’s all about maximizing your comfort and being cozy outside no matter the season,” Blundell tells me.

To get this look, she recommends accessorizing your outdoor space with throws, lanterns, and bistro lights. “Turn whatever sliver of space you have, into an outdoor living room where you can kick back and relax. And it goes further than just lighting and textiles. We are starting to see mirrors come outside and sculptural pieces on the sides of homes.”

Outdoor Rugs

Outdoor rugs are another example of bringing the indoors outside.

So what’s the best way to integrate this accessory into your outdoor space? “When it comes to styling, I always start with an outdoor rug as it’s typically an indoor element that can bring beautiful texture and familiarity to an outdoor space. Be sure to look for a rug suited for outdoor use: a material that is easy to clean, won’t fade with sunlight and can handle high moisture and heavy foot traffic,” says Roxy Te Owens, founder and creative director at Society Social.

Outdoor rugs look great on patios or even to section off an outdoor living space in a backyard with a dining table or a sofa and chairs.

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15 Strategies For Succeeding In A Saturated Real Estate Industry

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Photos of featured members.

Many professionals believe they need to avoid a saturated market because it presents too much competition. However, there are plenty of opportunities for innovation in markets heavy with competitors. Real estate professionals are not immune to an overly saturated market. As such, they’ll need to carefully implement strategies that will enable them to experience successes in their local communities.

Which strategies will allow real estate professionals to focus on standing out from the pack? Below, 15 members from Forbes Real Estate Council offer their best advice on how to succeed in a saturated real estate industry.

1. Always Bring Value To Your Clients

Bring real value to your clients so you are no longer a commodity. In that space, there is no saturation! Keep elevating your knowledge, too, so that you are a few steps ahead of the pack. – Nancy Kowalik, Nancy Kowalik Real Estate Group

2. Gain Access To Capital

Finding reliable and cheap capital, which you can execute efficiently, is the greatest obstacle. The CRE space will only get more crowded, and capital allows investors and owners to move faster than their competitors. – Paul Monsen, GSP


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3. Be Innovative And Creative

In these times, you must be able to not just deliver but deliver quickly. To do that, you must be innovative and creative in how you operate and market. – Jammie Jelks, Legacy Home Loans

4. Use Technology To Save Time

Go tech-first. You need to delight your customers and do it on a cost basis that is more efficient than ever required. If you can use technology to automate all the busy work, you have time to focus on what makes you stand out. It will also save you time in the long run. Time is money, so you’ll become more efficient. You’ll be able to focus on providing the important human touch that is critical in real estate. – Chuck Hattemer, Onerent

5. Find Your Expertise In A Specific Niche

The riches are in the niches! Always remember that. By focusing on a specific niche in the market, you will be seen as the expert. Thus, you have much higher chances of success in a saturated market. For example, if you focus on investment sales in the commercial real estate market, you will become an expert in that field and always stand out among other real estate professionals. – Pamela Bardhi, The Mosche Group

6. Answer The Phone And Return Calls

It’s simple: answer the phone or, at the very least, quickly return every call. It’s a No. 1 rule in deal-making 101. I know it sounds obvious, but nowadays, it’s increasingly rare to catch someone on the first try, so use this common frustration to your advantage by leaving voicemails and waiting for a call back. We’ve won more business simply because we picked up the phone or returned calls before anyone else had. – Ronnie Miranda, NewQuest Properties

7. Utilize Credibility Building Tools

Find the thing that sets you apart. We make sure that we are providing as many value-adds as we can for the seller. We also use testimonials and other credibility builders, such as BBB and Google My Business reviews. If you’ve been in the industry for a long time, these credibility builders are the easiest way to set yourself apart and position yourself as an expert with longevity in the business. – Melissa Johnson, webuyhousessanantoniotx.com

8. Build Trust In Local Communities

In an increasingly saturated real estate industry, companies that are mission-driven and generate returns for all stakeholders demonstrate distinct value. We focus on being proactive community partners and building trust in the communities we serve. This helps us maximize our impact and catalyzes success on future projects. – Jeremy Bronfman, Lincoln Avenue Capital

9. Share Knowledge With Industry Experts

Engage industry participants. If there were a magic method, you wouldn’t believe it because of all the get-rich-quick schemes around. If those purveyors really knew what they were selling, why would they share that information? What needs to happen is a concerted engagement effort with clients and industry functionaries. Make a lot of calls. Once you have done that, get updated to expand your own knowledge. – Michael J. Polk, Polk Properties / Matrix Properties

10. Strive For Creativity In All That You Do

Be flexible and creative around how you align the values, desires and interests of all parties in the transaction. This method has the ability to unlock opportunities that are less saturated while maintaining alignment with your clients. In my business for example, we are the creators of radical consistency, which makes our product unique in itself—in what could be called a saturated marketplace. – Alex Allison, D. Alexander

11. Be Authentic With Clients And Investors

Always be authentic in your interactions with your clients and investors. Sometimes, this business can have a sole focus on closing the deal. It’s important to remember to bring value first to the customers you serve and success will follow. – Todd Sulzinger, Blue Elm Investments

12. Prioritize And Delegate Tasks

Do not spread yourself too thin. One of the biggest mistakes is to get involved with too much too fast. Real estate professionals are known for wanting to do it all alone, from marketing to learning about every community in town. It is important to build solid foundations, delegate jobs that are not income-producing and focus on a niche. – Marco Del Zotto, LIV | Sotheby’s International Realty – Breckenridge CO

13. Become An Authority Brand

In a very competitive environment, you must establish a brand with very strong authority. Agents should define a niche, such as first-time buyers, luxury housing or veterans, and master it. Then, everything you do and say comes from that authority stance. Clients want to work with experts, not amateurs. Begin blogging, doing live videos and collecting recommendations. – Lisa Copeland, The Agentcy by Tarek El Moussa by Exp Realty, LLC

14. Be A Compassionate Human

Be a good human. I know that sounds crazy and incredibly simple, but that’s because it is. Now more than ever, people want to be cared for, heard and treated well. Be patient, kind, follow up and follow through. Love is the best thing we do. As romantic as it sounds, I believe in this phrase in business just as much as I do in life. – Chris Turcotte, Centum Financial Group

15. Commit For The Long Haul

Be persistent about staying in it for the long haul. Newbies come and go but to truly succeed, you need to commit yourself to the long haul, during the good times and the bad. Master your craft, and become smarter and more innovative than your competition. – Nick Ron, House Buyers of America

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