December 2007 Table of Contents

Give and Get Give and Get

When you offer hundreds of special services to bring stability to the lives of your residents, you need to know what works—and what doesn't. That notion led Mercy Housing to launch in 2001 its Mercy Measurement Initiative (MMI), which requires onsite residential coordinators to carefully track the outcomes of programs offered on their properties. Read more

Saving Grace: Sister Lillian Murphy Saving Grace: Sister Lillian Murphy

Sister Lillian Murphy, Mercy's CEO for 20 of its 26-year history, is indeed a formidable force when it comes to championing the cause of low-income housing. “She's not afraid to stand toe-to-toe with congressmen,” notes Shekar Narasimhan, managing partner for Beekman Advisors, a Virginia consulting firm. “With its size and breadth of its product, Mercy is one of the nation's most influential organizations focusing on affordable housing.” Read more

Pick and Choose Pick and Choose

The other day, I took a long walk with one of my colleagues—someone who has quickly become one of the people I admire most as a leader. He is unassuming, an excellent listener, and not surprisingly, adored by every member of his staff. During our stroll through the streets of Washington, D.C., I asked him how he does it. His response: “You just have to listen, make every effort to be fair, and take your own ego out of the equation.” Easier said than done, I thought. Read more

Stat To Watch Shrink Improvement

Market-rate apartment owners who participated in an annual National Apartment Association survey acquiesced $900.6 million in revenue in 2006 to vacancies, concessions, and collections. Taken in a lump sum, the near-billion-dollar hit might blight multifamily operators. But revenue losses in the industry are actually getting better, according to the 2007 Survey of Operating Income & Expenses in Rental Apartment Communities, released to non-NAA members September 2007. Read more

Squatting Rights: Renter Protection

The list of multifamily properties facing foreclosure due to the credit crunch might be growing—particularly among D class and smaller distressed properties. In some instances, operators there who opted for exotic ARMs can no longer afford mortgage payments, regardless of how much rent can be squeezed from their cash-starved residents. Read more

New Fix: Funding Affordable Housing

Washington, D.C., is considering a new weapon in the never-ending battle to fund much-needed affordable housing in the nation's capital. The city commissioned a study to explore the use of commercial linkage fees—per-square-foot fees on new development that are used to finance below-market-rate housing. The study recommends that, over two years, D.C. implements a fee no higher than $10 per square foot. Read more

News Bites: December

West Coast Gen Yers may soon be living small. Seattle-based Unico Properties has developed a green, prototype modular apartment, called inhabit, aimed at young professionals earning 80 percent to 150 percent of the area median income. The units—just 15 feet wide and 45 feet long—can be placed adjacent to one another and stacked up to five high to create buildings with up to 100 apartments. The developer plans to build these modular communities in Seattle and Portland the next two years. — Read more

Generation Next: REITs

While many leading U.S. REITs remain under the control of a founder or founding family, a growing number of these publicly traded firms are passing the reigns to a professional manager outside the family. This significant move, as well as the increasing appointment of second-generation family CEOs ready to embrace change, poses a number of governance challenges, as outlined in a new report from Moody's Investors Service. Read more

Cable Splitter: Ending Exclusivity Contracts Cable Splitter: Ending Exclusivity Contracts

In a move that immediately cancels all exclusivity contracts between cable TV operators and multifamily property owners, the Federal Communications Communication adopted an order Oct. 31 determining that such contracts stifled competition and violated the Communications Act. Specifically, the order prohibits the enforcement or execution of existing exclusivity clauses between video service providers and owners of multiple dwelling units and also bans the execution of new exclusivity contracts. Read more

Grand Central: Manhattan Mulitfamily Market Manhattan Grand Central: Manhattan Mulitfamily Market

In keeping with its reputation as the city that never sleeps, Manhattan saw its apartment industry stay wide awake this year. Considering that more than 70 percent of this borough's housing is renter-occupied, it's no surprise that 2007 was a very good year for New York City. Read more

A Dog's Life A Dog's Life

Wanted: Professional greeter for luxury apartment community. Appropriate candidates will have excellent people skills and a consistently positive, can-do attitude. Must be available to live on-site with property management staff and work days, nights, and weekends. Additional requirements include four legs, a furry coat, and an incessantly wagging tail. Read more

Perfect Assembly: Clipper Mill Perfect Assembly: Clipper Mill

As developer Bill Struever shows off his latest endeavor in Baltimore, he can't help but linger by the pool. The 2,400-square-foot oasis majestically rises from the ruins of an 1800s-era manufacturing building that burnt to the ground in the late 1990s. Exposed brick ruins surround the pool and serve as a link to the past while cast-iron columns—left over from the construction of the U.S. Capitol Building, no less—are capped off by gas torches that illuminate the pool at night. Read more

Coming to America: Foreign Investments Coming to America: Foreign Investments

At first blush, 47 buildings in East Harlem might not seem like an obvious choice for a foreign buyer making its first foray into the United States. But that's exactly where Dawnay, Day Group, a London-based real estate investment and services firm with more than $4 billion in assets, established a foothold on American shores earlier this year. Read more

OMG!: Mobile Marketing

At Gulf Stream Isles, a garden-style community in Ft. Myers, Fla., managed by Waterton Residential, prospective residents are encouraged to punch a few numbers from a banner hanging at the property into their cell phone. By sending it to a special, five-digit “short code,” the prospect receives an automated text message within 30 seconds that ticks off Gulf Stream Isles' floor plans, pricing, and general availability. An 800 number linked directly into Gulf Stream's 24-hour call center is included, and the text message urges the prospect to call, right then. Read more

Q & A With Rodolfo Acevedo

What are your top tips for designing an apartment clubhouse? Read more

Easy Does It: Floors Easy Does It: Floors

It's getting tougher and tougher to choose the perfect flooring product for your community with the ever-growing number of colors, styles, and materials on the market. But fortunately, it's getting easier to install a number of these products, thanks to innovative installation systems for both underlayments and floor coverings ranging from hardwoods to laminates. Read more

Printers' Square Apartments Printers' Square Apartments

A century ago, Printers' Square Apartments in Baltimore housed a single-engine fire station and a printing company. Built in 1906, the two-story building was known as the Guilford Avenue Fire Station. The three adjacent buildings were owned by Waverly Press, a publishing company. Read more

Fortune Smiles: MFE 2008 Strategies Survey Results

Greystar South regional manager Stacy Hunt is sitting in the sweet spot. Of the 92,000 apartment units his company has under fee-management, his region boasts 33,000, including 8,000 Greystar acquired for its own portfolio over the past three years. This year, Greystar will add an additional nine properties via development and will work lease-ups for Wood Partners and Trammell Crow Residential, among others. Let the naysayers complain that the crash and burn on the single-family side has yet to make an impact. Hunt says it's already here. Read more

Technology: Back to the Future Technology: Back to the Future

Dan Hunt isn't exactly sure who the buyers of Hunt Associates' high-end condos are going to be three years from now, but he's positive that they are going to have in-unit access to whatever technology floats their boat. Read more

Amenities: The Hit List Amenities: The Hit List

If your properties still feature business centers and movie theaters, then read on. Why? Those amenities are so 2007. We'll help you head into the new year knowing exactly what your residents want—and just as importantly, what they don't want. Read more

Green Building: Join the Party Green Building: Join the Party

Have you been reluctant to jump on the green bandwagon? Well, in 2008, you just might have to get on board—whether you want to or not. An increasing number of municipalities and public agencies not only offer incentives you can't afford to resist, but many will also begin enforcing green building standards. Read more

Finance: Hard Cash Finance: Hard Cash

Sure, you can find real estate financing pundits aplenty who say that the subprime lending crisis and subsequent credit crunch is overblown. Just don't look for them in the offices of New York City-based banking titans Merrill Lynch or Citigroup, both of which were on the search for new CEOs in the fourth quarter of 2007 after respective write downs of $8.4 billion and $11 billion due to losses in subprime portfolios. Read more

Marketing: Cyber Savvy

It's no secret that the Internet will be THE way to reach renters in the coming year. Just listen to this: In 2007, nearly 51 percent of AvalonBay Communities' leases came from online sources, up from 24 percent in 2003. But what you may not know is how to milk your site for all its worth. Read more

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