In the wake of the economic meltdown, multifamily owners and investors are focused on fine-tuning their operations and planning long-term strategies.

“Today, we get to focus on operations and test out strategies we didn’t have time to test out,” said David Kim, managing director of The Bascom Group, who joined Steve Heimler, president of Cirrus Asset Management; Eric Brown, principal of Artisan Real Estate Group; and David Dufenhorst, managing director of Security Properties, at the “Finding your Footprint” panel at the 2009 MFE Conference.

Recouping any possible expenses is also clearly top of mind for all managers and owners today. Earlier this year, Dufenhorst of Security Properties rebid all contractors for his properties sites and was able to save $800,000 on expenses. “Rebidding is a great way to energize your site,” he said. Though just as important as minimizing expenses is maximizing revenue. “People tend to go straight to expenses,” said Heimler of Cirrus Asset Management. “Don’t forget to look at revenue. Retaining residents and keeping turnover costs down is the best way to maximize revenue.”

As deal activity has come to a halt, executives are focusing their energies on data mining. “This year is the worst year to look at census data as it’s a decade old,” said Brown of Artisan Real Estate Group. “Throw that data away and go drive apartment lots and walk through sales offices. You’ve got out night and day.”

If you are able to get deals done, the money is likely coming from high-net worth investors who want cash-on-cash return and are not looking for residual action. “There is no institutional capital chasing deals,” said Dufenhorst, whose firm sold four properties to date this year to private, high-net worth buyers for below a 6.25 percent cap rate. Security continues to look for disposition deals to employ the proceeds into opportunistic deals.

But Bascom takes a different approach. Kim said he isn’t in a hurry to buy and isn’t expecting any major transactions for his firm until 2015. “As they say, the pioneers get the arrows, the settlers get the land.”