The Rise of “Cargotecture”

By | March 10, 2015

Have you head of “cargotecture?” It’s a type of construction that incorporates the intermodal shipping containers usually seen on the flatbeds of semi-trucks.  The phrase was coined around 2004 by HyBrid Architecture of Seattle, and is a quickly growing trend in the property management industry.

Photo by Joshua Yates / Photographer

With an estimated two million empty shipping containers sitting around at any given time, adapting these giant steel boxes seems like an obvious solution. After all, the construction is sustainable, and the pieces create original and memorable architecture, among other advantages.

In Huntsville, Texas, for example, property developer Wagamon Enterprises is repurposing a slew of the containers into student housing. The 540 square-foot standard efficiency apartments will include appliances, granite countertops and industrial-looking fixture, along with an estimated price of less than one dollar per square foot. Only a few short blocks away from the Sam Houston State University campus, Wagamon is beginning the construction of what will ultimately be 24 efficiency apartment units built four stories high in three buildings, using a total of 36 containers.

“The whole idea behind doing them in shipping containers is just because it’s cool. It’s student housing so we want to make it look cool,” general contractor Jack Wagamon explained. “….Most of the growth on Sycamore over the last five years has been all this student housing. So, we’re just trying to take advantage of that.”

Is there any cargotecture in your neighborhood?

When Search Comes First

By | March 6, 2015

Google and Amazon, two leaders in the consumer on-line experience, are both centered on a user experience that starts with search. Google’s home page is a search box, period. They have trained us to start with search and then take action. We ”Google” it, follow a link and get more info. Search, then act.MRI GO Logo

On Amazon we could navigate a hierarchy but we don’t. We use the search feature because it is easy and convenient. We search, get a list of choices, read reviews and make a frictionless buying decision. Search, then act. That is the construct of the internet user experience and it is time we bring that same construct to enterprise software.

To date, users of enterprise software had to remember where to go and then remember what to do and how to do it. Navigate to the correct screen, then do the required task. It is time to flip this script to one that starts with what the user knows (think contact, vendor, invoice) then quickly provides key data elements and immediate access to common tasks and reports.

Start with what you know, then GO.

At MRI Software, as part of our new Version X, we are introducing a search initiated user experience called MRI•GO. Like Google and Amazon, you start with search and you are presented with a well-organized and filterable result set. We then take it to the next level by coupling the search results with the most important pieces of information about the selected record, while also providing a number of GO•Links that enable direct access to frequently used functions within the software.

Let’s say a resident walks into a leasing office and wants to pay their balance. With MRI•GO you simply search for their name, access their record and then hit the MRI•GO link for Applying Payments.

If you receive an invoice, you search the vendor name in MRI•GO, access the record and then hit the GO•Link for Invoice Entry. Simple. Quick. Done.

In both cases you start with what you know (resident or vendor) and get quickly to the required actions. With MRI•GO we are providing a more efficient alternative to the traditional menu-based navigation that we have come to expect from enterprise software.

This simplified user experience, from menu based navigation to search initiated navigation, reduces training, increases adoption and provides greater efficiencies.

This new user experience brings the consumer experience from the likes of Google and Amazon into Property Management Software, allowing users to quickly GO and complete their desired transaction.

If your users struggle with the ease-of-use of your Property Management System, please contact me to learn more about the new MRI Software Version X and the time saving benefits of MRI•GO.

Rental Beast Expands Their Services To Philadelphia and Chicago

By | March 5, 2015

Great news for VaultWare clients! Rental Beast, one of our compatible Internet Listing Service partners, is expanding into the Greater Philadelphia and Chicago areas. To further serve clients, they are also partnering with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach REALTORS.

“It’s really painful to find an apartment for rent; landlords don’t have a lot of tools when they want to find great tenants, and it’s usually a time-consuming and expensive experience for consumers,” explained Ishay Grinberg, founder of Rental Beast.RentalBeastLogo

Rental Beast is an online platform that matches property managers with their ideal tenants through a network of local real estate experts. Designed to amplify the impact of a landlord’s listing, the service works with leading real estate brokerages to broaden the prospective tenant pool. In partnering with Rental Beast, Berkshire Hathaway now has exclusive access to all of the prospective tenant requests originating on Rental Beast’s platform.

So what does this mean for VaultWare clients? Rental Beast’s transparent services are now available for property managers in Massachusetts, Chicago, Chicago’s suburbs, Philadelphia, Philadelphia’s suburbs, central Pennsylvania, northeast Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware as well as the greater D.C area, which includes suburban Maryland and Virginia. Rental Beast is continuing its rapid national expansion to select cities throughout 2015. Look for expansion soon to DC, LA, Miami, Atlanta, Houston and Dallas. In Philly alone, the company has access to over 200 thousand listings, so make sure to include Rental Beast in your MRI eXperience!

VaultWare empowers clients to streamline their marketing process while increasing their exposure to apartment hunters by giving clients the ability to enhance their advertisements on more than 28 high-quality online advertising sources. This network is a collection of best-of-breed Internet Listing Services (ILS’s) within the industry, including Rental Beast. With VaultWare’s syndication to choice ILS’s, clients increase citations for improved SEO and reach more highly qualified renters.

Have you added Rental Beast’s free service to you marketing plan yet?

Biting The Hand That Feeds You: San Francisco’s Pet-Friendly Housing Conundrum

By | February 24, 2015

According to San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SF SPCA), there’s been a surge in owners abandoning their pets due to an inability to find pet-friendly housing. In fact, throughout the past year a whopping one in four owners who left pets with the organization cited problems finding rentals that would allow four-legged family members.shutterstock_219318241

With approximately 65% of the population living in rentals, Competition for each apartment is so fierce that landlords can afford to be more selective about tenants. Moreover, an influx of highly-paid tech workers have displaced many low- and middle-income renters, and increased the overall average cost of monthly rent.

“Now with the market moving with great speed and with vacant units in high demand, an owner doesn’t have the incentive to be pet-friendly,” explained Mark Campana, president of Anchor Realty, which incidentally does not allow pets in any of its roughly 1,000 units.

While some landlords may be flexible about allowing small dogs or cats, it’s all too easy to find another tenant without an animal in the current market. Because of this, a unit can be advertised as pet-friendly, but that doesn’t guarantee it will go to a pet owner.

“There are a lot of wonderful pet owners and not enough affordable housing for them,”  notes Jackie Tom, president of leasing company RentalsinSF, who manages 35 pet-friendly units in the city. “They can keep their pets, but there is a price.”

Tips and Tricks For International Property Management

By | February 18, 2015

Are you thinking about expanding your property portfolio into another country or region? If so, there are a number of critical questions to consider before you sign on the dotted line.  Whether you want to purchase office space in the fastest-growing cities or start your own vacation rental resort, here is a look at how to successfully manage your new properties:

1) Research The Appeal. The right investments in sought-after locations will create strong rental demand. Assess similar properties in your chosen area and verify each of their rental costs so you know what type of revenue to expect. It’s also helpful to anticipate an average vacancy rate when you’re calculating potential income.shutterstock_81788224-resized-600

2) Consider Utilizing a Property Management Professional. If the property you’re interested in is in an area you’re unfamiliar with or far away from your headquarters, hiring a local expert can save you  money in the long run. Along with having local connections for getting repairs and maintenance take care of for a reasonable price, they can also screen and manage potential tenants.

3) Know When to Sell. A successful property investor has the knowhow to realize when to sell their investment and when to hold onto it. Remember that most markets tend to move in cycles, and if you see property prices rising beyond their anticipated values, it may be a good time to sever ties with yoru current locations.

4) Keep An Eye On Your Valuation. Any asset has room for negotiation. Make sure to frequently evaluate both the current valuation and your monthly mortgage payments to see how your property measures up to the market rate. If there’s a significant variance between your costs and the market’s, you may be able to re-negotiate the terms of your contract.

5) Be Aware Of Tax Regulations. When purchasing an international property, make sure you appoint an advisor with a thorough knowledge of the taxation laws.You don’t want to have some trouble during your annual audit!

Successful international property management is undoubtedly one of the many ways in which you can increase your revenue, but you need to be prepared before jumping into new markets. Do you have any tried and true processes for managing your overseas properties?

Page 1 of 891234...1020...Last »