Adopting A Family For The Holidays

By | December 16, 2014

With the holiday season in full swing, there is no better time to give back to the community. Although MRI helps several organizations throughout the year, our participation in Adopt-A-Family is one of the most memorable.

Adopt-A-Family was founded to provide a short-term safety net and caring support to Greater Cleveland area families that are working to maintain a stable home environment for their children during times of socioeconomic duress.  The organization seeks to help parent(s) and children gain stability and allow them the opportunity to grow together. Along with their countless donations of emergency food, clothing, and furniture to economically disadvantage families with children, the organization also provides winter outerwear, and educational material, including books and arts and crafts materials, which provide opportunities for kids to improve their academics.

Through the Adopt a Family for Christmas Program, families that have fallen on hard times due to recent loss of employment,  taking care of a sick child or an unforeseen financial hardship  are matched with potential sponsors who would like to help during the holiday season. Last year, the company gave 200 families with 535 children a Christmas to remember.

We are happy to announce that this holiday season, MRI was able to spread some holiday cheer to 7 families, including 18 children. MRI employees were generous enough to donate every single item on each family’s wishlist. Great job, team!

Waiting To Be Picked Up by Adopt A Family



Delay in Posting the 2015 Income Limits for HUD and Tax Credit

By | December 11, 2014

Editor’s note: Jed Graef, Bostonpost Product Manager, provides the latest information on the upcoming TRACS 202D affordable housing industry specification update. For more on the pending TRACS 202D changes, read Jed’s previous post.jed

Several years ago, HUD committed to posting new HUD and tax credit income limits each year on or shortly after December first.  Prior to that, the release date of new income limits was highly variable, so the goal was to provide some predictability to the industry.

Early in 2014 Congress revised the definition of Extremely Low Income as used in HUD programs.  The old definition was 30% of median income.  The new definition is the greater of 30% of median income or the federal poverty threshold—but not greater than 50% of median income.  HUD implemented the definition by posting new ELI income limits effective July 1, 2014.  Because of the new definition, these limits are no longer called 30% limits but rather Extremely Low Income limits.  Under the new rules, an ELI number can be the same as a Very Low (50%) number.

Unfortunately for HUD’s posting schedule, the poverty threshold values are updated by the Department of Health and Human Services in late January each year.  Rather than publish limits on December 1 and then have to correct the ELI numbers in late January or early February, HUD has opted to delay posting its limits until early February.

Therefore the 2015 HUD and tax credit (MTSP) income limits will not be released until sometime in February 2015 at which time Bostonpost Property Manager will be updated accordingly.

Links to these announcements can be found at these locations:

If Health and Human Services keeps to its January release schedule for the future, February will likely become the new normal for the publication of the HUD and tax credit limits.

How Effective Property Management Broke a Guinness World Record

By | December 4, 2014

Did you happen to catch the latest stunt of Guinness World Record holder Nik Wallenda, the tightrope walker? He crossed the windy skyline of downtown Chicago without a safety net or tether – eight stories above the busy streets below.

This stunt didn’t happen without help, however. Months before the television special aired, the City of Chicago contacted Bill O’Leary, CPM, property manager of the Marina Towers Condominium Association to let him know that Wallenda was considering a high wire walk at his property.  Naturally, O’Leary and the condo board had some concerns:

“We have a residential property of 896 apartments, 1,400 people, what would be the disruption to the residents of the building, the wear and tear on the building, and them [the Wallenda team] taking over the roof of both towers?”

Of course, insurance was another major issue - what if the stunt went wrong? Would Marina Towers get bad press by association and lose clients? (Discovery Channel, the network that broadcasted the feat, apparently had some concerns, too, and had a 10-second delay built into the broadcast in case of tragedy.)

In order to make the experience as painless as possible for his residents, O’Leary kept them informed throughout the entire process. Additionally, his staff worked diligently to ensure that day-to-day operations of the building were not affected, even with the 200 extra crew members and technicians hanging around the complex. To make sure the act wouldn’t cause any  damage to the building, he hired an engineering firm to review the proposed wire and equipment placement.

On the day of the event, hundreds of people showed up to see the high rise act firsthand. And Wallenda did not disappoint! Starting at a height of 588 feet, he first strode upward at a 19-degree angle, rising 83 feet and setting the record for the steepest tightrope walk. The second walk was from the Marina City west tower to the east one at a height of 543 feet, with one major change: Wallenda was blindfolded, enabling him to earn the title for the highest blindfolded act.

So how did the residents of Marina Towers feel when all was said and done? According to O’Leary:

“The feedback from the residents was overwhelming positive because of the constant communication, limiting inconveniences and having total control the evening of the event.”

You can watch Nik Wallenda’s full walk below:

How to be Friends with Facebook

By | December 2, 2014

We all know that social media marketing is front and center these days. We post, blog and tweet to reach prospect leads and engage with residents, but the challenges of managing social media for apartment communities are constantly changing. If fact, apartment marketers now have to stay more on top of things than ever. Facebook is latest social outlet to raise the stakes for companies hoping to gain market share on their facebook

Facebook is reducing the number of promotional posts that appear in subscribers’ news feeds. Soon, companies will have to buy ads to have a strong presence on Facebook. Beginning in January 2015, Facebook will change the ranking system for liked “Pages” from free profiles. “We’re responding to what people want to see,” Facebook’s vice president and head of ads, Brian Boland told the New York Times.

So, what can you do to market your community on Facebook? There are several options with Facebook that can generate leads and referrals from residents, and build residents’ sense of community.

  • Take advantage of VaultWare’s Social Media Templates to post Availability Links on your property’s Facebook Page.
  • Post images and videos on other sites, such as YouTube and Instagram, and then cross-post to Facebook to increase visibility.
  • Create posts that are meaningful and valuable to your audience. Include content they can share, learn from or respond to. This encourages engagement and comments.
  • Add an “Ask”. Ask for something from the audience. Ask for 500 likes, ask for referrals, ask for prospects to visit your property with a small incentive unique to that Facebook post, or even ask a question in you post that your audience will respond to with a comment. The more people comment, the more your post is seen by the friends of your followers.
  • Encourage your staff to be active on your property’s Facebook page. This is the simplest way to increase your organic reach in the Facebook community by adding up the likes, shares and clicks on your Facebook posts.
  • If you have the budget, buy an ad. Facebook marketing can be a flexible and targeted ad strategy. Increase your ads benefit with Facebook “boost posts”.

Finally, don’t forget to respond to comments and posts on your Facebook page! Good or bad, your response is important. A timely response is critical, too, so keep a regular eye on your page. Having that human interaction changes perceptions about your property and shows that you’re involved. How you react to feedback can have drastic and positive effects on your Facebook presence.

The King and Double Double Have Eloped

By | November 25, 2014

Today’s blog post is written by Oren Rosen of Cougar Software, a member of the MRI Partner Connect program.

One of the biggest business headlines to hit the news recently is the merger of two giants in the fast food business, namely the marriage of Burger King and Tim Hortons. Both are giants in their respective markets. With this merger the company would become the 3rd largest fast food company globally, with over $22 Billion in sales across 18000 outlets in more than 100 countries world-wide. The new company would be headquartered in Canada.Cougar Software

Both Tim Hortons and Burger King have very different corporate cultures and revenue sources. Despite Tim Hortons having only one third of the number of fast food outlets that Burger King has (i.e. approx. 4500 VS approx. 13500), Tim Hortons is expected to generate the lion’s share in revenue by a large margin. Tim Hortons generates the bulk of its revenue through distribution sales as opposed to Burger King’s main revenue sources from franchise royalties and real estate.

Burger King has far more fast food outlets whereas Tim Hortons has an extremely robust and mature distribution warehousing and supply network. A completely different picture from a commercial real estate viewpoint.

The differences in culture and the types of CRE now part of the new company will need to be reflected in a robust, state of the art financial modelling solution and flexible calculation engine. The solution will be required to manage budgeting, planning, valuations, debt, financial modelling as well as providing a platform for the development and running of “what-if” scenarios for all aspects of the CRE part of the business.

A state of the art solution should provide for multi-currency transaction processing, as well as multi-valuation methods to allow for the expected continual growth and geographic spread of this new entity.

Also there will be a need for real-time, 24 hour access by all personnel at all levels involved with CRE acquisitions and management.  At the same time, a single repository for all CRE related information with the ability to cope with increases in the scale of operations will be a necessity to survive the big data flood.

We should expect a period of adjustment while all the disparate operations, processes and systems are merged together. Only by making the key decisions at the right times will ensure the success of this merger. One such key decision will be the choice of the appropriate software solution to cope with a greater diversity and complexity within the new entity’s CRE portfolio. Will the new company understand the impact on the property portfolio before implementing a new financial modeling system?

To read the article in its entirety, please visit the Cougar Software Blog.

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