Innovate or Stagnate, the Choice is Yours!

By | January 23, 2015

The most successful companies understand that most innovation is incremental and evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.

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

With the pending launch of MRI’s Version X and in today’s ultra-competitive business climate, your company’s ability to innovate may be one of its key competitive advantages. Although real estate may not have the same universal appeal and sizzle as consumer electronics, innovation is just as important.

Traditionally, companies have viewed the introduction of technology as a sure way of being perceived as innovative, but this is only part of the story. The real innovation behind the introduction of technology is how the technology solution is able to easily solve your problem without the Band-Aid approach.

When cutting edge real estate tools like financial modeling are implemented and adapted to suit your company’s requirements, business analysis shifts from being purely reactive to proactive and most importantly predictive.

The most successful companies understand that innovation is incremental and evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. Small, constant changes are the keys to innovation success. Over time, the impact on the organization is cumulative. This has the effect of steadily moving ahead of those competitors that are less innovation focused.

Undoubtedly, real estate companies can always do with better methods and solutions to meet their ever changing needs. Sticking with what has always worked well in the past does not guarantee any measure of future success, and doesn’t move your company to the next level.

Cougar Software’s real estate management software and financial modeling tools help you realize the best return on your real estate investments and helps you make better decisions faster.

Let’s talk about your unique real estate needs and processes. Book your FREE 30 minute Requirements Review today, and we will prepare a personalized demo to show how our real estate management software can enhance your real estate portfolio.



Protections for HUD Households in Tax Credit Properties: A Must Read

By | January 22, 2015

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.

HUD has issued a memorandum, dated January 12, 2015, titled “Occupancy Protections for HUD-Assisted Households in Properties with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.”  The full memo can be found on the HUD websiteahpicture

HUD has published the guidance after hearing that some owners may attempt to terminate the tenancy of HUD-assisted tenants who fail to meet tax credit eligibility rules—specifically income and student eligibility rules. HUD’s position is that such terminations of tenancy are prohibited and only terminations permitted in the lease are allowed. “This restriction also covers any proposed termination for criminal activity, which generally is limited to specified activity during the term of the lease or where an owner discovers there was fraud in the application process.” In addition, tenants whose HUD assistance is terminated as a result of increased income retain all rights under the HUD lease and may remain in the unit.

HUD does permit owners to offer incentives to HUD tenants to vacate a unit so long as the incentives are not paid from Section 8 or FHA project funds.

HUD’s website contains a page from the Region 10 Hub (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon & Washington) that goes beyond the recent memo and deals with many more issues including income targeting (in some cases you may be in violation of HUD rules if you enforce LIHTC income targeting).  The strong recommendation is to deal with all such conflicts in advance of adding tax credits to a HUD project and obtain waivers wherever possible.  Otherwise, the advice is to consider a mixed tax credit project to give the ability to move tenants into and out of the tax credit program as may be necessary.  This post also warns that certain regulatory and use restrictions remain on a property even after a HUD loan is paid off. For more information, visit the organization’s website.

Should you find yourself with potential conflicts between the HUD and tax credit rules and have not received the necessary waivers from HUD it is probably a good idea to consult your legal advisor.

 



TRACS 202D and DUNS Numbers—End of Transition Rules is Approaching

By | January 13, 2015

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.

As previously reported, HUD decided not to enforce new rules on the submission of DUNS numbers and Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) immediately in TRACS version 202D. When asked at the October TRACS Industry Meeting when the rules would start being enforced the reply was soon after the end of the 202D transition period.  While we still do not know when enforcement will start, the formal transition is over on February 1 and it is not too soon to be sure that you are compliant.shutterstock_89957470-resized-600

The requirement is that the owner’s DUNS number and TIN must be reported in TRACS submissions for Section 8, Rent Supplement, RAP and 202 and 811 PRAC contracts.  In addition, if the owner entity has a parent company, the DUNS and TIN information for the parent must also be provided.  The consequences of not reporting are severe—once the rule is enforced, TRACS will reject any files not containing this information.  This means that you will not get paid unless you are compliant.

It is important to note that HUD wants the DUNS number and TIN for the owner of the property—not for the management agent if there is one.  Some have said that they are having trouble getting this information from the owners.  If you are an agent in this position, it may help to remind the owner that HAP vouchers will not be paid after the rule is enforced unless the information is provided.

If you do already have the DUNS and TIN numbers, you should enter them in your software now so that you do not have to scramble to do so when the deadline arrives.

As soon as HUD announces the date for the enforcement of this rule, we will let you know.

Remember – MRI Bostonpost 9.2 includes full support for all of the new TRACS 202D requirements. Our goal is to keep you compliant! To learn more about our award-winning product, visit the MRI website.

 



The New Era of Mobile – Flat Design, Usability, and Speed!

By | January 8, 2015

With Google’s recent introduction of material design—their new approach to web and mobile—the last major holdout from flat design now embraces the new standard.  Since 2013, Apple has rebranded their iOS flat, and for even longer, Windows Mobile has been going in that direction.  The reason flat design has become so ubiquitous is because it returns to basics, using visual classics to present information in a more easily digestible form. Flat design takes the best aspects of the origins of digital media and empowers it with experience cultivated by years of user interaction. What flat design means to us, as the end users, is simple: less distracting “fluff” and more intuitive interactions, which results in faster and more efficient adoption of digital tools.  When we interact with products like Facebook or Twitter for the first time, for example, there was no instructional handbook that we needed to read first to navigate the product.  The intuitiveness of the design and the way actions and items are presented allow the user to simply dive right in. This fundamental experience is what makes flat design so powerful.iStock_000014655501XLargeWS-resized-600

For many of us, the idea of a world without mobile apps seems like a distant memory, but in reality we have only been in the “App Era” for about seven years.  In 2007, when Apple introduced the iPhone and subsequently apps, the world changed.  In the time of early app design, end users were happy just to be able to access their programs and, thus, willingly lived with slow performance. This acceptance of substandard speed recons back to the days of dial-up internet. We didn’t know that dial-up was insanely slow until we experienced something better.  This speed realization is now occurring for many mobile app users.  Many business-to-consumer (B2C) products like Facebook and Twitter are utilizing modern development practices to provide lightning fast mobile experiences. As a result, end users are starting to hum the Jeopardy tune when dealing with less sophisticated apps.  Business-to-business (B2B) apps are especially guilty of this performance crime due to the fact that they are slower moving products and often deal with more complex solutions.  Though, with new tools at their disposal, the “Enterprise Excuse” is losing ground and more modern development practices are gaining favor throughout B2B mobile development circles.

With the clear values of flat design and modern performance, we here at MRI have made some major improvements to our Workspeed Mobile Application. With a clean, new look and feel, the Workspeed Mobile 3.0 will allow both veteran and new users to mobilize their interactions with less barriers to adoption. Additionally, the performance and responsiveness improvements—many of which were “borrowed” from our B2C cousins—allow users to utilize the application with less load times and delays.  The new Workspeed Mobile App will allow property management organizations to more effectively mobilize their property operations resulting in decrease operating expenses and increase portfolio revenues.

You can download the app today on the Apple App Store and Google Play!



Are Your Ready To Tackle 1099′s?

By | January 7, 2015

For many property managers, this January is the time of year to prepare the final 2014 statements for tax filing purposes. This month also marks the arrival of 1099 season! To get you through tax season, below are some helpful hints when it comes to handling those pesky 1099′s:iStock_000003354900Medium-resized-600

1) Meet the deadlines: Employees must receive the appropriate form (W-2 and/or 1099) by February 2, 2015. Additionally, forms must be filed with the IRS by March 2, 2015 if filing by paper and March 31, 2015 if filing electronically. 

2) Track expenses now: To avoid a mad dash at the end of the year, keep up to date records of your finances January 1st. If you have organized, accurate statements of where you spent your money,  it will be much easier to review and submit your taxes.

3) Know your recipients:  As of the beginning of 2011, property managers must issue Forms 1099 to all vendors that have been compensated more than $600 annually for their goods and services. 

4) Be familiar with the process: Most likely you’ll be filling out this form every year, so it makes sense to comprehend the process. If you unsure about how to complete this portion of your property’s taxes, check out the 1099 processing section of the MRI website. MRI clients can even sign up for an exclusive complimentary 1099 webinar!

Do  you have any tips on making it through tax season?



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