- Oct 05, 2009
In today’s difficult economic times, it’s particularly important that both owners and operators watch their dollars closely. When it comes to maintenance issues, cutting corners can be risky, particularly since resident satisfaction and retention can oftentimes be tied to how renters feel about the upkeep of both their apartment and the building in which they live.
And, when residents do move out, it’s nearly impossible to cut corners on the apartment turn—that is, if you expect a new resident to move in. “When you have a line out the door and are raising rents with every lease turn, you could potentially have a luxury maybe to not invest as deeply in solid maintenance. These days you can’t,” asserts Andrew Livingstone, executive director-management, Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC.
The key to driving down costs associated with apartment wear-and-tear is preventative maintenance, he adds. “The reality is, a lot of dollars are wasted on very easy things to monitor.” Such preventative maintenance steps include ensuring that all unoccupied units have their lights turned off, that thermostats are set to an appropriate temperature and that air conditioner filters are replaced regularly.
In addition, certain manufacturers now produce products that are intended to last longer and make apartments more comfortable. Beaulieu of America, for example, has a line of carpets treated with the company’s Magic Fresh technology, which works for the life of the carpet and is designed to reduce and eliminate household odors.
“An odor-free environment is critical for property managers showing apartments. Strong odors are a real turn-off to potential renters,” notes Jeff Meadows, executive vice president, Beaulieu of America. “This economic recession [makes] property management issues like flooring selection, care and maintenance for apartments more important than ever before.”
Also important is for managers to focus on their company’s national buying power, as well as its procurement process, which could result in the ability to drive down costs significantly. Livingstone believes that owners and operators should work as closely as possible with national vendors, focusing on product selection, to ensure both that they are picking products that are going to give them the price point that is appropriate to their portfolio, as well as give them the service life they expect.
“Where you can really get the economics and power around that, you can control that spend and make individual properties go and purchase those products that follow the specifications,” Livingstone adds.
Another area to focus on is green initiatives. Even if your portfolio is not particularly sustainable, there’s no time like the present to start greening it. For example, rather than simply replacing burnt-out light bulbs with the same variety, replace them with the energy-efficient variety.
“There are good opportunities, as you are doing repairs, to put green-friendly parts in place,” asserts Livingstone. “And they are not only friendly for the environment, but they are also cost-cutting.”
Beaulieu of America’s Property Management Carpets  are treated with Magic Fresh to reduce and eliminate many household odors, including those from smoke, cooking and pets. The technology is self-renewing because it is not decomposed. Bliss by Beaulieu Healthy Home carpet can be treated with Magic Fresh, as well as Silver Release, which embeds silver and copper ions into each carpet fiber to inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew (www.beaulieu-usa.com)…Executive Coatings and Contracting  is a repainting and renovation contractor specifically targeted toward apartment communities in the Western United States. The company offers painting, trim and siding replacement, carpentry, stucco and drywall repair, and gutter repair, replacement and cleaning services (www.executivecoatings.com)…ReNew Coating Systems’  ReCoat Tub and Tile is a water-based epoxy refinishing system that can be used on porcelain bathtubs, sinks, formica/culture marble countertops, oven doors, refrigerators and dishwashers. The zero-VOC two-part epoxy, which can be applied as a spray or roll on, is odor-free, non-flammable and non-toxic (www.recoattubandtile.com).