Rent Growth Levels Continue to Ease in the U.S. Apartment Market

Apartment occupancy remained right around the essentially full mark of 95% in the nation’s core 100 metro areas, according to preliminary 1st quarter 2013 data from MPF Research. But rent growth levels continued to ease as apartment construction continued to ramp up.

The top 5 markets for year over year rent growth were San Francisco at 6.3%, Oakland at 6.3%, San Jose at 5.6%, Denver/ Boulder at 5.4% and Austin at 4.9%.

Supply has surpassed demand and we may begin to see a slow down in rent growth levels for Q2 2013 with the increase in new construction. 270,000 units are currently under construction in the United States which is now inline with pre-recession levels.

Blackstone Spends $3.5 Billion on 20,000 Rental Houses

Blackstone Group

Blackstone, the private equity firm and the largest private real estate owner in the US, had spent a total of $3.5 Billion on 20,000 single family rental homes within the last year.  In October, the company was spending more than $100 million a week on houses.

Blackstone is by far the largest owner of single family rental homes and has focused their buying in nine markets including Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Northern and Southern California; Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Florida.

“Investors are buying homes, in part, to rent them out, and that has added a lot of rental supply, and that’s preventing rents from rising,” Jed Kolko, San Francisco-based Trulia’s chief economist, said in a telephone interview. “It means some investors will start to think about selling those single-family rentals.”

Blackstone will rent and manage the homes through a subsidiary of Riverstone Residential call Invitation Homes.

Zillow Launches Spanish Speaking Support for Rentals App

Zillow, today announced their entry into the Spanish language market within the US with their Android rentals app in Spanish.

Zillow SpanishThe Hispanic and Latino population is growing at four time the pace of the national population. This demographic is also adopting smartphones more rapidly than other segments of the population.

“With this launch, Zillow is broadening its reach to become the trusted real estate resource for the ever-growing Spanish-speaking community in the U.S. With rental markets becoming increasingly competitive, it’s particularly important for all renters to have instant access to tools that can help them track the newest listings and contact landlords anytime, anywhere,” said David Vivero, vice president of rentals at Zillow. “The Zillow Rentals App is the only dedicated rentals app that enables Spanish speakers to have easy, on-the-go access to important tools and information in their native language when they’re making important real estate decisions.”

Like the English version of the app, shoppers using the Zillow Rentals app in Spanish can quickly begin their search with Android’s voice search capabilities, by using GPS, by typing a specific location or by drawing one or more search boundaries on the map. Renters can further narrow their search by pet policy and, new with this release, laundry and parking preferences.

This is definitely the first step in giving all renters, sellers and buyers, in all languages and in all countries access to real estate information in their area. Internationalization will inevitably follow.

The Cost of Resident Turn-Over

Satisfacts did a survey and determined the average move-out cost to replace a resident is approximately $3,400. According to the most recent NAA Annual Income and Expense survey, they found that an average, 53% of the residents leave an apartment community each year. If you take an average apartment size of 200 units, that would cost the community $360,000 per year to replace the residents that leave.

Cost of Resident Turn-Over

Of course you can’t keep 100% of the residents. Residents leave for a variety of reasons including relocation for job, family, buying a house, etc. However, according to Satisfacts, approximately 60% of all  resident turnover can be controlled.

Dissatisfaction, driven by poor communication between residents and office staff—especially regarding service
needs, service updates and follow-up—and between the office/leasing staff and maintenance teams (thorough work orders,
regarding delays, etc.), drives controllable turnover.

Powerful correlations exist between maintenance issues and satisfaction and between satisfaction and renewal likelihood —and service delivery dissatisfaction negatively impacts perceived value.


PropertyWare Launches Inspection Tool

PropertyWare, a rental services company owned by Real Page, has released a new mobile inspection tool for property managers.

Property Solutions Inspection Tool

The tool makes it easy for property managers to complete their inspections faster. The tool has a variety of features including the ability to:

  • View and schedule new inspections
  • Locate directions to the property
  • Capture and post unlimited photos
  • Follow the included Inspections checklist point by point
  • Add comments and notes
  • Get full functionality even when out of service range
  • Sync inspections reports

A big challenge for some property managers is the ability to get through inspections quickly and have an easy way to pull up inspection for the property owners or for the tenant when lease is up. This tool helps to simplify that process.

Realty Mogul Makes it easy to Invest in Real Estate

realty mogul

Realty Mogul, the online marketplace for real estate investments, makes it incredibly easy for accredited investors, (individuals making more than $200K per year or has a net worth of more than $1 million), the ability to invest as little as $5,000 in real estate projects.

The service offers insider access to pre-vetted real estate investment opportunities including apartments, office buildings and retail centers. CEO Jilliene Helman says “we’re redefining the way people invest in real estate, and allowing them access that was historically unavailable to them.”

With the new JOBS Act, non accredited investors will be able to participate in real estate  investment opportunities. That should go into effect within the next few months. This is known as crowdsourcing and Realty Mogul is in a perfect position to take advantage of this new law.

Trulia Launches Trulia Suggests

The future of search. “Wouldn’t it be great if we answered your questions before you asked them?” Larry Page. Co-Founder and CEO of

Trulia is one step closer to providing personalized real estate and rental search based upon your preferences, previous search, social graph, etc.  Perhaps the future of real estate search is Trulia providing you with the for sale or rental listings before you even search for them.

Today Trulia announced Trulia Suggests, a personalized, photo-centric way to discover homes you might like. The service is currently just for for sale listings but they have plans to roll this out for rentals as well. The new feature allows searchers to:

  • See personalized home suggestions
  • Track homes and neighborhoods you like
  • Connect with local experts
  • Sync favorite homes with mobile apps

The process is extremely simple. First you select the place you like best.

trulia suggests


Like 5 more listings that you like.

Trulia Suggests


That’s it. The algorithm then crunches the numbers and shows you for sale properties that it thinks best matches your interest. This truly is the first step in changing the way buyers and renters find and interact with for sale and rental properties.

3-7-2013 12-40-20 PM


Box Storage On-demand with Boxbee

With limited storage space in most apartments, it is a pain and expensive to pack your stuff in boxes, rent a truck, drive to your nearest storage facility, unpack, drop off the rental truck and then do the same thing all over again when you need something that is in one of the many boxes you packed in no particular order. Boxbee, the storage on-demand company solves these frustrations.

Here is how it works:


  1. First schedule your pickup on the web or mobile.
  2. Stay where you are, Boxbee comes to you within 2 hours.
  3. Your boxes stay in storage, happy until you need them.
  4. Each box is tagged, with images you view online.
  5. Click to return the box you need within 2 hours.

The service is currently in beta and is currently offering the service in San Francisco. Each box that is picked-up will cost $3 per month.

Providence Mall Converting into Micro Apartments

An interesting way to help a dilapidated mall is to convert it into apartment units. One of the oldest malls in Providence, RI is turning into just that. It will consist of 2 floors, one for apartment units and one for retail space. The original structure was built in 1828 as the nation’s first enclosed shopping mall. In 1976 it became a National Historic Landmark but due to the economic down-turn it has turned into empty space.

Providence Mall ApartmentsA model of the Arcade’s new micro-units. (Courtesy of Evan Granoff/Arcade Providence

There will be 39 micro units. The apartment units will be between 225 and 450 sq ft which works nicely with the mall’s 1828 design.

Micro Apartments. (Courtesy of Evan Granoff/Arcade Providence)

Micro Apartments. (Courtesy of Evan Granoff/Arcade Providence)

The price of the rental units will be around $550 per month but will come pre-installed with beds, storage and full baths. The one downside is there is no stove but plenty of restaurants on the first floor where these residents can purchase take-in. Very creative use of the space to say the least.