A key tool to help California reach ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals will continue for decades to come, as Gov. Jerry Brown signed an extension of the state’s cap-and-trade program on Tuesday.
Brown was joined by legislative leaders and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to sign Assembly Bill 398 on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. The legislation extends the system through which the state limits greenhouse gases from companies by creating a marketplace for emissions.
“We are a nation-state in a globalizing world and we’re having an impact,” Brown said. “You’re here witnessing one of the key milestones in turning around this carbonized world into a decarbonized sustainable future.”
More than a decade ago, Schwarzenegger stood in the same spot to sign Assembly Bill 32. That bill both set emission reduction goals for California and authorized the creation of the cap-and-trade program.
At the time, the Republican governor predicted that the law would “begin a whole new era of environmental protection in California that will change the course of history,” and that the federal government would follow the state’s lead.
More than a decade later, Schwarzenegger acknowledged that California’s emission reduction goals and cap-and-trade program stand as progressive outposts, rather than bellwethers, for federal climate policy.
“The states and the cities in America, the private sector, the academic sector, the scientists, everyone is still in the Paris agreement, There is only one man that dropped out,” he said, referring to President Trump. “But America did not drop out.”
Both Brown and Schwarzenegger made note of the bipartisan nature of the extension.
Eight Republicans legislators voted for AB 398, a move that has caused turmoil within the caucus and state party.
Schwarzenegger said that California’s economic growth should silence conservative critics who contend that the cap-and-trade program will hurt businesses.
“Don’t those conservative Republicans get the message?” he asked. “Stop lying to the people! Stop it!”
Brown openly embraced the business community in his address, noting the many business lobbyists and representatives in attendance.
“Some people say, ‘Oh my god, we don’t like those people,’ ” he said. “Well let’s face it, this is California. Our industry, our wealth, our whole well-being is the product of all these individuals and companies and organizations and cultural organizations and nonprofits, the whole thing.”
The deal to extend the program was a carefully balanced effort that also included provisions to address local air quality.
Brown has not yet signed that separate bill, Assembly Bill 617, which increases monitoring and penalties on local polluters.
BY JUSTIN FEIT –
During the throes of summer, proper irrigation practices will preserve the look of your lawns and landscaping, but many facilities are wasting water with their irrigation systems, and the costs add up quickly. According to the EPA, “As much as 50% of this water is wasted due to overwatering caused by inefficiencies in irrigation methods and systems.” Make sure your irrigation is efficient with these four considerations.
1) Proper Maintenance and Oversight
Perhaps the most important mistake FMs are making with their irrigation systems is overlooking maintenance duties. They require careful oversight to ensure proper operation, and if that is neglected, it can lead to a massive waste of water.
“One of the things we see when we go out and look at systems that have been in a while is that they’re in really bad shape because nobody is really watching them and they’re not being maintained very well,” says Brian Vinchesi, President of Irrigation Consulting, Inc. in Pepperell, MA. “In order to save water, they need to be maintained on a regular basis by someone who knows something about irrigation.”
It isn’t uncommon for maintenance staffs to lack the proper expertise in irrigation systems. As systems break down over time, making ill-informed decisions during repair can have significant ramifications for the efficiency of your irrigation.
“For instance, a sprinkler breaks, but instead of putting in the same sprinkler they took out, they put in whatever they can find. That’s never good because it was hopefully all originally done to be consistent so it watered the same,” Vinchesi explains. “Every sprinkler waters differently. If you take out a sprinkler and put in something different, it’s going to water differently than the one you took out.”
Irrigation requires the facility staff’s regular attention via periodic checks. If an unbroken sprinkler system isn’t tuned for the right setting, it will waste a considerable amount of water. Vinchesi notes that sprinklers irrigating areas they shouldn’t be – like the pavement surrounding a median in a parking lot – can be one of the biggest culprits of water waste.
2) Overhead vs. Drip
The type of system you incorporate is important to the specific area that you hope to water. There are two main types of irrigation systems, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Drip systems provide a steadier flow of water that goes directly into the soil. When installed correctly, drip irrigation can reduce water use by 10-20% compared to a sprinkler system, according to Vinchesi. However, the problem with drip irrigation is that it requires meticulous maintenance.
“If you do not have a maintenance staff that is hands-on, you don’t want to do drip,” says Vinchesi. “Make sure it doesn’t have any breaks in it because it’s very susceptible to breaking. It requires a higher quality of water. It needs more infrastructure in terms of filters and regulators.”
Overhead systems are the more traditional sprinklers that spray water above the targeted plants. These systems require less maintenance for your facility staff, but they might not be as efficient with water usage.
Area and plant material are two of the most important factors to consider when deciding between overhead and drip systems. Overhead systems will be better for larger lawn spaces, for example, while smaller, more localized shrubs and flowers might be better with a drip system.
3) Irrigation Control and Scheduling
The schedule your irrigation is set at is vital to reducing water usage. Specifying your system’s operation over time has a major impact on conservation efforts.
“The biggest problem with irrigation is that people don’t change the schedule. If you’re in the north where you winterize, they turn it on in May and leave the same schedule on until October when they shut it off,” says Vinchesi. However, you do not need as much water during the May or October as you would in the middle of the summer. “Changing schedules is important so you reduce your water use and it treats the plant material better,” Vinchesi adds.
On a more micro level, it is common for irrigation systems to run on a set timer. While this is a simple and easily manageable schedule for landscape irrigation, it can lead to a lot of water waste.
Smart controllers that determine watering schedules are available in climate- or soil moisture-based versions. Vinchesi cites a typical water reduction of 25% for climate-based controllers and up to 40% for soil moisture-based controllers.
Yet smart controllers come with their own drawbacks. While the reduction in water waste is substantial, they require personnel to be on board with their operation. Because some maintenance staff members will better understand time-based systems, they often revert to that.
“The problem we have with smart controllers is that sometimes the maintenance staff doesn’t like them. You can have a site where you installed a smart controller and you go back in a few months and it’s been changed out for a conventional controller,” Vinchesi explains. “The smart controller is designed so that the maintenance staff doesn’t interact with it, and some people are very uncomfortable with that.”
Replacing a time-based controller with a smart controller depends in large part on the willingness of maintenance staff to adopt a new technology.
The final consideration for reducing irrigation water costs is focused on the spaces you are watering. Using the right plants and landscaping strategies can reduce costs substantially.
You have plenty of options to cut back on water usage by replacing plants. Landscaping specifically to require little irrigation can be achieved with xeriscaping, as native and drought-resistant plants will typically require little water outside of rain allowance.
You can also practice temporary irrigation with some plants. Vinchesi explains that in some climates, you can find plants that will only need irrigation for 3-5 years until they become well established into the new ecosystem.
In the case of one outdoor shopping mall in San Antonio, these approaches to landscaping have saved the facility 14 million gallons of water annually. The Village at Stone Oak, according to the EPA, has reduced its water use by 60%. By converting nearly 50,000 square feet of turf grass to xeriscape and modifying almost 85,000 square feet of its irrigation system, the facilities savings add up to $84,000 per year.
Irrigation can be an overly expensive process, but it doesn’t need to be. Addressing these areas can provide you with some relief from your utility bill.
Security deposits. Every professional property management company requires them but some property managers don’t know the full legal picture. While it’s commonly understood that normal wear-and-tear is acceptable, 26% of renters have reported that their security deposit has been withheld at some point during their life as a tenant. So what types of violations are more than a quarter of renters being cited for?
Security deposit laws are complicated and vary from state to state.
Normal wear-and-tear isn’t always easy to identify. Typically, disputes between a tenant and property manager are settled in court if the tenant thinks the basis of a withheld security deposit is simply normal aging.
In Wisconsin, for example, laws prohibit property managers from retaining deposit funds to cover carpet cleaning. However, a separate fee can be required after the renter surrenders the apartment. Collecting that fee may require a lawsuit or a trip to small claims court.
Renters in Washington are obligated to return their apartment or rented home to the same condition as they rented it in, excluding normal wear-and-tear. This means they’re the responsible party for carpet cleaning, unless they paid a non-refundable cleaning charge when the lease was created.
In states like Massachusetts, certain disputes require the property manager to return the security deposit (and accrued interest) within 30 days of the move out date, and then file a separate small claims or civil suit for damages.
Cover all the bases.
Avoid unnecessary legal challenges by conducting the initial leasing process with diligence. Start by researching local, state, and federal laws that govern real estate rental practices in your area. Consult with a real estate attorney if you aren’t confident you have all the information needed to establish deposit amounts and settle a tenant’s lawful termination of the lease. From there, create a policy that protects your company and your assets.
Go the extra mile during the leasing process.
Prior to allowing a renter to move in, schedule at least 30 minutes for both the renter and company representative to conduct a joint property inspection. Be sure to take notes – and take pictures – of any damage to floors, walls, windows, interior and exterior doors, appliances (inside and outside), fixtures, furniture, patio/balcony, stairs, and any other structural components. Make sure both parties sign and date an inspections form certifying its accuracy.
Additionally, consider initiating a follow up inspection a few days after the tenant moves in. Many tenants find an issue only a few days after they move in – maybe the dishwasher doesn’t drain properly or there is a missing patch of carpet in the bedroom closet. Simply send an email and ask if the tenant has noticed anything else after moving in that they consider prior damage, and ask them to return inquiry confirmation via email or written notice. The response is necessary because there have been lawsuits where a tenant claims they found damage after moving in. This will avoid a he-said/she-said kind of argument that may drag you to court.
Make the exit professional and legal.
Do a preliminary walk through a few days before move-out with the renter in attendance. This gives the renter a chance to return the property to move-in ready condition. Then conduct the final apartment inspection as quickly as possible, before any make-ready begins. Utilize photos, with dates included, for documentation purposes as you prepare an itemized security deposit statement. Be sure to include a complete explanation for any funds withheld.
These tips will help you avoid unnecessary lawsuits and ensure that you stay within the laws governing your security deposit policies. Knowing statutory limitsand being prepared is wiser than trying to defend yourself without the proper backup.
Two guests are needed today because our topic is complex: attracting and retaining top talent for your property management firm. The specific challenge is that, according to Forbes, 60 percent of everyone in commercial real estate services will be at retirement age in the next five years. Even if you are a single-family residential property management company, are you attracting younger talent to your company and to the industry? There needs to be a shift from hiring people who just want to make ends meet, which is transactional and creates turnover, to hiring professionals interested in growing in the industry. The guests today are Joe Killinger and George Pino, who are experts in this field.
Two sponsors make this show possible: NARPM, the National Association of Residential Property Managers, and PM Grow Summit, the annual educational summit for growth-minded property management entrepreneurs.
If you visit therrd.com, Joe and George provide resources for real estate services and the property management industry. There is tenant screening, property and renters’ insurance, and other tools. It’s useful for property managers and individual investors. Like many successful Property Management company owners, Joe and George got into the industry by investing in properties themselves. TheRRD is meant to help property management companies build better communities. They understand the challenges of managing properties both as individual investors and as property managers.
A lot of times, the starting pay is pretty low in property management. The numbers are tight and lean, and you won’t necessarily retire on property management unless you get to a large size. Typically, the property management industry tries to recruit people at low income levels. Employee turnover is high, and often they have no interest in growing. They are happy where they are. In order to combat this, there needs to be a fundamental shift of hiring people who are interested in the field as a career rather than people who just want to make ends meet.
Turnover costs money. When you lose someone, you have to train someone new and hope they will work. Property management is not a sexy career, so you need to reframe how you’re presenting the opportunity if you are looking for people who are looking to grow.
Property management may not be sexy, but the real estate investor is sexy. Plenty of coaches are teaching independence through real estate investing. You can connect that to hiring employees for the property management field. You can position your job offer as learning to become a smart investor on someone else’s dime. People can learn the whole industry this way, from leasing to management to identifying investment opportunities.
Go after and look for people who are motivated by something other than a paycheck. Consider reaching people who are interested in property management because they want to become investors. If you can offer them an opportunity to learn how to be a better investor, how to save money, and how to learn from the property management mistakes that have already been made – you will find some great talent.
They may not realize it at the time, but there is also the potential to shape the landscape of real estate. On the residential and commercial sides, you can build communities. What a property manager puts forward and how they interact with tenants and owners is reflective of the community at large. A bad property manager can pull an entire community down.
An intern program can work very well. Interns who start with you and learn with you tend to stay on for the long haul. They might start with tasks around the office and some leasing, then they can grow. Get to know high school guidance counselors and talk to them about property management and the growth opportunities you offer. Talk about how careers in this field can affect the community. Reach out to small colleges, and you can get some candidate referrals.
An internship program is the top of the funnel. It’s as simple as having your intern do some business development database management. You might structure your internship to be during the summer months, these can be college kids who are graduating or beginning their senior year. It starts as a daily grind and if there’s interest, you can give them additional opportunities. Someone with a yearning for knowledge is a good indicator for talent you want to keep. Have them show vacant properties or work on marketing. They can also put together ads and review information on properties as they update them in your system. From there, they can progress even further.
Usually, internships are unpaid because they are gaining knowledge and experience. Sometimes, you can pay for some living expenses, but it’s not typically a paid position. You can extend an offer of employment after that, and perhaps they’ll start as an assistant property manager. They can handle leasing, work with properties, and learn bookkeeping. Have new employees do different things and make positions interchangeable so they can learn the whole of the industry and not just one part of it. This also helps when you have vacations and time off to cover.
Investors can benefit from working with smart people straight out of college. These new hires have recently learned about finance; everything from mortgages to how to leverage funds. Show the employees that increasing income and keeping expenses the same will contribute to the exponential value of a property. Give them opportunities to see how that works. Give them the freedom to learn on the job. Let them hang out with maintenance guys for a few days and attend investor meetings. The goal is to show them how to connect what they’ve learned with what you do. Lead with education and information.
Statistics have shown that 80 percent of residential real estate is self-managed, and over 75 percent of investors own only 1 to 4 units. So, bringing talent in right out of college and exposing them to the day to day of real estate investments with your clients is a brilliant strategy for maintaining their interest.
NARPM has two specific designations for property managers – the Residential Management Professional (RMP®) and the Master Property Manager (MPM®). If you haven’t put yourself through these classes, you are missing out. Some of the most successful property management entrepreneurs have their MPM. These are the professionals who are always leading the pack in innovation, people, and technology. Go to NARPM‘s website to see the requirements for those designations.
Now that you are able to get some good, qualified talent to work for your property management company, the next challenge is to retain that good talent, so they stay with your company for the long term. Here are some tips that Joe and George recommend:
You’ll need ideas to keep everything engaging. If you’re going to engage and go after younger generations, you have to make it fun. It can’t just be a dungeon where people are sitting in the office typing all day long and calling tenants who are late with rent. You can learn something new from creating the right culture and space. In property management companies, you might still see the floral couches from 30 years ago and the same dusty ficus tree in the corners. Younger generations will not want to be around that every day. Make your company a destination smart people want to be.
You can create games and challenges, or give employees a paid day off to volunteer at a local charity. This is what freedom looks like to people, and creating freedom retains good employees. Keep communication open, and invite comments and suggestions on what could be done better.
Treat everyone the same way. The way you speak to an intern should be the same way you speak to a client. Always be ready to listen, even if you hear horrible ideas. Treat everyone equally and with respect and ask why when you’re communicating or discussing ideas. It helps your new employees feel like they have the freedom to express themselves.
Always keep up with technology. Be efficient or you won’t attract young, progressive people. There are efficiencies you can create and use and embrace. It will help your business grow and attract the best people. Check TechCrunch and see what you can use of the tech that’s coming out. You’ll be amazed and you don’t want to be afraid of it. Technology is a big part of recruitment and retention.
Also, make sure there’s room for growth, and show your employees there are opportunities within your company. It goes back to having these employees learn the whole of the industry rather than focusing on just one aspect.
The PM Grow Summit, is the property management conference for entrepreneurs. Our 2018 summit is coming in January, and it’s for business owners and teams who want to grow. It’s in San Diego from January 31 to Feb 2, in the Gaslight District. For the price of attendance, you’ll receive education, meals, coffee, snacks, drinks, entertainment, networking, and a recording of all talks and corresponding notes. This conference removes distractions and barriers and helps like-minded individuals learn from each other and from top speakers. Check out www.pmgrowsummit.com.
Performance compensation is important, and it starts with everyone in the company being in business development. You want to empower your team members, even the maintenance guy, to bring in management business. They should be compensated for that. You can also provide bonuses for portfolios and how they’re performing. Since this is a service industry, you’ll want to encourage good service too. Providing a bonus when you get positive feedback from a client is a good way to show that service matters to you. You want smart managers to provide good service.
Experiment with your own way of providing bonuses, and align it with the company’s growth, direction, and objectives. Remember that experiences are just as good as money. Instead of holiday bonuses, treat the employees to something special. That takes more effort and time because you need to know what they want or need. You can do something they wouldn’t normally do for themselves. No one will remember how much money they have in the bank but they will remember the amazing trip or the great dinner or the special gift.
If you’re buying properties and working with investments, you can provide for potential real estate investors. It gives your employees a different perspective. Even if there’s just a small ownership stake, it’s not someone else’s money they are managing, it’s partly theirs. So limited partnerships can be useful. When employees can have an ownership interest as a limited partner, you have a unique way to compensate them.
The idea is to buy properties as an organization, and bring in your best employees as part owners of those properties. It’s an interesting way to get them to understand the business and commit to it. Your goals are then aligned and you have a property manager who fully understands the end goal and how to make capital improvements work for them. There’s a new way of thinking – as an owner.
Live up to the promise of making sure your company is open and responsive in training, learning and listening or people will leave. When attracting younger talent, you need to be open to their ideas. When you were young you probably thought every idea you had was fantastic. As you get older, you may learn that only about 2 percent of those ideas were ever good. Be open to those ideas and incorporate good training. That shows employees you are listening to them, and they have value to gain by learning more from you. From there, you can reward that performance.
There’s a lot more to talk about when it comes to attracting and retaining great talent. If you have any questions about what you’ve learned today, check out therrd.com, or follow Joe Killinger on Facebook and Instagram, or talk to us at Fourandhalf.com.
A major factor for many people when searching for a new home is the school district that they will be placed into. Now, narrowing down homes based on schools is easier. Realtor.com announced the launch of home search by school boundaries to help buyers narrow their search to specific elementary, middle and high schools.
To utilize the feature, realtor.com visitors just need to type in a school’s name into the search box to see which homes within that school’s district are currently listed for sale.
According to research from realtor.com, more than 40 percent of potential homebuyers with children would utilize a school-led home search feature. Also, the National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 2016 report found that almost half of all buyers with children under 18 are influenced by the quality of the school district.
Since some school districts can cross town boundaries and other towns are split between districts, this allows homebuyers to be more specific in their searches if they know which schools they want their children to attend.
“Searching for homes by school has been the top requested feature by our users and showcases the importance of schools on home buying decisions,” said Chung Meng Cheong, chief product officer for realtor.com. “Our new school search feature makes it easy for those who are already familiar with a community to find homes within specific district boundaries. It takes us one step further in our mission to make all things home simple, efficient and enjoyable.”
An realtor.com report also found that 22 percent of realtor.com visitors age 35-44 identified the desire to be near good schools as one of their top reasons to purchase a home. This was the third highest reason behind only being tired of their current home (30 percent) and a change in family circumstances (23 percent).
By: Brad Blank –
“Someone, somewhere, is making a product that will make your product obsolete,” said venture capitalist Georges Doriot. Never stop improving your building product, never stop adapting, never stop innovating, and never give up. Fear can be a powerful motivator for building product manufacturers. What can building product manufacturers do to ensure that their products never become obsolete?
“Being ever fearful makes you ever watchful. Watch what your customers are doing. Watch what your competitors are doing. Watch what the regulators and government are doing. Visit your sales offices, distributors, and stores. Talk to everyone in the company. Watch and listen,” says best-selling author Jeffery Fox in his book How To Be A Fierce Competitor. Keeping an eye on your competition provides crucial intel on new products in the pipeline, pricing, distribution, partnerships, warranty information, new AIA courses, and helps your team stay ahead of the curve.
We all have seen various products and services come and go. Remember Blockbuster Video? Fax machines? Floppy disks? Pagers? Obsolete products become antiquated and discarded. Superseding technologies cause obsolescence. In the tech sector, products and services become obsolete very quickly. Luckily, there are several recycling programs to deal with some of the massive e-waste generated by obsolete products.
Tracking your competition can also help your company prevent potential mistakes. By researching your competitors, you can find mistakes they have made with important architects and designers, and avoid those pitfalls. On the other hand, building product manufacturers can also find what works for their competitors and incorporate successful strategies into their model. It is important not to copy your competition verbatim, but to find the right solution for your company.
“Especially in tough times, everyone who works at a company wants to know what is really happening. It is unnerving and time wasting to hear negative or positive news on the rumor mill. Leaders don’t have to allay fears, fear can often provide focus. But leaders do have to allay false fears,” says author Fox. If there are problems at the company, management have to tell the truth to employees. If the competition has manufactured a new cutting edge product that threatens to make your product obsolete, it is imperative to inform all employees. If employees are fully informed, they are more likely to be confident when addressing the challenges ahead.
If you are a player in your industry and have any traction whatsoever in the marketplace, there will always be another startup looking at your products and trying to figure out how to make them better and cheaper. Sometimes building product manufacturers don’t even see it coming. Maybe they are experiencing financial problems, distribution issues, or manufacturing headaches. They see a light at the end of the tunnel but it turns out to be an oncoming locomotive that obliterates everything!
Innovation is key to making building products that are cheaper, faster, or easier for our customers to use. If you don’t innovate and adapt, your competition will and leave you in the dust. In a previous blog we discussed strategies about how to get specified by architects. Education is one of the most significant ways for building product manufacturers to reach architects. Education is a positive force that can help make your employees ready for the challenges of tomorrow and hopefully prevent your building products from becoming obsolete.
Most successful building product manufacturers have an AIA continuing education course. Many manufacturers also register their AIA CEU with the USGBC for GBCI hours. These education programs are the most effective method to reach the decision maker and influence product specs. In addition, education can also train your employees about cutting edge technology to improve efficiency at your facility. For example, if your commercial window manufacturing facility can save time on processes, use alternative materials to improve the supply chain flow, and enhance the distribution network then then your product can fight against becoming obsolete.
LEED has increasingly become an important part of product specification over the past few years. If building product manufacturers don’t adapt and create products that can be specified on LEED projects, there is the possibility that those projects could become obsolete. Paint and finish products that don’t meet certain VOC requirements could become obsolete. A product can become obsolete due to the environmental impacts it has on the planet. Most asbestos products have been phased out and have become obsolete. Asbestos drywall, insulation, plaster, and caulking have been banned in Europe and other countries. Luckily, there are several free resources for building product manufacturers to learn about LEED and how it affects their products.
Green building certifications, documentation, and testing can also have a major impact on a product’s chances of survival in the marketplace. Many products are tested using UL, ASTM, NFPA, and CSA test standards for timed fire endurance, flame spread, safety and efficiency. If the building product doesn’t meet a standard it might not be specified. Testing can be very expensive but lack of testing for a product can be a death knell.
Finally, documentation can have a major effect on specification opportunities. A manufacturer that doesn’t develop 3-part guide specs for a curtain wall system is going to have a very difficult time getting specified. Architects, spec writers, engineers, and other design professionals need accurate product information. Health Product Declarations (HPDs) are becoming a common requirement for specification from large AEC firms like Perkins + Will, HKS, and ZGF. It is crucial that building product manufacturers stay ahead of the curve to anticipate what the industry will require for specification.
How does your company prevent your product from becoming obsolete? What education programs does your company utilize to train staff, improve manufacturing efficiency, and stay up to date on green building practices?