How to Move This Summer.

Weather, school, and work relocation are just a few of the reasons why we see nearly 40 million Americans move every year (Heath, 2017)! Per a recent AFI blog post, we know that it is likely approximately half of these moves will occur between the months of May and August.

With so many people moving every year, one might assume this means that the moving process is an enjoyable one for most, right? Not necessarily! A recent survey of 2,000 people reported that six of every 10 people cited moving as their most stressful life event ahead even of divorce/break-up (Neal, 2018).

Given the statistics, there is a relatively high probability for someone reading this that they are either currently or planning to make a move this summer. Again, the statistics indicate that this same person is likely experiencing some stress about the process. Fortunately, has provided some tips and tricks to help alleviate some of the moving stress (Pirulis, 2020):

  1. I Need Boxes! – While readily available at most office supply stores, consider reaching out local grocery stores and retailers for a cheaper alternative.
  2. Do I, Do I, Would I? – Three questions to ask when considering keeping or tossing various items during a move. If the answer to any of the following is NO, it is likely time to free up some space!
    • Do I use This?
    • Do I Like This?
    • Would I Miss This?
  3. So Much to Do, Such Little Time! – Consider beginning to pack at least two weeks before your schedule move date. You never know what last-minute items may come up!
  4. General Packing Tips:
    • Use soft/malleable materials such as dish towels and t-shirts as “packing support” when boxing up fragile items.
    • Heavy = Small. Always pack heavy items such as books in small boxes to make it easy to carry.
    • Number or label your boxes. This is especially helpful when hiring movers as it allows them to place everything in the area it needs to go so you can unpack right away!

We have all heard the saying, “If they jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” Well, just because so many individuals move every year does not mean everyone should. Check out another AFI blog post to learn more about the benefits and considerations of renewing at your current property!


Heath, J. (2017, June 20). Why Summer is the Peak Moving Season. In Retrieved from

Neal, B. (2018, September 7). 7 Ways to Make Moving Suck Less, From Someone Who Has Done it too Many Times. In Retrieved from

Pirulis, A. (2020, July 24). Apartment Moving Day Tips and Tricks. In Retrieved from

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Summertime = Lease Time!

Many Property Owners and Managers alike will find that the transition to warmer weather can mean added challenges in terms of general occupancy. With summer just around the corner and more renters searching for a new place to call home, this is the prime time to not only recover occupancy, but pre-lease for months to come (Bennett, 2018). Owners, Operators, and Onsite Teams can all use these following tips help to increase an assets performance, occupancy; and ultimately, top line income. The most critical time to do this is approaching – start planning now!

  1. Full pipeline, full property.

First, the property must have adequate leasing traffic. Online advertisements should provide a unique selling proposition to attract consumers in the target audience. The listing should match the market, without blending into the market. Examples of online advertising sources include, Facebook, Google, etc. It is important to continually track which application sources yield the highest quality leads.

One of the biggest factors of driving quality leads to the apartment complex is the online reputation of the property. According to LinkedIn, the consensus is the sweet spot for online rating average is generally between 4.2 and 4.7 (Callaghan, 2017).

2. Consistent, personal communication.

It is not only vital to call every lead immediately, but to also follow up with every received guest card. Guest cards are typically completed in advance of a prospect visiting the property and indicate that individual is already interested in the community! AFI expects Onsite Teams to respond to new guest cards within seven minutes of receipt and contact each individual three times daily (at minimum) by phone, text, and email. Some helpful items we can learn from guest cards include various aspects of what renters may be looking for in an apartment:

  • Working from home? The free Wi-Fi will be perfect!
  • Looking for family friendly activities? Tell them about the community pool and park down the street!
  • Safety concerns? Feel at peace with ample exterior lighting and security doors!

3. How does the property look to someone passing by?

Curb appeal is the first impression the community makes to a visitor and is an opportunity to invoke a “wow” factor right from the start. Planting rows of flowers, touching up paint, professional landscaping, and keeping the parking lots clean not only attract people to visit the property, but also invokes a sense of pride and may encourage some renewals!

While this is not an exhaustive list of leasing techniques, should all these items be working together simultaneously, great results are much more likely! Make sure not to fall behind this summer. Start making plans now to be 100% occupied through the Summer, and in to Fall!


Bennet, S. (2020, July 30). How does seasonality impact rent prices? Retrieved April 08, 2021, from

Callahan, S. (2017, August 27). The power of online reviews to boost sales. Retrieved April 08, 2021, from

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Seasonality.” What is it? How Does it Affect Your Community?

According to, over 35 million Americans move each year, many of which will make the transition during the summer months between April – August (Gregory, 2020). With over 43 million renters in the US, Managers and Owners alike need to be aware of the phenomenon referred to as Seasonality.

Generally defined, Seasonality is a characteristic of a time series in which data experiences regular and predictable changes that recur at specific points each calendar year. Apartment searches and moves follow this same seasonal trend where searches begin a gradual increase in January, and slowly ramp up to their peak in August. Moving to a new community begins to escalate in March before a similar peak in August (Brouwer, 2018).

Given this measurable trend that has been observed year-over-year, it is reasonable for Property Managers to assume an average occupancy loss of between 10-20% just in the peak months of June – August alone. On a 200-unit asset, this means anywhere from 20-40 units that need move-outs and inspections completed, scheduling of any maintenance or vendor labor inside of the unit to get it ready, all while simultaneously marketing the unit for rent to avoid any income loss!

The amount of work to receive, turn, and lease-out even a single unit can be a daunting task for onsite teams depending upon the condition of the unit, let alone when Managers get a few dozen units back at the same time. Prioritized checklists like the one provided by can help ease the turnover burden when managing multiple vacant units (Kenan, 2020):

  1. Advertise ASAP – As soon as you receive notice from current residents, do not wait to advertise the upcoming vacant and try to get it pre-leased!
  2. Schedule Vendors – Almost simultaneously with advertising the unit, key vendors should be scheduled quickly to allow ample time for all repairs to be completed.
  3. Walkthrough – While you can already have vendors scheduled for routine and common items, you will not gain certainty of what exactly needs repaired in a unit until you can walk it with the current resident.
  4. Change Locks – Following walkthrough, make sure that all keys have been returned and apartment is secure.
  5. Final Cleaning – A thorough cleaning can be a time-consuming task, but cannot be forgotten to ensure the new tenant receives the unit in the best possible condition.

AFI Managers believe that the best way to soften the blow of tenant turnover is by ACHIEVING RENEWALS! The more DELIGHTED residents that continue to renew, the easier the Managers job becomes. However, when a move-out does occur, we encourage staff to NEVER WAIT. Managers should begin working renewals 90-120 days IN ADVANCE of lease expiration date to ensure work is scheduled promptly and that ample advertising time is allowed for upcoming vacancy, all while ALWAYS FIGHTING FOR THE RENEWAL!


Brouwer, Chris. “How Does Seasonality Impact the Rental Market?”,, 5 Feb. 2018,

Gregory, Lesly. “The Ultimate Moving Checklist + Printable Reminders.”,, 20 Mar. 2020,

Kenan, Jamia. “Nine Step Apartment Turnover Checklist .”,, 22 Oct. 2020,

Manolas, Kasia. “When is Peak Rental Season?”,, 7 Aug. 2019,

“Number of renter occupied homes in the U.S. 1975-2019.”, Statista Research Departments, 5 Nov. 2020,

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“Spring” into Action! Seasonal Landscaping Tips.

As of March 20th, 2021, the Spring Season is officially upon is! Are you ready for the necessary landscaping changes/improvements that comes with warmer weather?

Whether one is living in a residential home, or managing a multi-unit apartment building, the following items should always be addressed as we start to see that Winter snow melting away (Render, 2021):

  1. Gutter Cleanup and ridding downspouts of accumulated debris.
  2. Be Cool and check on your A/C system!
  3. Seal It Up! Have your windows and screens taken any damage from the changing temperatures?
  4. Prep Your Lawn/Garden. Tree trimming, pruning shrubs, or simply adding fertilizer are all examples of simple ways to care for your lawn even before the start of the new season.

Through years of Multifamily Apartment Management experience, AFI has developed a robust understanding of which seasonal landscaping items are most important to tend to right away. However, for new homeowners or overwhelmed operators, appropriately prioritizing a multitude of tasks can be a challenging endeavor.

The team at Landscape Management provides some helpful tips for getting started with Spring Landscaping this season (Herrick, 2021):

  • Step One – Cleanup: Before looking to “beautify” or improve on a specific area, one must first clear out any existing debris or loose foliage that may have scattered from the Winter.
  • Step Two – Keep Equipment Ready: Anyone that has lived in Missouri knows that the seasons can change in an instant. Keep cleanup equipment ready to go for prompt remediation following any one-off winter events that may occur later than expected.
  • Step Three – Prioritize Edging: Properly edging a freshly cleaned planter bed is a great way to immediately improve the curb appeal and give the property a nice, clean appearance.
  • Step Four – Keep Plants Growing: Pruning allows for existing plants to sprout new leaves that can provide fresh foliage all year long. Do not forget or be afraid to trim away!

Any of the items above can be completed through the utilization of an experienced landscaping company, or individually with the right equipment. Finding the right solution for your property can make this Spring the most beautiful yet!


Herrick, Christina. “Spring into action: How to start the season strong.”, Landscape Management, 19 Feb. 2021,

Render, Jessica. “7 tips to get your home ready for spring.”, Consumer Affairs, 5 Mar. 2021,

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Do Not Wait – Renew Now!

Do Not Wait – Renew Now!

30, 60, 90 days, when is the right time for Property Managers to begin thinking about lease renewals? AFI thinks the sooner, the better! As the beginning of March is right around the corner, surely it is too soon to be thinking about leases expiring in May or June, right? Think again!

While most renewals are signed 30 days prior to lease expiration, there can be a great benefit to both Property Managers, and Residents alike when it comes to getting that renewal taken care of early. According to, “Most people sign 12-month leases in the summer, meaning that they also end around that time, so this is when the highest number of new apartments are coming on the market. The downsides are you’ll have to act fast and face higher rent — there are a lot of other renters looking for the perfect place at the same time” (De La Cruz, 2020).

With peak season for marketing and move-outs being in the summer, what then are the benefits for Property Managers when it comes to early renewals (Thomas, 2020)?

  1. Build Relationships with Tenants – Long-Term or happy residents will appreciate knowing they are being thought about “ahead” of time.
  2. Save Time & Money – Why market a unit that is occupied? Residents should be encouraged to make decisions regarding renewal vs move-out as early as possible in order to allow for an ample amount of marketing efforts to take place.
  3. Less CHAOS – New move-ins, unit turnover, community marketing, walk-ins, showings, summer maintenance issues, etc. These are just a few of the items Managers will be addressing over the busy summer months. Why add renewals to an already full plate?

As renewal rates have grown as high as 54% nationwide at the end of 2020, what then are the benefits for the Residents to sign early renewals (Ehmann, 2020).

  1. Beat the Crowd – As stated previously, your lease is probably not the only one up for renewal in the given month. Get ahead of the game and allow yourself time to make a thoughtful decision by considering an early renewal.
  2. Upgrades – Would you be more satisfied in your apartment with a fresh coat of paint or a new appliance? Making these requests in advance of your renewal can give your Property Manager time to carefully consider the accommodation and budget appropriately.
  3. Moving Out & Next Steps – If you have decided to move out of your current community, do your Property Manager, and yourself a favor by communicating this information early so you can focus on what is next!

Whether you are an Owner, Operator, or Resident, AFI recommends reviewing your move-out dates and planning as far in advance as possible. Eliminate the stress, eliminate the confusion, eliminate the “what-ifs,” and act now!


De La Cruz, Emmelie. “When is the Best Time to Rent an Apartment?”, 27 Mar. 2020,

Ehmann, Chuck. “Apartment Lease Renewal Rates Continue to Climb.”, RealPage, 1 Sept. 2020,

Thomas, Cat. “Should I Renew My Lease Agreement with my Tenant?”, 24 Aug. 2020,

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More Convenience = Less Security??

If you read AFI’s latest blog post, then you know that virtual showings, self-guided tours, etc. are quickly becoming a key resource for the sales/leasing efforts of homes and apartment communities. According to Tina Hand, 2020 president of Bay East Association of Realtors, roughly 85% to 90% of showings have become entirely virtual or hybrid (Hall, 2020).

Virtual showings can provide a plethora of benefits to prospective renters including added convenience and increased safety/flexibility. However, there is an element of compromise that comes with these benefits that individuals need to be aware of (Vasishta, 2020):

  1. Deficiencies in harder to see areas such as gutters and windows may go unnoticed.
  2. Prospective renters will have no way of seeing or getting a “feel” for the surrounding neighborhood.
  3. Available natural light or even exact wall color can be more challenging to determine (similar shades of grey or taupe).

While the above items are certainly concerning, it is not unheard of for renters to assume the added risk and sign a lease on a property that he or she may have never seen in person. Such a decision accompanies the increased possibility of falling victim to rental scams designed to steal money through fake security deposits or move-in fees. As of September, 2020, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) reported 219 rental scams resulting in over $100,000 lost (Melli, 2020). has provided the following warning signs that may indicate a fraudulent listing (Manolas, 2020):

  1. Meet the Landlord – Always see the property in-person and verify the listing before signing a lease or sending money.
  2. Payment Before Signing – Renters should never be asked to pay a large sum of money before seeing, or having all parties sign a lease for the premises.
  3. ThE LiStInG HaS TyPoS – Serious Landlords and Property Managers will take the time to construct a well thought out listing free of serious grammatical errors.
  4. Always Read The Lease – All leases should be 100% complete prior to signing and free of blank spaces, vague writing, or incomplete sentences.

As discussed, the added convenience of virtual showings can be of real advantage to many on-the-go or safety cautious renters. However, the above tips are important to remember in order to maintain the safety of yourself, your family, and your investment!


Hall, Emma. “”It’s the wave of the future”: More home showings go virtual.” Danville – SanRamon, 23 July 2020,

Manolas, Kasia. “How to Spot a Rental Scam.”,, 30 Sept. 2020,

Melli, Heidi. “Better Business Bureau wants of rise in rental scams.” NBC Montana, 29 Sept. 2020 [Missoula, MT] ,

Vasishta, Jeff. “Six Pros and Cons of Virtual Home Tours.” Dirt Real Estate,, 8 May 2020,

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2021 Trends: The Importance of Virtual Showings!

2021 is here! As an unprecedented year comes to an end, we are left with seemingly fictional tales of a year that brought along several new trends that have since become commonplace. Most restaurants have continued with limited seating, sporting events now play host to screen after screen of remote fans watching via webcam, and facial coverings are considered a necessity when going anywhere in public.

A willingness to change and adapt continues to be a key to success for rental housing operators as many new trends have remained prevalent. Perhaps none more so than the safety, ease of access, and convenience of virtual showings. With the use of virtual leasing tools continuing to expand, a development into other communication functions such as resident engagement, interaction, tours, and collections is being predicted (Chamoff, 2020).

The term “virtual showing” can mean many different things. Whether it is a self-guided tour that prospective renters view online, or a FaceTime walkthrough of a vacant apartment, there should always be guidelines to ensure the potential resident is getting the most out of their virtual experience (Born, 2020).

  1. Virtual Tours Do Not Have to be Complicated – Showings can be as complicated as buying a fancy camera, or simply chatting via FaceTime. What is important, is ensuring that the tenant can adequately see the apartment and discuss with the staff.
  2. Establish and Follow Your Script – Virtual apartment tours may not be the norm for a landlord or a prospective tenant yet, but it is important to be just as thorough as you would during an in-person showing.
  3. Leave Nothing Out – Again, follow your script! Show the entire apartment just as you normally would including amenities, even if they may be closed.
  4. Leave Time for Questions – Again, follow your script! Review any property policies such as pet restrictions, available move-in dates, late fees, etc.

AFI managed-assets have offices open and are welcoming to prospective renters and guests alike! However, we remain abreast to the global situation and are always willing to accommodate for individuals that would prefer to limit in-person interaction. While change and innovation can be difficult, we remain optimistic that these lessons learned will breed new success in 2021!


Born, Mackenzie. “6 Tips for a Virtual Apartment Tour.”,, 17 June 2020,

Chamoff, Lisa. “Here’s What Industry Leaders Predict for Real Estate in 2021.”, Forbes, 23           Dec. 2020,

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New Year = New Annual Maintenance!

While the weather is remains quite chilly in Columbia, MO, we are forward-thinking regarding the coming Spring season and what that means for our Onsite Teams. Specifically, an increased focus on beginning quarterly, and completing annual maintenance items should be on everyone’s minds!

“While regular preventative maintenance will not eliminate all issues, it is a major money-saver in the long run. At the core of preventative maintenance, your goal is to catch minor issues before they grow into major, more expensive issues” (Deming, 2020). Why wait until tomorrow to correct today’s issue?

While comprehensive maintenance items are likely more effective on a staggered basis (allowing Managers to see the property in all seasons) the following should be included on a preventative maintenance schedule once per year at minimum:

  1. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors – These safety devices should be installed in each apartment and tested at least once per year.
  2. Pest Control – Can be outsourced to a local contractor or completed in-house with an easy-to-mix solution that is spread on a recurring basis.
  3. Water Damage or Leaks – Water issues are some of the more common problems that can start very small but end up doing a ton of damage if not addressed properly.
  4. Replace AC Filters – When filters become clogged and dirty, it can require the system to work harder potentially putting a big-ticket expense item at an increased risk of failure.
  5. Check for Activity that Violates the Lease Agreement – Routine maintenance can also serve as an opportunity for Onsite Teams to be increasingly vigilant of potentially harmful tenant activity.

AFI Onsite Teams receive access to a robust online knowledge base that includes extensive documentation of current processes and SOPs. These processes include company-policies pertaining to more common items such as landscaping standards, as well as comprehensive checklists for quarterly, bi-annual, and annual maintenance items.

While no checklist is perfect, we can adhere to the best practices learned over years of experience and adjust when necessary. As best practices and SOPs will undoubtedly continue to change, the goal will always be to remain in front of serious issues and prevent high-cost renovations.


Cifani, Sara. “10 Routine Preventative Maintenance and Repair Duties for Landlords.”,, 19 Dec. 2018,

Deming, Micky. “The Landlord’s Preventative Maintenance Checklist.”, Avail, 6 Oct.2020,

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Management by Example: The AFI “Air Mattress” Policy

Leadership is commonly defined as the action of leading a group of people or an organization. However, commonly published leadership author, Warren G. Bennis, ventures that being a “Leader” is more complex than simply having “Followers.” “Leadership is having the capacity to translate vision into reality” (Forbes, 2013).

Who then, by Bennis’ definition, can qualify as a leader? Someone who simply barks orders and demands that his or will is implemented without a second thought? Or perhaps it is the individual that aligns their subordinates under the common goal or mission of that person/organization? identifies the following traits that almost all successful leaders possess in one capacity or another (Forbes, 2017):

  1. Effective Communication – Leaders can clearly and succinctly explain to their teams everything from an organization’s long-term goals, to specific tasks or duties.
  2. Accountability & Responsibility – An effective leader must take responsibility for their own mistakes/shortcomings and encourage team members to do the same while driving towards constant improvement.
  3. Team Building – Successful leadership is dependent upon the people a leader can bring around them and align in the direction of a mutually beneficial goal.

AFI is responsible for the onsite operations of thousands of units across the country and effectively manages these assets through the implementation of a lean manufacturing model. Therefore, ensuring that the skills/resources necessary to effectively manage hundreds of individuals remotely are readily available is of the utmost importance. Often, one-on-one, in-person, and individualized instruction/guidance has no substitute.  

Some advantages of onsite, in-person mentorship are:

  1. Outside Perspective – Without being physically present onsite at the asset from time to time, it can be easy to misunderstand or underestimate the magnitude of work onsite teams may be completing or issues they may be facing.
  2. Task Importance – By spending a few days (or even a few weeks) to work with the management team at the property, we assure our onsite staff that their work is not just important, but critical to the continued realization of our company’s Mission, Prospering All Stakeholders.
  3. SUPPORT – Sometimes onsite teams just need help. An extra set of hands a few days a month has proven to make a big difference to team morale and performance.

We believe the willingness to physically travel and be present where needed, when needed, is an obligation of AFI as the property operator and should not result in a significant addition to incurred expenses at the asset. To that end, AFI REFUSES to incur hotel charges and instead lodges onsite in a vacant unit whenever visiting (often sleeping on air mattresses). Everyone from our Interns, to company Leaders/Executives understands the importance of providing support and leadership to onsite teams whenever needed and minimizing costs all along the way.


Kruse, Kevin. “What is Leadership?” Forbes, 9 Apr. 2013,      

Patel, Deep. “11 Powerful Traits of Successful Leaders.” Forbes, 22 Mar. 2017,

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Preparing for Winter in Apartment Communities.

Warm fires, cozy sweaters, fast-approaching holidays, and delicious baked treats may all be things that come to mind when you think of the Winter season! However, for apartment complex Managers and Property Owners alike, the change to chillier weather can also bring about some seasonal issues that can prove catastrophic if not adequately prepared for. While heavy snowfall and severe Winter storms may top the list, items such as slip and fall hazards and frozen pipes need to be taken just as seriously.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average hospital cost of a slip and fall accident is more than $30,000. (Kutner, 2016). The Snow and Ice Management Association goes on to state that snow-related slip and fall accidents can cost between $33,000 and $48,000 on average (Melchior, 2016). Labor for repairing or thawing a frozen pipe can easily amount to a few hundred dollars with totals reaching as much as $15,000 when/if damages are severe enough to result in the need for a new plumbing system (, 2020). has provided the following tips to help all operators prepare communities for Winter weather which will hopefully help avoid these types of issues all together (, 2020):

  1. Prepare for Snow & Ice Removal – It is CRITICAL to regularly check weather forecasts during winter months to appropriately prepare for any imminent/severe snowfall.
    • Are you and your Maintenance Team appropriately equipped with the necessary tools for shoveling/scrapping sidewalks?
    • Has your snow removal vendor been contacted in advance to ensure your community is on schedule for service as early in the morning as possible?
  2. APPROPRIATELY Apply Ice-Melt – Ice-melt is a must-have during Winter and is one of the easiest ways to try and prevent slip and fall accidents
    • Biggest Mistake, NOT USING IT! Applying ice-melt regardless of whether the property has been cleared/shoveled allows for ice that exists underneath the snow to be rendered obsolete.
    • Second Biggest Mistake, USING TOO MUCH! Overusing ice melt can lead to the product being unnecessarily tracked into various facilities which can also result in slip and fall accidents. Ice-melt can also burn vegetation beneath or around where the product is used.
  3. Watch Your Pipes – Outdoor pipes/sprinkler systems should have the water shut-off and be completed drained prior to the first freeze of the season.
    • Vacant units should be set to 55F with all faucets left dripping to avoid any build-up.
    • Tenants should be encouraged to leave cabinets with piping underneath (kitchen sink, bathroom vanity, etc.) open to allow for improved airflow.

Now is the right time to prepare for the possibility of severe Winter weather. DO NOT WAIT! Let us keep the well-being of our residents, staff, families, and onsite contractors at the forefront of our minds and have a safe holiday season!


“11 Ways to Get Your Rental Properties Ready for Winter.”, PropertyWare,

“2020 Burst Pipe Repair Cost .”,,

Kutner, Adam S. “10 Facts & Statistics About Slip & Fall Accidents.”, Adam S. Kutner – Attorney At Law,           accidents/

Melchior, George. “Snow Bias.”, Snow & Ice Management Association, 29 Apr. 2016,

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