Safety: Reality or Perception?

The mission of Alexander Forrest is to Prosper All Stakeholders. “Prosperity” is defined as, “the condition of being successful or thriving.” While clearly defined, “prosperity” differs from person to person. Some may feel a sense of success from being promoted at work, receiving praise from a friend or loved one, or maybe even simply making it through a challenging day. The AFI team believes that in order to prosper, in order to feel successful, one must first feel safe.

AFI acknowledges that the tenants residing at complexes we manage are in fact our stakeholders; therefore, it is our mission to ensure both their prosperity and safety. Thankfully, we are currently living in one of the safest times in our country’s history. An individual’s chances of being involved in a random crime are as low as they can be for a large, diverse society (Grohol, 2019).

Despite statistics, safety is more abstract and can be heavily influenced by one’s background and previous life experiences. What feels unsafe for one, may feel perfectly safe for another. Dr. Anita Zuberi notes perceptions of a lack of safety have an adverse effect on adolescents. “Feeling unsafe can lead to limited personal freedom, social isolation, and a lack of trust, while feeling safe is linked with positive general well-being (Zuberi, 2018).

AFI believes that our trained/certified Property Managers living on site at the property they manage instantly provides comfort to our tenants, and ensures that the community is a safe place for all who want a quiet location to enjoy their lives.

By living on site, AFI Managers have a greater sense of ownership for the property which they are responsible for and can quickly respond to serious issues. In addition to the benefits listed below from that Owners experience, our Managers themselves also realize several advantages that living off site would not otherwise allow them (Miller, 2012):

Property Owners:

  • Interest in the Investment – Like Owners, On-site Managers are heavily invested in the community as any improvements or deficiencies also effect where they live.
  • On-The-Spot Service – Owners and residents alike should recognize the benefit of extra security/service that comes with a 24-hour On-site Manager.
  • Selling to Prospective Residents
    On-site Managers can best communicate the benefits of their property because they live there themselves!

Property Managers:

  • Increased Efficiency – AFI Managers save both time and money with full rent concession for living on site in addition to zero daily commute.
  • Increased Urgency – On site emergencies can be addressed quicker by AFI teams that are intimate with any issues.
  • Increased Trust – Have you ever had to try selling something you would not buy yourself? AFI Managers have not!

Owners, residents, and our Managers themselves all realize substantial benefits from living on site. Because trained, accountable staff are placed at the asset, AFI believes we are growing one step closer to realizing our mission of Prospering All Stakeholders.


Grohol, John M. “Feeling Unsafe in a Very Safe World.”, Psych Central, 11 July, 2019,

Miller, Aimee. “Explaining the Advantages of On-Site Management To Owners.”, Appfolio Property Manager,

Zuberi, Anita. “Feeling Safe in a Dangerous Place: Exploring the Neighborhood Safety Perceptions of Low-Income African American Youth.” Journal of Adolescnet Research, vol. 33, no. 1, 2018, pp. 90-116, doi:10.1177/0743558416684948.

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Forming Better Habits in 2020.

With 2020 officially underway, this is the time of year where we see various posts and news articles about, “New Year’s Resolutions.” For many, the start of a New Year can mean a blank slate or an opportunity to start over. However, did you know that fewer than one in every 10 million “resolutioners” will actually stick to their goal by year end (Knapton, 2019)?

The Harvard Business Review suggests that this is because too many people focus on big goals without considering the small steps that need to be taken along the way in order to make that goal a reality (Beard, 2019). For AFI, our goal remains the same as it has always been, “To Prosper All Stakeholders.” Some small steps AFI and our managed assets can take to achieve this goal may be things like:

  1. Collect rent faster on average each month than last year
  2. Continue to raise rents by a minimum of 3% Year-Over-Year
  3. Continue to decrease crime across the entire portfolio

What are your goals for 2020? What milestones are you going to set to ensure that you are not amongst the crowd that losses sight of their goals? AFI Onsite Managers are the tip of the spear when it comes to achieving the new year goals we have set for ourselves. Our role, and why so many individuals enjoy working with us, is to provide a strong support system for our Managers.

Showing support for someone can mean many different things. Forbes identifies one way of showing support as giving feedback in an honest and constructive way. It can be tempting to dance around issues rather than confront them in order to avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation. As a leader or supervisor, this is a disservice to your employee as you are not allowing them the opportunity to learn and further develop themselves from the situation (Anderson, 2016).

Continuing to provide support for our onsite teams, no matter how many miles away from headquarters the asset may be, is how AFI will ensure we achieve our 2020 goals.

Anderson, Amy. “The Fastest Way to Achieve Success Is To First Help Others Succeed.”, Forbes, 6 Jan. 2020,

Beard, Alison. “The Right Way to Form New Habits.”, Harvard Business Review, 31 Dec. 2019,

Knapton, Sarah. “The science of how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions.”, The Telegraph, 2 Jan. 2020,

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Hiring Practices in Multifamily Housing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in the US is currently 3.6%, the lowest it has been since 1969. Qualified job seekers will likely look at this news favorably, as it means many employers are having to increase wage offerings in order to attract top talent. However, to Property Owners, news of a thriving economy can be detrimental to an already struggling asset.

In terms of maximizing the profitability of an asset, the Property Manager plays one of the largest roles in implementing solutions to improve performance and effectuate change onsite. When a reliable and on-purpose individual is placed to oversee the property, Owners can feel more at ease with taking a step back and relying on their team to achieve the desired results. Unfortunately, when Owners find themselves working with an under-performing Manager, making a transition can be a difficult process.

Continuing to work with an underperforming Manager can appear to be a more appealing solution as various factors can make the search for a replacement quite difficult:

  1. Unqualified Candidates – Unemployment is at an all-time low meaning many employers are considering candidates that may not have the qualifications necessary to be successful in the position.
  2. High Competition – Again, unemployment is LOW; therefore, the candidates that are well-qualified are likely being sought after by many companies within the same industry.
  3. Hiring Budgets – As unemployment rates continue to drop, employers begin to face higher wage demands for qualified candidates that may simply not be able to be met.

Alexander Forrest Investments has designed and implemented a robust, transparent, and high yield hiring process that results in quick turn-around a placement of qualified Managers onto a property in our nationwide portfolio. This process consists of seven steps (sometimes more) that utilizes several filters ultimately resulting in a final decision matrix.

Should an applicant survive all filters, he or she will receive a full-time job offer to work for the owning entity of an AFI-Managed asset. This process is easily replicated across any role AFI could need to hire for and has given our team confidence in the ability to quickly identify high-quality candidates. 

Gipson, Jeff. “Hiring In 2019: The Struggles And The Solutions.”,, 3 May 2019,   solutions/.

Irwin, Neil. “The Good News: The Job Market Is Solid. The Bad News: The Job Market Is   Solid.”, NY Times, 5 July 2019,

Le Phan, Linda. “The biggest hiring challenges we’re all facing today, according to 15 hiring experts.”, The Ladders, 13 Sept. 2019,

“News Release – November 2019.” Bureau of Labor Statistics, vol. 19, no. 1868, Nov. 2019.

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How to Retain Happy Tenants:

How to Retain Happy Tenants:

Renewing a happy tenant has a lot of potential to be a win-win situation for both the tenant themselves, and the property where he or she is living:


  1. Does not have to incur additional expenses involved with moving
  2. Does not need to restart the “apartment hunt”
  3. No interruptions to routine or unintended consequences


  1. Does not need to incur additional expenses to turn/renovate the unit
  2. No need to spend time searching for a new tenant to fill upcoming vacancy
  3. Retention of a rent-paying, happy tenant on the property!

According to, tenants who decide NOT to renew their lease can spend up to 60 days searching for a new community (Rent Editorial Team, 2018). This means that if you are a tenant considering moving out and have also waited to make that decision until receiving your 60-Day Notice to Vacate, you have likely waited too long.

A recent survey reported that finding a new tenant or, losing a renewal, could cost as much as $2,500 per vacancy (Manolas, 2019). Avail provides the following helpful tips to encourage happy tenants to sign their renewals:

  • Speak with the tenant sooner, rather than later – Avail recommends beginning renewal conversations with tenants as early as 90 days in advance.
  • Maintain a relationship with all tenants, current and past – Arguably the number one tool a Manager can use to encourage a renewal is their level of service. Treating everyone with courtesy and respect can go a long way when these conversations begin to take place.
  • Make the renewal process as easy as possible – Overcomplicating the process can lead to unintended frustration. Avail recommends an online process where terms can be changed if needed, adjusting lease dates, and sending to the tenant for signature.

“How Long Does it Take to Find an Apartment?”, 6 Dec. 2018,

Manolas, Kasia. “Lease Renewals: Are You Going to Lose Your Best Tenants This Year?”, 27 Aug. 2019,

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Property CAPEX: Friend or Foe?

Property CAPEX: Friend or Foe?

The goal of capital expenditure (CAPEX) is to improve a property to both attract and retain tenants. Why then would any Owner not agree to completing CAPEX projects? The answer, high costs.

One item considered a necessity is general maintenance and upkeep of the roofs. Because flat roofs are associated with lower costs, it is easy to find an apartment complex where all of the buildings’ roofs are flat. However, according to BRAX Roofing, the flat roof that was installed during construction will likely end up costing new Owners in the long run due to:



  1. Ponding Water – Standing water leads to serious problems such as leaks and algae growth.
  2. Debris – Remnants of leaves, branches, and other items result in blocked drains.
  3. “Alligatoring” – Roofs that have begun to crack and bubble leading to further damage to the building’s structure if not treated properly.
  4. Buckling – Because a flat roof’s membrane is one continuous sheet, shifting of the structure over time can cause the roof to buckle.
  5. Wind – Flat roofs offer less protection to the entirety of the structure from severe winds.
  6. Leaks – All of the issues above can cause flat roofs to begin leaking.
  7. Shorter Lifespan – In general, a flat roof should last at least 15 years; however, this time frame can diminish based on inclement weather or quality of materials used.

The average apartment is reportedly 861 square feet with the average price to repair the roof of that apartment varying from $1.50 – $10.00/sq. ft. Using $5 on average, it would cost $4,305 to repair or replace a single roof. If the roof in this example belongs to a community of 100 units, it is likely not the only roof requiring repair or replacement. Suddenly, a simple job has turned into a major expense.



The example above paints a clear picture of why Owners approach property improvements with hesitation. Whether the work proposed is cosmetic, or an emergency, the following tips can help Owners and the operating team manage CAPEX projects effectively:

  1. Align yourself with the correct person to do the work – Collect multiple bids on the same scope of work, interview contractors, and compare/contrast the proposals.
  2. Assemble the team – All parties involved should have a clear understanding of their role and responsibility in the project.
  3. Overcommunicate – Establishing an updated schedule holds team members accountable to ensure work is progressing and gets completed on time.
  4. Establish a clear budget – All team members and contractors should understand that the budget is not a goal, butrather a necessity.
  5. Allocate time – Take time to assess work as it is completed, and what work remains.
  6. Analyze the process – If all goes well, this may be the first improvement project of many! Once the current project is completed, take time to reflect on the process and how certain aspects could have been better implemented.


“Build Apartment Cost.”,

“How Much Does a Flat Roof Cost?”,

Matthews, Ben. “Watch Out for 7 Common Flat Roofing Problems.”, 28 Dec. 2017,

Sullivan, Megan. “Six Keys to Effective CapEx Project Management.”, 22 July 2015,

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The Importance of Curb Appeal

From the moment an individual decides to become a renter, to the moment they officially sign their lease, there are several first impressions that occur which can potentially derail a great lead. Think about it:

  1. Advertising – How do potential renters learn about your community? Do you have a website? Is it current with up to date information? How about visuals and functionality? Does your customer service/sales team remain responsive to new inquiries?
  2. The Leasing Office – Is your office easy to find? Clean and professional? Are there handouts about property amenities for tenants? How are they greeted when they enter the office? Is the staff alert and well-mannered?
  3. The Showing – Do you have a designated show unit? If yes, what are you doing to ensure the highest level of cleanliness? Do you have air fresheners to create an inviting smell? Is the unit well-lit? Ultimately, would you be excited about the unit if you were a potential tenant?

If you answered no to any of the questions above, it is possible that you or your team are not making as great of a first impression as possible. However, possibly one of the most important first impressions (and often most overlooked) is a property’s curb appeal.

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Curb appeal is, “the attractiveness of a property for sale and its surroundings when viewed from the street.” Before a potential tenant sets foot on the property, a message is being resonated to them from the street level. This message could be welcoming if there is a

well-lit exterior, ample signage, and colorful plants; it can also derail your property’s leasing efforts if management ignores items such as overflowing dumpsters, peeling paint, and overgrown greenery. identified three specific areas on properties where excellent curb appeal standards should not be overlooked (Greer, 2018):

  1. The Front Door – While the article refers to the front door of a residential home, the same should be expected of the front entrance to the Leasing Office or show unit:
    • Freshly painted
    • No remnants of any clutter
    • Colorful plants to draw attention
  2. Landscaping
    • Mowed yard with trimmed bushes
    • Planted flower beds
    • Clear of weeds
    • Décor inside of the unit should also be addressed
  3. Exterior Materials
    • Consistent, monochromatic paint colors
    • Clean brick or siding
    • Power wash buildings regularly/as needed


Greer, R. (2018, April 11). Curb Appeal Counts: Three Steps To Increasing Interest In A Property For Sale. In Retrieved from

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Online Reviews Matter

In today’s digital age, consumers are bombarded with flashy images and catchy taglines wherever they go. We live in a society where ads follow us online and appear as based on our search history.

With all products claiming to be “the best,” differentiating between two similar choices can turn into a daunting task. Once targeted ads are thrown into the mix, the volume of options can overwhelm anyone.

How are consumers expected to make the right choice?

According to Jia Wertz, a contributor for, “Customer reviews are powerful – so powerful, in fact, that the vast majority of people trust online reviews just as much as they trust the opinion of a close friend,” (Wertz, 2019). Honest and authentic online reviews from real people that have used, or are using the product or service, have become one of the primary resources referenced during the research phase of buying. Wertz goes on to site that 63% of consumers seek out online reviews before visiting a business. This phenomenon is no different in the apartment complex industry.

Globally, across AFI’s 14-state portfolio, our average Google rating is 4.5/5.0. All AFI on-site managers are continually coached to acquire as much feedback as possible from stakeholders of the property (tenants, neighbors, store owners, vendors). provides five great tips on how to improve your company’s online presence:

  1. Use an online reputation management software. While not feasible for all businesses, this solution could be helpful for companies looking to make the transition from small to medium business who are also in need of scaling their marketing efforts.
  • Educate customers on how to leave a review. If a consumer agrees to leave a positive review, help them do it. AFI managers are encouraged to direct stakeholders to the property website while they are still on site in order to capture their true feedback.
  • Ask every customer for feedback. “It builds amazing legacy and forces you to get better. Asking everyone to write a review will expose most flaws publicly, giving you free insight on how to improve the business,” (Nwazor, 2017).
  • Respond to reviews honestly and publicly. All reviews, whether good or bad, deserve thanks to the individual for sharing their opinion or a professional response regarding corrective action, if applicable. See below for examples of responses to both positive, and negative reviews:
  • Provide an incentive for customers to write reviews. While incentivization should remain a last resort, promoting contests with prizes awarded for posting reviews can be a great way to encourage audience engagement.


Nwazor, T. (2017, February 6). 5 Surefire Ways to Improve Your Site’s Online Reviews. Retrieved from:

Shewan, D. (2019, January 23). The Rise of Ad Blockers: Should Advertisers Be Panicking?(!!!). Retrieved from:

Wertz, J. (2019, May 28). The Business and Monetization of Product Review Sites. Retrieved from:

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The Importance of Enhanced Security

According to John Gramlich of the Pew Research Center, “both violent and property crime rates have dropped significantly since their ‘peak’ in the early 1990s. An annual report compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows violent crime decreasing by 49% between 1993-2017 and a 50% decrease in property crime for the same period” (Gramlich, 2019).

While the statistics mentioned above indicate a trend in the right direction, close living quarters and frequent interactions with neighbors on a high-density apartment complex can result in escalating activity at any community.

Tenant safety has always been, and will continue to be, a top priority for AFI. Earlier this year, an asset in North Carolina was showcased that saw a 40% reduction in on-site crime since AFI began managing the property in 2017 (, 2019).

With tenant safety being top priority, recently AFI’s on-site team at a campus asset in Lawrence, KS worked diligently with the Property Owners to replace all outdated entry doors on site with high-tech, secure, key-fob entry doors.

The new doors not only improve curb appeal at the property, but they accomplish AFI’s goal to maintain a safe and secure living space for all tenants. In addition to increasing safety on the property, this project was completed almost $30,000 under budget AND included the implementation of a property-wide security system.             

Prior to moving, AFI advises prospective renters to ask themselves the following questions regarding property safety:

  1. Is the community well-lit? Properties with poor exterior lighting tend to attract suspicious activity.
  2. How is the property’s curb appeal? Failure to tend to general maintenance items can be indicative of a lack of concern from the landlord.
  3. Are crime statistics available online? There are several free online tools potential tenants can use to learn more about the crime history of a property such as and

Since the security door install, both and indicated zero reported incidents at the Lawrence, KS asset.

Gramlich, J. (2019, January 3). 5 Facts About Crime in the U.S. Retrieved from:

Cosby, C. (2019, May 28). Safety Is Not an Amenity. Retrieved from:

Apartment Security and Safety Tips for Renters from Safewise. Retrieved from:

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Accounting Success – Water Bill Anomaly


Recently, while completing the Monthly Utility Bill Analysis Module, an Asset in Indiana was found to have been invoiced over 106% more than the average bill.

Utility waste in the US is at an all-time high with ~60-80% of the energy consumption being attributed to waste and errors (source below)

This anomaly was noted and investigated by AFI staff and the following errors were discovered:

  1. Human data-entry error: The technicians at the utility company entered the meter data incorrectly (scrivener error).
  2. Meter Change: A new meter was installed at the property by the utility company further complicating data collection and reporting.

The total savings for this error? $14,657.52

Had the utility bill not been audited, it is unlikely the invoice would have been corrected by the utility company due to the complex nature of the error.


  1. All utility bills should be managed at a single location to allowing for data aggregation and institutional knowledge to develop.
  2. All utility bills should be handled by a single team to ensure that consistent monthly KPIs are utilized. For example, AFI has a single team analyzes trailing cashflow and consumption data each month on a per unit basis.
  3. Utility data is analyzed on a global basis to allow for highlighting anomalies. Anomalies can be not only data-entry errors, but also might include leaks, incorrectly set HVAC systems, power drains, etc. By completing a global analysis, a granular comparison is able to be created cross-systems to highlight outliers. Additionally, by aggregating data, a larger comparison group is created. AFI, for example, analyzes ~250 meters and 5000 units. The more data available, the better.

Consider implementing a utility analysis system today of your own to prevent errors and waste. Not only are invoice errors expensive, they are potentially wasteful to energy resources and money.

FACT: One drop per second from a leaky faucet could equate 2,700 gallons a year.

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Employee Celebration – July

AFI Property Manager, Katina, recently celebrated her one-year work anniversary in style as she finished last month at FULL OCCUPANCY with several units PRE-LEASED!

Originally from Texas with an extensive background in both sales and leasing, Katina was eager to get back down South as quickly as possible. When an opportunity arose for Katina to takeover an asset just South of Dallas, we knew she was the obvious choice!

Katina has been a wonderful addition to our team and we look forward to many more years of success to come!

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