Current Events

Staying Healthy in Apartment Communities… And Beyond!

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Surely by now, most people reading this article have been made aware of the apparent outbreak of COVID-19, more commonly known as the Coronavirus. Some questions that may first come to mind are:

  1. What is the Coronavirus?
  2. What are the associated symptoms?
  3. What can I do to reduce the risk of infection?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The Coronavirus is a respiratory illness that can be spread from person to person” (COVID-19, 2020). The World Health Organization (WHO) cites associated symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and other respiratory issues (Coronavirus, 2020). Researchers at Harvard Medical School have made the following recommendations regarding how to prevent the spread of disease (Coronavirus Resource Center, 2020):

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  3. Stay home when you are sick.
  4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  6. Wash your hands often with soap and water.

According to an article recently posted in the New York Times, “the virus is spread primarily through droplets expelled when someone coughs or sneezes” (Kaysen, 2020). The article goes on to state that perhaps the most effective way to reduce your chances of contracting the disease, is to remain away from densely populated spaces such as common areas and lobbies. This reality may seem particularly shocking to residents living in an apartment complex who share many of the same facilities. However, Dr. Joseph G. Allen, Director of the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard University later draws attention away from this notion:

“These common areas are in-fact low risk areas because you’re rarely in close contact for a prolonged period. There’s a better chance of contracting the virus from co-workers, family, or a roommate.” (Kaysen, 2020).

While evidence indicates that the most “at-risk” individuals are those that are in advanced age or have a pre-existing condition such as cancer or diabetes, news of a worldwide “outbreak” has unsurprisingly left many people in distress (McCandless, Starling, & Kashan, 2020). However, much like HIV pandemic, the influenza outbreak before that, and the bubonic plague before that, history would indicate that no matter how serious this virus proves to be, it too shall pass.

What we can be certain of, is that we will be left with lessons learned from this experience. This virus has resulted in increased attention to one of the most basic health and disease prevention methods that commonly goes ignored. “Washing our hands with regular soap under warm running water is one of the best ways to prevent illness and the spread of germs to others” (Tabori, 2020). Whether you live in an apartment, duplex, or single-family home, please remember to help your community by following instructions from medical professionals and continue to wash your hands regularly.

References:

“Coronavirus.” www.who.int, World Health Organization, 12 Feb. 2020, www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

Coronavirus Resource Center. (2020, March 12). In www.health.harvard.edu. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resourcecenter#Prevention

COVID-19. Factsheet. . , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Mar. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov factsheet.pdf

Kaysen, R. (2020, March 7). What Should My Building Be Doing to Prevent Coronavirus?. In www.nytimes.com. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/07/realestate/what-should-my-building-be-doing-to-prevent-coronavirus.html

McCandless, D., Starling, S., & Kashan, O. (2020, March 11). COVID-19 #Coronavirus Data Pack. In www.informationisbeautiful.net. Retrieved from https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/covid-19-coronavirus-infographic-datapack/

Tabori, K. (2019, December 2). 5 Ways Germs Spread and How to Stop Them. In www.conehealthmedicalgroup.com. Retrieved from https://www.conehealthmedicalgroup.com/chmg/medical-services/infectious-disease/5-ways-germs-spread-and-how-to-stop-them/

Colin CosbyStaying Healthy in Apartment Communities… And Beyond!
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Forming Better Habits in 2020.

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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.”    www.Forbes.com, Forbes, 6 Jan. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/amyanderson/2016/01/06/the-fastest-way-to-achieve-success-is-to-first-help-others-succeed/#288950ee79f9.

Beard, Alison. “The Right Way to Form New Habits.” www.harvardbusinessreview.org, Harvard Business Review, 31 Dec. 2019, hbr.org/ideacast/2019/12/the-right-way-to-form-new-habits.

Knapton, Sarah. “The science of how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions.” www.telegraph.co.uk, The Telegraph, 2 Jan. 2020, www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2019/12/31/science-stick-new-years-resolutions/.

Colin CosbyForming Better Habits in 2020.
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Accounting Success – Water Bill Anomaly

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MONTHLY UTILITY BILLING AUDITS IDENTIFY ANOMALIES

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.

HOW CAN ERRORS IN UTILITY BILLING BE AVOIDED?

  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.

https://www.erc-co.org/spooky-statistics-about-energy-and-water-waste/

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

Colin CosbyAccounting Success – Water Bill Anomaly
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