What is Green Property Management?

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 17, May 2011 16:05

What is Green Property Management? Ashoka Lion has spent the better part of three years revising its processes and procedures to be more ecologically conscious. This evolution has involved revising our processes for rent collection, leasing, reporting of repairs, financial reporting, communication with tenants and owners.

When we started the company in 2006, our firm was heavily reliant on filling out paper leases; driving to pick up rents from tenants; depositing rents to each owner's bank account. This resulted in reams of paper being used as well as gallons of gasoline being spent on driving with very little gains for our clients in terms of time or money. In fact, our old processes involved spending more time as we had to allocate more time scanning, filing, and driving during business hours to insure that these objectives of leasing, collecting rent, and sending the owner their funds. 

Now, we have previously illustrated in our previous entries about things that we implemented over the years for Houston and Dallas clients in terms of services and tools for "Going Green and Mobile".  However, we wanted to help investors and understand what this philosophy mean? Does it mean that we will force owners to accept every new environmental technology or fad? Will we force you to install solar panels on your rentals? No, our goal as a property management company is to balance our duty to our owners, tenants, and local ordinances by providing solutions that align the owner's goal of having happy, longer term tenants paying market or higher rents, but we must these strive to achieve these goals by balancing our duties to our communities in Houston and Dallas. Ashoka Lion believes that by demonstrating a constant committment to improve ourselves that we can reflect a sincere desire to balance this goal while carrying out our property management duties for their houston and Dallas properties.

Every day, we find out devestating news that affects our world in regards to the environment (Global Warming, Water Shortages, Air Pollution); and our property management team believe that it is only a matter of time before these rules and regulations will seep into the multifamily and residential investment industries. In the commercial industry space, it is being regularly reported how buildings are committing whole heartedly to offering more eco-friendly features, and new home builders are marketing the "Green" features of their homes very heavily.  It is only a matter of time before either through market dynamics for new renters will require this of rentals in the single family home or multifamily home markets. Additionally, if market dynamics do not reach that point, then government regulations will increase the regulations for rentals. My investment clients may not realize it, but rental properties are often more stringently regulated than traditional homeowners. For example,  do regular homeowners have stringent inspections of the interior and exterior of their homes to make sure that repairs are taken care of? No, well rentals in the City of Sugar Land are required to have these kinds of inspections annually (read here).  Does your home have a requirement for door viewers, keyless entry, and keyed deadbolt? No, well Houston and Dallas rental properties must have these kinds of locks due to regulations in the State of Texas. Do you have inspections to bring up building items to code even if it was built prior to any new code? No, well the city of Houston, required a building that we managed to make those kind of upgrades even though it was built in the 1940's. 

In our opinion, it is better for us to embrace this paradigm shift versus being stuck catching up. Also, our firm is investigating how we can incorporate these techniques into make readies and property upgrades so we can better align our rental properties with consumer preferences. If you think about it, where do you pay the most money for food? Whole Food or Central Market came to the top of your mind, but what businesses are booming? Those very same brands. Though the industries are different, however they do provide insight into consumer preference for things that are more ecologically friendly and more organic.

Ashoka Lion will continue to roll out new improvements to our Green Management philosophy. Currently, our property managers are evaluating how we can improve our internal processes. Our next evolution, is we are evaluating how we can evaluate our manager's carbon foot print, while we also incorporate more ecologically friendly update as part of our make ready process.  In our humble opinion, it is better to be moving forward versus being stuck in old trends.

 

It is appropriate that you enjoy the Michael Jackson "Earth Song".

 

Survive and thrive by "Going Green and Going Mobile".

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 22, March 2011 14:49

Today, our economy is facing a double whammy in that we have weak economic data and we also see further cutbacks in governmental support.  For Ashoka Lion, this is just another feather in our cap for thriving and improving our firm's property management services during these difficult times. Since 2008, the real estate market has been in a tail spin, and most economic indicators indicate that it will continue to be weak market for forseeable future. Investors cannot get lending to buy investment property, and so it limits the potential pool of real estate investors that are buying in the Houston and Dallas markets.

Our property management firm saw the writing on the wall, and we decided to reposition our value proposition in this real estate market. Instead of cutting back and shriveling up  to wait out these economic times, Ashoka Lion has expanded our property management service offering every year.

Since 2006, here is a list of improvements that we now offer real estate investors and tenants:

  • Online Rental Owner Portals with financial reporting including income statement, balance sheet, and rent roll
  • Online tenant portals with tenant statements
  • Online document storage of leases
  • Online rent payment option for tenants
  • Online rental owner disbursements
  • Electronic calendars accessible by Mobile phones for property managers
  • Property managers telecommute into our property management system
  • Voice Over IP Phones routed to property managers
  • Electronic disbursements of Vendor Payments for services done for properties
  • Tenants can provide us written notice of repairs or move outs via our online portal
  • Property repair Work Orders are emailed to Vendors
  • Digital approval of Estimates and Documentsby Rental Owners
  • Use of Electronic Signature Programs for Leases
  • Tenants can now pay rents over the phone
  • Mobile friendly riders to Text to get information about Listing and Vacant Properties
  • QR Bar Codes on sign riders to get information about Listing and Vacant Properties
  • Vendors were instructed to fax or email over invoice versus mailing us paper invoices
  • Online rent application for our properties that can be found at www.LionRealEstate.com
  • Providing tenants a letter of top energy saving ideas to reduce down electricity usage
  • Our website's "Green Lifestyle" Section 
  • Expanded our property management operations to the Dallas, Texas area
  • And More!

Do you see a pattern in our improvements? Yes, our property management firm focused on being "Green" and mobile.   We decided that we could not build a business in the traditional mode to server our property management clients in the Houston and Dallas markets, and so we tailored our property management business to be built on a mobile platform that reduces down as much waste as we can.  In Houston,  our property management team got rid of our former office space near downtown Houston.  We shifted to mobile platform that agents  and property managers access from home or  on their mobile phones. This saves us in cost related to overhead for rent, storage space,etc. In addition, our property managers do not waste time driving to the office to do their work,  and so they are generally happier with the arrangement. Our business structure allows us to save in several ways that benefit our bottom line, but these improvements have also benefited our company in our goal to be one of the "greenest" management companies in the property management industry. Our tremendous financial savings also translated to environmental benefits including:

  • mileage lost to commuting to office
  • paper consumption printing invoices to store in paper files
  • paper printing for leases
  • mileage spent driving to collect rent

In fact in 2010, Ashoka Lion was selected as one of the top case studies by our digitial contract and document approval vendor (http://bit.ly/fnzaa0 ).  I know that our property management team is not perfect, but we are trying to improve our property management services for our rental property owners by relying on state of the art technology to maximize efficiencies and reduce our carbon footprint.  We could have waited to be a late adopter to technology or try to do business in a more traditional manner, but these difficult economic times requires us to think in new bold ways; if we want to thrive. If the old adage is that "the early bird catches the worm", then isn't it easier to catch the worm if you are mobile and nimble?