Tips for Taking Good Care of Apartment Investors
By Mae Behm
In the multifamily trade press and at industry conferences, there is a lot of conversation about how apartment owners and operators can provide great experiences to both prospects and current residents.
This is only appropriate, of course. Without a steady flow of new residents and a healthy dose of renewals, occupancy rates would collapse and revenue would crater.
Less frequent are discussions about how apartment companies should take care of their investors. But make no mistake: how you treat your investors is every bit as important as how you interact with your leads and your renters. In fact, without a base of happy and satisfied equity sources, an owner/operator can’t develop, acquire or renovate communities. Without properties, an owner/operator will have no need for residents. Simply put, it all starts with investor relations.
So how should a multifamily company take care of its investors? Below are some tips.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate – and then communicate some more. Informed investors tend to be happy investors. Apartment companies should be transparent and provide their investors with monthly financials, quarterly management reports and portfolio summaries, and annual audits and return summaries.
Alert your investors about upcoming special distributions; they like the personal touch – plus it gets them thinking about reinvesting. Take your investors to see properties in person if possible or provide them with video tours. Through e-newsletters, you can keep equity sources in the loop about a wide range of items, including new hires, charitable efforts and recent media coverage.
Investors should not be left to wonder about anything. That’s not a good way to build trust. If you have to change investor expectations, it’s better to do that quickly rather than leaving your investors guessing. And perhaps most importantly: always do what you say you’re going to do – and do it when you say you’re going to do it.
- Develop personal connections and make investors feel special. Real estate is a long-term investment, and so apartment companies should seek to build genuine, long-term relationships with investors.
Some effective ways to do that include sending birthday cards and handwritten thank-you notes. Check in on investors who are in the path of natural disasters or after certain significant events in their lives like a major surgery, retirement or the death of a spouse. Ask about their children and grandchildren, and learn their hobbies and favorite sports teams. Steer clear of canned communication.
For your institutional and large investors, set up Google alerts so that you will be quickly notified of any major news they may have and can follow up with them.
- Listen. Earlier I discussed the importance of regularly providing investors with relevant information. But communication is not a one-way street. Owner/operators need to make sure they’re listening to their investors as well. This ensures that investors’ needs are being met; plus honest feedback is vital for a company’s improvement. If an investor is made to feel like the partner that they are, they are more invested in continuing to make suggestions that may strengthen the investor experience for others.
- Deliver results. At the end of the day, it’s pretty simple: investors want to make money without assuming undue risk. Therefore, owner/operators have to deliver the financial results their equity sources are looking for. Without those results, no investor is going to be satisfied.
Although the topic seems to sometimes fly under the radar in multifamily, it’s impossible to overstate how important investor relations are to the success of an apartment company. If you don’t take good care of your investors, you simply won’t succeed in the marketplace.
Mae Behm is vice president of investor relations for JVM Realty Corp.