The Rise and Fall of the Rental Regime

October 11, 2012

The moon waxes and wanes, tides ebb and flow, and we all know that what goes up, will eventually come down; so it came as no surprise when the rental market started “showing signs of losing steam”, according to a recent report from Reis Inc.

Image Courtesy of Wall Street Journal

     In an article from the Wall Street Journal on October 3, 2012, Dawn Wotapka outlines some interesting statistics regarding the recent slump in the rental sector, possibly due to tenants feelings more inclined to purchase real estate while the rates are so low.

What does this mean for the multihousing industry? Well, seeing as research firm Zelman & Associates estimates roughly 235,000 units to be new construction this year alone, it might mean a few things for a property owner.
Not only will rental prices likely decrease over the years to come in order to obtain and more importantly, maintain occupancy; but property owners will have to do their fair share to make renting more attractive than owning. The good news here is that rental properties already have a head start– one word: amenities. Services such as Wi-Fi, when included with a rental property, automatically make a bare home look exactly that, bare. It is essential that owners do all they can to outfit their rental properties with all desired amenities, and adding a fully managed and monitored wireless network to any property is certainly going to increase the rentability, while also leaving property managers and owners available to fully focus on advertising their amenities advantage, and filling their buildings.

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Why Is Unmanaged WiFi Is So Slow

October 3, 2012

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article about the varying speed issues that can occur over a residential WiFi network.

Many variables affect the speed of a wireless connection, including max capacity and placement of the router, air-wave interference, and number of users sharing bandwidth. While most homes with a broadband connection share, on average, 6 devices, this poses a problem for connectivity speeds; especially when coupled with the initial lag due to “real world” speeds vs. promised performance, which, for the average American, is roughly 54 mbps.

There may be limited options on a residential network to ensure fair distribution of shared bandwidth, parents and siblings will likely continue with dueling downloads and slow streaming. For commercially deployed networks, however, there are more options. It is essential to make sure that there is, first and foremost, enough bandwidth to handle the network usage, but secondly, enough access points placed around the structure to ensure even signal distribution throughout. It is important that equipment is updated fairly frequently, because even if your broadband distributor is offering speeds upwards of 300 mbps, it is irrelevant if the router cannot process them. It is essential to make sure the router is configured to handle the allotted bandwidth. One last point to help beat slow wi-fi is a Managed Network, as you are able to set limits on the bandwidth each user gets, making sure no one user is eating up all the bytes, leaving other users starving for service.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444233104577595881760532986.html?KEYWORDS=why+wifi+is+so+slow

Active Connected Devices: Infiltrating the population in full force

September 21, 2012

Whether you are wireless with the masses, or still weighted by a wired ball and chain, chances are you are the proud owner of (on average in the US) 5 active connected devices. Wait what? 5? Active connected devices? Back it up.
Yes. As unbelievable as that is, it is accurate, at least according to some pretty interesting statistics recently released by Chetan Sharma Consulting. For those of you not familiar with the term, an Active Connected Device is any device actively used to connect directly to the internet; examples of these include but are not limited to: desktop computers, televisions, gaming consoles, phones, media players, even cars.

Personally, I was shocked when I first read the staggering statistics. Their study states that Globally there are approximately 10 Billion connected devices, a humble 70% of those devices being qualified as mobile, be it phone, laptop, tablet, or other untethered device. Although the survey does not provide us with a statistic on what percentage of the 10 Billion global devices the United States is responsible for, it does offer us a multitude of other interesting information.

In the United States alone, 80% of the actively connected devices are mobile; tablets and ereaders comprising 13%, smartphones coming in at an estimated 18%, and computers taking the lead at 22%. In another study that Chetan Sharma Consulting released, they estimated that the mobile data market has grown substantially over the last year, composing 42% of the US mobile industry revenues for 2012, estimated to reach an astronomical $80 billion this year alone! It’s no wonder the wi-fi market is full steam ahead.

The one statistic that truly surprised me was how many devices different age groups owned. I was sincerely shocked to learn that the unsuspecting 65+ bracket held the torch for highest percentage of more than 15 connected devices, coming in somewhere around 12%.

This study just goes to show the advances society is making under the influence of wi-fi, especially as it is becoming so readily available. The proof is in the pudding. If it’s not wireless, why bother?

 

http://www.chetansharma.com/USmarketupdateQ22012.htm

http://www.chetansharma.com/connectedconsumer.htm

 

Millenial Maddness

September 12, 2012

Satiating Gen Y’s technological tastes

 

 

It’s amazing how time changes things—what was once a commodious place to unwind and slow down from a busy day is morphing into a space efficient, Wi-Fi enabled hang-out, with unparalleled connectivity speeds to the outside world.

 

The fact is that today’s “Gen Y” renters are changing the game for today’s residential multifamily and student housing property owners. In an article written by Jennifer Chan of Zillow’s RentJuice on August 2, 2012, she states that the new wave of renters, many of which are college students or recent graduates, have a seemingly updated list of important factors when searching for a rental property—among these are energy efficiency and lax pet policy, but even more importantly, Wi-Fi connectivity.

There is no denying the technological transformation across the board, and that certainly includes the housing sector. Today’s renters are changing not only the way residential multifamily property owners market their properties, but how they outfit them, as well. Sites such as Craig’s List have made online advertising of available properties a must, and are slowly eliminating the need for more outdated ways of searching, such as the newspaper (I know, I didn’t realize this was still in print, either!). Social media is a force to be reckoned with, sweeping the rental market by storm. In an article by Sarah Gabot of RentJuice from February 8, 2012, she states that, “This generation, also known as ‘Millennials,’ consists of 70 million people born between 1982 and the early 2000’s.” She is referring to Generation Y, as I mentioned earlier, and I think it’s fair to say they, well, we, are a bunch of social media idealists. Many property managers are looking to reach this group on their terms, which of course requires having a solid social media presence. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all proving instrumental in transforming vacancies into occupancies.

But it doesn’t stop there; filling a space is only half the battle- retaining the renter is arguably more important. The market is taking a turn in desired amenities; in an article published in Good Magazine on February 7, 2012, Nona Willis Aronowitz writes, “Six in 10 people said they would sacrifice a bigger house to live in a neighborhood that featured a mix of houses, stores, and businesses within an easy walk.” While this statistic exemplifies one of the movements in the wants and needs of a modern renter, a property manager might be hard pressed in certain situations to make this a possibility—which makes including any accessible amenities even more important.

WiFi internet has become the most requested amenity anwhere—restaurants, gyms, offices, almost any and everywhere is WiFi enabled, even town greens are going wireless– and the residential multifamily industry is no exception! Trying to rent an apartment with no internet access would probably be harder than renting one without running water this day in age. In another article posted by RentJuice on February 7, 2012, Jennifer Chan includes a few enlightening facts from a J Turner Research study, sharing that 89% of students are doing their schoolwork online. She continues on, adding that from a survey of 10,000 college students, 64% would consider relocating due to low satisfaction concerning internet speed; 87% of those students are using the internet to maintain their social network accounts, while 56% are online for between 3 and 5 hours a day. When you consider these numbers it helps to put the importance of internet in perspective. Students, who are doing the majority of their work online, do not want to be restricted to their bedroom or dorm to do their work– they want WiFi connectivity throughout their entire property, and they want it seamless.

It’s incredible, the changes our society has undergone over the last thirty, even 10 years! Who would have thought we would be taking our tablets out for a walk in the Wi-Fi enabled park, along with our dogs? The internet certainly is a necessity, and it is undisputable that a property with high speed Wi-Fi access would rent faster than the same property without that amenity available, especially to today’s ever changing market of tech-savvy renters. Just some food for thought.

 

 

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/08/08/apartment-trends-what-renters-want/

http://www.zillow.com/blog/2012-07-13/how-to-reach-generation-y-renters/

http://www.zillow.com/blog/2012-08-02/apartment-trends-what-renters-want/

http://blog.rentjuice.com/marketing-rentals-towards-students-connectivity-matters/

http://www.good.is/post/most-americans-want-a-walkable-neighborhood-not-a-big-house/

http://blog.rentjuice.com/how-to-market-rentals-to-generation-y-our-4-week-social-media-regimen/

http://blog.rentjuice.com/how-to-attract-generation-y-renters/

IMAGE- http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/12/21-excellent-web-apps-for-college.html

Verizon, Google and the Net Neutrality Debate

August 17, 2010
Image: socialsignal.com

Hot on the tech news circuit last week was the Net Neutrality debate which is heating up as more companies begin to take sides.  If you are not familiar with what has been happening in the world of Net Neutrality, here’s a quick synopsis:

About a week ago, Google and Verizon, proposed an agreement that would seal the deal on Net Neutrality (keeping the Internet open), but it had one [not so] small catch.  In the agreement, wireless, mobile broadband would receive an exemption from Internet openness.  This has begun to spark massive debate over what would happen if this “proposal” were actually presented as a piece of legislation (this would need congressional and FCC approval and is not simply a business deal).  You can read the official agreement here. Concern has been label by some as “cable-ization” of the Internet – content that used to be all fair game and evenly accessible would be able to be pushed ahead, eliminated altogether,”premier” Internet content could be made available to those who paid more for their mobile service and certain users might receive “prioritized” content.

Anyone who has read an ounce of technology news in the last year understands that this is a very big deal.  With Smartphones making up for over 20% of the cellular industry and Wi-Fi networks appearing almost everywhere, it is safe to say that the future will be a wireless world.  I find it almost comical that wired Internet openness is protected in proposal…what a perfect distraction from what is really going on here!  Who cares so much about wired Internet when the whole world is becoming mobile?

Companies have begun to choose sides.  For example AT&T, which would obviously benefit from having more control over the content that is delivered and sold to it’s subscribers call the proposal, according to the New York Times, “a reasonable framework”.  On the flip side, companies that were born out of Internet openness like those of Facebook, were coming out not in support of the proposal.

Today the debate pot was stirred again as House Democrats “slammed” the proposal, according to PCWorld, in fact the proposal prompted Reps, Edward Markey, Anna Eshoo, Mike Doyle, and Jay Inslee to write a letter to the FCC chairman urging him to act on broadband regulation.  The letter referred to Internet doomsday prophesy such as, “closing the open Internet”, “inconsistent principals”, and creating demographics where users who need content the most would not be able to obtain it.

According to PCWorld, Richard Whitt, Washington telecom and media counsel for Google defended the proposal, stating, “No other company is working as tirelessly for an open Internet”.  That being said, the writing on the wall is very real and does present a future in which the, Internet-as-we-know-it, may suffer greatly.

For more on The Net Neutrality Debate, check out these articles:

NYT

PCWorld

Fiercebroadbandwireless.com

AT&T adds Chicago to Wi-Fi Roster

August 9, 2010

Chicago was AT&T’s third addition to it’s city Wi-Fi hotspot project.  In an effort to offload data from 3G to Wi-Fi, AT&T has recently deployed Wi-Fi networks in Charlotte, N.C. and Times Square, N.Y.  AT&T “Hotzones” are for the use of AT&T subscribers only and are free of charge.  After more than a year of reporting on the problems that 3G is going to face keeping up with the onslaught of high data usage devices, AT&T is answering subscribers call with the city “Hotzones” and Wi-Fi service in commercial businesses such as McDonalds and Starbucks.

This addition to Wi-Fi Hotzones comes on the tail of AT&T recent quarterly Wi-Fi usage report that 121.2 million Wi-Fi connections have been made at AT&T Hotzones in the first half of the year.  AT&T has labeled Wi-Fi as a “must-have amenity”.

Legal Jailbreak for iPhone Users

July 27, 2010

According to the NYT, The Library of Congress announced today, that it is legal for smartphone users to alter phone software to allow for use of applications that may not have been approved by the software’s manufacturer (as long as the software, itself, is obtained legally).  This process, most commonly know as “jailbreaking” is a method most commonly used by iPhone users.  Apple runs a tight ship when it comes to approving applications for use on it’s devices and often denies approval of applications that many would find to be very useful, citing copyright infrigement (due to the use of altered iPhone software), security issues, the need for more customer support and lowered quality of the device.

The Times quoted Apple spokeswoman, Natalie Kerris, as stating:

Apple’s goal has always been to ensure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone, and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience…As we’ve said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones, as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably.

The ruling comes as a huge victory to the independent application development industry.  Many developers spend large amounts of time and money developing applications for the iPhone, only to have the apps rejected.  Tech savvy iPhone users now have the freedom to legally experiment with the iPhone software and use applications that are outside of Apple’s realm of approved apps.  Many users simply see this as a right that they already had being officially supported.  In fact, Apple’s notoriously tight control and secrecy in regards to it’s products has brought scrutiny upon the company as many iPhone users see tinkering with their iPhone to run applications as the same as tinkering with their computer software to customize it.

I predict this ruling will actually help Apple who has had a ton of publicity (both positive and negative)  in the last year beginning with the stolen iPhone 4, the release of the iPad and it’s subsequent issues and then the iPhone 4.  Techies who have in the past rebelled against Apple because of it’ s restrictions, might to choose to ease up on their judgment and who knows, it may even boost sales.  That being said,  PCWorld accurately points out that: the legal support behind jailbreaking your iPhone does not change the fact that your phone may encounter stability issues, upgrading issues and most importantly, in the eyes of Apple, “jailbreaking” will void your warranty (which is, of course, still in Apple’s control).

AT&T Wi-Fi report proof of mobile users reliance on Wi-Fi

July 26, 2010

Image Courtesy: iphonefaqs.com

By now you have probably already read (and if not, be prepared to be impressed) about AT&T’s quarterly Wi-Fi usage report, which boasts 121.2 million connections made in the first half of 2010. Compare that number to AT&T’s 85.5 million connections in the entire year of 2009 and only 20 million connections made in 2008 and you get one impressive increase in users making Wi-Fi connections. AT&T’s press release gives credit to both the increase in smartphone users and the increase in AT&T “hotzones”, which according to WiFiNetNews.com is primarily due to the free Wi-Fi at McDonald’s, powered by AT&T. According to WiFiNetNews.com McDonalds and Starbucks “represent about 19,000 of AT&T’s “more than 20,000” locations. AT&T’s release also speaks of the mobile device user’s reliance on mobile broadband as well as the importance of businesses providing free Wi-Fi to their residents, customers, guests, etc. AT&T referred to Wi-Fi as a “must-have amenity” to hotel guests. We have been saying exactly that for a long time. AT&T backed up the “must-have” amenity statement with mention of their recent deal with Hilton Worldwide to deploy Wi-Fi networks at 3200 Hilton properties . The Wi-Fi Revolution™ has arrived and it is only going to get bigger. The modern mobile device user simply needs broadband connectivity to not only accomplish everyday tasks (such as work, play, social networking, email, etc) but to take full advantage ofthe the range of their mobile device. Many device applications are designed for Wi-Fi use only. 3G simply doesn’t cut it anymore – AT&T’s sheer increase in connections over the past 2 years are a testament to that. Read the AT&T release here. Wi-Fi connectivity is a “must-have” amenity – We will enhance your property, business, building, etc. with a custom designed Wi-Fi network tailored to the needs of your property. Contact sales today.

Obama works to add broadband spectrum for commercial use

June 28, 2010

According to the New York Times, President Obama will sign, today, a memorandum that will allow for 500 megahertz of broadband spectrum to be auctioned off.  The majority of spectrum will be available for commercial use – this addition spectrum will almost double what is currently available and is a necessary addition given the prediction of expected mobile device usage in the coming years.

Some of the plan, which will allow for the freeing up of spectrum which is owned by both the government and private companies, will need to be approved by Congress.  The plan comes in the wake of a March recommendation by the FCC in its “National Broadband Plan”.

Read the NYT article

AT&T & Apple face lawsuits over data cap on iPad

June 28, 2010

iPad consumers are angered over AT&T’s new rate plans and the impact that they will have on iPad users.  AT&T’s new plans, which went into effect on June 7th, coordinating with the release of iPhone 4, no longer offer unlimited data.  For the new plan details, click here.   AT&T advertised that iPad users would have the ability to easily be able to opt in or out of unlimited data plans.  While, AT&T is allowing iPad users to keep unlimited data for now, if they skip a month, they will no longer be able go back to having unlimited data.

AT&T’s announcement of their new plans came very quickly after the release release of the 3G enabled iPad (which had previously only been available with Wi-Fi capability).  Consumers feel as though they have been tricked into either waiting to purchase the 3G iPad or trading in/ upgrading their Wi-Fi only iPad to the 3G version – only to find out that there are now data caps on the plans.  One customer was quoted on fiercebroadbandwireless.com as saying:

I originally purchased a standard iPad. Three weeks later, I returned it to the Apple store, paying an additional $130 plus sales tax to upgrade to an iPad with 3G capability. I thought the iPad 3G was worth the additional money because, with the unlimited data plan, I could work outside my office or home and access all the data I needed for a fixed, monthly price,” commented plaintiff Adam Weisblatt in a release distributed by law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein. “But I also knew that for several months each year, with my schedule, a lesser expensive, limited data plan was sufficient. I would have never purchased a 3G-capable iPad if I knew Apple and AT&T were planning on suddenly taking away from me the freedom to opt in and out of an unlimited data plan at my choice.

The cellular companies have long been scrutinized for sucking consumers into long term contracts with large cancellation penalties, making new offers available only to those willing to sign more contracts and charging huge overage and equipment charges.  It seems, however, that the data plan caps have sent consumers over the edge.  The lawsuit being filed claims that AT&T and Apple used a “bait and switch” tactic that tricked consumers into purchasing the 3G capable iPad.  iPad users frustration is understandable, especially since both AT&T and Apple advertised the 3G enabled iPad as having a easy to use unlimited data option for so long and then switched the plan so soon after the 3G iPad release.

We will keep you posted on this situation as it unfolds!