Monday, December 10, 2012

The Second Screen Effect: Some Thoughts for Multifamily

If you own a tablet or a smartphone, there's a good chance you break it out while you're watching TV. Maybe you glance at your email or update an app, but it's also very likely that you're checking your favorite social networking sites, often to see what others are saying about the same show you're watching. And you're not alone ... your residents are doing this, too.

Whether it's a football game, The Voice, Scandal or Dexter, people are supplementing their viewing experience by connecting with their friends and other fans of these shows to discuss what's happening in real time -- on sites like Facebook and Twitter, and on apps like GetGlue, IntoNow and Miso. It's called the "second screen" effect, and it has a lot of interesting implications for media companies, social networks ... and yes, even your property.

Watching tv, listening to musac from NYS's live stream on the laptop, while scanning twitter on the iPad. So po-mo.

But why would this affect multifamily?

Exponentially more connected devices.

It's simple math. Instead of one device (the home computer) using a data connection, we now regularly see as many as ten or more connected devices in each apartment home -- multiple laptops, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, smart TVs, streaming boxes (think AppleTV or Roku) and more ... in each apartment. All of these devices are trying to connect, and almost all of them rely on wireless connections (either Wi-Fi or cellular).

Now, this might work fine in your home, when the closest neighbor is yards away or more. But in the densities we see in apartment buildings of all shapes and sizes, we're talking about hundreds of devices competing for bandwidth and wireless spectrum.

If you don't have the ability to deliver the increased throughput needed, or if your building's Wi-Fi isn't robust enough to handle this many devices, or if your agreement with your property's Internet service provider only requires them to allow a small number of devices per user, there's a really good chance your residents won't be able to connect. And they're more than willing to voice their frustrations ... just take a look:

The Positive Side?

If you are able to handle the connections that residents expect, promote it. It may seem trivial, but we're hearing more anecdotal stories that prospects are testing cellular and Wi-Fi connections as they are touring new properties ... so take the opportunity to promote the fact that you have fiber at the property or a choice of Internet providers. (And if your property network can't support the expected level of connectivity, address it. Sooner rather than later.)

And as a side note, I think there may be an opportunity to leverage this trend to help connect residents with each other, too. If you see that a number of residents are sharing posts about a certain show, that may be just the signal you need to organize some kind of viewing party in the clubhouse lounge or theater room. Have some fun with it by asking trivia questions on your community's Facebook page; give away small prizes to the winners. (You'd be amazed what people will do for a Starbucks gift card.)

Media companies and social networks are looking for any way they can to leverage the second screen effect to keep audiences more engaged, so don't expect this to go away anytime soon. Residents will continue to expect to be ever-connected, from multiple devices at the same time, and they don't want to hear excuses about why their service isn't up to par.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

#NHMCTech: Twitter Highlights from the NMHC OpTech Conference

If you're in the apartment industry, you need to pay attention to what's coming out of the NMHC Operations and Technology Conference in Dallas this week. It's as simple as that.

Thanks to Twitter, you can follow along from the comfort of your own desk. A number of the attendees are tweeting tidbits from the sessions, using the hashtag #NHMCTech.

The topics have ranged from lead attribution and online reputation monitoring to cell phone coverage and electric car chargers. Here are some of the highlights from Day 2 of the conference:

Marketing and Lead Management

Onsite Technology

IT and Operations

Social Media and Online Reviews

Keep an eye on the hashtag as more insights from the conference are shared today. What are some the hot button topics that stick out to you?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hit by Sandy? Here are updates you may want to pass along to your residents

Do you have properties that have been affected by Superstorm Sandy? In addition to widespread power outages, there's a good chance your residents' telecommunications services have been impacted, as well.

Multichannel News has a full rundown on what the cable operators and telephone companies are doing to restore service.

Here's what a few service providers are doing to deal with the effects of the storm:

Cablevision Systems said it was experiencing “widespread service interruptions, primarily related to the loss of power.” The company is providing updates for customers at

Time Warner Cable was not reporting any “significant impact,” although anyone without power obviously doesn't have cable service, either. TWC is providing more info to their customers at

Verizon said its switching centers in Manhattan were “severely affected,” and they've also reported that central offices in Queens and Long Island have flooded. Customers served by those COs have lost all services including FiOS, high-speed Internet and phone services. Verizon customers can get updates at

Like Time Warner, Comcast reported that most customer issues for customers are "directly related to commercial power outages, and for the majority of people, their Comcast service should be restored as power comes back on to their homes." At least temporarily, Comcast is also opening its Wi-Fi hotspots along the East Coast for anyone to use for no additional charge.

If you have residents in the affected areas, you may want to pass this info along to them.

What else are you seeing? Are the service providers effectively communicating with you and your residents to let you know when services will be restored?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Connected Lighting Solution

Nowadays almost everything is controlled remotely. With GreenWave Reality's Smart Home Platform, high-quality, connected LED bulbs can be controlled via a wifi-enabled device such as the provided hand-held controller or a smart phone. The LED bulbs use 80% less energy than your average incandescent bulb and deliver a pleasing, warm light rated at 2700°K that is directly comparable to the incandescent bulb.

Smart Home Platform Benefits
• Energy Star Connected bulbs are eligible for utility rebates
• Handheld remote allows for control of lighting without Cloud-services
• Adding the Gateway provides powerful Smart Controls and remote access
• Consumers can set lights to automatically come on at dusk and go off at dawn
• NXP’s JenNet-IP technology eliminates any delays in controlling the bulbs and can support up to 500 bulbs in a single network

How does it work?
Each light bulb includes a wireless antenna that allows for high-quality, reliable communication between the bulbs via a wireless network, even in narrow spaces such as a recessed lighting can. Simply screwing in the pre-configured LED bulbs, consumers can immediately begin to control their lights.

Why would you consider it?
The combination of high-quality, energy efficient, low-cost hardware devices and intuitive user interfaces provide users with a system that is easy to set-up, simple to configure, and effortless to manage. Additionally, this highly affordable solution empowers users to control their in-home lighting to improve their lifestyle, reduce lighting and energy costs, and make a positive impact on the environment and future generations.

Green Wave Reality

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Get Ready for Ultra HD

According to Nielsen, over 75% of U.S. households have a high definition TV. You probably already know that a lot of your residents are included in that number.

The "next" thing was supposed to be 3D TVs, but those have been received with mixed reviews. (Who wants to wear those special glasses?) But don't look now ... there's an entirely new option right around the corner, and it's something you should keep an eye on: Ultra HD TV.

UltraHD TVs look amazing. A typical HD television has a resolution of 720-1,080 rows of pixels on the screen; Ultra HD promises at least 4 times that resolution. There's a whole set of standards that has already been developed, and the first models could start hitting store shelves as early as this holiday season.

What does it mean for multifamily?

Use it as a Leasing Tool. First, it might be worth upgrading in your leasing offices and amenity spaces. If you have high-res videos or photos of your property, there's no better way to showcase them than on a beautiful display. If you don't have high-res photos and videos of your property, get some ... it's worth it.

Do a Network Double-Check. For your residents, it will be more important than ever to have a solid video network for your property. Video providers will be moving to provide content for these ultra-high resolutions, and it's not going to look very good if the resident can't get a decent signal to their living room. Talk to your service provider, or have a low voltage consultant review your site infrastructure (and any agreements you have in place with your providers).

Customer (Electronics) Support. Also, UltraHD TVs are huge ... sometimes 84 inches and bigger. Can your walls handle that if a resident tries to mount a 80+" TV on the wall? It might make sense to review your outlet plan in the apartments to make sure the layouts still work. In many cases, we're seeing our clients and other multifamily developers add extra outlets (and reinforced walls to support the weight of the TV) at the height where the resident would typically mount the display.

As the holiday season approaches (and the Consumer Electronics Show in January), keep an eye on these devices. Look for the empty boxes out by the dumpsters. Hopefully there isn't too much you need to do to prepare your property, but keep these points in mind if you start to see an increase in complaints about the TV service in the months ahead.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Behringer Harvard Acquires Land for Luxury Multifamily Development in Houston

Landmark Breaks Ground in State College, PA

Landmark Properties breaks ground on project in State College, PA.

Capstone Begins Work, Cottages of Boone

Work begins on Capstone Collegiate Communities Cottages of Boone on Poplar Grove Road off Highway 105.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Mike Mueller's Next Move: Acquiring CallSource's Multifamily Division

Multifamily technology entrepreneur, Mike Mueller, has acquired CallSource's multifamily vertical and plans to relocate the company's operations to Scottsdale.

Terms of the deal, which closed Thursday, were not disclosed. Mueller said the acquisition positions CallSource Multifamily for its next phase of innovation and growth which includes the subsequent move to Scottsdale and the creation of 40 local jobs.

CallSource Multifamily provides key strategic services to enhance an apartment community's ability to track marketing spend, increase lead conversion rates and improve employee performance. Its services allow apartment owners to direct their marketing and employee dollars for maximum return. Powering these services is a technology platform that tracks more than 11 million calls and monitors those calls for optimal leasing opportunities and prospects.

"CallSource Multifamily is the leader within the industry and we know that clients will be delighted by the seamless transition as well as the additional innovative offerings that will be rolled out in the future," said Mueller, who has a long and distinguished career in the multifamily industry. Mueller was one of the first people to visualize how the Internet could change the way owners and managers market apartments and recently sold VaultWare™, the industry's first online apartment reservation system, to MRI Software.

"The CallSource Multifamily business aligns perfectly to my history of innovating consumer-centric marketing and leasing solutions," added Mueller, who will serve as president and CEO of the company.

Jerry Feldman, Chief Executive Officer of CallSource, commented, "CallSource has been serving the multifamily industry for 21 years. And I have known Mike for 15 of those years. I am excited to have him and our multifamily team take our products and services to the next level."

Joining Mueller will be Mark Sadosky, chief sales and marketing officer; Len Ksobiech, chief financial and operating officer; Doug Chasick, chief learning officer, as well as an experienced team of CallSource Multifamily management and personnel.

About CallSource Multifamily
CallSource Multifamily provides key strategic services to enhance an apartment community's ability to track marketing spend, increase lead conversion rates, and improve employee performance. Its unique services: CallTrack, LeadScore, Telephone Performance Analysis, LeadManager, LeaseSaver, and Online Learning Management System allow a multifamily business to direct its marketing and employee dollars for maximum return. Powering these services is a technology platform that uses more than 85,000 numbers tracking more than 11 million calls, of which over 4 million are listened to and scored for multifamily businesses across the country. CallSource technology is responsible for tracking and monitoring tens of millions of dollars in leasing opportunities.

About Mike Mueller
Mike Mueller was one of the first people to visualize how the Internet could change the way apartment owners and managers market their properties with one of the industry's first Internet Listing Services,, a company he founded in 1996. It was later merged with and went public as in 1999. Over the last 13 years he has been an early investor in companies like RealPage, LeasingDesk, MyNewPlace and most recently VaultWare which he founded and sold to MRI Software in late 2011. His focus continues to be consumer-centric marketing and leasing solutions for the multifamily housing industry and has been acknowledged as a pioneer by numerous organizations and publications. With his CallSource acquisition, Mike plans on taking prospect lead acquisition to a new level through the use of multiple emerging technologies including mobile-enabled devices like smartphones.