Real estate firms know that there’s an excessive amount of data out there that can be harnessed to their advantage. With this data comes the potential to yield insights that will guide the strategy of the business and increase competitive advantage.
Anyone who has evaluated business intelligence (BI) solutions or has been through implementation of a BI project knows that there’s a high probability the system will not yield the results that they anticipated. So how can businesses avoid failure when it comes to BI? Let’s count down the five main reasons why BI for real estate firms fails to deliver on its promise.
5. Choosing the wrong solution – Simply put, many firms select a BI solution that is not a fit for their business. Before making a selection, it’s important to understand your goals for the new system and what problem you expect it to solve. Does the solution truly meet the requirements of your business case? How will it work with your existing processes? New technology won’t fix broken processes, but it can automate the right ones.
4. Cumbersome data integration – From lease information to contracts, assets, and other financial documents, gathering insights from data across your organization can be a challenge if the data can’t easily be integrated with a BI solution. The process of extracting data in an accurate manner can be extremely frustrating if the analytics solution does not offer clean integration capabilities with your system of record.
3. Technological burden – In order to meet the full extent of your business needs, it might seem as if the best BI solution for you would be a fully customizable one. However, developing and adding unique customizations could require an extensive time commitment from your IT department. Even if IT is able to find the time to properly tailor the solution, fully customizing a BI solution can be extremely expensive – even more so if external consultants are required to do the work.
2. Inflexible software – Since customization has its own challenges, you might be tempted to lean towards implementing an out-of-the-box analytics solution. After all, how likely is it that a standard solution that supposedly works well for most won’t work for your company? Real estate firms are well aware that they have different requirements than other types of businesses, and out-of-the-box solutions typically lack the flexibility needed to address their needs. Whereas customization overwhelms your business with the time and financial commitment, out-of-the-box software is likely going to be too rigid to provide any meaningful business intelligence insights.
1. Underestimating time to value (TTV) – Investing in a solution is one thing, but implementing it is an entirely different process to tackle. Off-the-shelf software might not be specific or narrow enough to extract the data that your company requires, and customizable software makes for a long and expensive development process. Looking eight to ten months down the line, your solution still might not be functional enough to yield any notable return. Don’t underestimate the importance of getting up and running quickly to justify your investment.
Ultimately, user adoption is one of the key measurements of success or failure of a tool, and if these are issues you face in taking on a new BI solution, there’s undoubtedly going to be a significant lack of user adoption. Whereas both customizable and off-the-shelf solutions might bring your business significant challenges, MRI Software offers an alternative: a best-of-both-worlds option.
MRI’s business intelligence and analytics tool is already designed to fit the needs of the real estate industry, and that means you can get it right off the shelf without worrying about a long implementation process. Learn more about how you can tackle a BI project the right way with MRI’s business intelligence and analytics solution.
“The launch of MRI Affordable Housing provides features and functionality that will simplify life for anyone operating in this sector,” says David Carner, Senior Vice President, Residential Solutions at MRI Software. “MRI Affordable Housing’s comprehensive functionality allows users to automate compliance for HUD Multi-Family, Tax Credit, HOME, and USDA Rural Development.”
We’ve compiled a library of commonly used public and affordable housing resources, such as forms, guides, income and rent limits, notices, and online reporting systems. Check it out the compliance library here!
Support for Bostonpost
For current Bostonpost users who require support, please reach out to our team using the contact information on the Support page.
Affordable housing property management software provides property managers with updates that will streamline certification processes for affordable housing and facilitate day-to-day property management operations. Multifamily property managers who would like to learn more about the latest advancements in affordable housing software should contact MRI Software at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how your staff can work more efficiently and better manage your affordable housing communities.
Nearly one year ago, MRI presented a vision for the future of public and affordable housing at our users conference in Atlanta. We vowed to create web-enabled software with a world-class user experience to meet the needs of the often-overlooked public and affordable housing sectors.
With the help of a dedicated crew of clients and testers, we have worked hard to make that vision a reality. We recently launched MRI Affordable Housing, a comprehensive property management and compliance solution for affordable owners and operators in the United States. This solution lays the groundwork for the next milestone: the release of MRI Public Housing later this year. We’re excited to bring features to manage a variety of funding programs for public housing authorities, including voucher management, MTW and RAD, that will help agencies work more efficiently. The vision of an open and connected ecosystem within the affordable and public housing industry will become a reality.
Industry expertise on display
As a market leader for public and affordable housing, MRI is proud of the expertise and knowledge that we have to offer. Our team will present multiple sessions at the 2019 NAHRO Summer Conference – here’s a sample of the industry topics that you can learn about at the event.
What does “asset management” mean after RAD conversion?
Elaine Magil and Martha Tai from TCAM will hold a session centered around the question, “What does asset management mean after a RAD conversion?” As PHAs enter into relationships with private investors to own and renovate PHA properties, the conditions of the properties are improving. By nature, however, a PHA’s relationship with its properties changes after a RAD conversion, and along with new responsibilities in oversight and compliance, there are new opportunities to create a better-than-expected outcome.
TCAM services for public and affordable housing
With the acquisition of TCAM, MRI now offers many services that benefit the public housing sector, including asset and portfolio management, transaction oversight, and consulting services. TCAM’s expertise and services allow PHAs to:
Address new challenges and opportunities for managing RAD portfolios
Manage risk and on-going reporting responsibilities cost-effectively
Provide effective and responsive direction to property management
Free up staff time to focus on recapitalization and community impact
MRI Software is also proud to welcome Allen Feliz, previously a Senior Director of TCAM, as MRI’s new Industry Principal of Public and Affordable Housing, Allen’s extensive knowledge and industry experience will ensure a bright future for MRI’s public and affordable housing solutions.
An open and connected approach to public housing
MRI believes that a comprehensive, flexible, open and connected technology platform is the future of software, and we are thrilled to bring this approach to the public housing industry. Our Partner Connect program now includes FileVision, a partner focused on
delivering paperless solutions, developed specifically for public housing and community development authorities, to streamline the collection, organization, review, storage and retention of documents. Scores of housing authorities have gone ‘paperless’ with FileVision’s Electronic Tenant Record (ETR) Solution, a full-featured document management system that handles your paper-based applicant and tenant processes. PHAs have been able to eliminate file cabinets, streamline workflow, support paperless audits, identify required – and missing – documents, ensure compliance and work from dynamic electronic checklists.
From our expert presentations at NAHRO to our new colleagues and partners, MRI is beyond excited to continue our public and affordable housing journey. We cannot wait for our vision to become reality in the months ahead.
Stay tuned, as more information on our public housing solution will be announced in Anaheim this October at MRI Ascend.
Over the past few months, the leaders and clients of MRI Software have been recognized for multiple honors. At MRI Software, we love celebrating wins, especially when they represent success for real estate software as a whole.
The following awards are more than just individual achievements among the MRI family; they’re indicators for the future of the industry. We pride ourselves on being bold promoters of an open and connected ecosystem that works for everyone, and the recognition received by our leaders and clients affirms what we’ve known for a long time: the open ecosystem is the future of real estate tech.
Patrick was presented with the Digital Impact Award at Realcomm 2019 for his many positive influences on the industry:
Architecting and implementing a successful strategy to establish MRI as a market leader
Aggressively building a partner ecosystem and continually acquiring synergistic companies to enhance MRI’s competitive position
Being valued as a consistent thought leader and client-focused visionary dedicated to raising the bar on industry best practices
We’re also proud of Urban Edge Properties, an MRI client that won a Digie Award for Best Use of Automation in Property/Facility Management!
Owning 16 million square feet in 86 properties, Urban Edge Properties is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that acquires, develops, owns, manages and improves shopping centers in and on the edge of urban communities. Urban Edge was given a Digie for Best Use of Automation for:
Effectively transforming digital processes and differentiating themselves in the industry as an innovator
Pioneering the integration of budgeting and forecasting through MRI Investment Management with Spreadsheet Server
Creating an innovative automated process for recoveries and accruals and integrating the lease process into their ERP
To learn more about Urban Edge Properties and how they leverage an open and connected ecosystem to improve efficiency, watch the on-demand webinar.
Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist
Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award is a celebration of innovators who have done extraordinary things in their field and brought their respective companies to the forefront of technological advancement. We are thankful for Patrick’s inspiring leadership, and we are happy to see him included as a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year in the East Central Region.
The Northeast Ohio Smart 50 Awards recognize the “top executives at the 50 smartest companies in the Northeast Ohio region,” and this year, we are thrilled to announce that Patrick Ghilani is featured on this list.
The secret of MRI Software’s success is not in our leaders or employees alone, but in the environment we foster, the clients we support, and in the open ecosystem we champion.
Like the best authors who create pictures and stoke our emotions with the turn of a phrase, the best data can show us how the fabric of business is woven together. Using the entry points of reporting, dashboards, and analytics, real estate professionals can view the data in a way that suits their needs and helps them better understand the story their raw metrics are telling.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, Scarecrow and Tin Man consider the obstacles that they will face on their journey and soon recite the famous line, “Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!” in unison at an escalating pitch. The audience is captivated by the rhythm of the phrase and instantly identifies with their plight, a plight based on the uncertainty of what they will face along the way.
Modern real estate professionals often face similar uncertainty as they attempt to extract information from the mountain of data that their businesses create. Questions about data abound as teams consider the accuracy of their data, how best to organize and extract it, and if it delivers the information the business needs to make crucial decisions. Often times, it can feel like there is a “man behind the curtain” operating with smoke and mirrors.
But reporting, dashboards, and analytics can help solve your data problems!
If we consider the way in which the information will be consumed and the objective of the recipient, it is much easier to organize the information using three basic approaches: Reporting, Dashboards and Analytics or Business Intelligence. Each provides a specific entry into the data and enables the producer to tell the data’s story in a relevant and personalized way.
Reporting: How can it track performance?
Reports are grids full of raw metrics that are produced by extracting data from across your business.
At a basic level, data must be extracted from wherever it is maintained in a format that can be easily consumed by the audience, or to whom it is distributed. Over time, standardized reports have developed the present information that is generally agreed upon by industry professionals. These reports include commonly used financial statements, variance reports and rent rolls.
Practitioners become adept at identifying critical information in these reports that are generally produced on a regular cadence. Reporting will sometimes contain commentary, but typically, this information is presented without commentary or context and it’s left to the recipient to apply a lens of experience to use the information in these reports to drive action. Other ad hoc reports are also generated to identify additional critical or unique metrics within an organization.
The danger here is that these reports often stray from their original scope and become a “data roster” of sorts, without the personalization or context needed to effectively deliver actionable information. Well-thought-out reporting is an exercise in extracting relevant information to track performance so that productive business decisions can be made.
Dashboards: How are they different from reports?
In contrast to standard reporting, dashboards offer users the opportunity to focus on selected key performance indicators (KPIs) that drive a business and represent them in a graphical or visual format.
The visual approach to presenting information gives the user “at-a-glance” access to the information so that they are quickly able to focus on patterns or changes over time as well as outlying data points. Dashboards are often customized by role, ensuring that the business drives that impact that role are captured and presented for that user.
If there are specifics that merit deeper discovery, the user can drill into the data from the dashboard and gain insight into that KPI, insight that will enable that person to take action to impact that business driver positively.
Analytics: What separates them from reporting and dashboards?
Analytics (aka data visualization) is one of the hottest topics across a variety of industries today. As evidenced by Salesforce’s recent acquisition of Tableau Software, the need for companies to “see and understand their data” is critical in today’s hyper-competitive environment.
A data visualization tool enables users to flex their data and evaluate it from a variety of perspectives. With the ability to quickly identify trends in large amounts of data or overlay one data set over another, it is this dynamic interaction with data that uncovers trends or even relationships between seemingly disparate data sets. With the ability to explore the data and arrive at a data-driven conclusion, this business intelligence approach improves the speed and accuracy of business decisions that can impact an entire portfolio.
Today’s decision makers need the most accurate and relevant information possible, and they need it delivered in a personalized fashion to drive the business forward. With the volume of data that businesses are collecting today, these professionals need a variety of tools to extract the information, insights and intelligence they need. When harnessed properly, these tools provide the shortest distance between the data and the decision.
While your multifamily property might already use a tenant screening service, what should be done if that service produces a false positive? These might seem like minor problems on the surface, but tenant screening false positives actually have several serious implications.
If your screening service produces a false positive, then…
Your property could be turning away a good applicant
You could lose money
It may create a compliance issue for your property
What is a tenant screening false positive?
A false positive happens when your tenant screening service incorrectly matches an applicant to a record, and their application is subsequently denied. When a false positive is produced, there is a good chance that by denying the applicant, you’ll be turning away a prospect who could have been a great resident.
More importantly, however, a false positive in resident screening could mean that your property is failing to comply with the Fair Housing Act. A recent court ruling found that fair housing laws are applicable to screening services, and in some cases, the screening service provider did not go far enough in preventing the disparity impact on housing.
Even though the screening service provider was found to be in the wrong in the aforementioned court ruling, another recent lawsuit has proven that screening providers and other entities can be fined and/or sued for failing to comply with these laws as well.
How can you prevent false positives and avoid these issues?
One of the preliminary ways to avoid false positives and compliance issues is to ensure that the criteria set by your property management is within the bounds of applicable laws. Your tenant screening service will provide the matching logic to align with the factors you’ve chosen. As laws change, however, these services will need to be monitored and kept up to date. As recent history has shown, there are laws and offenses that are being decriminalized as time goes on, and the screening logic must be adapted to fit those changes.
It’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of the current guidelines of your tenant screening service. Knowing the “ins” and “outs” of your service and how it lines up with all applicable fair housing laws can protect your residential property from legal trouble and give you confidence that your service is accurate when you do deny an applicant.
If these guidelines are out of date, then it’s the responsibility of the multifamily property manager to implement new ones. The process of setting new guidelines might take time, but it’s important that you set detailed rules that are aligned with the latest local laws and standards. Establishing broad, blanket rules for your tenant screening process, such as denying all applicants with a criminal history, goes against HUD guidelines designed to avoid disparity impact of protected classes.
How resident screening providers can help
Screening providers also have a responsibility to equip property managers with the accurate and extensive services they need to avoid false positives and set up a screening process that works best for their property. For example, MRI Software publishes a compliance review for our clients so they can manage the factors that contribute to their screening processes and get a clearer view of things that might need to be adjusted.
As a screening provider, our team has a comprehensive knowledge of the law and knows which things aren’t supposed to be considered when establishing screening guidelines, including rules that are only applicable in certain states. Learn more about resident screening and why implementing the right tools and processes is vital to your multifamily property.
This week, an earthquake rattled Cleveland, Ohio. Around the same time, Salesforce announced that it was buying Tableau Software. The earthquake was short-lived with minimal aftershocks, but the impact of the latest big acquisition by Salesforce will be felt for quite some time.
A bit over a year ago, Salesforce acquired Mulesoft, and I called it a turning point for enterprise software. I still stand by that claim today, and this latest news is a natural extension of that deal.
At the time of the Mulesoft deal, Salesforce Chairman and co-CEO Mark Benioff was quoted as saying, “Together, Salesforce and MuleSoft will enable customers to connect all of the information throughout their enterprise across all public and private clouds and data sources—radically enhancing innovation.”
In the press release announcing this week’s deal, Benioff said, in part, that “Tableau helps people see and understand data…”
The simplicity of this strategy is what makes it so compelling. Figure out how to get access to the data of the enterprise, then make it accessible to the people of the enterprise.
The promise of radically enhanced innovation will be enabled, in large part, by the combination and analysis of data across multiple sources, potentially in real time, and presented in a visual manner that is easy to consume.
The promise of big data has and continues to be in the utilization of the data to drive better business results. The challenge of big data is that it continually grows in variety, volume, and velocity, outstripping the capabilities of traditional reporting tools and conventional consumption practices.
With more and more data being generated, collected, and curated every day, the challenge is how to find the important data quickly so you can make the best use of it. How will you find the signal in the noise when the volumes of data make it akin to a needle in a haystack? Will you be able to identify an unwanted trend before it is too late?
The impact of data visualization
The visualization of data changes how the data is consumed. In place of a standard report with rows and columns, subtotals, and totals, you can have a well-constructed graphic that draws the reader’s eye to the outlying datapoints.
In the commercial real estate industry, there’s great value in placing data in the context of physical space with what I call spatial intelligence:
Imagine taking the floor plan from your local mall and having the ability to see how people move through the space, where they stop, and for how long. Using data to describe the flow of shoppers across the physical space of the shopping center is substantially more powerful than traditional methods that basically amount to turnstiles, counting entrances and exists.
Take the site plan of your apartment community. What if you could literally see a correlation between vacancy and physical location, a trend in maintenance requests and a specific area of the property? Placing data in the context of physical space provides different insights than any list or chart, by bringing to light what is happening in and around a physical space.
In the real estate industry, spatial intelligence can be done at a property level (expiry heat maps, retail health heat maps, work order heat maps, energy consumption, etc.) or at a geographical level (apartment interest by originating zip code, proximity to public transport, portfolio-level views of energy consumption, vacancy, and other metrics etc.).
Leveraging well-constructed and interactive data visualizations gives the consumers of data the best chance to quickly find what they need to find. Instead of spending time searching for the data that needs attention, they can spend more time thinking about what to do based on what the data is telling them. The reader does not have to scan through a “wall of numbers” to find data that needs attention, action and inquiry. Instead, the data that needs attention almost jumps off the page like it was shaken loose in an earthquake.
Brian Zrimsek is a well-known subject matter expert, industry panelist, and trusted advisor in the real estate tech market. He is Industry Principal at MRI Software, where he leverages his experiences as a former client, IT leader, and Technology Analyst to help shape product strategy and direction.
Dealing with multifamily property fraud before it happens is crucial to the health and success of your properties. With the numerous challenges facing multifamily property managers today, it can be tempting to think that the chances of dealing with fraudsters are slim to none. Why would you need to prepare for something that likely won’t happen?
The truth, however, is that multifamily property fraud is far more pervasive than most believe and can quickly grow into a serious problem. Fraud can waste the time of front and back office employees, damage your bottom line, and hurt the reputation of your property.
How multifamily property fraud hurts your property
Dealing with a fraudster within your community is a massive waste of time and money. Getting rid of a fraudster creates a hassle for your leasing office staff who have to go back over the records and the fraudster’s application to see if they passed a background check. In addition to this, evicting a fraudster means losing money because of the time it takes to fill the newly vacant unit.
On top of this general hassle, whoever said “there’s no such thing as bad press” clearly never had to deal with multifamily property fraud. Building up a solid reputation for your property takes time and effort, but fraud can damage that carefully curated reputation fast. The last thing that you want is for all online searches for your property over the next few months to bring up news stories about how a fraudster infiltrated your multifamily community.
How can I identify multifamily property fraud before it happens?
While many of us believe that we could spot someone trying to pull the wool over our eyes, the fact of the matter is that the methods fraudsters use today are far more elaborate than they used to be, with some going to extreme lengths to cover their tracks.
Fraud doesn’t always happen behind the scenes. More often than not, a fraudster could be sitting across from you, handing you falsified documents. Can you identify a fake bank statement or employee records? Can you tell a fake driver’s license from a real one? Fraudsters can use technology to falsify just about any document you could think of – could you tell the difference?
If the answer is “no,” then that’s okay – there are still ways to protect yourself from multifamily property fraud. While FICO score checks and other methods of background checks might not be able to help you catch a fraudster, there are special resident screening services that can. MRI Software offers a screening service that can help you keep fraudsters at bay. Learn more about our resident screening services.
We’re excited to announce that the MRI International Users Conference (IUC) is being renamed to “MRI Ascend.”
While the name may have changed, the experience remains the same. MRI Ascend will continue to provide an educational, inspiring and fun experience that unites clients, partners, and MRI staff in a unique open ecosystem.
Since MRI Software pioneered the real estate tech industry 48 years ago, we have worked together with our clients to create solutions and integrations that drive success. Our users conferences have been the catalyst for collaboration, community and innovation, bringing together MRI clients and partners in one unique open ecosystem. No other provider in the industry can match the true freedom and choice on display at the event formerly known as the IUC.
New name. Same revolution.
Today, with an expanded global presence and clients operating in nearly every corner of the world, our users conferences still remain the heart and soul of our relationships. These unique events extend beyond software — the worldwide community has transformed into multiple events around the globe, and clients remain unified by a common desire to reach new heights.
Whether you’ve been with us for 40 years or four months, we are all on a mission together to amaze others, get it done, and promote an open and connected ecosystem.
We hope to see you at MRI Ascend Anaheim this October! Did you know that registration is now open? Register here and reserve your spot with early-bird pricing!
Recent news has shed light on an increase in retail store closings in 2019. In fact, we’re on track for more retail store closures this year than ever before. The natural thought process is to assume that ecommerce will eventually replace brick-and-mortar stores, and that traditionally physical retailers must prioritize an online presence above everything else to survive.
This isn’t entirely true. Yes, physical retailers must change with the times like any other industry, but that doesn’t mean brick-and-mortar retail is near extinction.
Retail is dead. Long live retail.
If everything is doom and gloom for retail, then why are we seeing digitally native brands opening physical stores?
In a recent Wall Street Journal supplement (May 2019) on retail real estate, MRI Software’s Brian Zrimsek states, “Bricks and clicks are not mutually exclusive – they actually complement each other.”
Retail property managers, owners, operators and REITs must make the right decisions to stay competitive. The ability to leverage data is the best way to see the full picture of retail health and effectively evaluate portfolio performance.
With the right data, retail property managers and others can understand their optimal tenant mix, understand the health of their retailers, and stay agile to respond to market changes.
Identify and evaluate tenant mix
Data can provide insights into what’s working and what isn’t. When viewed from a performance standpoint, a retail asset manager can uncover the right mix that works for a given location and then curate tenants that fit with that mix. This can lead to decisions such as letting leases expire or choosing to remove a retailer that does not fit with the optimal mix.
Understand retail health
The retail health score of tenants can help landlords stay ahead of the curve for potential problems. What ratio of rent to sales are they equipped to handle? What level of risk can your tenants tolerate? Learn more about how to calculate and the retail health score and use it as an early warning system to evaluate performance across your portfolio.
Build in the flexibility needed to react to changing market trends and mitigate risk for your retail portfolio. Structure your contracts and leases with shorter terms or even create spaces so that you can add new permanent or popup stores. Some online retailers are actually considering brick-and-mortar spaces as “marketing expenses” and have shorter time horizons as a result. Gone are the days of being locked in to a 30-year lease with Sears.
Learn more about MRI Software’s retail property management solutions here.
Andy Welkley is a Product Marketing Manager for MRI Software, where he drives product strategy and direction for the company’s Financial, Commercial and Retail property management solutions. Andy is passionate about leveraging the power of data to drive actionable decisions across organizations, and he enjoys developing and teaching best practices that support the needs and requirements of MRI clients.