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When you sign a lease for an apartment, there’s a good chance you are not working directly with the original developer of that multifamily community. In many cases, the leasing agent who assists you is working for an apartment or property management company, a third-party entity that is brought in to maintain the complex and provide residents with an array of services. In fact, when it comes to the day-to-day operations of your apartment community, the various employees from the management company typically will be the people you see regularly and will be your go-to source for everything you need. So, what can you expect from today’s property management organizations? KNOWAtlanta Magazine turned to Atlanta-based multifamily apartment management company First Communities Management (FCM), which oversees more than 16,000 units in the metro area, to find out what apartment seekers should look for when it comes to the management of properties in which they are interested. W. Mitcham Harrison, president and CEO, and Pauline Houchins, vice president of development and property operations, shared these helpful insights.
Start at the Beginning
Of course, property management companies do handle all of the basic functions and procedures that go along with apartment living. From information about the terms of the lease to the kinds of standard services available to you as a resident, the management company should be able to provide you with all of the answers you need before you sign on the dotted line. FCM suggests that, as you begin and narrow down your apartment search, you ask the following questions:
- What is your application process?
- What is your qualifying criteria?
- What is included in the rent?
- How do I pay rent?
- Can I pay online or do I pay in the office? What forms of payment do you accept?
- What is your late fee policy?
- Is renters’ insurance required?
- Which cable or internet company can I use?
- What is your community pet policy? Are there restricted breeds? Is there a monthly pet rent fee?
- Where will I be able to park?
- Are there any additional monthly fees?
Seeing is Believing
When you’re searching for an apartment, it’s not unusual to visit a number of potential communities. However, when you see multiple complexes, it can be hard to keep them straight in your mind. It’s important for an apartment management company to find ways for a development to stand out. For instance, FCM sets its communities apart by ensuring that potential residents do not take a standard “canned” tour, Houchins reveals. Instead, community visitors don’t just see a community’s main amenities, like a pool and fitness room, and move on—they see everything that creates real value for tenants. They also are given the opportunity to see move-in ready apartments as opposed to a model alone. “We want you to see the actual unit that you will live in,” Houchins states. That way, there are no surprises on moving day, and you’ll feel completely comfortable with everything the community has to offer its residents.
The Entire Experience
According to Harrison, today’s renters aren’t just looking for a place to live—they want to feel like they are part of a warm and welcoming community. That’s especially true for the people who are long-term renters by choice, from millennials who may not be ready to mortgage a home to baby boomers who have downsized and prefer apartment living. That’s why the full resident experience is at the forefront for an organization like First Communities. In addition to handling resident services like trash pickup, service requests, work orders, rent payments and more, the company strives to arrange resident events that will help people feel connected not only to their neighbors, but also to the development itself. For instance, every week, FCM offers a Breakfast on the Go event, as well as other gatherings and social opportunities throughout the year. The company also offers a variety of chances for residents to get to know the onsite management team, which “helps to foster a sense of community,” Houchins explains. That effort also reaches beyond the apartment complex itself, as FCM is dedicated to helping tenants get acclimated to the surrounding community by providing valuable information, serving as an expert of sorts about the encompassing ZIP code.
“People want to feel plugged in to the community,” Harrison notes. “They want to know their neighbors and really feel like they can get involved.”
Of course, convenience is of the utmost importance to every apartment resident. And the way tenants interact with their property’s management team needs to be streamlined and simple. That’s where technology is brought into the picture, as apartment management companies regularly adopt tech-based solutions for communicating and doing business with their residents. Today, for example, rent payments and maintenance requests can be made online, saving time and effort for both parties. And the use of tech can even be found before a lease has been signed; as many potential residents need to select an apartment sight unseen before relocating, apartment management companies often are able to provide 360-degree virtual tours of available units. And while these state-of-the-art opportunities have transformed the way property management organizations connect with potential and current residents, they have not taken away from companies like FCM providing their own personal touch. In fact, today’s tech has helped enhance communication across the board for everyone involved in the leasing experience.
As the popularity of vacation rental online marketplaces like Airbnb and Vrbo has risen, apartments have become popular lodging options for travelers. It’s up to your apartment management company to ensure that your safety as a resident comes first. If the community you select does allow its residents to offer their units for short-term rental, you need to know what kinds of controls the management team has in place. For example, FCM uses Pillow, an online solution that works with Airbnb to help tenants rent out their apartments. Through the management platform, FCM has full transparency about every short-term rental arrangement and can be sure that any visitors have undergone a background check. The solution also protects residents who want to make sure that they are not violating their lease while having the freedom to rent out their units. And it’s this kind of contemporary forward thinking that has helped make apartment living easier and better than ever.
To learn more about Atlanta’s apartment market, visit the Atlanta Apartment Association at atl-apt.org.
Are you on the hunt for an apartment? Be sure to check out these two fantastic communities from First Communities Management.
Century at the Ballpark
Conveniently located near I-85 in Lawrenceville, Century at the Ballpark offers fantastic one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans that boast well-appointed living spaces marked by exceptional designer interiors, from side-by-side refrigerators to luxury wood flooring. Each unit also features spectacular outdoor living spaces. The community itself includes an array of first-rate amenities in a resort-style atmosphere, all only moments from spots like the Mall of Georgia and Coolray Field.
For exceptional one- and two-bedroom apartment options in the heart of Atlanta, head to Century Skyline. Sophisticated interiors feature tall ceilings, large windows, hardwood floors and more, including SmartHome by Century technology like voice-activate lighting and Amazon Alexa. Gourmet-style kitchens, spa-inspired master bathrooms, private balconies and more take intown living to the next level.