Q&A with Lauren Kazimierek, Client Manager for Radix

It would be hard to imagine someone better positioned to serve Radix clients than Lauren Kazimierek.

After all, before joining our company in early 2020 as a Client Manager, Lauren was a Radix client herself.

As the Assistant Property Director at Alta Drinkwater, a Wood Residential Services community, she used Radix to conduct market surveys and build a database about the property’s comps. The solution made quite an impression.

“I was definitely impressed with what a time-saving piece of technology this was for the team,” Lauren says.

To help you get to know Lauren better, we recently sat down with her to learn about her career in multifamily, what excites her about being part of the Radix team and her favorite books.

Tell us about your career before you joined Radix.

Lauren: I was in multifamily property management and started with ConAm Management Corporation in California, where I then recently transferred to Arizona. Before Radix, I was the Assistant Property Director for Wood Residential Services here in Scottsdale and got the amazing opportunity to join Radix at the beginning of this year.

What most excites you about being part of the Radix team?

Lauren: What excites me the most is the ability to take my multifamily experience and help our clients understand the platform. Additionally, providing the support and guidance in making them as successful as they can be in utilizing the platform.

I love engaging with our clients, and love to see them have that “a-ha” moment where they realize how this can be a time-saver for their market surveys (or even for their reports!)

What do you like to do to relax and unwind from your job?

Lauren: I love the outdoors and have been really enjoying hiking. I also just took up paddle boarding. It’s pretty hot here in Arizona during the summers, so I’m trying to paddle board more often.

I moved to Arizona to be a bit closer to some of my family, so besides the outdoor activities, I really enjoy spending time with family as well.

Just for fun, tell us your favorite book, your favorite movie and your favorite musician.

Lauren: I have two favorite books: the first one is “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, and the second is “Many Lives, Many Masters” by Brian Weiss.

My favorite movie is the 2010 version of “Tron.” (I’ve always loved this movie!)

And my favorite musician would be a band named Pepper.

America’s Commercial Real Estate Show

Radix Co-Founder and CEO Blerim Zeqiri sat down with Michael Bull, CCIM and host of America’s Commercial Real Estate Show to discuss real-time data for traffic, leasing, occupancy and net effective rents.

Listen on to hear Blerim share why tracking leading indicators in real-time is so important as the multifamily market is changing so quickly due to the pandemic.

Click here for the podcast.

Q&A with Jared Wicker, Director of Data at Radix

We were thrilled to welcome Jared Wicker to the Radix team last summer. Jared is an apartment industry veteran with invaluable experience in multifamily operations. He will play a critical role at our company as Radix expands its client base and meets the data needs of all of our customers. You may even recall reading his blog on the pitfalls of web scraping

To help you get to know Jared better, we recently sat down with him to get more of his thoughts on the multifamily industry, what excites him about being part of the Radix team and his favorite book of all time.

Tell us about your career before you joined Radix last summer.

Jared: I’ve been in multifamily my entire career.

I started off on the operations side. In 2008, I went to work for Colonial Properties. I began as a financial assistant to a VP of operations and then actually went and leased apartment communities, working onsite.

I then went to Alliance Residential as an operations analyst, which is where I met Blerim [Zeqiri, CEO and co-founder of Radix]. 

Later, I went to Wood Partners, and I was with them for five years in various roles. I started as an analyst in the asset management group and eventually ended up as the manager of operations analytics, where I built their business intelligence platform. 

Wood Partners was one of the first Radix customers, and I got to use the platform from the user side for a long time. I helped Radix innovate some of its reporting and how it fed customers’ data back out of the system. I was one of the ones who requested a data feed coming back out of the product so that I could use it to build my business intelligence system for Wood Partners.

I then moved to Waypoint Residential, helping them with reporting and operations and building out their technology suite. I stayed there until the middle of last year when I joined Radix.

What excites you about being part of the Radix team?

Jared: Because Wood Partners was one of Radix’s first customers, I have seen Radix grow from a young company to where it is today. I’m just excited about the growth opportunity that Radix presents. 

I think we’re on a great trajectory to being one of the leading go-to sources for data in the multifamily industry, and I’m excited to be a part of that.

How do you see the multifamily industry performing and changing in the years ahead?

Jared: I’m bullish about the multifamily industry in general. The demographics are turning in our direction. Homeownership has declined over the past decade, and household formation has been on the rise as well, which adds to the number of renters that we’re seeing.

On the technology front, we are just at the beginning of really expanding the services that are available for the industry. It’s always lagged behind most other industries, as far as technology goes. But I think what several companies are doing, including Radix, is going to transform the way that multifamily looks at technology over the next decade.

What do you like to do to relax and unwind from your job?

Jared: I think I use my job to relax and unwind (laughs). I really love what I do. I also have three young children at home. They all have birthdays at the beginning of the year  – the oldest will be seven in April and the others are five and three. So I stay busy when I’m not at work.

I’m also a fitness junkie. I’ve got a full gym in my basement, and I also have a Peloton bike that I enjoy riding as much as I can. Spending time with family and friends is also one of the things that I enjoy doing.

Just for fun, tell us your favorite book, your favorite movie and your favorite musician.

Jared: I probably read 20 or 30 books a year. If I had to pick a favorite book of all time, I would say the one that’s changed my mindset the most is “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” I studied finance in college and the way that Robert Kiyosaki looks at assets and liabilities differently from the classical definitions of assets and liabilities was a real shift in my mindset. 

As for movies, I’m a fan of the comedy genre. I also like action movies. I don’t know if I could pick a favorite one, but anything that makes me laugh or that’s exciting is a good movie for me.

I have a very diverse taste in music – anything from country to hip-hop and anything in between. But I grew up on country music, so if I had to choose a favorite musician, I’d probably pick Garth Brooks.

National Apartment Association
How to Get the Right Data

In today’s apartment landscape, let it never be said that apartment operators lack access to data.

Whether it’s a community’s own data, revenue management data, marketing data or market surveys of competing communities, or metro area/submarket reports produced by third parties, there has been a serious uptick in the availability of metrics and business intelligence during the past few years. And apartment managers are finding themselves awash in an overwhelming amount of statistics and numbers.

Read the full article on NAA.

Why Casting a Wide Data Net Isn’t Always the Best Approach

When it comes to understanding your apartment community’s performance, it certainly doesn’t hurt to look at as much market data as possible.

Monthly and quarterly market reports compiled by research and brokerage firms about your metro area are worth reviewing, but they also have limitations. By the time they arrive on your desk or in your inbox, the data is at least 30 days old. Sometimes the data contradict each other and its projections.

Also, these surveys are usually conducted at the market level and then a regression analysis is performed to determine submarket data. This means the survey reports don’t offer true insight into your surrounding submarket, let alone your property’s comps.

In the end, the information you really want to dig into and spend the most time with comes from your comps. It doesn’t matter if Manhattan rents were rising a month ago if your community is in Chelsea and rents there are flat today.

Getting Vital Data the Right Way:
The problem facing a lot of operators is they don’t have an efficient process for obtaining the kind of data that will benefit them the most.

Too many property managers rely on the traditional market survey approach. Busy onsite associates spend hours calling comps to collect data about asking rents, occupancy rate, concessions, etc. When, and if they’re finally able to collect this information, they enter it into Excel spreadsheets. And we all know this presents a whole host of problems and hampers meaningful data analysis.

The Value of Submarket and Competitive Data

Put simply, real-time submarket data eats monthly market data for breakfast. It optimizes leasing and revenue performance when used in conjunction with revenue management. If your community is located in the booming LoHi area of Denver, you can’t evaluate your property’s pricing based on month-old information about the average rent in metro Denver.

Only when operators are up to date about what exactly is happening among their competitive set and in the surrounding submarket can they make the proactive pricing decisions that best position their communities to maintain occupancy rates and drive revenues.

To be sure, I’m not discouraging operators from taking note of monthly and quarterly metro reports produced by third-party organizations. It is important to be cognizant of the broader market and to take in the insight and analysis regarding trends in your metro area.

But when all is said and done, the most valuable data is the real-time information that you gather from your competitors in your immediate area. It is worth remembering the story of the statistician who drowned crossing a river that was, on average, 3 feet deep.

In the Beginning:
BI:Radix Helps Redwood Residential and Maverick Residential
Get Off on the Right Foot

When Redwood Capital Group decided to launch its management division, Redwood Residential, Mary Herrold knew the new company could benefit from a departure from the traditional market survey process. She knew they needed something simple, innovative, comprehensive and streamlined.

A multifamily veteran with nearly 30 years of experience in the industry, she is all too familiar with the numerous problems presented when onsite associates call comps to ask about rents and other data and then compile that information into Excel spreadsheets.

Long story short: the process takes way too long and frequently results in data that is not trustworthy.

Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing for Redwood Residential, wanted the company to get market surveys right from the start. So, she turned to BI:Radix.

“We love it. The onsite associates who are tasked with completing weekly surveys find it easy to use,” Herrold says. “I’ve never had a question or a complaint from a team member about it. I also know that I can rely on the data because the input flows easily.”

A Problematic Process

One of the primary problems with the traditional market survey process is its considerable inefficiency. Onsite associates with a lengthy list of other responsibilities place time-consuming phone calls to comparable properties. 

Inevitably, they aren’t able to reach the people they need to speak with and then have to follow-up with another round (or two or three) of phone calls. To add insult to injury, oftentimes associates are not trained to ask the kinds of questions that will produce accurate data and true apples-to-apples comparisons.

Incorrect Data

Another set of problems arises when it’s time for associates to manually input the information they collect into Excel spreadsheets. To start with, they may enter the data incorrectly and with inconsistent formatting. They may spend too much time adjusting the column widths and the row heights to make the spreadsheets easier to read for other associates. And then, once a market survey in Excel is passed along for review and analysis, team members begin saving and emailing each other different versions of the same spreadsheet, creating unnecessary confusion. It’s like the game of telephone. Each time a spreadsheet gets shared, the data gets diluted. Also known as, data erosion.

Over the course of her time in the apartment industry, Herrold had grown exhausted with the traditional process and felt the new management company couldn’t afford its numerous drawbacks. “I’ve used different templates. I’ve written step-by step instructions, conducted in-depth training, and still found data that I couldn’t trust. The spreadsheet method is unruly.  It is easy for busy site associates to forget to go back and complete information they may have missed inputting during the first pass. Although platforms are a better way, I found a lot of them cumbersome, time consuming and wrought with too many options to get any consistent measures over time.”  

A New Day

Herrold’s search for a revamped market survey methodology led her to BI:Radix. She and Redwood Residential were quickly impressed with the product.

The solution dramatically streamlines the data collection process with its SurveySwap™, which enables communities to automatically exchange information with comps through the BI:Radix platform. As such, the result is more accurate and timely data and less time spent by associates making comp calls.

The cloud-based product also provides a centralized database for team members to view data. Its analytical tools illuminate pricing trends over time, something Excel can’t do.

“One of the best things is the tracking of updates,” Herrold says. “I get a weekly report telling me the date each comp was surveyed. Our teams are updating surveys weekly (with ease), giving us 52 points of data versus the typical 12 over the course of a year.

Everything is accessible through the platform, and we trust the data,” Herrold says. “We rely on it for our decision-making and we especially like the trend report. Our market surveys aren’t something we just check off of the to-do list so we can add them to the financial reporting package. We’re truly getting value out of the platform.”

Engaging Onsite Teams

Similarly to Redwood Residential, Maverick Residential Company implemented BI:Radix when it launched. Jeff Krohn, President and Co-founder of the company, says his experience with the solution has been very similar to Herrold’s.

One of the main things that was important to us and our management style, was to get our onsite associates out from behind their computers. Instead of doing data collection, we want them to be able to focus on taking care of the residents and creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to people wanting to live at our properties,” he says. “Every technology we selected needed to reduce the manual labor that goes into so many of the various tasks that onsite associates have to do.

“BI:Radix was our first choice for market surveys because it eliminates the monotonous process of picking up the phone and talking with comps,” Krohn adds. “As the old saying goes: ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ A lot of the data was erroneous – human beings are fallible, and their ability to collect information and interpret information and then put it into a spreadsheet was taking way too much time.”

True Analysis: The Value of Apples-to-Apples Comparisons

Both Herrold and Krohn applaud BI:Radix’s ability to highlight pricing trends and provide true apples-to-apples comparisons between communities.

“We’ve had instances where we’ve identified: ‘This fee’s too high,’ or we’ve said, ‘Nobody charges this, we shouldn’t either,'” Herrold says. “It’s that eye-opening moment when we realize we could charge more because we weren’t meeting market performance. It helps us stay competitive and push the envelope where we can. And that’s invaluable to any organization, especially one that is just starting to establish itself as a strong management company.”

Data Drives Decisions

Above all, the information gathered by BI:Radix and the analytical power of the solution has helped Maverick Residential communities adjust their comp sets, according to Krohn.

“It allows us to really dive into the details and show our communities that certain properties they think they’re sharing traffic with are not, in fact, comps,” Krohn says, “On the flip side, it helps us identify properties that are comps that weren’t previously in the comp set.”

Community owners may sometimes balk at moving away from the traditional Excel-based system because BI:Radix carries an acquisition cost and Excel spreadsheets are free. But that line of thinking is extremely short-sighted, according to Krohn. “The Excel-based system certainly carries a significant cost,” he says. “You have to account for the hours your associates lose trying to collect the information and also for impact that bad data has on your pricing decisions at the end of the day. So to us, the minimal cost of BI:Radix is a no-brainer.”

The Competition: Your secret pricing power

When it comes to successfully pricing your apartment homes, it’s critical to know who your competitors are and what rental rates they are charging.

Unfortunately, though, too many operators don’t have a true, clear-eyed understanding of their properties’ comp sets. Below are some common mistakes property managers make when trying to determine who the competition is.

Assuming neighboring properties are comps.

For sure, nearby communities – say, those within a one-mile radius – have a strong chance of being a competitor, but that’s not always the case.

Perhaps your community is a Class B asset, and the one down the street is a Class A or a Class C. Those may not be a comp. But the Class C across the street that is doing some value-add renovations, well, they may be another story. Visibility into property specifics like units, amenities and renovations can really help better determine what neighboring properties you really should be watching.

Assuming that communities with the same floorplan types are comps.

It’s tempting to assume that a nearby community in the same asset class as yours is definitely a comp if it offers the same floorplans as yours. But operators need to be more discerning than that.

For instance, say that nearby community’s one-bedroom units are only 450 square feet and yours are 900 square feet. A significant discrepancy between the size of your two-bedroom homes and theirs also exists. Should this property really be included in your comp set?

Not adjusting your comp set based on your community’s current situation.

Imagine that all of the one-bedroom units in your community are leased and occupied for the next half year. You have no upcoming exposure among this floorplan. However, occupancy is lagging among your two-bedroom units.

In this instance, you should adjust your comp set to make sure you’re paying the most attention to communities with similarly sized two-bedroom homes.

Assuming comp properties stay static.

Market dynamics today are fluid. Properties that might have not been comps can suddenly compete against your property. Say they renovated and do major upgrades to the community and interior units. Sometimes properties can compete for a specific period of time until they stabilize. This is especially the case with brand new lease-ups. For example, if your property is a Class A- and generally does not compete on price or product with brand new lease-up properties. However, these lease-up properties frequently offer high concessions in order to lease up as quickly as possible. They may take traffic and leases from your property that ordinarily would not be the case. This can last a few month or longer until they stabilize and concessions are phased out.

Get your comp set right by using as much information as possible. And periodically evaluate if all your properties on your market survey are truly comps. Don’t just settle for the old ways of doing things. Push your team to find new solutions and the right solutions for gathering data about potential comps. As business intelligence grows, your ability to better evaluate your competition will grow as well.

Make it as easy and automated as possible for other properties to consistently provide information. Pricing, floorplans, finish levels and amenities data can allow your team to make a rock-solid decision about whether those properties are truly competitors.

To make sure your community is performing optimally is to understand exactly who the competing communities are. And how they compete in terms of rental rates and occupancy. Determining exact competitors may take some digging and some new approaches, but the efforts will be more than worth it.