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Family-style management.

This department showcases the important role that independent rental owners (IROs) play in the apartment industry. It highlights owners who have successfully developed their businesses on a local, regional or national level.

Q. How long have you been an apartment owner?

A. I have been President of Central Properties for the past 10 years. Because ours is a family-run business, I consider my involvement in apartment ownership to have spanned most of my life. I remember spending my summers waking up, going to work, mowing lawns and painting handrails. Those were some long days--and boy, was I ready to go back to school in the fall. But in terms of hands-on ownership, I first became an owner when I bought two duplexes in the late 1990s and became directly responsible for most aspects of owning and managing properties.

Q. What is the greatest value NAA and your local association provide your business?

A. NAA has a long history of having a strong voice for our industry on legislative and educational issues. Just think how difficult and expensive it would be to stay abreast of the latest laws and policies affecting our industry without the clout of a national association. By joining and participating in the legislation process, we can attempt to bring positive change and growth to our industry through legislation. What stands out the most to me are the days we spend in Washington, D.C., during the Capitol Conference talking to our Congress members about our most critical industry issues. NAA also effectively has led the drive to better inform our members and was the first to provide IRO members with a course on the basics of managing and owning property at the independent level.

Q. What are three important factors in the effective management of rental property?

A. First is knowing whether or not the apartment is ready. It is so important that a property is is in top form when it is shown. For example, the blinds must be completely installed and the owner should leave no trace of maintenance materials lying around the apartment.

Second is rent. I have my managers call competitors on a regular basis to make sure our rent is competitive. Sometimes the competition will run a special or will lower its rates to attract new residents. I constantly urge my managers to beat the competition.

Third, employ an effective property manager. We find that if you take care of the first two factors and still have too many vacancies, you may want to have a talk with your manager.

Q. What have been the most successful marketing strategies you have used to promote your properties?

A. We have been successful in carving a niche in our industry by providing all-bills-paid furnished apartments. We always advertise our vacant units in our local paper and use other sources, such as locators. With the rise in popularity of Internet advertising, we have been able to attract international students and transient professionals on a much broader basis. Because we are a family-run business, we can be more flexible in our lease terms and deposit rates.

Q. How can IROs become more involved in their local apartment associations?

A. Many local apartment associations have a committee devoted to the needs of independent rental owners. I have been very involved in our local, state and national IRO committees. By attending those committee meetings, I have been able to network with peers and discover ideas on how to improve the management of our communities. If you have not attended an IRO committee meeting, you should. If your local association does not have one, call your association and ask to start one. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

IRO Member Profile

John Raper

Company: Central Properties

Number of Units: 270

Place of Business: Austin, Texas

Local Apartment Association: Austin Apartment Association

Web site:
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Title Annotation:EYE ON IRO
Article Type:Interview
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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