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Unveiling the Multifamily Journey: A Conversation with Jared Miller

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In the sprawling landscape of the multifamily sector, every journey begins with a single step, often propelled by unforeseen circumstances and chance encounters. For Jared Miller, Chief Operating Officer of Bayshore Properties, his odyssey into multifamily commenced during his college years in Columbus, Ohio.

"I stumbled into multifamily," Jared reminisces, reflecting on his initial foray into the industry. "As a 19-year-old college student, I became a licensed real estate agent, but I quickly realized that selling houses wasn't exactly a booming business for someone my age. So, I turned my sights to property management, thinking I might score free rent."

Jared's passion for real estate was immediate. His first role was as a part-time leasing professional at Runaway Bay Apartments, marking the genesis of a career that would span over two decades.

"I faxed around 150 resumes before I got my foot in the door"

"I faxed around 150 resumes before I got my foot in the door," Jared recalls with a chuckle. "Yes…I said fax. Not email. Getting a foot in the door took persistence, but once I did, there was no turning back."

Throughout his journey, Jared encountered pivotal moments that shaped his trajectory, few more profound than a chance encounter with Kathy Lane, the President of Edwards Communities.

"Kathy saw something in me that I hadn't yet seen in myself," Jared reflects. "Her belief in my potential transcended our brief interaction, igniting a fire within me to pursue greater heights in multifamily."

“One chilly Saturday afternoon, two potential residents walked into the office. I provided them with an extensive tour of the community, and as I prepared some materials for them, I invited them to warm up by the fire. A few days later, one of those prospective residents returned, but to my surprise, she wasn't a prospect at all. It turned out to be the President of Edwards Communities. After shopping the market to help prepare pricing and position for the Quarry on Fifth, she took the time to come back to the community and commend me on the experience she had with me. Kathy asked me about my aspirations and made it clear that she saw my potential extending beyond leasing. That single act of belief from someone else became a major catalyst for my continued involvement in multifamily. What started as a job I took in the hopes of a rent discount turned into something greater. I hadn't fully grasped the opportunities that multifamily had to offer until she invested her time in that singular conversation with me.”

Armed with unwavering determination and guided by mentors who illuminated his path, Jared navigated through various roles at Lane Company, RedPeak, Bainbridge, and a company he co-founded, each experience sculpting his leadership acumen and industry insights. “Every interaction is a chance to shape your future, but also someone else’s.” Jared explained.

Amidst the ebb and flow of the multifamily landscape, Jared bore witness to seismic shifts driven by technological innovation, evolving talent dynamics, and shifting resident expectations.

The proliferation of technology: "The multifamily industry has undergone a metamorphosis over the past two decades," Jared remarks, recounting the proliferation of technology as a game-changer. "From web-based property management systems to the advent of AI, the industry's tech-driven evolution has been nothing short of revolutionary."

However, with innovation comes a myriad of challenges, from fostering buy-in among on-site teams to navigating the complexities of integration and capitalization. Jared outlines some of the major changes he’s seen over the last few years:

The industry has changed, and those changes will continue. Technology now touches every aspect of the business. While tech can create efficiencies and dramatically impact the bottom line, it has also changed the skills needed for success.

Changes in the talent pool: Over the past 25 years, the talent pool in the apartment industry has undergone significant transformations. Not only have the requirements for success evolved, but the composition and expectations of those entering the business have also experienced noteworthy changes.

Aspiring professionals in today's multifamily industry bring with them heightened expectations. They anticipate rapid career progression and have a strong emphasis on achieving a delicate equilibrium between their professional and personal lives. The commendable desire for growth is coupled with an equally strong drive for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

The evolving demands of the industry necessitate a broader skill set from today's professionals. Unlike two decades ago, individuals are now required to possess a much deeper understanding of various aspects such as technology, financials, customer service, and the intricate web of laws and regulations governing the field. This enhanced comprehension demands both time and investment in continuous learning and professional development. The talent pool is not only expected to adapt to changing industry dynamics but also to proactively engage with a multifaceted skill set to thrive in the contemporary apartment landscape.

Resident expectations: Apartment resident expectations have also evolved rapidly, influenced by societal shifts, technological advancements, and changing lifestyle preferences - not to mention many working more remotely than before 2020.

With the widespread adoption of technology, residents now expect apartments to be equipped with modern amenities such as high-speed internet, smart home features, online portals, and digital access systems. The demand for technologically advanced living spaces has become a prominent aspect of resident expectations.

Over the last decade, there has been a stronger focus on flexibility. Residents today often seek more flexible lease terms, including short-term leases, co-living arrangements, and the ability to more easily transfer or terminate leases. Of course they would also prefer to do that without hefty penalties. They have also started to adapt to a self-service model including self-guided tours and even some communities that offer limited office hours.

The amenity wars are real, but the focus has shifted more to providing exceptional floor plans, living spaces and customer service. The days of the lazy river, theater room and other amenities are less prevalent.

Customized experiences and communication are in high demand. Residents want to be communicated with in specific ways -- specific to the individual resident.

Other considerations or additional requirements are environmental sustainability, health and wellness and additional security measures.

Increasing costs. Over the years, apartment owners have experienced a notable escalation in costs - especially since 2020.

Day-to-day operational costs, including maintenance, utilities, and apartment turnover costs have risen. Property taxes have shown a dramatic upward trend in many regions. The cost of insurance coverage for apartment properties has increased, in some cases by over 30% annually for the last several years. The talent war has impacted wages and inflation has been high for the cost of materials and the costs of third party contracts. Changes in local, state, and federal regulations governing rental housing can lead to increased costs for owners. The culmination of all of this means rents need to continue to increase while operators seek areas of efficiency to keep costs down.

"Technology should simplify, not complicate, the user experience,"

"Technology should simplify, not complicate, the user experience," Jared asserts, emphasizing the importance of aligning tech initiatives with frontline needs. "Investing in training and garnering staff feedback are essential steps in ensuring that technology enhances, rather than hampers, the user experience."

Beyond technology, Jared advocates for a renewed focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) within the multifamily sphere, championing initiatives that amplify underrepresented voices and cultivate a culture of belonging.

"We need to actively engage underrepresented groups and showcase the boundless opportunities within multifamily," Jared asserts. "Building a diverse network of mentors and fostering inclusive spaces are crucial steps in promoting DE&I across the industry."

As the multifamily landscape continues to evolve, Jared remains steadfast in his commitment to driving operational excellence, fostering a culture of inclusivity, and championing innovation that propels the industry forward.

"In our dynamic industry, every interaction is an opportunity to shape the future"

"In our dynamic industry, every interaction is an opportunity to shape the future," Jared reflects. "And with each stride we take, we inch closer to a future where diversity, efficiency and innovation lead the way."

With Jared Miller at the helm, the multifamily journey embarks on an exhilarating odyssey into uncharted territories, guided by a vision of excellence, inclusivity, and boundless possibilities.