Month: October 2016

Halloween Party Day 2016

Matthew Whitaker - Monday, October 31, 2016

I’m a pretty competitive person.  After our team building afternoon, I realized we have a lot of competitive people.

Today we spent the afternoon eating lunch and playing games.  We have a number of Millennials on our team.  They love to play a game.  They are pretty dang good at it too.

Here are are a few pictures and a video from this afternoon’s games of “Kan Jam” and “Spike Ball”.  If you’ve never heard of either of these games, I had not either till today.

Spencer and Nick taking a break from the festivities.
Nick and Gray Hall competing in Kan Jam
Benji Dyson and Duncan Murphy playing Kan Jam.
Benji Dyson and Duncan Murphy playing Kan Jam.
A little Spike Ball action if you zoom in.


Why WHO We Hire Should Affect WHO You Hire (Post #1 – How We Interview)

Matthew Whitaker - Thursday, October 27, 2016
This is a shot of our team at our weekly meeting - done every Tuesday morning.
This is a shot of our team at our weekly meeting – done every Tuesday morning.

I don’t really want you to pick us as your property manager because we are cheaper than other property managers.  While our prices are competitive and probably cheaper than most in town, I beg you not to choose us because of price alone.

I also don’t want you to choose us because we appear slicker than the competition.  While it is true we work very hard on our “image” to the public, choosing us based on the feeling we give you would just be wrong.

Lastly, don’t choose us because you really like our nice sales people – completely.  We do have very nice people (looking at you Nick Goudreau) helping you get acquainted with how we work, but don’t choose us based on their niceness alone.

I want you to choose us based on one thing that isn’t really obvious when you visit our website or just speak to one of our team members. . .

I want you to choose us because we work terribly hard to find the best people we possibly can (1st), then train them to manage your home (2nd).

That is why, WHO we hire, should affect WHO you hire.

I’d first like to give you a little background about our hiring process.  It has 4 steps to it.

1. The phone interview.  This interview is designed for us to get a glimpse of the candidate to see if they appear to be a surface match with our values and the job we are currently hiring for.  We’ve predetermined the values and skill set we are looking for then attempt to match them as closely as possible during this one hour interview.

2. The 2 – 4 hour face to face interview.  This interview is for us to dig into their relevant school and work history and better understand if they’ve developed the skills it takes to be on our team.  This is typically done by 2 or 3 team members here at our office.

3. The lunch interview.  This interview is done by 3 completely different team members who have not invested the time with the candidate and won’t have a bias for pushing him/her through.  They have a completely different agenda and set of questions that are more situational in nature.   “What would you do if . . .” is typically how these questions start.

4. The reference check.  We don’t like to take the candidates references at face value.  After 3 interviews, we have a pretty lengthy list of people we’d like to discuss past job performance with.  We deliver those names and ask the candidate to set up the phone calls for us.

As you can see, we take hiring very seriously.  We’ve put a focus on what Jim Collins in Good to Great calls, “Getting the right people on the bus.”  Unlike most, we don’t have warm bodies filling seats at gkhouses.  Every hire is very strategic in nature.

My next blog will cover how we train team members to handle the day to day management processes.

ACRE and Continuing Education for Property Managers in Birmingham

Matthew Whitaker - Thursday, October 13, 2016


As a property manager in Birmingham, Alabama, I’ve struggled with finding great places to receive continuing education. Most courses taught in and around this area deal with sales agents. Those don’t really have any value to me.

What I’ve done in the past is travel to Nashville or Atlanta to find classes that are property management specific.

Recently, the Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE) and the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) decided to hold a yearly conference with 6 hours of continuing education to help people like me.

Check out this video of our most recent conference!

Birmingham Home Sales Market Hot

Matthew Whitaker - Monday, October 3, 2016


The Birmingham home sales market continued its hot streak through the end of the summer months. Posting a year over year high of 27% over August last year. All this is according to the Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE).

The big question for our industry is, “What does this mean for rental home investors?”

I posted a screen shot of a graph depicting sales over the last 16 years, because I think it is interesting and tells a pretty good story. It shows the cyclical nature of demand. As you can see, we were in a similar market back in 2003 and 2004.

If I was a rental home investor . . . and I am . . . I’d be watching where the trend goes from here. It is my opinion that we are currently in a very healthy climate, in terms of buying and selling. Though, with the pickup in demand, it does make it harder for you to find good deals to purchase.

The median home price according to ACRE was $180,000, which is actually down from last August when it was $185,000.

That median home price is still very favorable to rental home investors, given Birmingham has consistently had high average rents relative to this median price. That, along with favorable property tax bills, continues to make Birmingham one of the top places to purchase rental homes.

Click here if you’d like to read the whole report from ACRE.