A Property Manager is a person or firm who does what they say on the tin, manages properties. They’re often an external company and agency employed by a property owner or landlord to help manage their property interests over time, although this can be more just an internal post or role that the property owner carries out themselves.
It covers all property classes from residential to commercial, with popular scenarios being individual owners managing their individuals houses or flats, or a separate property manager being instructed for larger and more complicated properties.
There’s usually a whole range of tasks involved, popular ones being looking after any tenants at the property including rent collection and day-to-day queries, and then the maintenance of the property and ensuring statutory compliance.
Whatever form this takes by whomever, here are five core pointers to help the property manager be better and provide the best service for themselves and their client. These aren’t exhaustive of course, more general principles stemming from experience in the property management world, and which will help paint a better picture of how to be a better property manager.
1. The Right Management Agreement
This is the bread-and-butter basis of how any property manager needs to carry out their services, and it’s always worth making sure this is not only completed but adapted to match reality. So not only including the main services like rent collection and organising repairs, but also any agreed levels of expenditure, and deadlines and KPIs to adhere to.
An important aspect of course are the fees due, both in terms of totals and any ways in which these increase over time by review or standard uplifts like RPI. Also, any scenarios for additional fees for, say, project works and dealing with requests for permissions and information.
2. A Team Effort
Under the general banner of good property management, is often a team of individuals with different skills. These range from an accounts specialist digging through important details, to the practical-minded building or facilities manager dealing with repairs and maintenance, to the bigger-picture property manager coordinating everything and liaising with people like the client and tenants.
It’s actually very rare to find one individual with all of these skills. Therefore the secret is to make sure that firstly the behind-the-scenes team is just as good as they say they are and actually work together well, and secondly that your point of contact does have a basic awareness of the other roles and how they relate to each other.
So as an example, a main property manager will have to be careful to not over promise to, say, the landlord or tenant on things, when there may be difficulties in arranging the right contractor quick enough, or there are cash-flow issues in the service charge to then pay them.
3. Communicating the Detail
The nature of property management is detail, and knowing lots of more day-to-day, and often mundane things about a property in order to make sure it is managed afterwards.
It’s kind of like a mechanic when it comes to cars,
who you will want to have good knowledge of how the car runs if they are looking after it for you, as opposed to the car salesman who may be best to sell it but not necessarily have the detail to effectively look after it going forward.
Therefore first having this sort of information to hand is key, and knowing what it actually means. However, you then need to know what to do with it, and how to effectively communicate to people in order for it to be most effectively used.
So if you take an example of an asbestos survey, then it’s one thing to first have one, and make sure it’s updated and applicable to the property in order to tick the compliance box. But it’s another to make sure this is effectively communicated to a new tenant or buyer in a property deal so that it doesn’t frighten them, or effectively noted by contractors and their works based around any requirements for treatment of asbestos.
4. People Before Properties
Property is a very people-led business, including with property management. It’s their interests in a property which derive value and benefit, and so knowing what their needs are and how to cater for them is key. The property needs to ‘work’ for real people, and not just have a pile of paperwork and monies that don’t make any sense to anyone.
Therefore be careful how you liaise with people, and always use the most appropriate methods of communication for them. Often a site meeting or conversation with them is the best way to talk through issues and arrive at a conclusion on a matter, particularly with property management that tends to involve lots of factors rather than just one black-and-white answer.
But then make sure things are clearly backed up in writing, and any reporting clearly understood by everyone.
5. Spinning Lots of Plates
A good property manager therefore needs to keep things ticking along, and be able to live with the fact that some issues can take months and even years to resolve, rather than a deal-driven agent who loves a quick turnaround and moving onto the next issue.
How to Be a Better Property Manager
No matter what stage you’re at, whether a complete novice wanting to begin managing your own property, or a property specialist who wants to develop into the property management arena, these five aspects are key to understanding the property management game.
It may appear tempting to launch straight in and simply start collecting any old rent and instructing whatever repair that crops up, whereas in reality it is a different skill set that helps marry lots of issues together in order to provide a good property management service.
Once this is working well, just watch property values rise, costs reduce, and less frustrations and problems occur.