OPINION -- Changing roles

The property manager role is far more diverse than it’s often given credit for, says leading business consultant Stacey Holt

THE TRADITIONAL property manager role and department model is outdated and needs to change in order to reflect the true nature of the work involved.

That’s the view of Stacey Holt, company director at the real estate industry-focused education and professional development firm Real Estate Excellence Academy.

“The title ‘property manager’ doesn’t exist anymore,” Ms Holt said. Instead, it’s time the property manager role was revaluated, as landlords become more demanding and the role expands to include activities that weren’t required in years gone by, she said.

This includes helping with tenant disputes, insurance claims, risk management, and other related tasks.

“The [title] ‘property manager’ is not really appropriate in today’s industry as it is not only property that is managed and it does not clearly explain the actual service carried out nor suit the skill base of some people,” Ms Holt said.

NEW CRITERIA
It’s time the industry stopped basing and measuring a property manager’s role on how many properties they managed, she added. Instead, the industry should consider breaking up the property manager position into roles that reflect what people actually do.

New job roles may include tenancy relationship manager/co-ordinator/administrator; landlord services manager/co-ordinator/administrator; or property services manager/co-ordinator/administrator, Ms Holt said.

When the role of a property manager is properly assessed, she said, the daily tasks of many include the following:

  •   Showing property
  •   Rent arrears
  •   Generating new business
  •   Processing applications
  •   New tenancy sign up paperwork
  •   Maintenance; both routine and emergency
  •   Tribunal matters
  •   Bond disputes
  •   Final inspections
  •   Lease renewals
  •   Trust accounting, including receipting
  •   Mid-month and end of  month accounts

“Given the high level of compliance and risk management, it is not difficult to see that [with] the above mentioned, mostly daily, tasks, it’s a huge expectation of one person to have all the required skills and knowledge,” she said.

MORE WORK
Ms Holt added that property managers are also struggling with increased workloads and demands.

“Given that property management is so administration-based today, thought should be given in recruiting administrators to supporting the ‘property manager’,” Ms Holt continued, adding that specialists were needed to deal with the diverse array of tasks that contemporary property managers face.

Some agencies have specialised roles to include lease renewals, given the high volume of work required in relation to negotiation, rent increases and bond increases (if applicable), tenancy paperwork and additional matters such as smoke alarms and pool safety, where applicable.

“Some agencies are using the personal assistant (PA) model, which is personally favoured – a senior property manager with a personal assistant,” she said. “Both have different skills and attributes, such as a strong administration focus for the PA, whilst the senior property manager has theknowledge and negotiation skills.

“The aim is to skill up the PA in order to be groomed for promotion and the cycle then continues as the business grows.

“It must be further noted that the younger generations appear to favour titles, and the title ‘assistant property manager’ is, to some, not a favoured title position,” Ms Holt added. “An example of a ‘modern’ title could be ‘executive assistant (EA) to the property manager’.

Major changes are needed, Ms Holt said, and these changes must start from within the industry and individual agencies.

“Business models need to be challenged and the various tasks and skills of staff working in the department need to be scrutinised and evaluated to see which model will best suit your business today,” she said. “One size does not fit all anymore”

“The role of a property manager is to negotiate, communicate and educate their clients and customers – plus, to maximise their clients’ income and minimise their losses.

“The traditional property manager who wears all hats is surely fading and hopefully soon gets left in the past,” Ms Holt said. “This will allow for rejuvenation of our great industry and enhancement of the role of a property manager, the consummate professional whose main aim is customer service.”

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