In the last 12 years, property management has seen advertisements go from five-line classified adverts twice a week in the paper to being able to advertise to prospective tenants with 20 photos or more, floor plans and full descriptions on the net.
We have seen digital photography take over and allow us to report on property condition far better for ingoing, final and routine inspections. We have gone from posting all documents to landlords monthly to providing them with a password to log in and view them instantly. We don’t even need to accept money at the front counter any more and we have programs that receipt and reconcile our trust accounts. In the last few years we have even seen automatic communications apps for leasing and maintenance.
These may not seem like big things to those newer to the industry but let me tell you, if you told my 20 year-old self this would be case in 2015, I would have said you were crazy. When you sit back and look at it, it is absolutely amazing how far the industry and technology has come.
What amazes me even more is that our jobs really haven’t become any easier. You would have thought that with all this technology, property management should be a breeze but quite frankly it isn’t! With the wonderful inventions of smartphones and emails, clients now expect you to get straight back to them, anytime, anywhere. And tribunal hearings! You would have thought, after years of attending the tribunal for bond disputes with little more than a five-page report to prove a tenant has damaged or soiled a property, that with digital photos our job would be much easier. Quite frankly it isn't. And now our difficult tenants seem to know the tenancy acts almost as well as us. And with the ever-ready threat of a compensation order and HIA orders, any time we get a maintenance issue it’s almost like they have a gun to your head!
It’s not all bleak. The good thing about property management is that the harder it gets for us, it becomes twice as hard for private landlords; there will always be clients who require our services. This means our industry is stable for the time being. The real challenge our industry must overcome is to not lose touch with our stakeholders. Emails and text messages are great for efficiency but terrible for building relationships. At the end of the day we are a service industry and customer service must always be a priority. What we, as property managers need to focus on, is our clients. We need to use technology, not to hide from communication, but to aid with communication to build strong connections.