A property manager needs to have a certain set of specific traits and other, harder-to-define skills in order to be successful.A property manager needs to be able to listen, as well as be proactive and up to date in the current world around them. Great characteristics such as level headedness, personable and articulate helps create a well balanced property manager. At the end of the day however, most people working in the management industry agree that the most important trait for a good property manager to possess is the ability to communicate and relate to people.
Communication is Key
Good communication is the basic building blocks of management. It is the property manager’s duty to make sure everything runs smoothly, and that requires everyone in the building to understand one another. Conflict is generally a result of misunderstanding, and can be easily avoided if an open communication is established. Like a good leader, a property manager needs to be able to see another’s’ perspectives, to hear what they are saying, and to solve problems. Understanding and balancing multiple points of views may be difficult, but necessary to create a positive environment for the building’s inhabitants.
The property manager is the go-between for everybody associated with the building,they need to be a good interpreter and show diplomacy: listening, understanding, and translating messages between various parties. If you are a member of your board and you have been having problems with the super or the doorman, or unit owners have been complaining, you might want to take a closer look at your manager. Do they maintain open lines of communication?
In addition to communicating well, a good property manager keeps the board of directors informed on several different levels. According to Greg Cohen of Impact Management in Queens, “A managing agent should provide two reports on a monthly basis—a financial report… and a physical report that covers the day-to-day operations of the building.”
The financial report should consist of a general ledger that shows the projected versus the actual budget, as well as accounts payable status reports on shareholders or unit owners. It should also include a check register showing all money disbursed for the month. This should also include copies of bills, bank statements, checks, and a bank reconciliation. In short, the property manager should provide the board with ALL financial information they require.
The second report should consist of all correspondence between management, tenants/owners, the board, etc., and any other paperwork regarding the building’s operations. By keeping the board of directors updated monthly, the manager can see to it that the board is informed and prepared, and, thus less likely to be caught unawares by any unpleasant surprises.
Put People First.
The job of a property manager is a balancing act that requires the agent to anticipate and handle the logistical issues of the building without losing sight of the responsibilities to all the people of the building. With cell phones, and e-mail, a property manager is accessible nearly all of the time—for better or worse. They are in charge of supplies, finances, employees, professionals, boilers, and a whole slew of responsibilities that require incredible multi-tasking abilities. Ultimately, however, they must be responsible with answering questions and dealing with people on a daily basis.
Balancing the logistics while still catering to people suggests that a property manager should split their time 60/40 between being in the field and being in the office. Having an assistant manager in the office to handle calls and relay messages to the manager would be a good way to delegate. Proactively being involved in the present will help prepare a property manager and it’s staff to be prepared for future endeavors.
Professional and personable
In addition to looking towards the future, a property manager must also be physically present, visiting each building in their portfolio at least once or twice a week—not on a set visitation schedule. Managing the building’s employees means keeping them on their toes, and a flexible visitation schedule helps prevent a building from falling apart during the periods when the staff knows that there will be no pop-ins from a manager.
When dealing with professionals associated with running a building, such as attorneys, accountants, or other service providers, a good manager must also act professionally. Dealing with lawyers and accountants requires the same basic communication skills needed to work with anyone, with an understanding of exactly what duties a professional must perform.
In terms of accountants, by keeping the building finances in order and supplying the board of directors with the financial reports on a monthly rather than yearly basis, an organized property manager makes the accountant’s task easier.
The responsibilities of the attorneys, on the other hand, include collecting arrears and implementing the board’s policies. By attending every board meeting, the managing agent is better able to assist attorneys in doing their job.
Whether it be inspecting a boiler, informing the board of a new law, or even making sure the board of directors have all necessary materials monthly, a good property manager’s job is never done. If you have someone who can check the prices of oil or gas against the budget, console a tenant with a sick cat, and mediate a disagreement between two staff members, odds are you’ve got a keeper.