Property management: a balancing act

February 15, 2017
Written by: Nora Neilson, CPM | LEED Green Associate | Managing Director/SVP | PropertyManagement/Carolinas Market | JLL

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What is property management? This seems a relatively simple and straight forward question. However, the answer is not so simple – and, surprisingly, unknown by many in the commercial real estate world.  What’s more, it has evolved over time as clients and tenants have become more sophisticated in their expectations and technology has evolved building operations.

It might be easier to ask: What do property managers do? The role of a property manager is diverse and ever-changing with multi-faceted perspective on the asset he/she manages. Gone are the days of a quirky superintendent like Dwayne Schneider (One Day at a Time) – overseeing a building with his handyman’s wrench on his tool belt, ready to use bubble gum and band aids to resolve whatever problem may arise. Gone are the days of a one-page lease agreement for the long-term tenants who occupy the building. Properties today are recognized as the “investments” that they are – for both clients (owners/investors and asset managers) and tenants (the businesses that occupy the property), who each have their own invested interest in the property. 

 Clients invest money into an asset (building) with the intent of getting a return on their investment via ongoing profit, profit at sale, or both. Tenants invest rent into a property that they expect to get a return on as well – by having a safe, clean, comfortable work place in which to house their employees and run their businesses effectively. 

It is the property manager’s challenge to achieve the correct balance between customer service to the tenant and value enhancement for the client. As the commercial real estate industry has evolved, so too have the expectations of a property manager. Colleges and universities are now offering programs in property management. Many property management firms seek individuals with certifications and graduate degrees to fill property management positions. A manager is expected to have extensive knowledge in finance, investments, asset enhancement, valuation and real estate – as well as the basics of daily operations and customer service. Today’s property manager must be skilled in the following:

  • Client Relations
  • Customer Service
  • Asset Management
  • Financial Planning
  • Capital Planning
  • Risk Management
  • Security and Life Safety
  • Building Automation
  • Applicable Building Codes
  • Lease Interpretation
  • Vendor Management
  • Operational Oversight
  • Administrative Oversight
  • Physical Operations and Maintenance
  • Sustainability

So as our lives have become more complex and our clients and customers more sophisticated, so too has property management. Property managers need ongoing education in technology, investing, and trends to be ahead of the curve in service delivery to clients and customers. Certification in the field, licensing, and master’s degrees are the norm and these trends are expected to continue, as property management professionals continue to provide integrated solutions, purchasing power, experience, and expertise to drive the value of the investments they manage.