I recently read an interesting blog post by Infolio Director, Lauren Staley titled “The average life span of a Property Manager”.
According to this post, the average time a Property Manager will stay in the job is 9 months. As an ex-Property Manager who now recruits within the real estate industry, I found this post particularly interesting. Lauren points out that Property Management can be a thankless job, as they are often stuck in the middle and despite their best efforts, any problems that arise tend to be blamed on the long suffering Property Manager.
As a Real Estate Recruiter, I meet around 10 Property Managers a week who are seeking new opportunities, and a number of these candidates have been burned by their Property Management experience and never wish to return to the industry.
So why is this happening?
1. Lack of Training
So many agencies hire young adults at minimum wage and throw them into a full portfolio, giving them 200+ properties to manage, despite their lack of experience. The candidate accepts the role believed they are clever enough to skip the preceding roles of Assistant Property Manager or Receptionist – which is a huge problem.
Most of one’s Property Management knowledge comes from the early days of learning on the job, under a strong mentor. Without this experience, these green Property Managers quickly fall behind, become overwhelmed, make mistakes, and hide their errors. This quickly snowballs, and before they know it they are being abused by their tenants, landlords, and directors, because they don’t know what they’re doing. Most quit within 3-6 months, losing a large number of properties from their portfolio, and thus contribute to giving all Property Managers a bad name.
This isn’t necessarily the fault of the inexperienced Property Manager, the fault here falls on the employer who obviously doesn’t see value in their Property Management Department. By trying to save a few dollars, these employers end up costing themselves thousands in lost management, but often they fail to learn from their mistakes and continue to throw inexperienced young adults in the deep end.
2. Impossible Large Portfolio Sizes
Portfolio size is another huge issue for our industry. Portfolios of 300 may have been manageable in days of old, however in today’s high demand, fast paced world, a portfolio of over 200 is impossible to manage while maintaining high quality service. Even the world’s best Property Manager would become overwhelmed, make mistakes, and lose properties if their portfolio is too large. This is when meetings take place with angry directors who care only about the numbers and don’t fully understand the demands of property management. The Property Manager then begins to hate their job, and eventually leaves.
3. Poor Systems & Procedures
Maintaining detailed, organised systems is often the difference between a clean portfolio and a mess. I was fortunate enough to work under a wonderful mentor when I started my Property Management career, and she taught me to work in a highly systemised manner and to enter everything in the database, otherwise it didn’t happen. Everything I did was recorded – every email, phone call, inspection, letter. It could be painful at times, but the more experienced I became, the more I saw the value in it.
A well maintained, up to date database allows you to cover yourself when landlords or tenants try to blame you for things that were not your fault. More seriously, you need to be able to prove everything you have done in order to cover yourself against any potential legal threats that could come up in future too.
4. Company Environments
This is probably one of the biggest contributors to high staff turnover. Property Managers are often very nurturing personalities, and unlike many sales people, they are more inclined to take things personally. For this reason, team cliques, even minor workplace bullying, being publicly yelled at or reprimanded can really affect a Property Manager, adding to the list of reasons they may want to leave. Bullying and sexual harassment is a problem in Property Management that is rarely discussed, and I’ve personally dealt with many candidates who have experienced this in some way and it is simply unacceptable. The mentality that sexual harassment is just ‘another part of the business’ is particularly unsettling. It’s every team member’s responsibility to provide a nice team environment for everyone they work with, and this needs to start at the very top.
It’s important that we begin recognising the demands and challenges that Property Managers face, the necessary training they need, and being to put in place systems that will help them do their job, in a work environment they can enjoy.
If you’re interested in getting into Property Management, or need a Property Manager, please feel free to contact me any time at Clare.Verrall@Denovo.com.au or call me on 0414 990 983. You can add me on Facebook too!